Pardo Llada rushed to the kitchen to tell Fidel Castro that Batista had resigned. Castro jumped to his feet indignantly, "Where did you hear that?"he demanded ... finally he exploded:"It's a cowardly betrayal! A betrayal! They're trying to steal the triumph that belongs to the revolution!" He went through the kitchen door shouting: "I'm going to Santiago right now . . . . Those people are naive if they think they can paralyze the revolution with their coup d'etat. We'll show them they're mistaken."
The revolutionary underground in Havana mobilized to preserve law and order. Wearing the arm bands of the Revolutionary Directorate or the July 26 movement, its members took to the streets to replace the policeman and soldiers. Boy Scouts in uniform directed traffic.
Reaction by Cubans abroad to the collapse of the Batista regime mirrored the general feeling of triumph and celebration throughout the Republic.
On January 1 members of the PSP (Communist Party) occupied Radio Union in Havana, and at 8:45 pm the party's president, Juan Marinello, proclaimed communist backing for the General Strike
A systematic search was begun for Batistianos accused of torturing and killing members of the opposition. Already some had been shot without trial on the orders of Raul Castro and Ernesto Guevara.
January 3 - Manuel Urrutia took the oath of office as provisional president in Santiago. Fidel Castro was named Commander in chief of the Cuban armed forces.
Fidel Castro left his brother Raul as military Governor of Oriente Province. Raul proved to be an effective, if ruthless administrator. Short, thin, effeminate even, with shifty eyes, he still wore his hair in the ponytail he had adopted in the Sierra Maestra when he found a full beard an impossibility. One of his first acts was as chief military officer in the province was to order the trial of some 70 Batista soldiers. All were judged and shot in a single day. Many other Batistiano "henchmen" were executed without the semblance of a trial. And when foreign critics began to speak of a "blood bath" in Cuba, Raul shrugged off their objections. Why worry about the enemy? "After all, there's always a priest to hear their confessions."
Fidel Castro made the 600-mile trip to Havana in an open jeep. He arrived in Havana on January 8, 1959 to a grateful Havana which was a riot of color and noise.
In his first major address he called on the revolutionaries to disarm referring specifically to the students who led "the Revolutionary Directorate - who had broken into the barracks and removed a large number of rifles and a store of ammunition that belonged their. "As soon as possible I shall take the rifles off the streets." No one had the right to organize private armies. "arms for what?"
The era of good feelings lasted less than a week. Castro had become increasingly irritated by criticism of the trials, particularly in the American and Mexican press. The Bar Association in Mexico City had sent a strongly worded letter to the Cuban National College of Lawyers, protesting against the large number of executions.
On January 15 Fidel Castro entered the lobby of the Havana Hilton. As usual he found a crowd of well wishers. Flattery accomplished more with Castro than with the President or the Cabinet. When guards tried to push back the crowd, he stopped them. "The people! The people! Let the people see me. Let me talk with them." Then someone raised the question of the purge trials and the possibility of American intervention. Castro fumed. If the United States sent marines into Cuba, he said, 200,000 gringos would die.
At the time the Eisenhower administration had no intention of intervening and would soon send an ambassador to Havana who would seek to improve relations with the revolutionary government and with the rebel leader.
Castro refused to let the matter drop. To condemn the executions was to condemn the revolution and, by extension, to depreciate him. On January 21 he summoned the people of Havana to Central Park to hear his spirited counterattack against foreign critics. Castro asked the vast audience - those who agreed that Batista's "henchmen" should be shot - to indicate their approval by raising their hands. His request was received with a two-minute storm of applause. But also the alarming and ominous cries of "paredon!" -"to the wall" at La Cabaņa- were heard for the first time.
Castro met with president-elect Romulo Betancourt. Castro asked the Venezuelans to lend Cuba $300 million to free it from its dependence on the United States. They could pay in oil. Betancourt turned him down. Castro never mentioned it to Urrutia then or later, but when he began his campaign in the early sixties to undermine popularly elected governments in Latin America, he first targeted Betancourt's Venezuela. He could not tolerate or forgive a rebuff by anyone.
By the end of January 1959 it had become clear that Havana had two centers of power, the first in the ornate offices of the presidential palace, the second in a luxurious $100-a-day suite on the twenty third floor of the Havana Hilton, or wherever else Fidel Castro might be at the time.
The one, the formal and constitutional government of Manuel Urrutia, was officially recognized by most of the world's nations. The president and his ministers worked to restore democratic institutions and to assure the continued well being of the country. Cuban businessmen, strongly supporting the new regime, agreed to pay back taxes and to prepay assessments for the current year. Foreign companies announced new investments - Chrysler, Pittsburgh Glass, Du Pont, and Goodrich. The crucial sugar harvest was already under way.
But the people of Cuba and the world press paid little attention to the activities taking place in the palace and the ministries. Though Fidel Castro continued to reiterate his respect for elections and democratic institutions and his loyalty to Urrutia, with every press conference and in every public utterance his words sapped the authority of the president. On February 2 Fidel Castro proclaimed that "in the course of a few short years" Cuba's standard of living would have surpassed that of the United States and the Soviet Union. The next day in Oriente Province he promised that within five years unemployment would have disappeared. He did not say how these miracles would be accomplished.
Prime Minister Miro Cardona had had enough. On February 13, scarcely five weeks after he had taken office, he resigned and left the government. A spokesman at the presidential palace announced to a surprised Cuban people that Fidel Castro would take his place.