The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.63/No.27           August 2, 1999 
Raúl Castro On 1953 Moncada Assault: `Aim Was To Spark Revolutionary Armed Action'  

Eight years ago, all of Cuba was shaken by an event that the censored and venal press covered only partially and in a distorted way: the assault on the Moncada garrison, the military fortress of the eastern province.

What most people knew at the time was that on July 26, 1953, a large group of young people, led by Fidel Castro, had launched a bold military operation to capture the Moncada garrison, that there had been a fierce battle, that more than eighty young people had been taken prisoner and then murdered, and that in the days that followed, others had been arrested and jailed.

July 26, 1953, opened a new phase in Cuban history, the phase of armed action as the principal method of struggle against the Batista tyranny and against the semicolonial foreign domination of our country.

In his trial, Fidel was both his own defense attorney and an implacable accuser of the tyranny and of the existing social and economic system in Cuba. In his speech to the court, which became known as "History Will Absolve Me," he explained the basis and justification for that historic attack, which the tyranny turned into a blood-soaked massacre, and the political ends he intended to achieve.

The assault on the fortress did not aim to achieve power through the action of a hundred men. Rather, it was meant as the first step by a determined group to arm the people of Cuba and begin the revolution.

It was not a putsch that sought an easy victory without the support of the people.(1) Rather, it was a surprise attack to disarm the enemy and arm the people, with the aim of sparking revolutionary armed action.

Not a putsch
It was not simply a blow to take power from Batista and his accomplices in power. Rather, it was the opening shot of an effort to transform the whole political, economic, and social system in Cuba. It sought to end foreign oppression, poverty, unemployment, unhealthy living conditions, and lack of culture, all of which weighed heavily on the homeland and the people.

At that time Fidel did not have an organization built around and committed to those ends. Fidel was confident that, given the political situation and discontent in the country, fighters would come forward spontaneously as soon as there were arms and leaders. It is important to point out, however, that he was not trying to organize an action behind the back of the masses, but rather to find the means to arm and mobilize them for the armed struggle. The goal was not to take over the seat of government and grab power, but rather to initiate revolutionary action to bring the people to power.

The government of Carlos Prío was coming to an end. Like earlier governments, it had fallen into discredit because of its subordination to imperialist interests; because of gangsterism;(2) the shameless theft of public funds; its intervention into the unions and the imposition of handpicked leaders; the repression against the labor movement; the closing down of the revolutionary press and the murder of many of its leaders. The Authentic Party, which brought Prío to power, had been greatly weakened. It lost many members and lacked any semblance of mass support. The Authentic Party, together with the Liberal, Democratic, and Republican Parties, had formed a government coalition that came to be known as the "hip pocket parties," representing a small minority of old-time corrupt politicians, who in turn represented the traditional dominant sectors of Cuban society. These "corks" were accustomed to floating atop all the political tides and storms in the country, showing that the earlier political upheavals in our country had not yet been enough to keep them down under water for good.

The people were dissatisfied, but they expected change in the next general elections, for which everyone was preparing.

In the opposition camp the Orthodox Party, with great influence in the petty bourgeoisie, had the most authority. The Popular Socialist Party had broad influence among the masses of workers and peasants.(3) The United Action Party (PAU), created by Batista and others of his ilk, had no chance of victory.

The Orthodox Party, with its founder Eduardo Chiba's dead,(4) turned down a unity pact proposed by the PSP, which had offered to support the Orthodox Party's presidential candidate.(5) While the ortodoxos rejected unity with other political forces, however, they opened their doors and offered important leadership posts to a large number of old- time politicians, plantation owners, bankers, Platt Amendment types,(6) and so on.

Nevertheless, with admirable discipline and a spirit of sacrifice, the Cuban Communists thought only about what was best for Cuba at the time, despite rejection by the Orthodox Party and daily warnings from that party's principal leaders that they wanted no agreement with the Communists. These warnings were aimed above all at the ears of the imperialists so they would look favorably on an Orthodox Party government in Cuba. The PSP decided to support the Orthodox Party presidential candidate while running their own independent candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives on a deep-going program of measures: against imperialism, landlordism, discrimination, unemployment, attacks on unionists, and Mujalism.(7)

Batista's coup
Thus there was no doubt that, as the major opposition party and with the backing of the Popular Socialist Party, the Orthodox Party's victory in the next elections would be easily attained.

That was where things stood in Cuba on March 10, 1952, eighty-two days before the elections. On that day a coup d'état led by Batista took place, with imperialist sponsorship, aimed at reinforcing Cuba's semicolonial status and preventing an Orthodox Party victory in the elections. The coup makers had nothing to fear from that party's top leadership. But there was indeed reason to fear the masses who supported the Orthodox Party, as well as their demands after the party came to power. These masses would not be satisfied with formal liberties.

In a matter of hours, the government collapsed like a house of cards and the president, Carlos Prío, cowardly fled.

There was generalized national indignation; the masses filled the streets-but then returned to their homes discouraged. The opposition leaders, who were to spend the seven long years of anti-Batista struggle at podiums each claiming to best represent the people, immediately revealed their timidity and weakness.

The coup not only produced a political crisis in the country. At the same time it brought about a deeper crisis in the leadership of the Orthodox Party, which had come so close to power and now was so far from it. All their weaknesses, ambitions, and incapacity-with the exceptions we're all aware of-came to the fore.

Neither the party nor any of the innumerable factions its leaders were divided into, could offer a road forward, much less a program of struggle, to the masses who yearned for something more than formal rights. The masses had shown even before the coup that they wanted something more than a mini- program of honesty in government, which would not solve anything. They were beginning to understand that the reactionary coup was not aimed against the previous government but against them and their honest aspirations. In face of this situation, a leadership that advocated doing nothing, supposedly out of "dignity," while making useless complaints to the Organization of American States, and raising such pitiful slogans as not buying shoes and clothes, not going to the movies, buying as little as possible, moral repudiation, etc., etc., would not do. These things would not even have scared the mayor of a small town.

Worst of all was that their influence and proposals posed a genuine obstacle to mobilizing the masses in revolutionary struggle against the tyranny; they blocked unity in action of the revolutionary forces. Their most prominent leaders practiced and preached anticommunism, without which no bourgeois leader would get a green light from the Yankees in order to obtain power. So, we had a sizable task before us: to fight Batista as well as what many of the opposition leaders represented.

Opposition to the tyranny
The results were not long in coming. Five months after the coup, the first anniversary of the death of Chiba's was approaching. On that day thousands of citizens went to his tomb, more to pay tribute to him and take advantage of the opportunity to hold a demonstration against the tyranny than to listen to the usual empty words of the speakers.

There among the crowd a small mimeographed newspaper of several pages was circulated, called El Acusador [The Accuser], edited by Fidel Castro and several ortodoxos. It carried an article entitled "A Critical Assessment of the PPC(8)," signed by Fidel and expressing the sentiments of the ortodoxo masses. It stated:

"Above the tumult of the cowards, the mediocrities, and the weak-spirited, it is necessary to make a brief, yet useful and constructive assessment of the ortodoxo movement since the death of its great leader, Eduardo Chiba's."

Later it stated:

"Whoever believes that everything we've done up to now was good and was correct, that we need not criticize ourselves, is rather loose and easy with his conscience."

"Those sterile quarrels after Chiba's's death, those huge conflicts, not ideological but purely selfish and personal, still ring as bitter hammerblows in our conscience.

"That disgraceful act of using public forums to air Byzantine quarrels was a deep symptom of indiscipline and irresponsibility.

"March 10 came unexpectedly. It was to be hoped that such a serious event would pull up by its roots the petty squabbles and sterile personal issues in the party. But was this what happened?

"To the surprise and indignation of the party's ranks, the stupid quarrels began to resurface. Those responsible showed total lack of sense in not noticing that while the opportunity to attack the regime in the press was limited, the door to attack each other was wide open. There have been many such examples of this type of conduct, which has served Batista.

"No one will be shocked that such a necessary assessment is being made today. It is now the turn of the masses, who in bitter silence have suffered these mistakes. There could be no more appropriate moment than today, when we render accounts to Chiba's at his tomb.

"These vast masses of the PPC are ready, more determined than ever. Ask yourselves in these moments of sacrifice: `Where are the aspirants-those who wanted to be first in the seats of honor in the assemblies and government councils; those who ran for office and formed tendencies; those who demanded to be up at the speakers' stage at the mass rallies? Today they are not running for office, not mobilizing in the streets, not demanding places of honor in the front lines of combat.

"Faced with this picture, those who have a traditional concept of politics might feel pessimistic. For those with blind faith in the masses, however, those who believe in the indestructible strength of great ideas, the indecision of the leaders will not give rise to weakening or discouragement, because the vacuum will quickly be filled by honest men from the ranks.

"The hour is revolutionary and not political. Politics is the consecration of opportunism by those who possess means and resources. The revolution opens the door to true merit, to those with courage and sincere ideals, to those who offer up their bare chests and take the banner in their hands. A revolutionary party must have a leadership that is revolutionary, young, and of popular origin. That is what will save Cuba."

In that article Fidel expressed the concerns of the ortodoxo masses. He had decided to make these ideas public after several months of knocking on all the doors of those politicians for whom Batista and imperialism, with their coup and its deep consequences, had placed a gravestone on their public lives with the initials R.I.P. on it. Seven years later it would be the turn of Batista and imperialism, which fought to keep him in power. They would be buried by the hands of the people and their revolution of January 1959.

Youth take to the streets
The masses who supported the Orthodox Party ended up like an army whose officers had fled in disorder and for good. Its youth still participated in any activity called against the tyranny, while new leaders were emerging from its ranks. Through struggle these forces were evolving politically. While fighting against the tyranny, they formed circles where Marxism was studied, pamphlets were printed-single sheets, small mimeographed newspapers-and they prepared themselves for the struggle. Many joined the Socialist Youth.(9)

A few months later, on January 28, 1953 -the hundredth anniversary of the birth of José Martí - a large demonstration of workers, students, white collar employees, and the people in general set off from the steps of the University of Havana. Within the crowd, attention was drawn to a group of several thousand youths who marched in perfect formation, filling up six blocks. At their head was Fidel. These were the youth, in their majority from the Orthodox Party, who had now found a leader and were searching for new methods of struggle. (10)

Batista, feeling himself invulnerable, with his stubbornness and blindness, as well as his specific role as imperialism's guard dog, had led the country to a dead end. All that was possible through peaceful means would be a contest among the various leaderships of bourgeois parties who were vying for power behind the backs of the people and against their interests. There were four parties that, together with the Authentic Party, had made up the government coalition of Carlos Prío. One of these, the Republican Party, lined up behind Batista only two days after the coup. Before the end of the year, the Democratic and Liberal Parties were in power once more, together with Batista. It was an example of how politics in Cuba was a thieves' picnic. Among the working class, the ouster of its honest leaders was intensifying. The gangster-like imposition of false leaders, armed assaults on the unions, the gradual loss of many of the workers' conquests, and the offensive of the bosses allied with Mujal and imperialism, was deepening the divisions within it. Their banner was anticommunism, carefully fed by the U.S. embassy through its agents in leading posts in the CTC. All this meant that the day when the mass workers movement would be ready to fight was far off.

In the countryside, the now-vanished Rural Guard, a type of rural political police, carried out the same role as do the carabineros today in sister countries. They did not even allow our peasants to meet to form organizations allowing them to fight for their most immediate demands. Only a few such fighters remained, who at a heavy cost had been able to resist the attacks of the land grabbers and their Rural Guard defenders. These included peasant fighters at Realengo 18, Las Maboas, and El Cobre.(11)

Whenever they had the opportunity, the students took to the streets in demonstrations and confrontations with the police. But in spite of their growing combativity, they remained a small part of society. Keeping their heroic tradition of struggle alive, they constituted a permanent agitational factor, but by themselves they could do little or nothing.

We were all in agreement, and were conscious that to destroy the tyranny it was necessary to set in motion a mass movement. But given everything that had happened as mentioned above, how could this be done? At that time Fidel was saying, "A little engine is needed that will help start up the big engine."

The little engine would be an initial action with those same young people who, marching in virtual military formation, followed Fidel that January 28, 1953. They began receiving basic military training, including the handling of arms and target practice. Sometimes this was done in small groups at the university; other times it was conducted at small farms of friendly peasants in Havana province.

Movement of working-class youth
These youth came from poor families. The majority consisted of workers and white collar employees, along with a few peasants. Most came from Havana and provincial towns in Havana province. Some were from Pinar del Río. Artemisa stood out for the number of magnificent young fighters it provided. Many of them would fall in battle over the coming years. Some became heroic Moncada combatants, firm revolutionaries in prison and exile, Granma expeditionaries,(12) and courageous guerrilla officers. Some were Rebel Army founders-like Ciro Redondo and Julio Díaz, heroes of our youth who, like so many others, fell in the Sierra Maestra without being able to see the triumph of their cause. In homage to their memory, once the war was over and after seven years of absence and tireless struggle, they were transported on the shoulders of the people to their native city of Artemisa.

That's what those young people were like, sons of our working people, who marched behind Fidel that January 28. They had already received some military training, preparing themselves for the road of armed struggle, the only road we saw that had the possibility of success. Meanwhile, they participated in demonstrations, rallies, and any other type of struggle against the Batista tyranny.

Fidel had already decided that the little engine would be the taking of the Moncada fortress, the one farthest from the capital. Once it was in our hands, it would spur the big engine, the combative people. The people would fight with the weapons we captured for the program we were to proclaim. The plan had one weak point: if we failed to take the garrison, everything else would fall apart. One thing depended on the other, the big engine on the smaller one. But it was possible, and we threw ourselves into it.

July 26, St. Ann's Sunday, was chosen because, as everyone knows, on that day Carnival is at its high point in Santiago de Cuba. Thousands of Cubans from all over the country, including many tourists from Havana, as well as natives of Santiago who return to their home town for a week to enjoy the traditional popular celebration. This meant that our men could travel from Havana to Santiago, passing themselves off as just other tourists. Together with the movement of masses of people and luggage, the transport of weapons was also made easier.

Well over a year had passed since Fidel had begun assembling together the movement. Up to that point it remained without a name. It was known simply as "The Movement" to the best of the ortodoxo youth who were able to have contact with it.

Several chapters of a book would be warranted to fully recount this whole historical event, including the period of advance preparation for the Moncada action. I will limit myself here to pointing out the essential features.

Financed by those who gave everything
The success of the operation depended to a large extent on the military strength available to us, and therefore largely on the economic resources we could assemble. Unfortunately, after many sacrifices, only 20,000 pesos were raised. Three examples are sufficient to show how the money was raised, to cite cases of compañeros who were killed. Elpidio Sosa sold his small business and appeared before Fidel with three hundred pesos "for the cause." Fernando Chenard sold the equipment from his photography studio, from which he earned his living. Pedro Marrero borrowed against many months' future wages, and he had to be prevented from selling all the furniture from his home. There were other cases like this. It's easy to imagine how the funds were raised, among those who gave everything, and later on gave their lives. There is no way to measure the gap between the honorable and patriotic attitude of these young Cubans and the attitude of those politicians who spent millions on their electoral campaigns but were incapable of giving one cent to free the country. And I don't think it was because they were aware that later on we would free ourselves from them too. Because at that time, neither they, much less "their enemy" Batista and imperialism, could imagine what would come later.

With such limited resources, arms were few and of low quality. One by one, several dozen automatic five-cartridge 12 gauge shotguns and a similar number of semi-automatic .22 caliber rifles were purchased. We obtained only one .45 caliber Browning machine gun, an M-1 carbine, several .44 caliber Winchester rifles-like those used by cowboys in U.S. Westerns-and some pistols of various calibers. This was our entire arsenal. It was enough, at one weapon per fighter, to arm 150 men. It was easy to obtain such arms with fake licenses, using them over and over in different gun shops. This was because in spite of the vigilance and control the regime maintained over the sale of arms in the capital, no one could imagine that a military fortress would be attacked with rifles meant for shooting birds.

The plan moved forward amidst all sorts of anxieties and unimaginable difficulties, including economic strains and government vigilance. It was true that such vigilance had not reached the brutal and implacable forms of bloody persecution as it would in years to come; yet it nevertheless required that we observe all the rules and security measures of clandestine struggle.

There was a small general staff, led by Fidel. It was composed of Abel Santamaría, our second in command; José Luis Tasende; Renato Guitart; Antonio "Ñico" López Fernández; Pedro Miret; and Jesús Montané. Of them, only Fidel and the latter two are still alive. Ñico López died in the Granma landing three years later.

The principal tasks were divided among these compañeros. Each pursued the plans in his own area of responsibility. The other men were grouped in cells, which became something like seven-man squads. Later on, as organization became further refined, they were organized into groups made up of several squads each.

These conditions made for difficult working conditions. No less difficult was the situation created by the hostility, humiliations, underestimation, contempt, and ridicule that we suffered in that "opposition to Batista" environment, where it was not clear who was being opposed more-Batista, or those who worked honestly against Batista. Although the people and nearly the entire youth had lost faith in them, there were still a lot of "big chiefs" full of the "dignity of doing nothing"; big shots who looked down on us with scorn, especially toward Fidel. There were a lot of pompous individuals, coffehouse strategists who in well-known restaurants were jotting down on napkins their plans for solving Cuba's problems. In a not very disguised way, they were seeking to advance their personal aspirations for the future.

But our plans went ahead, ignoring these triflers who, through the heat of battle, the fall of Batista, and the coming of the revolution, would see their clay pedestals dissolve and would be unable to tolerate or understand, much less assimilate, the revolutionary storm in our country that would engulf them all: the pseudorevolutionaries as well as Batista and imperialism. [...]

[The article then details the attack and the reasons for its failure - ed.]

Program benefiting workers, peasants
The Moncada attack was not aimed simply at overthrowing the tyranny. Nor were its aims separate and apart from the economic and social situation the country was in.

Its basis was precisely the total repudiation of Batista, his government, and what it represented. The general crisis of our semicolonial structure was worsening. Unemployment was increasing. The workers, the peasants, all the popular sectors in our country were showing great dissatisfaction. Our bourgeoisie was dissatisfied too, because of the economic stagnation Cuba was suffering and the ruinous competition of the voracious Yankee imperialist monopolies. The latter did not worry too much about the bourgeoisie's concerns, however, knowing that it was paralyzed by fear-above all in Latin America-that the working class and the peasants would lead a patriotic and democratic struggle and win power. The Yankee imperialist monopolies were confident that in a crisis the national bourgeoisie would take their side against the sovereignty and independence of its own country.

For our part, the plan was the following: [Together with the Moncada attack] we would simultaneously attack the Bayamo garrison, with the aim of placing forward units at the Cauto River. We would arm the people with weapons taken from the dictatorship's soldiers. We would cut the highway and railroad by taking the bridges. We would occupy the airport and radio stations. We would then address the people with a program that would take effect immediately in the territory under our control, a program benefitting workers and peasants, professionals, the petty bourgeoisie, middle-class layers in the city. We were convinced that by our action, we would unleash the revolutionary storm throughout the country.

A description of the basic aims of our struggle were an important part of the combative speech Fidel gave in his own defense-an accusation and a program delivered before the nervous judges (who hours later would sentence him to fifteen years in prison) and the watchful and open-mouthed soldiers guarding him.

Amidst absolute silence Fidel's words were heard clearly. How far were these judges and soldiers from imagining that the words of a prisoner being tried secretly so that no one would find out what he said, would, years later, for the benefit of the people, become the laws of the nation!

I stated that the second consideration on which we based our chances for success as one of social order. Why were we sure of the people's support? When we speak of the people we are not talking about those who live in comfort, the conservative elements of the nation, who welcome any oppressive regime, any dictatorship, any despotism - prostrating themselves before the masters of the moment until they grind their foreheads into the ground. When we speak of struggle and we mention the people, we mean the vast unredeemed masses those to whom everyone makes promises and who are deceived by all; we mean the people who yearn for a better, more dignified, and more just nation; those who are moved by ancestral aspirations of justice, for they have suffered injustice and mockery generation after generation; those who long for great and wise changes in all aspects of their life; people who, to attain those changes, are ready to give even the very last breath they have, when they believe in something or in someone, especially when they believe in themselves. The first condition of sincerity and good faith in any endeavor is to do precisely what nobody else ever does, that is, to speak with absolute clarity, without fear. The demagogues and professional politicians who manage to perform the miracle of being right about everything and of pleasing everyone are, necessarily, deceiving everyone about everything. The revolutionaries must proclaim their ideas courageously, define their principles, and express their intentions so that no one is deceived, neither friend nor foe.

In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we're talking about the six hundred thousand Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don't have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; the one hundred thousand small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs.[...] These are the people, the ones who know misfortune and, therefore, are capable of fighting with limitless courage! To these people whose desperate roads through life have been paved with the bricks of betrayal and false promises, we were not going to say: "We will give you..." but rather "Here it is, now fight for it with everything you have, so that liberty and happiness may be yours!" [...]

Historic results of Moncada
To get to today, the historic results of the failed attack on the Moncada garrison were of vital importance.

First, it initiated a period of armed struggle that did not end until the tyranny's defeat.

Second, it created a new leadership and a new organization that repudiated passivity and reformism; that was determined and combative; and that, in the trial itself, raised a program with the key social, economic, and political demands needed to transform Cuba. They rejected the Platt Amendment spirit of the old-time leaders, who were left behind, losing influence among the masses.

As a concrete demonstration of this loss of influence, the following appeared in the "Political Parade" section of the magazine Bohemia, on December 4, 1955:(13) "Fidel Castro is too dangerous an opponent for some of the opposition leaders who in three and a half years have not seen fit to take a straightforward stance on Cuba's situation. These leaders know it very well. They already feel themselves displaced due to the strength of fidelismo in the battle against the military.

"The logical reaction of the opposition politicians in face of this clear fact should be to answer the revolutionary action of fidelismo with some resolute political action of their own."

Third, it brought Fidel Castro to prominence as the leader and organizer of the armed struggle and of radical political action by the Cuban people.

Fourth, it served as a lesson subsequently in organizing the Granma expedition and the guerrilla action in the Sierra Maestra.

Fidel has not come to be Cuba's national leader solely for demonstrating courage and daring, firmness and decisiveness in organizing the Moncada assault. Rather, because together with that, he presented the program of the country and the people. And he not only put forward that program, but he had the will to bring it about, and he showed the road to its realization.

If Karl Marx said that the Paris Communards were "storming the heavens,"(14) we should say of the dozens of young people armed with bird guns who attacked the Moncada garrison, that they "tried to take the heavens by surprise."

Years later, on the Granma, the little engine would come again. Conditions had ripened; we were not counting on the success of a single action, making all other plans dependent on it. Rather, we made it so that one or more failures would not doom the entire effort. And in spite of the early, serious setbacks that the Granma expeditionaries suffered at the beginning of the guerrilla struggle, the firmness and tenacity of Fidel in inculcating in those first few fighters the idea of never giving up sustained the guerrillas in those early days. The support of the peasants and agricultural workers were obtained first; the support of the working class and the rest of the population came later. All this constituted the big engine that toppled the tyranny and began the revolution. This did not happen on that July morning in 1953 but rather on January 1, 1959, when, with a firm base, we began the storming of the heavens, which for a true revolutionary, for a Marxist-Leninist, is conquered here on earth: progress, well-being, and the happiness of our people.

July 26 is a great anniversary date of the revolution.

July 26 is a great day in the history of our homeland.

July 26 was extended in the Granma, in the mountains, in the plains. It materialized in January 1959; on May 17 in the agrarian reform; in the urban reform;(15) in the army garrisons transformed into schools; in the nationalization of the electricity and telephone monopolies, of the banks, the sugar mills and other large industrial enterprises in the country, all of which allowed the revolution to take into its hands all the main pieces of our economy, a basic measure to strengthen ourselves and move forward under the circumstances that surround us. It is tied together and extended in the Declaration of Havana,(16) in the victory at Playa Girón(17) and with the proclamation of the socialist character of our revolution, which realizes in our beloved Cuban land the highest and most cherished ideal of human society: putting an end to the exploitation of man by man.

1. Accusations that the Moncada attack was a putsch were common in the bourgeois press at the time. This was also the position of the pro-Moscow Popular Socialist Party (PSP). In a July 1953 statement of its position, reprinted by the Aug. 5, 1953, issue of the Daily Worker, newspaper of the U.S. Communist Party, the PSP wrote, "We oppose the actions of Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo. The putschist methods which were used are characteristic of bourgeois groups.... The PSP condemns the putschist adventurism which is directed against the fight of the masses."

2. In the midst of the revolutionary upsurge of the 1930s that in 1933 toppled the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado, a number of armed "action groups" were formed, composed initially of revolutionary-minded young people. As the momentum of the revolutionary upsurge was contained and then reversed over the course of the decade, however, these groups degenerated into rival gangster-like formations that served the interests of various bourgeois currents. Armed conflicts between the different gangs reached a peak in the years before Batista's coup.

3. The Popular Socialist Party was the name taken in 1944 by the Communist Party of Cuba.

4. Eduardo Chiba's was founding leader of the opposition Cuban People's (Orthodox) Party in 1947. The party attracted support from many workers and youth who opposed the corruption and subordination to Washington of Prío's Authentic Party. Fidel Castro was a leader of the left wing of the Orthodox Party. In August 1951, Chiba's committed suicide at the conclusion of a radio address as protest against government corruption.

5. The PSP regularly supported candidates of bourgeois parties.

6. The Platt Amendment, named after U.S. Senator Orville Platt, was a provision imposed on the Cuban government that was established during the U.S. military occupation following 1898. Under the terms of that amendment - incorporated in Cuba's new constitution - Washington was given the "right" to intervene in Cuban affairs at any time and to establish military bases on Cuban soil. These provisions were eliminated from the Cuban constitution in the wake of the 1933-34 revolutionary upsurge there.

7. Eusebio Mujal was head of the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC). Originally a supporter of Prío's Authentic Party, he became a firm adherent of Batista, and sought to use the CTC officialdom as a vehicle to police the labor movement for the dictatorship.

8. The initials in Spanish for the Cuban People's Party, commonly known as the Orthodox Party.

9. The Socialist Youth was the youth organization of the Popular Socialist Party.

10. José Martí (1853-1895) was a noted poet, writer, speaker, and journalist, who founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party to fight Spanish rule and oppose U.S. designs on Cuba. Under Martí's leadership, the party launched an independence war in 1895 in which he was killed in battle. Martí's revolutionary anti-imperialist program is part of the internationalist traditions and political heritage of the Cuban revolution.

Within Cuba the young anti-Batista fighters were closely identified with defending Martí's legacy. Because of this, during 1953 they were given the name Generation of the Centennial.

11. In 1953 the Maisí Company, backed by the Rural Guard, attempted to force peasants living on Realengo 18 to pay them rent. The peasants fought back and were able to prevent this move.

In 1955 peasants in El Cobre in Oriente province waged a battle against eviction at the hands of the large landowners.

In 1957-58 the Batista dictatorship gave the U.S.-owned Francisco Sugar Company state lands in Las Maboas, in Camaguey province. Large struggles were waged by peasants and other working people both to defend Cuba's national patrimony and in defense of the peasants' rights.

12. On November 30, 1956, eighty-two revolutionary fighters, including Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Juan Almeida, and Ernesto Che Guevara, set sail from Tuxpan, Mexico, toward Cuba aboard the yacht Granma, to initiate the revolutionary war against the Batista regime. The expeditionaries landed in southeast Cuba on December 2.

13. Bohemia was Cuba's leading newsmagazine in the 1950s, with a weekly circulation of over a quarter of a million.

14. The Paris Commune of 1871 represented the first attempt to establish a revolutionary government of the toilers. The working people of Paris held and administered the city from March 18 until May 28, when their resistance was crushed by the forces of the French bourgeoisie, working in league with the Prussian army. In the ensuing terror more than seventeen thousand working people of Paris were massacred. The quotation by Marx is from a letter to Ludwig Kugelmann dated April 12, 1871 (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, pp. 131-32).

15. The agrarian reform law of May 17, 1959, set a limit of 30 caballerías (approximately 1,000 acres) on individual landholdings. Implementation of the law resulted in confiscation of the vast estates in Cuba-many of them owned by U.S. companies. These lands passed into the hands of the new government. The law also granted sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and squatters a deed to the land they tilled. Another provision of the law established the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA).

The urban reform law of October 1960 gave all Cubans either outright ownership of their dwellings or permanent use of them with a monthly fee not to exceed 10 percent of their income.

16. The First Declaration of Havana, adopted at a mass rally in Havana in September 1960, was a condemnation of U.S. imperialism and its domination of Latin America. It was expanded and deepened by the Second Declaration of Havana of February 1962. Both documents are contained in the pamphlet, The Second Declaration of Havana (Pathfinder, 1962).

17. On April 17, 1961, 1,500 Cuban mercenaries invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast. The counterrevolutionaries, organized and financed by Washington, aimed to declare a provisional government to appeal for direct U.S. intervention. The invaders, however, were defeated within seventy-two hours by Cuba's militia and its Revolutionary Armed Forces. On April 19 the last invaders surrendered at Playa Girón (Girón Beach), which is the name Cubans use to designate the battle. (The fifth installment in this series, in the May 10 Militant, was a speech by Fidel Castro on the battle of Playa Girón.)

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