The Cuban Revolution of 1959: summary of preceding events.
In 1952, the Cuban government was to hold elections, but instead was swept over by a military coup which placed Fulgencio Batista in dictatorial power.
Fidel Castro was a young lawyer at the time, running for Congress and a likely winner in his district of Havana. He objected to the coup and publicly denounced it. He then organised a group of approximately 160 rebels and on July 26, 1953, led an attack of the Moncada military barracks of Santiago de Cuba (which is located on the southern coast in Orient province). The attack failed and approxiamtely half the rebels were caught and executed without trial, by the government. Castro and approximately 30 others were imprisoned and the motivation for the July 26 Movement was thus born.
Less than two years later, due in part to public pressure and to a feeling of political stability by Batista, the prisoners were released on a general amnesty. Castro again publicly denounced the dictatorship, and then left the country for Mexico. There he obtained weapons and began training a group of rebel supporters. On December 2, 1956, 82 rebels, including Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and Castro, set sail for Cuba in a 50 ft passenger yacht, across the Gulf of Mexico. The journey took them 7 days, and due to weather conditions, they arrived slightly off course. Before landing, they were spotted by fighter planes and a naval ship, and reinforcements were sent in to strafe the rebels. And so, the first day back on Cuban soil, was for the rebels, a desperate struggle to reach shore and take cover in the trees. This they did.
For two years the Sierra rebels, as they came to be known due to their location in the Sierra Maestra, fought along with urban factions of their July 26 Movement, and eventually overthrew the Batista dictatorship. Castro was instated as Prime Minister. Within a few months, most wealthy Cubans, especially those with American investment interests, had fled the country. Castro's government began to alter the Cuban landscape in economic, education, health, and agrarian reforms.
Forty-three years later, Castro and an altered form of his revolutionary government, is still in power.