Castro's Legacy as a Warlord
Castro, Communist dictator of Cuba for nearly 60 years, was a
revolutionary, and an opponent of the United States whose alliance
with the Soviet Union brought the world to the brink of nuclear war
in the early 1960s. He also was a very active warlord in support of
his ideal of spreading Marxist revolution around the
articles and commentators will discuss Castro's political legacy, or
the fact that he survived through eleven American presidential
administrations, or multiple assassination attempts, our area of
focus will be on the wars and conflicts of Fidel Castro and the
foreign adventures into which he led Cuba.
Fidel Castro was adamant about many things, but he was
especially focused on battling American influence in Latin America
and in exporting and supporting revolutionary socialism wherever he
4, 1962, just over three years after seizing power in Cuba, and less
than a year following the unsuccessful American-supported Bay of Pigs
invasion by anti-Castro Cubans, Fidel Castro issued the
Declaration of Havana,
in which he stated that:
duty of every revolutionary is to make the
(and support) revolutions is certainly what Fidel Castro and his
regime attempted to do around the world!
his supporters, including the famed Bolivian revolutionary Che
Guevara, took the idea of spreading their brand of Latin American
revolution far and wide. Castro's regime aided Marxist rebels in many
Latin American nations, with the most successful of his clients being
the Sandinista forces that won the Nicaraguan Civil War in 1979.
military adventures in Latin America and in Africa would bring
Castro's regime into conflict with a variety of foreign foes,
including Somalia, Eritrean rebels, anti-Communist Angolan forces,
South Africa, various Congolese governments, and, of course,
continual conflict with the United States, which attempted to halt
the spread of pro-Soviet and pro-Cuban revolutions and governments
around the world during the Cold War.
significant wars and conflicts involving Fidel Castro and his regime
in Cuba include:
July Movement in Cuba (1953)-Castro's failed attack on the Moncada
army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Castro was captured and put on
Revolution in Cuba (1956-1959)-After being freed from prison in a
government amnesty, Castro returned to Cuba to begin a guerrilla war
in the countryside, that led to the fall of the Batista dictatorship,
and the rise of Castro to lead Cuba.
Pigs Invasion (1961)-Anti-Castro Cuban exiles, heavily aided and
supplied by the United States, attempted an invasion of Cuba at the
Bay of Pigs. The invasion failed, causing a great deal of
embarrassment for the new American President, John Kennedy. This
invasion was only the most public of the many attacks against
Castro's regime by Cuban exiles, and by the American Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Missile Crisis (1962)-Following the Bay of Pigs attack, Castro
sought closer military ties with the Soviet Union. The Soviets
installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, prompting the Cold War crisis
known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. This event nearly led to World War
Three between the U.S. and the Soviets, but compromise was reached
and the Soviet missiles were removed from Cuba.
for Latin American and African Independence Movements
(1960s-1991)-Cuba sent advisors overseas, and also brought rebels
from many nations to Cuba for training. Anti-colonial and
anti-Western forces that were trained and aided by Cuba in this
period include those from Africa: the Portuguese colonies of (Angola,
Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau), along with
Eritrea, Congo, and Namibia, and others.
American nations and forces aided by Castro's Cuba include:
Sandinista rebels of Nicaragua (and the Sandinista-led government of
Nicaragua after 1979), Marxist rebels in Guatemala, El Salvador,
Honduras, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Peru, among
Civil Wars (1965)-The new African nation of Congo was torn by
multiple rebellions and civil wars following independence in 1960. In
1965, Che Guevara led about 120 Cuban guerrillas to Congo to provide
expertise and leadership to the Marxist Simba rebels in Congo. After several months,
Guevara and his surviving Cuban troops fled to Tanzania, ending overt
Cuban involvement in the Congo Wars.
(1966-1967)-After leaving Congo, Che Guevara traveled to Bolivia to
bring a Castro-style revolution to that Andean nation. His army,
called Ejército de Liberación
Nacional de Bolivia (ELN), and made up of a
small number of Cubans and Bolivians, enjoyed some success against
the poorly trained Bolivian military, but as American aid to Bolivia
increased, the Bolivians and their CIA advisors hunted down the
insurgents, capturing Guevara and killing him in October, 1967. The
rebellion soon died out.
War of Independence- (1960s-1975)-Cuban advisors took to the
field with the Guinean rebels against Portuguese colonial troops in
the Portuguese African colony of Guinea-Bissau.
War (1960s-1970s)-Cuban advisors in South Yemen aided and trained
Dhofari rebels who were fighting government
forces in Oman and their British and Iranian allies (this was before
the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the pro-Western Shah of
Involvement in the Vietnam War (1960s-1970s)-Cuba was allied with
Communist North Vietnam, and acknowledges that Cuban military
engineers helped the North Vietnamese make improvements to the Ho Chi
Minh Trail. Cuba denies,
however, the allegation made by American POWs, including former POW
and current U.S. Senator John McCain, that Cuba supplied personnel
who helped the North Vietnamese torture American prisoners of
Sahara War (1970s-1980s)- Cuban advisors trained and aided the
Saharawi rebel army against pro-Western Morocco from bases in
Kippur War/Ramadan War (1973)-Cuba, along with the Soviet Union,
actively supported the Arab states against Israel in this short but
violent war. About 1,500 Cuban troops were
in Egypt and Syria, supporting the Arab war against Israel.
This particular Arab-Israeli war had very strong Cold War
overtones, and nearly led to a military conflict between the U.S. and
the Soviet Union.
War of Independence-Prior to the Marxist takeover of the
Ethiopian government in 1974, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other
communist nations, aided the Eritrean rebels against the pro-Western
government of Ethiopia. After the Marxist overthrow of the old
Ethiopian government in 1974, the Soviets decided that backing the
Ethiopians was better policy for them. Cuba, however, was reluctant
to halt aid to the Eritreans (who had received military training in
Cuba beginning in the 1960s), for some time, and only reluctantly
aided the Ethiopian military against the Eritreans. This is also the
same time period in which the Cuban military was heavily involved in
Ethiopia's other war, against Somalia.
Civil War (1975-1991)-During the Angolan War of Independence
against Portugal, Cuba and the Soviets aided the Marxist MPLA rebel
movement. After independence, a civil war broke out in Angola that
saw the MPLA take control of the capital of Luanda, to become the de
facto government. At this point, (1975), Castro saw Africa as a more
fertile post-colonial environment for spreading Communist revolution.
Cuba sent thousands of troops to Angola to fight alongside the MPLA
against the non-Communist forces of the UNITA and the FNLA, both of
whom were supported by the United States and South Africa. Cuban
troops were in Angola from 1975-1991, and engaged in heavy
War (1977-1978)-After Ethiopia's new Marxist government allied
itself with the Soviet Union, both the Soviets and Cubans supported
the Ethiopians in defend against an invasion of the Ogaden region of
Ethiopia (populated largely by ethnic Somalis) by Somalia. The role
of Cuban military forces enabled the Ethiopians to defeat the Somali
invasion. Cuban troops and tanks engaged in heavy combat.
African Border War-Cuba had long supported, with training and
material, the anti-South African and anti-Rhodesian nations and
rebels of southern Africa. Part of the Angolan intervention by Cuba
involved supporting the SWAPO guerrilla forces based in Southern
Angola who were fighting for independence of their homeland, now
known as Namibia, from South African rule. South Africa, in turn, was
supporting the anti-Communist UNITA rebel army in southern Angola.
These conflicts brought Cuban and South African troops into combat
against each other. At this time in history, both South Africa and
Rhodesia were ruled by White-minority governments who kept the much
larger Black African population under control through Apartheid and
heavy military and police tactics. Cuba supported the so-called
"Frontline States" of Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania, along
with Namibian, South African, and Rhodesian/Zimbabwean rebels against
the governments of South Africa and Rhodesia.
(1983)-A Marxist coup in the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1979,
established a government friendly to Cuban interests, and
Cuba began sending aid to that island. In October of 1983,
political violence in Grenada provided an opportunity to the United
States to invade and overthrow the Marxist forces in Grenada. Several
hundred Cuban troops were on the island, which resulted in combat
between U.S. and Cuban forces. Cuba suffered 25 killed, 59 wounded,
and 638 captured.
peace agreements in Angola and Mozambique, and with the collapse of
the Soviet Union, the Castro regime curtailed Cuba's foreign
adventures. While the
Cubans supplied hundreds of thousands of troops in service to the
idea of spreading and supporting Marxist revolution in the Third
World, the Soviets had supplied the money, weapons, and
transportation necessary to support Cuba's foreign wars.
At the time
of Fidel Castro's, several of the political factions his troops
fought for are still in power, as seen in Nicaragua, Angola,
Mozambique, and others. In
cooperation with the Soviet paymasters, Castro served as an important
warlord in service to the concept of Marxist revolution. Regardless of what
happens now to the one-party state he founded in Cuba, his legacy as
a warlord and exporter of revolution and war, has made an impact on
world affairs and world history.
and Conflicts of Cuba
of the Cuban Liberation Wars
of Wars.-by George
Havana's Military Machine-Article
in The Atlantic
Cubans in Guinea-Bissau’s
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