A Timeline of Events Fifty Years Ago
Fidel went into exile in Mexico, where he met a young, militant Argentine named Ernesto Guevara, better known as El Che. They left Mexico in late November 1956 on the ship Granma. They landed at Playa Las Coloradas, in the rural eastern part of Cuba. With financial backing from Russia, Castro bribed many military leaders. He got a substantial amount of support from the intellectual and working class, who knew nothing of his Communist intentions.
February 25, 1957
Herbert L. Matthews, a correspondent for the New York Times, Matthews reported:
There is no communism to speak of in Fidel Castro's movement.
Herbert L. Matthews interviewed Fidel Castro at his mountain retreat. For three successive front page articles, he compared Castro to Lincoln and presented him as "a peasant patriot", "a strong anti-communist", "a Robin Hood", and "a defender of the people."
A member of the Intelligence section of the Cuban army hand-carried Castro's dossier to Washington in 1957, delivering it to Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, which revealed that Castro was a Communist. Dulles 'buried' the file.
Arthur Gardner, the American Ambassador to Cuba, referred to Castro as a communist terrorist and so he was replaced by Earl E.T. Smith, who, instead of being briefed by Gardner was briefed by a correspondent for the New York Times, Herbert Matthews. A Senate Committee investigation of William A. Wieland, who in 1957 became the State Department's Caribbean representative, said that he
regularly disregarded, sidetracked or denounced FBI, State Department and military intelligence sources which branded Castro as a Communist.
Individuals in the State Department, and individuals in the New York Times, put Castro in power.These individuals included Robert McNamara, Theodore C. Sorenson, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Roy Rubottom, McGeorge Bundy, William J. Fulbright, and Roger Hilsman.
In 1958, in an interview with Jules DuBois, Castro said:
I have never been nor am I a Communist...Roy Rubottom, the Assistant Secretary for Latin American Affairs, said in December, 1958:
There was no evidence of any organized Communist elements within the Castro movement or that Senor Castro himself was under Communist influence.
December 31, 1958
After being asked to abdicate by Eisenhower, Batista left office on December 31, 1958 and Castro took control of the country in January, 1959.
On CBS-TV, Edward R. Murrow portrayed him as a national hero.
Ed Sullivan interviewed Castro for a film clip which was seen by about 30 million people in which he said:
The people of the United States have great admiration for you and your men because you are in the real American spirit of George Washington.
In April, 1959, Castro visited the U.S., and the State Department welcomed him as a "distinguished leader." Castro meets US Vice President Richard Nixon on an unofficial visit to Washington. Nixon afterwards wrote that the US had no choice but to try to "orient" the leftist leader in the "right direction."
In July, 1959, Major Pedro Diaz Lanz of the Cuban Air Force toured the United States and revealed that he had first-hand knowledge that Castro was a Communist. This fact, for the most part, was kept out of the media. The truth of the matter was that the State Department was purposely covering up Castro's Communist connections, the fact that his supporters were trained by Russia, and that he was carrying out a Communist revolution.
All US businesses in Cuba are nationalised without compensation; US breaks off diplomatic relations with Havana and imposes a trade embargo in response to Castro's reforms.
Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR.