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Vol. 80/No. 15      April 18, 2016

(Books of the Month column)

How Cuban youth fought to end US-backed tyranny

Aldabonazo, Inside the Cuban Revolutionary Underground, 1952-58 by Armando Hart is one of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for April. Hart was a founding member of the July 26 Movement, which led the successful revolutionary struggle to overthrow the U.S.-backed tyranny of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. Excerpted here is a document written in June 1958 by Raúl Castro, commander of the Rebel Army’s Second Front in eastern Cuba, titled, “To Cuban Youth, To All Latin American Youth, To the Youth of the World.” It was circulated clandestinely among members of the July 26 Movement, including in the Principe Castle prison, where Hart was incarcerated. Copyright © 2004 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

From the rebel mountains of this eastern province — Free Territory of Cuba — on behalf of youth who, sacrificing everything, have promised to win or die rather than live under such ignominious oppression at a decisive moment of our history, we issue this urgent call to all young people in the world to unite their efforts with ours, so as to help save the youth of a brother people from destruction and extermination. We call on them to help a defenseless people that is being cruelly subjugated by the worst gang of criminals and murderers that any nation has ever suffered. We will never abandon the fight, no matter how unequal it might be.

On March 10, 1952, eighty days before general elections in which the people were to freely choose their rulers, Mr. Fulgencio Batista assumed military control of the country through a coup d’état. With a stroke of the pen he swept away all democratic institutions, assumed control in an autocratic way, and imposed the darkest despotism on the people. The leaders of the traditional political parties betrayed the people and abandoned them to their fate, taking refuge in their comfortable positions to await better times, in order to reappear with the stupid ambitions that have always helped characterize them as vultures over a battlefield. In this situation, Batista prepared phony one-man elections, electing himself president together with a housebroken congress.

Meanwhile, a people who suffer want to fight. It was then that Cuban youth decided to take the reins of the resistance. Students, workers, peasants, and professionals prepared to fight. On July 26, 1953, a youth ready to conquer its own destiny waged a frontal attack on the second most important fortress in the country. When the attack failed, a hundred young people paid with their lives for their brave act of rebellion after suffering horrendous tortures. The students, on a struggle footing from the very first moment, saw their ranks diminished with the fall of new martyrs, including José Antonio Echeverría, the leader of the Cuban students. The sugar workers shook the country with tremendous strikes for the conquest of their just demands and the defense of violated liberties, facing the regime’s repressive apparatus and the gangster machinery of the officialdom imposed on the trade unions. New losses are being added to the already long list of combatants of the Cuban proletariat

At the end of 1956, after several years of preparation, the insurrection broke out in the countryside and the cities under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Frank País, an insurrection that continues and grows today. In mid-1957 the murder of Frank País in the streets of Santiago de Cuba produced the most formidable explosion of popular indignation ever witnessed in our country, and the general strike caused by his premature death at twenty-three years of age was drowned in blood….

Batista has handed over great wealth to U.S. interests, but the Yankees want more, and to obtain it they are employing the tactic of a diplomatic shift. Now they are naming as ambassador Mr. [Earl] Smith, who pretends to pester Batista and support the revolutionary opposition. The goal was clear, and within a few days bore fruit: Batista, fearful of losing Yankee support, delivered scandalous concessions: the Moa cobalt mines, located in the territory of this Second Front; new concessions to the Telephone Company, to the Electric Company, to the oil companies, to the King Ranch cattle farm, and so on. We are so sure of what we say that our denunciation is being confirmed as we write these lines. This very morning, June 26, we heard on the radio that Batista has signed a decree with new and more humiliating concessions of Cuban subsoil to U.S. companies, in perpetuity no less. We have never seen such great monstrosities done to the economy of a nation. Undoubtedly these latest concessions come in exchange for the military aid the U.S. government is giving Batista at this precise and terrible moment.

As irrefutable proof of these charges, we point out the following facts: Colonel Tabernilla Palmero, chief of the dictatorship’s air force and responsible for the merciless bombings of the cities of Cienfuegos and Sagua la Grande, was decorated by Major General Truman H. Landon, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Command of the Caribbean, on the express orders and on behalf of President Eisenhower himself. This event was recorded in photographs by several newspapers of our country. At the end of May, officers of our Department of Rebel Intelligence informed us that throughout the month, the enemy air force had been supplied by bombs of all types at the Caimanera U.S. naval base [at Guantánamo Bay].…

If you maintain an indifferent silence, you will become accomplices of those who today murder us and tomorrow will murder you. It does not matter if you are North American, Soviet, Chinese, or Venezuelan; we are all brothers. Across borders, languages, political or religious beliefs, we all belong to the great family of the world’s youth. We confront the same problems, suffer the same consequences, and live under the same threats. In face of that, arm in arm, with a firm footing and our heads held high, let us all sing the same hymn of hope. Let us aspire to and fight for peace and future happiness. And let us conquer the common good for the well-being of all.

Finally, [José] Martí, whose road we follow, told us something that is part of the body of ideas we put forward on behalf of Cuban youth who await your determined support: “Every American of Our America is a Cuban. In Cuba we do not fight only for human freedom, nor for a well-being that is impossible under a government of conquest and bribes, nor for the exclusive well-being of a revered island that inspires and strengthens us with its simple name. In Cuba we fight to assure, with our independence, the independence of Latin America.”
Related articles:
Why workers should demand US out of Guantánamo!
Gerardo Hernández speaks in Canada: ‘We’ll keep building our socialist society’
Cuba Events
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