North America 1959: Cuban Revolution
In 1952, Colonel Fulgencio Batista seized power in Cuba, ending elections and aligning with wealthy landowners and foreign investors. Batista's corrupt regime provoked numerous revolts across the country, the most successful being under Fidel Castro in the south. Despite having relatively few followers, Castro held out against the demoralized Cuban army, ultimately forcing Batista to resign and flee the capital.
29 Aug 1949 RDS-1▲
In its first nuclear weapon test, the Soviet Union detonated RDS-1—code-named Joe-1 by the United States—on 29 August 1949 at 7:00 am at Semipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR. Radioactive fission products from the test were detected by the US Air Force, prompting US President Truman to notify the world of the situation the following month. The test surprised the Western powers, who had estimated that the Soviets would not be able to build an atomic bomb until 1953–54.
1 Oct 1949 People’s Republic of China▲
Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing. Beijing, formally Beiping, was declared the capital of the new republic. The Soviet Union recognized the PRC the next day, with most of the other Communist countries following suit that month. However it was not until 1971 that the United Nations would recognize the PRC as the representative of China.
25 Jun 1950–27 Jul 1953 Korean War▲
North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering a United States-led United Nations intervention to support the South Koreans. A UN counteroffensive pushed the North Koreans north to their border with the People’s Republic of China, which prompted the Chinese to enter the war in October 1950. After an initial UN reversal, the war settled into a two-year stalemate, ending with a July 1953 armistice.
10 Mar 1952 Batista seizes power in Cuba▲
In March 1952, former Cuban President Fulgencio Batista ran in the presidential election. However, running far behind in the race, Batista joined forces with the Army to overthrow the existing government and cancel the election.
17 May 1954–11 Apr 1968 Civil Rights Movement▲
Following World War II, a series of court rulings and executive actions had begun to roll back racial segregation against black Americans in the United States, which had existed in various forms since the 1870s. Emboldened by these events, and utilizing the rising medium of television, widespread organized protests took place, successfully lobbying the US Government to pass laws protecting civil rights throughout the mid-late 1960s.
2 Dec 1956 Castro arrives in Cuba on Granma▲
26th of July Movement followers led by Fidel Castro arrived in Playa Los Colorados, in Niquero, Cuba, aboard the yacht Granma before making their way into the Sierra Maestra.
4 Oct 1957 Sputnik 1▲
On 4 October 1957 the Soviet Union became the first nation to send a manmade object into orbit by launching Sputnik, an artificial satellite with a radio transmitter. Sputnik operated until January 1958 and launched the “Space Race” between the Soviets and the United States.
3 Jan 1958 West Indies Federation▲
The West Indies Federation formed to unite the British Caribbean colonies of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, the Leeward Islands except the Virgin Islands, and the Windward Islands.
24 May–8 Aug 1958 Operation Verano▲
Batista’s Cuban government mounted Operation Verano against Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army in the Sierra Maestra, but failed due to a collapse of morale.
21 Aug 1958–2 Jan 1959 Overthrow of Batista▲
Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces mounted their final offensive against Fulgencio Batista’s despotic Cuban government, mounting multiple attacks on government troops in Oriente province while rebel columns under Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos emerged to the west and advanced on Santa Clara. When he received news of the fall of Santa Clara on 31 December 1958, Batista fled by air for the Dominican Republic in the early hours of 1 January. The next day, Guevara and Cienfuegos entered Havana, while Santiago de Cuba surrendered to Castro.