On this day in 1959: Fidel Castro appoints himself prime minister of Cuba

We recall another day in Cuban history: “On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Miro Cardona as head of the country’s new provisional government.”

Castro followed the announcement with a trip to the US. He met with VP Nixon, was a guest on “Meet the Press” and spoke before The National Press Club. He charmed the press. I think that most of the media in the US was caught up in the tale of the young “barbudo” destined to turn into some kind of Cuban George Washington.

Back in Cuba, Castro still enjoyed vast support. However, it started to erode in 1960 when radical steps were implemented. Castro went after the private schools, the newspapers and the media. Elections were never held. Repression was everywhere.

Finally, Cuba became a huge issue in the 1960 election and then Senator Kennedy beat up VP Nixon because the Eisenhower administration had been too easy on Cuba. On January ’61, or two years after Castro became prime minister, the US broke diplomatic relations and that was followed by The Bay of Pigs and The Missile Crisis.

And you know the rest of the ugly story. Castro never became the Cuban George Washington, but he did govern a lot like the Cuban Josef Stalin.

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2 thoughts on “On this day in 1959: Fidel Castro appoints himself prime minister of Cuba”

  1. It hardly matters what Miró Cardona was politically, since he was just a ficha, a pawn, but saying he was “more moderate” than Fidel Castro is an understatement and then some.

  2. It should have been obvious very quickly that Fidel Castro was a bullshit artist, and Lord knows he looked it. As usual, every time I see a photo like this one I feel a mixture of embarrassment and shame.

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