Despite the domestic origins of the coup, the US embraced the new regime within the framework of the escalating Cold War conflict since Batista quickly ended relations with the Soviet Union — which he himself had established in 1942 — and then outlawed the Cuban Communist Party.
The Cold War association with the US was soon overshadowed, however, by the creation of more favorable conditions for foreign capital which led to a significant increase in US investments and tourism.
Subsequently, US executive branch policy toward the military regime became located primarily in the relationship between the two socio-economic systems, concentrating on the specific role allocated to private capital, especially American capital. Even so, Cold War exigencies continued to be important. Jules R. Benjamin notes:
Ties between the United States and Cuban militaries were also strengthened in this period as the Pentagon began to concern itself with the question of ‘hemisphere defense’ and returned to the generosity in supplying arms that had characterized the World War II period. Batista wholly adopted this perspective and attempted to draw from the Pentagon not only military hardware but a close relationship with the group of U.S. military advisers whose job it was to help train Cubans in the use of the weapons with which they would take up their share of the Cold War burden. As time went on, it also helped to convince some of Batista’s enemies that the United States was a principal prop of his regime.
Ultimately, however, despite the militaristic aspects of Washington’s relationship with Batista, the eventual excesses of the dictatorship were viewed by American officials largely in terms of their impact on existing and long-term capital operations on the island.
Domestic opposition was also muted. Surprisingly, neither of the two principal political parties–the Autentico or the Ortodoxo–responded to the military coup with either a comprehensive program or a compelling plan of action. Since Batista promised new elections in 1954, the parties were not necessarily alarmed. On the contrary, they were thrown into disarray and confusion.
The little opposition that did arise originated largely from outside the organized political parties, principally from ousted military officers, splinter political groups, and personalistic factions of the major parties.
Most early opposition took place well outside of the capital, although Fidel Castro, a young Ortodoxo, did present a legal brief in the Court of Appeals in Havana demanding imprisonment for Batista and his collaborators for violating the constitution. Not unexpectedly, the court disavowed the request. Shortly thereafter, Castro rejected negotiations with Batista as a means to bring an end to the dictatorship and became a leading proponent of armed insurrection.
Photograph by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe.