Fidel Castro and a ragtag group of about 150 rebels launched the Cuban Revolution on July 26, 1953. Their poorly-planned attack on an army barracks in the southeastern city of Santiago was quickly and roundly defeated. Within an hour, Fidel, his brother Raul and a handful of rebels fled to the nearby countryside, only to soon be captured and sentenced to prison.
But fortune favored the Castro brothers, and they were released along with other political prisoners two years later. Their next attempt to overthrow the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship also began disastrously in 1956, but their rebellion took hold, and they entered Havana triumphantly in January of 1959.
What began inauspiciously on a Caribbean island of fewer than 7 million people turned into a political movement like few others in human history. Cuba played a hugely disproportionate role in the Cold War and became a focal point for the contentious relations between the Soviet and American superpowers. Additionally, the Castro policy of exporting revolution led to both failed and successful attempts to overthrow governments in Latin America and Africa, which brought with them tens of thousands of deaths.
Sixty-four years later, the Cuban Revolution is still sowing mischief, and the erratic U.S. policy toward the island, centered around a decades-old trade embargo, has done little to prevent the Castro regime’s nefarious influence beyond its borders.
The embargo’s objective was to contain the Castro government and achieve regime change. Despite what my fellow Cuban-American friends in the Senate and House might contend, the embargo has failed miserably to achieve its mission. But, for that matter, so has the policy of engagement and trade with Cuba from other first-world countries.
The regime is as strong as it has ever been, still controlling the island on all levels, continuing to repress the Cuban people and violating many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.