Cuba exploded into revolution on July 26, 1953, when Fidel Castro and about 140 rebels attacked the federal garrison at Moncada. Although the operation was well-planned and had the element of surprise, the greater numbers and weapons of the army, coupled with some remarkably bad luck afflicting the attackers, the assault was a near-total failure for the rebels. Many of them were captured and executed, and Fidel Castro and his brother, Raúl, were put on trial.
The Moncada assault was the first armed action of the Cuban Revolution, which would triumph in 1959.
A number of Caribbean leaders were in Cuba recently to join that country’s leadership and people in marking the 60th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks.
Among them was Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, who thanked the Cuban people for having secured the present and the future of all generations of the continent.
During the ceremony Skerrit denounced any country that places Cuba in a list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
“If sending thousands of doctors to many countries of the world is terrorism then Cuba is terrorist. If restoring sight to the blind through Mision Milagro, then Cuba is guilty.”
Another Caribbean leader present at the ceremony, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia, said that “the deed of the Centenary Generation represented a powerful seed that germinated after July 26, 1953; it was one of the most important revolutions of the 20th century.
“Despite the (U.S.) embargo, Cuba has survived. There is no greater example than this (that after the Haiti disaster, Cuba) came to the rescue by sending hundreds of doctors (to aid) the Haitian people.
“Today, my country is self-sufficient in nurses and engineers and doctors because of the Cuban revolutionary government”.
Dr. Anthony stressed that Cuba “understands its internationalist duty”.
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. W. Baldwin Spencer, said that Moncada paved the way to the final liberation of Cuba.
“It was a truly heroic fact which has had a significant cultural and socio-political importance in all Latin American countries and Caribbean people.”
Dr. Spencer thanked Cuba for the help given to his country in the health and education sectors, which, he said, are the basic pillars for the development of (small) countries.
He also praised the Cuban people’s resistance against many years of the “unjust” economic blockade.
The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, said that the world looked on Cuba with admiration.
“I have the conviction that you are on the right path to a better life for our children and grandchildren.”
Dr. Gonsalves said he was happy to come to Santiago and the provinces of the East. He said that his grandfather was a cane cutter in sugar harvests, who lived two years in Cuba during “the tyranny of Gerardo Machado”.
Gonsalves demanded an end of the blockade against Cuba and the removal of the country from the list of countries that support terrorism.
Photos by Albino Moldes