By Lázaro Herrera, Ambassador of Cuba to The Gambia
This July 26 marks the 65th anniversary of the heroic action carried out by a group of young Cuban patriots who, headed by lawyer Fidel Castro Ruz, all legal channels exhausted, decided to attack one of the main bastions of the army, the Moncada barracks, located in the heroic city of Santiago de Cuba in the east part of the island, to put an end to the horrendous tyranny of the dictator Fulgencio Batista, who had plunged the country into misery, ignorance and the bloodiest oppression.
Traveling clandestinely from different points of the Cuban capital, the young revolutionaries congregated in a small farm called Siboney, near Santiago, from where they left to fulfill their commitment to the country, ready to die in the attempt.
It was not pure coincidence that the action was carried out in the centenary year of the Cuban national hero José Martì, whose ideals of independence, unconditional loyalty to the homeland, social justice and love for freedom inspired so many generations of young Cubans.
At dawn on Sunday, July 26, the inexperienced troops composed of around a hundred men and two women (Haydee Santamaría and Melba Hernández) left Siboney farm to fulfill that almost suicidal mission. When the surprise factor failed, given the numerical disadvantage and the inexperience of the brave fighters, many assailants lost their lives, most were captured alive and cowardly killed.
Another small group, among whom was the young Fidel Castro, was taken prisoner and held for trial. Fidel astonished the world by assuming his own defense and turning from a defendant to an accuser, denouncing all the ills that plagued the country under the
dictatorship of Batista.
“I have in my heart the doctrines of the Master …”, he then proclaimed referring to José Martì, whom he recognized as the intellectual author of that heroic action … “Condemn me, it is of no importance, history will absolve me!” was the cry of rebellion and determination in front of the court, the young man who forever changed the history of his country and his revolutionary ideal, his great optimism, his loyalty to principles and his spirit of solidarity and internationalism, left a beautiful legacy for Cuba and the world.
With the triumph of the Cuban revolution, the ideas that inspired the assailants of the Moncada Barracks became a reality. The Cuban people, in spite of the great external pressures they have had to face, have seen the dreams that inspired this group of young people, who one day decided to conquer the aurora, fulfilled.
Cubans consider July 26 the Day of National Rebellion and the best example of how a circumstantial setback can become the driving force of a great historic victory, as was the victory of January 1.