Interview with my Grandmother

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Hello, my name is Tyler Tietjen. For my ninth-grade oral history project I chose to interview my grandmother, Liliane Anita Tietjen. I decided to make Mrs. Tietjen the subject of this interview because of her experiences living in Cuba in the 1950’s and her first-hand knowledge of the rising of Cuba’s well-known dictator, Fidel Castro.

Over the course of this podcast I will give you some background information on important dates and events during the 1950’s that led directly to Castro’s ascent to dictator of Cuba.

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Background information

On October 28th,1492 Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba and claimed the new land for Spain. Spain continued to govern Cuba until The Cuban War for Independence ended in 1898. In 1902 Cuba’s first president Tomas Palma was elected. However, Cuba’s most famous leader was a dictator named Fidel Castro. Castro held the title of the 23rd President of Cuba for more than 31 years from 1976 until 2008 and publicly declared Cuba a socialist country in 1961. Castro accomplished this by founding a revolutionary party called, “The Movement” and by taking part in the Cuban revolution. Castro seized his power from President Fulgencio Batista. Batista was president for 7 ½ years during that time he cancelled any upcoming election and called his system of governing the people, “disciplined democracy”. However, many of the Cuban people were becoming increasingly disillusioned with Batista and with the people looking for change the door was open for someone new to lead. In July 1953, “The Movement” led by Fidel Castro launched an attack on the Moncada Barracks where Batista and the Cuban army was stationed. Castro’s attack failed. Most of his militia was killed and Castro was arrested.

Castro was tried and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, Castro ended up serving less than 2 years when Batista pardoned him in May of 1955. Castro wasted no time, in November 1956, Castro had a militia of 81 men. They attacked Batista’s forces in Havana. 19 men survived including Castro retreated to the Sierra Maestra mountain range where more then 150 people joined the cause of over throwing Batista. The group changed strategies and used guerrilla tactics to counter the Cuban armies use of conventional warfare. By 1958 Batista understood that the war was lost and escaped to the Dominican Republic. Now there was no one in the way Fidel Castro was given the leadership role of the army of Cuba. On January 8th 1959, one week after Batista fled Cuba, Fidel Castro entered Havana celebrated leading a parade through the island. On October 19th 1960, the United States of America begins an economic embargo with Cuba due to unfavorable economic and political circumstances. By January 3rd 1961 The United States of America completely breaks off any diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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