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Illiteracy was widespread, and those lucky enough to attend school seldom made it past the first or second grades.Clusters of graveyards dotted the main highway along the foothills of the Sierra Maestra, marking the spots where people died waiting for transportation to the nearest hospitals and clinics in Santiago de Cuba. The island's private clubs and beaches were segregated.Batista surprised many, ushering in an era of hope in Cuba by sponsoring a progressive constitution, allowing the Cuban Communist Party to join the government, and stepping down in favor of his opponent, Grau, when his four-year term was over.Plagued by Corruption For the next twelve years Cuba enjoyed democracy and free elections.

objective was to restore the rule of law that had been swept aside by Batista." Even Castro -- a dynamic national figure following his failed Moncada assault of 1953 -- spoke in those terms. Our political philosophy is representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy." Many wealthy Cubans welcomed Castro's rebel triumph in January 1959.

"Batista's coup opened a Pandora's box," explained writer Carlos Alberto Montaner. What mattered was audacity, the individual capable of violent action." That individual turned out to be a daring young lawyer named Fidel Castro.

Era of Change Between 19, Cubans from all walks of life -- students, businessmen, mothers, politicians -- united in opposition against Batista.

In the early part of the century the country's economy, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dramatically.

Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant.

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