Cuba 1952-1959 - The True Story of Castro's Rise to Power told by Dr. Manuel Marquez-Sterling and LIFE Magazine

Every day is a new opportunity to learn, to reflect, to be humbled, to be inspired, to understand, to forgive, and to grow this new literary initiative at whose mission is to document real Cuba stories, help amplify #soscuba voices to #freecuba, and preserve our true Cuban history so it's not lost to a false censored narrative created by 62 years of propaganda, lies and censorship - by "the propaganda machine that has become the Cuban Government" (Tania Brugera). It's why non-Cubans around the world tend to spit out the excuses fabricated and spun by the "propaganda machine" on the topic of Cuba. It's the embargo's fault. The evil, bad imperialist United States Yankee was trying to steal Cuba from the Cuban people. Cuba has become a third world country because of the embargo.  It's all the embargos fault!  Castro brought free education to Cuba. Castro eliminated racism from Cuba. Ah please people - that is what the propaganda machine has worked tirelessly for over 62 years to make you believe and say.  Please start listening to the Cuban people - those who lived it.   

The Batista excuses are the ones that trigger me to reflect, to understand, and to forgive - because those are the ones that ring more truth.  You see, my grandfather and his brother were acrobatic motorcycle cops for President Batista who fled Cuba by sea to escape firing squad execution - a fate faced by many in Castro's Cuba for decades.  But my grandfather was not a monster like Fidel or Che!  And he was certainly not a racist!  He was a good man - a hard working family man who was thoughtful, very giving with a soft spot for helping others seek their own opportunities.  He was the strong patriarch in his huge family of exiles - all of whom would stumble across a poster-size portrait of Batista himself in the back room of his house.  However, I did hear the occasional "Batista tambien fue un dictator como Fidel!" or "lo peor que hizo Batista fue dejar salir Fidel de la cárcel." 

Shock is an understated emotion to what I felt when I much later learned that Batista had stolen the 1952 election via a coup d'état, and then sabotaged the 1958 election so that his candidate would win. I found this book (also embedded below with Google Books) written by a Cuban-American Historian, Retired Plymouth State University professor and Author, Dr. Manuel Marquez-Sterling, the son of Carlos Marquez-Sterling and the third major candidate that ran for President of Cuba in the 1958 Presidential election.  Dr. Marquez-Sterling says that "Cuba's history would have been very different had his father, Carlos Marquez-Sterling, prevailed in the Nov. 3, 1958 election" (Laconia Daily Sun 2014).  In his book, "Cuba 1952-1959: The True Story of Castro's Rise to Power" he and collaborator R. Rembert Aranda writes about these events that altered the course of our history.  

You can watch Dr. Marquez speak about his experience in writing this book in this 3-part book presentation series on YouTube (also embedded at the very bottom of this post).  

Several chapters of this book can be read on Google Books (and below) including a Foreword written by Nestor Carbonell-Cortina in which he dispels these five myths about Cuba.: 

Myth #1:  "Cuba was a poor backward nation."
Myth #2:  "Cuba was oppressed by Batista a brutal tyrant."
Myth #3:  "Castro was not a Communist before 1959,"
Myth #4:  "The only choices were Batista and Castro."
Myth #5:   "Castro militarily defeated the U.S.-backed dictator Batista."

I also stumbled across this 1952-1959 blog site created by Marquez-Sterling and collaborator Aranda on this very subject and in particular this article about the election: Cuba 1952-1959: 1958: Cuba's Last Election Day as well as Cuba 1952-1959: Cuba 1950s LIFE on Google Books from Aranda that carefully compiles thirteen LIFE Magazine articles published between 1952-1959 covering these events.  Links to all thirteen LIFE Magazines are conveniently provided below.  

1.  Ingredients of a revolution (LIFE Mar 24, 1952)

2.  Wanted: a mandate (LIFE Aug 9, 1954)

3.  Eleventh body in a mystery (LIFE May 21, 1956)

4.  Revolt fails but defiance lives on in Cuba (LIFE Mar 25, 1957)

5.  In man’s War US Boys Quit (LIFE May 27, 1957 | p43)

6.  Castro on eve of his big bid (LIFE Apr 14, 1958)

7.  [Batista’s] Violent show's smooth front (LIFE Apr 21, 1958)

8.  Exclusive Report: The Captives in Cuba (LIFE Jul 14, 1958)

9.  Inside Rebel Cuba with Raul Castro (LIFE Jul 21, 1958)

10.  [Castro’s] Liberator’s Triumphal March (LIFE Jan 19, 1959)

11.  The Killing in Cuba and a moral issue (LIFE Jan 26, 1959)

12.  Hate holds court in Cuba (LIFE Feb 2, 1959)

13.  At ringside when Cuba clobbered democracy by Thomas Dozier (LIFE Jul 27, 1959 | p. 27)   

Manuel Marquez-Sterling's book presentation (part 1 of 3). 

This post is written by Michelle Marie


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