|Previous: World War II|
|Concurrent: Cold War|
|Date: 26 July 1953 – 1 January 1959|
|Outcome: 26 July Movement victory|
- "I want to assure you that although the rebels have mounted an impressive campaign in Las Villas -- my staff wit assurance that we'll drive them out of the city of Santa Clara before the New Year."
- ―Fulgencio Batista[src]
The Cuban Revolution was a successful armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement., which overthrew the US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959, after more than five years of struggle.
The revolution began when poorly armed rebels attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago and the barracks in Bayamo on 26 July 1953. The attack failed and Fidel Castro was sent to prison. However, two years later, Castro was given amnesty and fled to Mexico shortly after, where he began organizing the 26th of July Movement.
On 2 December 1956, Castro and 82 men landed in Cuba, having sailed in the boat Granma from Tuxpan, Veracruz, ready to organize and lead a revolution. By late 1958, after Batista's failed summer offensive, Fidel Castro's rebels launched their own offensive.
In December 1958, an important Mafia summit was held by Hyman Roth and Michael Corleone, aimed to divide Cuba's tourism industry among various criminal organizations, particulary the Corleone family and the Jewish Mafia.
After suffering a crucial defeat at Santa Clara, Fulgencio Batista abdicated on January 1, 1959, and many gangsters and other American citizens fled Cuba's capital Havana. Castro's forces occupied Havana and other important cities the next day.
The communist regime announced sweeping economic changes to the country. Castro turned all farms, plantations, ranches, and fishing wharves into collectives, nationalized businesses, instituted central banking, and voided all mortgages and leases. The changes to Cuba were profound, as shortages, runaway inflation, and bread lines soon happened in the 1960s. All Cubans were affected, as the poor and middle class struggled with a weakened peso and difficulty obtaining basic necessities, and the rich lost property. The communist regime also grew increasingly ruthless, jailing and executing Cubans on flimsy accusations of being an enemy of Castro.
For the Mafia, the revolution represented a huge loss financially, as their hotels were nationalized. One of the first targets of the regime capturing Havana was the casinos, which to the Cuban Revolution was the hallmark of corruption and gangsterism. Rioters bashed through the double-locked doors, finally making their way into the plush, air-conditioned casinos. They smashed, burned, and looted virtually everything to be found in the Mafia-run casinos. One observer later remarked "By the sun came up on January 2nd, , it was impossible to find a pair of matching dice in Havana".