Twentieth-Century Ideology

National revolutions significantly altered the internal status quo of Latin American nations in the twentieth century. The region’s first revolutionary leaders took their inspiration from the American and French revolutions. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 brought to power an ideologically committed leader who totally restructured the country’s society, economy, and form of government. Fidel Castro was guided by Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet model, based on revolutionary repression, discipline, and objectives.

Cuba: Fidel Castro (b. 1926)

Cuba under Castro created an unprecedented array of medals and orders designed to promote his government’s ideology of a new society. These awards paid token homage to Cuba’s early fighters for independence. Orders and medals named for deceased members of Castro’s 26th of July Movement made these comrades martyrs of the revolution as well as role models for those receiving the awards.Awards recognize individuals for participating in the revolution against Batista, defending the new government against its enemies, promoting socialism, arresting and interrogating members of the Cuban opposition, achieving production goals, teaching literacy, promoting revolution in other Latin American nations, and defending socialist governments in Africa.

Fidel Castro, Nikita Krushchev (1884–1971), and Leonid Brezhnev (1906–1982), 1963. Fidel Castro Photographs Collection, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
Souvenir composite photograph of Ernesto (Che) Guevara (1928–1967), Fidel Castro, and Camilo Cienfuegos (1932–1959). Fidel Castro Photographs Collection, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
Medals of the Revolution


Cuba, Gold Star (Cu22)
Cuba, Gold Star for Labor (Cu23)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Medal for Participation in the Cuban Revolution, 1962 (RLR)
Cuba, Order of Girón Beach, instituted 1961, version in use from 1961 to 1979 (Cu74a)
Cuba, Order of Girón Beach, version in use since 1979 (Cu74b )
Cuba, Order for Combatants in the War of Liberation, 2nd Grade (Cu82 )
Cuba, Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, instituted 1926, version in use until 1979, Officer (Cu61a)
Cuba, Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, version in use since 1979 (Cu61b)
Cuba, Order of Máximo Gomez, 2nd Grade (Cu76)
Cuba, Maceo Cross, for Those Who Resisted Castro’s Attack on the Moncada Barracks, instituted 1953 (Cu18)
Cuba, Ciro Redondo Medal, instituted 1959 (Cu30)
State and Security


Cuba, April 19th [1961] Distinction, instituted 1982 (Cu57)
Cuba, Medal for the Struggle against Bandits, instituted 1988 (Cu49)
Cuba, Combative Fraternity Medal (Cu35)
Cuba, Order of Camilo Cienfuegos (Cu78)
Cuba, Order for Service to the Fatherland in the Revolutionary Armed Forces, 2nd Class (Cu90)
Cuba, Order of June 6 [1961], 2nd Grade (Cu92)
Support for foreign wars and liberation movements


Cuba, Order of Ernesto Che Guevara, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Classes (Cu79)
Formal troops


Cuba, Order of Antonio Maceo (Cu77)
Cuba, Medal for Victory, Cuba–People’s Republic of Angola, instituted 1998 (Cu56)
Cuba, Medal for Victory, Cuba–Ethiopia, 1978–1989 (Cu57)
Revolutionary Ideology


Cuba, José Martí National Order, instituted 1972 (Cu75b)
Cuba, Order of Mariana Grajales (Cu80 )
Cuba, Order of Julio Antonio Mella (Cu84 )
Cuba, Order of Ana Betancourt (Cu86)
Economic Productivity


Cuba, Order of Lázaro Peña, 3rd Class (Cu81 )
Cuba, Order of May 17 [1946] (Cu93 )


Cuba, Commemorative Medal for Literacy, instituted 1982 (Cu46)
Cuba, Order of Frank País (Cu85)


Cuba, Order of Félix Varela, 1st Class (Cu83)
Cuba, Order of Juan Marinello (Cu87)
Cuba, Order of Sporting Merit (Cu89)
Cuba, Order of Blas Roca (Cu91)