Communist revolutions have been attempted across the world - what were the primary reasons that the Cuban Revolution succeeded while others failed?

  • 3
    Consider Soviet economic and military aid. Without Soviet support, Cuban revolution would not have survived for long.
    – Andrei
    Oct 12, 2011 at 6:21
  • 4
    Actually, all communist revolutions received economic and military aid from the USSR. And one cannot really say that only the Cuban Revolution succeeded - see China and Vietnam. But it was the only one that succeeded despite being very far from USSR. Oct 12, 2011 at 8:08
  • 5
    I think the cruelty of the Batistuta regime immensely helped Castro gain popularity.
    – quant_dev
    Oct 22, 2011 at 18:47
  • 10
    @quant_dev, that's Batista, Batistuta was a soccer player.
    – user280
    Nov 4, 2011 at 15:38
  • 4
    @Andrei: The Cuban Revolution would probably have succeed in SOME form given the widespread opposition to Batista. But Soviet support probably helped Castro prevail over the OTHER revolutionaries. And later, repell an American-sponsored invasion.
    – Tom Au
    Nov 16, 2011 at 19:59

3 Answers 3


The Cuban revolution succeeded because it was a broad-based revolutionary movement, not a "Communist" revolution (initially, that is). For instance, in the July 26th (1953) uprising against the government's military barracks (the equivalent of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry before the U.S. civil war), the Castroites were only one of several revolutionary groups revolting against the unpopular dictator, Batista.

Castro was captured and condemned to 15 years' imprisonment, but was released in 1955 under a general amnesty.

In 1956, the Castro supporters fled to Mexico, where they were joined by other revolutionaries, notably a student group called the Revolutionary Directorate (RD). This group returned in Cuba in 1957, and launched a suicidal attack against Batista, while Castro bided his time and returned later.

By this time, Batista was losing most of his supporters. In 1958, the U.S. recalled its Ambassador and withdrew its diplomatic recognition of Batista, placing a key embargo on military goods. Meanwhile, one of Batista's opponents was an American "soldier of fortune, William Alexander Morgan. When Castro returned, he was joined by Morgan and the surviving RD members. Their combined efforts were enough to bring down Batista.

After the Revolution was successful, Castro's Communists "hijacked" it because they were better armed and organized than the other revolutionaries. But that is another story.

  • 6
    Some may argue US foreign policy at the time pushed the Castro regime towards the USSR rather than Communist leanings
    – James
    Jan 15, 2012 at 18:50
  • 2
    in fact Castro made the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution on april 16, 1961 after the Bay of pigs invasion cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/1961/esp/f160461e.html Jan 26, 2014 at 5:46

Nobody knew that Castro was communist until after he came to power. I was in Cuba in 1958 (or'57 - I am not sure) and everyone was rooting for Castro. He was largely financed by the Cuban middle class; businesses and shop owners. Nobody had a clue at that time.


Castro was a communist of convenience. He would have chosen the political system and economic system that would have perpetuated his revolution's, and his, grasp on power during his lifetime and beyond. In this respect the Cuban Revolution was a complete success and it accomplished it's primary goals. To break US dominance.

Castro was a nationalist and anti-imperialist first. He would have chosen to ally himself with the US had it been the most convenient route to accomplish his goal of a Cuban-free of US dominance and the ability to have self-determination. We need to recall the international political atmosphere of the 1950's and US hegemony over Cuba, and Latin America, since Cuba won it's "independence" over Spain. Cuba would have eventually won it's independence from Spain and US intervention stole that victory and symbol of national pride.

Subsequent to "independence, Cuba was occupied by the US and only after agreeing to the Platt Amendment was the US occupation ended but Cuba remained under the US boot. Platt Amendment made Cuba a vassal state to the US and these strings needed to be broken and that process started in 1959 with the Revolution.

The US, as was typical in the region and elsewhere(think Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam, Panama Canal, etc.), resisted such independence and tried to squelch the breakaway by undermining the Revolution and overthrowing it. Sensing the imminent US intervention drove Castro into the Soviet camp, not out of ideology but what he perceived as an existential threat. It was about survival, not ideology.

Castro was a pragmatist and there were both Marxists and non-Marxist wings in the Revolution, granted that his brother Raul and Ernesto Guevara were Marxists and had Castro's ear but there were also the non-Marxist that also had his ear who feared US intervention and wanted to return to the previous status-quo. Given the US attempts of interference in Cuban affairs and assassination attempts against Castro he concluded that to survive physically and otherwise that he had no other option but to purge the non-Marxist and pro-US elements from the Revolution thus driving the Revolution into the Soviet Camp. So the Raul/Guevara wing won out and the Matos/Cienfuegos wing lost. The rest is history.

Cuba's true date of independence was actually January 1st, 1959.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.