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EDITORIAL: A MOMENTOUS DAY (english)
by Workers World
Email: boston (nospam) workers.org
30 Jul 2003
EDITORIAL: A MOMENTOUS DAY
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the July 31, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper
EDITORIAL: A MOMENTOUS DAY
It was July 26, 1953. The U.S. government and military were preoccupied with signing an armistice in Korea, where fierce resistance by a people's army for three years had finally convinced the U.S. imperialists that they couldn't defeat the government of the socialist north, even after sending 1.3 million troops to the war.
A month earlier, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg had been executed in the
United States. The anti-communist frenzy incited by figures like Sen.
Joseph McCarthy and supported by the entire capitalist class was at its peak.
Cuba was a playground for rich U.S. tourists and gangsters who ran its
hotels and casinos. A year earlier, after having lived in luxury in
Florida for some time, Fulgencio Batista had led a second military coup and was ruling Cuba with an iron hand. Among his perks for being a bloody dictator was a 10-percent cut of the profits from the mob's
gambling casinos. (See www.historyofcuba.com/history/batista.htm)
U.S. sugar, nickel and citrus companies were making superprofits from
the labor of the campesinos and workers. Cuba's banks, telephone and
electric systems and large retail stores were all U.S.-owned. Outside
the glitzy city of Havana, most of the people were impoverished
peasants. They had little education and few could read or write.
Children's bellies stuck out from hunger and parasitic infections. The
people lived in hunger and fear in thatched-roof shacks with dirt
floors, lucky to have one naked light bulb.
In this climate of world reaction and repression at home, a small band
of idealistic young men and women took on the Batista dictatorship and
its U.S.-supplied military. On July 26, they launched an attack on the
Moncada Barracks in the eastern part of the country.
It was a desperate act. All were either captured or killed. Batista sent Gen. Martin Tamayo, the military commander of the district, a note ordering him to "kill 10 rebels for every soldier killed" in the attack. This presidential order was quickly dubbed the "10-for-one" law. Tamayo carried out his order, murdering 59 rebels in addition to those killed in the battle.
The leader of the group, Fidel Castro, was among those who survived. He was later put on trial, and delivered his famous "History Will Absolve Me" speech in court--a sweeping and detailed indictment of conditions in Cuba, given without a script or even notes.
Batista was so confident of his power, backed by the U.S., that he
released Fidel Castro from jail after two years. That speech would go on to become the manifesto of the Cuban Revolution and the July 26th
Movement, which started a guerrilla war in 1956. But no one knew that in 1953. It seemed that the rebellion had been crushed. Its leaders were either dead or in jail. Batista was being quietly congratulated by his capitalist U.S. sponsors, who wanted stability so that the process of making money could go on as usual.
One of the first acts of the revolution, which triumphed on Jan. 1,
1959, was to set up brigades of young students who volunteered to go to the country and teach the peasants to read and write. Another was to put Batista's torturers and killers on trial in mass stadiums, where the families of their thousands of victims could confront them. Batista himself had fled the country with his ill-gotten gains. Finally, in the spring of 1961, the revolutionary government began to nationalize the property of U.S. corporations.
As early as March 10, 1959, however, "the National Security Council in
Eisenhower's administration had already reviewed modalities for bringing 'another government to power in Cuba,'" according to author Tad Szulc, a Washington insider. ("Fidel, a Critical Portrait," William Morrow and Co., 1986)
For 44 years, U.S. imperialism has done everything it could to turn back this popular socialist revolution in the Western Hemisphere. It has invaded and blockaded Cuba. It has tried to assassinate its leaders. It has covertly supported sabotage, bombings and hijackings. It has tried to isolate Cuba diplomatically and continues to occupy Cuban territory at Guantanamo Bay, where the Pentagon illegally detains captives from Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries.
Yet the Cuban Revolution endures. Its friends and admirers around the
world are legion. Its achievements in health and education are
spectacular. And it continues to help other countries in the Third World that are struggling to develop social programs for their people even as the exploiting imperialist banks and corporations suck out their resources and products.
It all started 50 years ago, when a small group of heroes put their
lives on the line in Oriente Province.
- END -
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