Cuba’s Dueling Legacies: December 10, 1948 and July 26, 1953
“Violence sometimes ‘works,’ that is, forces a particular change, but in the long run leads to more misery and disorder.” – Michael N. Nagler, Six Principles of Nonviolence
In the early morning hours of July 26, 1953 a group of young Cubans led by Fidel Castro assaulted the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Approximately, 18 pro-government officials were killed and 28 wounded in the attack. 27 rebels were killed and 11 wounded. 51 of the surviving 99 rebels were placed on trial. Fidel Castro turned himself in after seeking guarantees for his safety and was also put on trial. This incident turned Fidel Castro into a national figure. He would go on to name his movement, the July 26th Movement. Although the image of Che Guevara is used in the propaganda, he hadn’t met Fidel Castro yet and would not get involved in the July 26th Movement until 1955 when he met Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico.
Contrast this with what Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas did. In the midst of a brutal totalitarian dictatorship were all media are controlled by the government along with economic life he managed to lead a movement that persuaded more than 24,000 Cubans to identify themselves and demand democratic reforms and the restoration of human rights knowing that the Varela Project petition they were signing could lead to losing their jobs, having their children denied access to higher education and in the worse case prison.
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