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News :: Human Rights
On this day in 1959, Cubans Properly Disposed of Tyrant
01 Jan 2006
Repost from the BBC, 1959:
1959: Rebel army drives out Cuban dictator
The President of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, has fled the country, his government in ruins, in the face of a relentless advance by the rebel army led by a 32-year-old lawyer, Fidel Castro.
Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in celebration this morning as word spread of Batista's departure for the Dominican Republic in the early hours of this morning.
There was a carnival atmosphere as cars cruised through the streets of the capital, Havana, with Cuban flags draped over their bonnets, blowing their horns continuously.
A large crowd gathered at the Principe prison as high court judges issued orders granting the release of hundreds of political prisoners.
President Batista handed over to a nominal military junta before he left.
They ordered a ceasefire and appealed to the rebel forces of Dr Fidel Castro for co-operation.
Dr Castro, however, announced this morning on rebel radio that operations would continue.
"The triumph of the revolution must be complete," he said.
There appeared to be little sign of anyone in charge on the streets of Havana today, as the city descended into anarchy.
People armed with steel bars overturned virtually every parking meter in the city.
Hundreds of slot machines from casinos - a symbol of the corruption of Batista's regime - were dragged into the street and smashed. One casino was looted.
The homes of relatives and close friends of President Batista were also looted, as were the houses of the former Minister of the Interior, Santiago Rey, and his hated police chief, Colonel Esteban Ventura.
The rebel movement has gone from strength to strength in the last year.
They have had growing support from the general population since President Batista, who came to power in a coup in 1952, began cracking down with increasing ruthlessness on any signs of dissent.
In one of the worst examples, even some of Batista's supporters expressed concern after police tortured or summarily hanged those suspected of organising a general strike last April.
Some of those killed were still in their teens.
In latter years, he has headed an increasingly ruthless and corrupt police state.
He once boasted that he was one of the most shot-at heads of state in the world, and never appeared in public without being surrounded by bodyguards.
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