Cuba was used by the U.S. as a haven for gambling, alcohol, prostitution, and corruption. Much of it was run by the Mafia with the aide of the puppet president Batista. Fidel Castro led an uprising of Cuban people to try to overthrow Batista with an attack on a military base called the Moncada, but that initial effort was unsuccessful.
In 1953, Fidel Castro was put on trial and convicted. He gave his own closing statement at the end of the trial, what is now called "History Will Absolve Me," a speech as famous in the world as the Martin Luther King, Jr. speech "I Have A Dream." Today, December 17, 2014, the U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that the U.S. and Cuba will renew diplomatic relations, and try to move forward as friendly neighbors.
What were the revolutionary proposals of Castro? Turn control of much of the land over to peasant and tenant farmers. Give every single worker 30% of the profits of any large business in which they work. Confiscate the wealth of those who have acquired their wealth through crime and fraud. Use the money taken from the rich to fund retirement programs for all Cubans, hospitals, and other charitable organizations.
Excerpts from "History Will Absolve Me":
In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we're talking about the six hundred thousand Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don't have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; ....
"... the one hundred thousand small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it, who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of their parcel of land by giving up a portion of its produce, who cannot love it, improve it, beautify it nor plant a cedar or an orange tree on it because they never know when a sheriff will come with the rural guard to evict them from it; the thirty thousand teachers and professors who are so devoted, dedicated and so necessary to the better destiny of future generations and who are so badly treated and paid; the twenty thousand small business men weighed down by debts, ruined by the crisis and harangued by a plague of grafting and venal officials; the ten thousand young professional people: doctors, engineers, lawyers, veterinarians, school teachers, dentists, pharmacists, newspapermen, painters, sculptors, etc., who finish school with their degrees anxious to work and full of hope, only to find themselves at a dead end, all doors closed to them, and where no ears hear their clamor or supplication."
These are the people, the ones who know misfortune and, therefore, are capable of fighting with limitless courage! To these people whose desperate roads through life have been paved with the bricks of betrayal and false promises, we were not going to say: 'We will give you ...' but rather: 'Here it is, now fight for it with everything you have, so that liberty and happiness may be yours!'