Armed Hostilities

Cuban Revolution and Seven-Step War Model


The Cuban Revolution can be considered one of the most famous events in the history of Cuba. The name of Fidel Castro is also known throughout the whole world. The revolutionary’s actions towards the Cuban government reshaped Cuban politics and reformed the country. It is safe to assume that while devising a plan, Castro utilized the tactics of guerrilla warfare, the system that was implemented by various political leaders, including a Chinese communist Mao Tse-Tung. This paper aims to analyze the Cuban Revolution and the actions of Fidel Castro through Mao Tse-Tung’s seven-step war model.

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The Seven-Step War Model

The guerrilla warfare model can include seven steps, every one of which is focused on different aspects of preparing a military action. In his works, Mao Tse-Tung outlined each step to spread the information about these tactics. The first step is “arousing and organizing people” (Tse-Tung 43). This step is important because the power of the guerrilla army is entirely dependent on people that volunteer to participate in the group’s activities. Thus, to form an army for the revolution, Castro had to find followers and give them directions. After he decided to fight the current government of Fulgencio Batista, Castro did just that as he formed a group called the Movement (Skierka 32). However, it is difficult to find a strong connection between this action and the first step of the war model, as Castro’s group did not reach significant numbers at that time. Later, Castro renamed his organization as the 26th of July Movement, which gained more followers because Castro became more recognized than before (Chomsky 33). After the formation of this group, Castro’s supporters were more organized and ready to strike.

The second step of the war model is “achieving internal unification politically” (Tse-Tung 43). Castro had a clear goal of overthrowing the functioning government, and he expected that his followers shared his vision. According to Chomsky, Castro considered himself to be anti-Batista (82). Furthermore, he stated that his views were more anti-imperialist than openly communist. However, his political views might not have been fully formed until he met Che Guevara, who expressed his ideas of Marxism and communism to him (Chomsky 34). It is possible that this particular political ideology became the central source of unity for the troops of Castro’s guerrilla movement. Thus, Castro’s organization achieved internal agreement when the leader chose to spread communist ideas to his followers.

The next step involves the process of “establishing bases,” which correlates with finding physical locations that can be used to advance in the conflict (Tse-Tung 43). Castro moved across the country during his initial attacks, settling in a mountain range called Sierra Maestra (Chomsky 32). This place would become one of the centers of the guerrilla war and the ground for events that can be considered a turning point in the Cuban Revolution. Castro had established various bases before choosing Sierra. However, this particular spot on the mountain range allowed him and his followers to have a safe place with a tactical advantage. Thus, Castro followed the war model in detail.

According to Tse-Tung, the fourth step talks about the necessity of “equipping forces” (43). The attacks were not possible without proper equipment. Thus, Castro went through this step as well by giving his followers the necessary weapons and provisions to fight with the government’s forces. However, the troops were not stable in their access to armaments as most of them were civilians and not soldiers. Thus, the responsibility to arm the group fell on Castro’s shoulders. He achieved that by performing raids on army posts and communicating with other citizens, who supported his actions (Skierka 84). In the end, the guerrillas were ready to participate in armed conflicts, and Castro achieved one more step of the war model.

The next step is concerned with national strength (Tse-Tung 43). To overthrow the government and avoid chaos, Castro had to obtain national recognition and have more power than the opposing forces (Sarkesian 52). The rule of Batista’s military junta was negatively viewed by many Cuban residents, which helped Castro and his organization to gain social approval. Moreover, Castro’s teachings and politics were perceived as favorable by the citizens that were oppressed by the government. According to Holbraad, many people volunteered or supported the guerrilla movement because of the concept of change and progress, which started to seem like an achievable goal because of Castro’s organization (366). Therefore, the guerrilla war was positively met by many individuals and the national strength was on Castro’s side.

The following step is directly connected to the previous one, as it discusses the need to rid the enemy of the national strength (Tse-Tung 43). To win the revolution, Castro had to win the public. However, many Cubans were on Castro’s side already. The strength of government officials was mostly formed by the military and the police. Castro turned to various groups to spread the information about his movement, gaining more followers and overpowering the military forces of the state (Bairner 57).

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The last step involves “regaining lost territories,” which Castro performed by freeing Sierra region from military forces and overthrowing Batista’s political junta. All in all, the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro follows all steps of the war model devised by Mao Tse-Tung.

Works Cited

Bairner, Alan. “Conservative Physical Education for Radical Politics: The Example of Fidel Castro.” Movimento, vol. 20, 2014, pp. 57-66.

Chomsky, Aviva. A History of the Cuban Revolution. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Holbraad, Martin. “Revolución o muerte: Self-Sacrifice and the Ontology of Cuban Revolution.” Ethnos, vol. 79, no. 3, 2014, pp. 365-387.

Sarkesian, Sam C., editor. Revolutionary Guerrilla Warfare: Theories, Doctrines, and Contexts. Routledge, 2017.

Skierka, Volker. Fidel Castro: A Biography. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.

Tse-Tung, Mao. On Guerrilla Warfare. University of Illinois Press, 1961.

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