Affirming history, independence and the cause of peace and justice • Cuban President Presides over Ceremony in Pinar del Río • Speech in Pinar del Río
Affirming history, independence and the cause of peace and justice
By ISAAC SANEY, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network on Cuba
On July 26, 1953, a group of courageous young men and women — led by Fidel Castro — attacked the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Barracks in Bayamo, in an attempt to overthrow the U.S.-supported puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista. As the island’s second largest military garrison, the Moncada Barracks was critical to Batista’s military control of southern Cuba. The goal was to seize the weapons and distribute them to the people and spark a national uprising that would not only overthrow the Batista dictatorship but also establish Cuba’s independence and sovereignty. This heroic act is annually commemorated all over Cuba as the beginning of the movement and struggle that laid the foundation of the Cuban Revolution.
This year’s commemorations are imbued with a particular poignancy; it is the first without the physical presence of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. Fidel epitomized the unbending commitment to Justice, Dignity and Independence that has characterized Cuba since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel’s living legacy continues in the work of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel’s example and fidelity to principle continue to inspire the Cuban people, who continue on the path of independence, self-determination and human dignity.
The attacks were carried out by an organization that was created in 1952, under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Abel Santamaria, and comprised of young workers, students, artisans, peasants and landless farmers. It had around 1,500 members and affiliated itself with historic Cuban national liberation figures such as José Martí and Antonio Maceo. Around 120 youths were part of the attacks, approximately 70 of whom were killed, with many being tortured and executed after the attack. The survivors, including Fidel Castro, were subsequently put on trial and given lengthy prison sentences. Most, including Fidel Castro, were released after an amnesty in May 1955. This amnesty was the result of the mass mobilization of Cubans in support of the imprisoned rebels. Under the leadership of Fidel Castro, the July 26th Movement galvanized Cubans, ultimately leading to the victory of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959.
While the Moncada attack failed in fulfilling its immediate objective, it was central to the Cuban people’s struggle for national affirmation and social emancipation. Cubans have always placed Moncada in a broad historical context, viewing it as a crucial link in the century-long striving of Cuba to free itself from Spanish colonial domination and U.S. tutelage, and then, establish authentic independence. At his trial Fidel Castro delivered a speech that eventually became the manifesto of the movement to overthrow the Batista tyranny. It was published as La Historia Me Absolvera (History Will Absolve Me) and laid out the national and social goals of the revolutionary movement that eventually triumphed on January 1, 1959. Today, the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, now a school and a museum, stand as concrete symbols of that successful struggle.
Canadian commemorations of Moncada Day are a reflection of the ties that exist between Cuba and Canada. Canadians admire the courageous and rebellious spirit embodied in Moncada; a spirit that today is so powerfully manifested in Cuba’s steadfastness against the efforts of the empire to destroy the island’s independence. Canadians irrespective of their political or ideological positions, stand in favour of building relations with Cuba based on mutual respect and equality, relations which uphold Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty. Having traveled to Cuba in the hundreds of thousands and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, Canadians have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their efforts to build and defend a society centred on independence, justice and human dignity.
Since the Cuban people embarked on the road paved by Moncada, Cuba has refuted and continues to refute the colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries imperial arrangements and dictates that they resoundingly reject. The Cuban Revolution has refused to renounce its right to self-determination and the principles, principles forged in the crucible of Moncada.
In the years that have flashed by since Moncada, the Cuban people have shown what is possible to achieve when one defends genuine independence and self-determination. The example of Cuba assumes even greater significance as the 21st century unfolds, fraught with grave dangers that threaten the well-being of the peoples of the world. In the midst of these profound challenges, Cuba refutes those who argue that relations among the world’s nations and peoples are — and can only be — determined by self-interest, the pursuit of power and wealth. As Cuba continues on the path of social justice, human dignity and international solidarity, the Cuban Revolution continues to be an inspiration to humanity. Cuba demonstrates that it is possible to build relations based on genuine solidarity and social love; it is a living example of the alternatives that permit people to realize their deepest aspirations, and that another better world is possible. History has given its judgment, vindicating the attack on the Moncada Barracks!
Long Live the Martyrs of Moncada!
Long Live the Cuban Revolution!
Cuban President Presides over Ceremony in Pinar del Río
Army General Raul Castro, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, presided over the central event for the 64th anniversary of the Moncada’s deed and the National Rebellion Day.
Paying tribute to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, his ideas and legacy, people from Pinar del Rio commemorated the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, without the physical presence of the leader of the Cuban Revolution for the first time.
The ceremony took place at Hermanos Cruz neighborhood square, enlarged, paved and renovated, which welcomed more than 10,000 people who, since early hours in the morning, gathered for the event.
The event was attended by the main leaders of the Cuban Revolution and national and foreign guests, attackers of the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, Granma yacht’s expeditionaries and combatants of the clandestine struggle.
José Ramón Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Vice-President of the Councils of State and Ministers, and Gladys Martinez, First Secretary of the Communist Party in the province, gave speeches in the ceremony.
The event was also attended by members of the Venceremos brigade and the 28th United States-Cuba Friendship Caravan, sponsored by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) — Pastors for Peace — who defy the travel ban on Americans going to Cuba and demonstrate against the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States on the Caribbean island for more than half a century.
This is the third time that Pinar del Río has hosted the national event for the anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks.
Speech in Pinar del Río
July 26, a transcendental date in Cuban history, evokes a mix of emotions and ideas in us, of commitment to Fidel and to all those who gave their lives for the independence of our country, and of pride as Cubans, said Machado Ventura.
Fidel remains present alongside this people, true, in everyday affairs to the concept of Revolution he bequeathed to us, Machado Ventura said.
He added that a few numbers are enough to illustrate how much Pinar del Río has changed since the triumph of the Revolution.
Before 1959, he recalled, the province had only 248 doctors, 25 dentists, and 50 nurses. There are now 626 neighborhood family doctor’s offices, 19 polyclinics, eight dental clinics, and five hospitals. The nursing staff has surpassed 5,000 and there are 4,577 doctors, 18 times the 1959 total.
Among the provinces accomplishments, Machado Ventura noted the reduction of infant mortality, from 60 deaths for every 100 live births before the Revolution to 1.7 in the first half of 2017, an extraordinary figure.
He likewise emphasized illiteracy, reduced to zero from a previous level of 30 per cent, and unemployment from 30 per cent to 1.3 per cent.
Although much remains to be done to dynamize the Cuban economy, he said, Pinar del Río is playing a vanguard role in this difficult battle.
He noted recent accomplishments in tobacco, tourism, and industry, among other sectors. Machado recalled that there are innumerable Pinar del Río natives who participated in making the Revolution, just like those today who are building a better future for the homeland with the sweat of their brows.
Machado also denounced interventionist attacks on the constitutional government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, and called for respecting the autonomy of this sister nation, reaffirming Cuba’s solidarity with the people and government there.
He likewise reiterated the revolutionary government’s condemnation of new measures to reinforce the U.S. blockade.
Machado Ventura concluded his remarks insisting that Cubans will never betray the glory and pride of having served the homeland and the Revolution under the leadership of Fidel and Raúl, reiterating that any strategy to promote subversion here will fail.
(ACN, Granma. Photos: Granma, CubaDebate, Fidel Soldado de las Ideas)