50 years ago today

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the attack on the Cuban Presidential Palace. Those of you who have seen the movie The Lost City probably remember the scene in which several armed men came through the front gate of the presidential palace intent on finding and killing the then dictator Fulgencio Batista. When he was alerted to what was going on, Batista got into the building’s elevator and went to the top floor which could only be reached by that device and locked it.

About 40 of the attackers were killed in the gunfight and subsequent gunfights on that day. An American tourist, who was on his hotel balcony was also killed by a stray bullet. It should be noted that the attackers were not part of fidel castro’s 26th of July movement but instead part of the Revolutionary Directorate, a group made up primarily of University students. Among those involved in the plot was Jose Antonio Echevarria, pictured below, who was the president of the FEU (Federation of University Students).


Last night Echevarria’s sister was on local TV talking about her brother and recounting the story of his death. The interesting thing to note historically is that if the attack had succeeded, fidel castro would have been left in the mountains without an enemy to fight. Instead, the attack failed and Echevarria was made into martyr by the Revolutionaries. castro has co-opted the memory of Echevarria, just like he has co-opted the memory of Marti, Maceo and Cuba’s other patriots.

Echevarria’s sister claims that her brother never liked fidel and knew that someday his group would eventually have to fight castro. Even so, Echevarria went to Mexico to sign a cooperation pact with fidel and his followers, the occasion is pictured below.


A curious sidebar is that since the 13th of March is one of the important dates celebrated in Revolutionary Cuba, they named a tugboat the 13 de Marzo. It was that tugboat which was stolen by several Cubans trying to get to the US that was confronted by Cuban coast guard boats and engulfed by firehoses. 37 people died including several women and children as young as 5 months old.

The pictures in this post were taken from Professor de la Cova’s web site LatinAmericanStudies.org and you can read about the attack on the Presidential Palace by clicking here.

I know we have readers that can share their knowledge about this important date. I urge them to leave comments.

41 thoughts on “50 years ago today”

  1. Not even the South made a hero of John Wilkes Booth and his gang of assassins. Actually, Booth belongs to a higher moral order than Echevarría and the FEU because he didn’t kill Lincoln’s wife or his children, which is precisely what the Cuban assassins would have done to Batista’s wife and his children if they had been successful. Batista and family lived on the top floor of the Palace, the family quarters. This was the assassins’ objective. If they had been successful, they would have earned only the repudiation of the entire Cuban nation and written the most squalid page in our pre-1959 history. The heroes of March 13 were the brave soldiers who stopped this massacre.

  2. Echevarria was the antithesis of Castro in all sorts of ways. It was tragic indeed that his courageous attempt failed, tragic for him and the others killed as well as for Cuba. If Castro had led the same attack, he would never have put his own life at risk, just as he didn’t in the Moncada attack. Echevarria was a totally different animal. May Cuba yet live up to his sacrifice.

  3. It would, of course, have been clearly preferable if the Batista problem could or would have been solved at the polls, or by Batista stepping aside and leaving the Presidential Palace he illegitimately occupied. However, considering what Cuba and its people would surely have been spared if Echevarria had succeeded in removing Batista from power, I can’t help wish he had.

  4. Manuel,

    I am curious. What is the basis for your assertion that the university students who attacked the presidential palace were intent on murdering Batista’s wife and children?

    I am not of Jose Antonio’s generation, but I know people who knew him well. Every account I have heard, or read tells me that he was a man devoted to the cause of a free Cuba. He was a man of the utmost moral character. I have never heard anyone intimate that the attack had as a goal to murder the dictator’s wife and children. What is your basis for this statement?

  5. The aftermath of what would have happened in Cuba had Fulgencio Batista been assassinated on March 13, 1957, is open to speculation.
    What was the ideology of the leaders of the Directorio Revolucionario (DR) and the Palace attackers? Carlos Gutierrez Menoyo was a socialist veteran of the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Communists.
    The DR was also infiltrated by the Communist Marcos Rodriguez Alfonso, who denounced to the police the hiding place of the survivors of the Palace attack. The transcripts of the Rodriguez trial are at
    In spite of the early DR discrepancies with Fidel Castro, for not simultaneously rising up as agreed on November 30, 1956, in 1959, they all joined the revolutionary government. Castro appointed many DR activists to foreign diplomatic posts to get them out of the country while he consolidated power.
    How many leaders of the DR were in exile by late 1960? How many joined Brigade 2506? This requires further research.
    The DR leaders who supported the Castro dictatorship were nothing but opportunists who sought personal power thru “quitate tu para ponerme yo.”
    When DR members assassinated Col. Antonio Blanco Rico at the Monmartre night club in 1956, they gravely wounded his wife. Would the Palace attackers have killed Marta Batista had she embraced her husband when the attackers would have burst into the room? Again, that is open for speculation.

  6. Little Gator:

    Batista lived in the Presidential Palace with his wife and 5 children (all under 12). The objective of Echevarría and the FEU assassins was the family quarters of the Palace. Whether intentionally or accidentally, you can be sure that if they had reached the family quarters not only Batista would have been killed but his wife and children.

    There are many other heroes in our history worthy of your admiration, Little Gator. You don’t need to admire this craven assassin.

  7. I’m with de la Cova. A lot of speculation here. How does anyone know that the objective was the family quarters? One would think the objective was whatever room Batista was in at the time. And do we know his family was home at the time?

  8. I’m with de la Cova. A lot of speculation here. How does anyone know that the objective was the family quarters? One would think the objective was whatever room Batista was in at the time. And do we know his family was home at the time?

  9. Manuel,

    Allow me to very respectfully, but also very strenuously, disagree with you. You are making some huge assumptions that aren’t well founded. Obviously, you are entitled to your opinion, but there needs to be some basis for it. And, I just don’t see it here.

  10. Henry & Little Gator:

    The objective of the assassins was Batista but it is ridiculous to think that they could have gotten him without “collateral damage.” In this case the collateral damage would have been Batista’s wife and his five underage children. In fact, on that day Batista was with his wife and 5 children in the family quarters; the heroic defense put up by Batista’s soldiers alone prevented the massacre. The soldiers were the real heroes of March 13, 1957.

    It is inconceivable to me how anyone could defend the actions of vulgar assassins, but I also respect your right to do so.

  11. Mr. Tellechea,

    Please help me understand. You consider Mr. Echevarria an assassin, because he broke into the presidential palace tried to kill a dictator, and because his wife and children COULD have been killed, right?

    If there was a contingency of brave souls who would break into “Punto Cero” and in their efforts to kill fidel, accidentally killed one of the girlfriends/wives of one of his sons, or his wife, or one of the maids, would you call them assassins too? Even if they succeeded in killing castro?

    I just want to know what is justified and what isn’t in the efforts to at long last have a democratically elected president in Cuba.

  12. Lori:

    Batista COULD have been killed and his wife and children COULD have been killed as well. If the assassins had been interested in killing just Batista, they could have done so in another venue without endangering the lives of his wife and children. A man fights another man face to face; he doesn’t stab him behind his back and he doesn’t kill him in front of his wife and children (much less endanger their lives in the attempt). Even mafiosi have a code of honor that precludes such conduct.

    And Batista, by the way, was a democratically-elected president.

  13. Manuel,

    Batista was democratically elected once before, but you left out the coup in 1952 that enabled him to retake possession of the Cuban presidency.

    As far as Echeverria is concerned, I don’t doubt his love and commitment to a free Cuba. However, I think it’s healthy to speculate or even question his intentions on that fateful day 50 years ago.

    Remember, fidel came down the Sierra Maestra claiming free elections and freedom as well. Not comparing the two men, but making a comparison of their alleged intentions.

  14. I’m starting to think que Jose Antonia le levanto una novia a Manuel. Otherwise, I just can’t understand Manuel’s unfounded but virulent statements about Jose Antonio.

    Robert, I agree that “debate” is healthy. But, idle speculation, not grounded on some rational fact, doesn’t advance any legitimate purpose. If someone–anyone–knows of any FACT to impugn Jose Antonio’s character or intentions, please let me know. I am all ears, and would like to discuss and learn. Unless grounded in some fact, speculation and malicious questions are not productive, or worthy of serious discussion.

  15. Val,
    I was a high school student at the Colegio La luz located at 25 and M streets across from the Havana Hilton that day in Havana. I remember we were in the middle of a History class when we heard the shoot out nearby and we all ducked under our school desks. Later on that day around 4:00 pm school was dismissed and while going home walking on M street I ran into a friend from my neighborhood who told me there was the body of a dead man on the corner of 27 and L streets. As we both were curious teenagers, we walked over to that corner and saw a red and white Ford Fairlane with 3 doors open and a body of a young man face down on the street with a pistol next to him and bleeding from his wounds. We watched all this from the opposite sidewalk. After a few minutes a policeman shouting and waving a Thompson machine gun told us to get out of there and go home. Even after 50 years the image of that body is engraved on my mind very clearly. The next day we knew who we had seen. The dead man was Jose Antonio Echeverria.
    Funny I did not recognized him at that moment since I had seen him several times leading demonstrations down San Lazaro Ave. when the university students faced the police waiting for them at the intersections of San Lazaro and Infanta streets. My path to school took me everyday through San Lazaro Ave. and several times I had to duck inside the stairs of a house located at Mazon and Neptuno streets to avoid the gunfire from those confrontations. May he rest in peace. Had he lived, I don’t think Castro would have been able to impose the communist tyranny so easily in our beloved Cuba. It was a strange twist of fate that ended a member of the opposition to Batista that surely would have fought against Castro when he decided to impose his dictatorship on the people of Cuba since he was a devout catholic according to his sister. But who knows!
    Agustin Fariñas.

  16. Robert:

    I never go the easy route. Yes, of course, Batista was the democratically-elected constitutional president of Cuba from 1940-1944, and an excellent president he was. But I didn’t mean his first term. I meant the presidential term to which he was elected on November 1, 1954. At the time of the attack on the Palace, Batista was the constitutional president of Cuba.

  17. Manuel,
    I think my uncle who was doctor in Havana knew a relative of yours who was also a doctor in pre-castro Cuba named Tellechea also.My uncle was a very good friend of Dr. Tellechea during those days.
    But to the point you made. Batista was the elected President of Cuba by 1957 but he had gained power through a coup who overthrew the elected President Prio Sacarras and forced him into exile. Let us not forget that. Had he held truly free elections in 1954 maybe the course of Cuban history would be different. He may even be remembered in a better light. But he chose a different course, became a dictator and we ended up with the scum we have now. His tenure in office is directly responsible for the catastrophe that followed. His amnesty of Castro and his followers in 1955 set the stage for the tragedy that is still upon us. He wanted to be a democratic President and a dictator at the same time and was incapable of being either one of them well. So we ended up with a tyrant like Castro and his brother and a communist dictatorship for 47 years. The guilt for this tragedy can be laid right at his feet. He is the main culprit for what followed him.

  18. Little Gator:

    What more “rational facts” [are there any other kind?] do you require? Do I have to cut this for you into little pieces? OK.

    1). Echevarría and the other “patriots” [see, I’ll even humor you] attacked the Presidential Palace, where President Batista, his wife and children lived. No disagreement there, right?

    2). Batista was in the upper-floor family quarters of the Palace, which is why Echevarría couldn’t assassinate him. No disagreement there, right?

    3). Batista was in the family quarters with his wife and 5 children. No disagreement there, right?

    4). If the would-be assassins had been able to reach the family quarters, they would have tried to kill Batista. No disagreement there, right?

    5). The attackers were not expert marksmen. In fact, most had never handled guns before. Would they have been able to surgically pick off Batista? No, that would not have been possible for them. What would have been possible is the massacre of Batista, his wife and children. But that didn’t happen because Batista’s soldiers prevented it. No disagreement there, right?

    I don’t see what is so very difficult for you to understand.

  19. Cubamoto,

    You are so right. Had Batista not instituted the coup of 1952 and in effect negated what was a very progressive constitution (1940) the tyranny we have now probably would not have come.
    While I agree with Manuel T.on many issues, this is one I don’t agree with him on, along with his belief that the US is largely to blame for the tyranny being in power now. I feel very strongly that the coup of 1952 was much more of a factor for the current tyranny being in power. What I do agree with him on is that the US leadership made some crucial errors that helped solidify the tyranny that are all well documented.
    While I am not certain, I have heard the election of 1954 was a scam, may Dr. Delacova can shed some light on this?

  20. Manuel,

    Sorry, you are making many assumptions that are not based on fact.

    The fact that the wife and children (according to your beliefs) were with him does NOT automatcally indicate that the attackers were out to kill his family as well – although we cannot rule that out (A BIG DIFFERENCE) I find it hard to believe that these men were out to kill women and children. There objective was to rid the country of a dictator. Unless you can prove otherwise, I will have to respectfully disagree. You have made many good posts, this is not one of them. I am saying this with all due respect.

  21. Cubamoto (Agustín):

    Batista was elected to his second term as president on November 1, 1954 and assumed office on February 24, 1955, as provided for by the Constitution of 1940.

    Since the Constitution precluded a sitting president from seeking the presidency, Batista had relinquished office to Andrés Domingo Morales del Castillo prior to the election. His opponent in the election was Ramón Grau San Martín, whom Batista had defeated in 1940. Grau, who had a peculiar sense of humor and cynical attitude towards politics, decided to withdraw from the elections just a few hours before they were scheduled to take place without even consulting the other candidates on his ticket. The bi-partisan Electoral Commission ruled that it was too late to withdraw his candidacy. So the elections went ahead as scheduled with Grau’s name still on the ballot. Batista defeated Grau and was duly sworn-in as constitutional president on February 24, 1955. Three months later Batista, following a long-established tradition, issued an unconditional general amnesty that freed Castro and the other Moncada terrorists. It is interesting to note that none of these criminals rejected Batista’s amnesty, which would have been the ethical thing to do if you believed him not be Cuba’s constitutional president and hence enabled to offer you amnesty. Implied in the acceptance of that amnesty was the tacit admission that Batista did constitute the legitimate authority.

  22. Max:

    The coup of March 10, 1952 was necessary to free Cuba from the rule of gangsters such as Fidel Castro, who with President Prío’s consent (Prío could hardly refuse; he was in fact their hostage) had instituted a reign of terror in Cuba. All sectors of the Cuban population welcomed Batista’s bloodless revolution. He did restore public order, as he had promised the people he would. Unfortunately, the gangsters, whom Batista did not prosecute or imprison, came back with a vengeance. It is these elements which were the core of the Cuban Revolution, led by the worst gangster of all, Fidel Castro.

    Batista promised to hold democratic elections and he did in 1954 (unlike Castro). When he won those elections, the fidelistas unleashed their campaign of terror on the Cuban population which did not end with Batista’s departure but continues to this day.

    That is Cuban history.

  23. Manuel,

    You are right [on one thing]. There are rational facts [no other kind]. But, there is also irrational argument, which is exemplified by your list of “facts” and the wild conclusions you jump to from these “facts.”

    While your list does contain some facts, it also contains many assumptions. You stack assumption upon assumption and claim to come up with an irrefutable conclusion. Far from it.

    The goal of the patriots [I’ll humor myself] was to assassinate Batista. No argument there.

    Had the patriots found Batista in the living quarter they would have tried to shoot him. No argument there.

    The rest of your “facts” are merely your assumptions about what would have happened next. Not facts. You are free to use your imagination to create something that doesn’t exist. But, it is pure imagination, nothing more.

  24. Here is an excerpt from my forthcoming book “The Moncada Attack: Birth of the Cuban Revolution”:
    “The Tenth of March coup d’etat surprised everyone, including the Eisenhower Administration, which delayed recognition of the Batista government until March 27. By then, the American ambassador in Havana had received satisfactory answers from a Batista official regarding Cuba’s fulfillment of international obligations, attitudes toward private capital, promises of constitutional reforms and suppression of Communist activities.”
    These were the primary issues outlined in a memorandum from the U.S. Ambassador in Havana to the U.S. Department of State
    The U.S. State Department, by way of the American Embassy in Havana, was closely monitoring the Cuban political situation, just like they do in all foreign countries.
    Here is a diplomatic note a few days prior to the election.
    I have not yet found any accusation in U.S. diplomatic records indicating that the 1954 elections in Cuba were fraudulent.
    One interesting aspect of the 1954 election is that Batista’s vice presidential running mate was Rafael Guas Inclan, leader of the Liberal Party. In Aug. 1933, Guas Inclan was a Machado supporter and president of the Cuban Chamber of Representatives. The Guas family, including their mambi father, Gen. Carlos Guas, had to go into exile in Miami when Machado was overthrown. Gen. Guas died in Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1935 as a result of an automobile accident. The vice president’s son, Carlos Guas Decal, was a member of Brigade 2506 killed in combat at the Bay of Pigs.

  25. Little Gator:

    Imagination has nothing to do with it. The facts are quite simple and irrefutable. Of course, the assassins were not successful: they didn’t kill Batista, his wife or children. That hardly exonerates them of responsibility for the attack, which, if it had been successful, would have certainly resulted in the murder of Cuba’s constitutional president and pretty much inevitably his family as well.

    To repeat: It is inconceivable to me how anyone could defend the actions of vulgar assassins, but I respect your right to do so.

  26. Manuel,

    We are going to have to agree to disagree on this. But, what is the difference between a “vulgar assassin” and a heroic one?

  27. Tony:

    Yes, there were very few permanent enmities in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Just 3 years after the fall of Machado in 1933, the Cuban Congress decreed an unconditional general amnesty for his supporters (including Guas Inclán and my grandfather, who had served as Director General of Customs under Machado). In fact, in the 1936 congressional elections, my grandfather was elected to the House of Representatives and Guas Inclán to the Senate, which he presided. Both, incidentally, opposed Batista’s successful attempt to impeach President Miguel Mariano Gomez. My grandfather in fact was the defending counsel during Gomez’s impeachment trial. Nevertheless, Batista held no grudges and appointed my grandfather minister of labor in his first administration. My grandfather was again appointed minister of labor in March 1958 and served for exactly one week; it was nonetheless an eventful tenure since it coincided with the failed general strike called by Castro. He was next appointed minister of communications and in that capacity supervised the construction of the infamous tren blindado (armored train) to fight the castristas in Santa Clara, which was subsequently sold to them by the traitor Col. Florentino Rosell (whom I believe still lives in Miami).

    As a footnote, shortly before my grandfather’s death, I wrote to Guas Inclán, who was famous as a writer of necrologias, to tell him of his illness and request that he write his obituary. This he gladly did and published it while my grandfather yet lived “so that the great man could read it himself.” As fate would have it, my grandfather recovered from his illness and Guas Inclán died a week after publishing my grandfather’s obituary.

  28. Little Gator:

    A vulgar assassin is one who kills or attempts to kill the constitutional president of a republic. Such were John Wilkes Booth and José Antonio Echevarría.

    The only heroic assassin is one who commits tyrannicide. The assassin of either Castro would be a heroic assassin.

  29. Manuel,
    I had a telephone interview with Col. Florentino Rosell Leyva in Hialeah two years ago for my book which will be out in June. Rosell had been partying in the Santiago de Cuba carnival on July 23, 1953, with Moncada garrison chief Col. Alberto del Rio Chaviano. Lt. Jesus Yanez Pelletier told me that Rosell was interviewing captured rebel prisoners before they were executed in the garrison’s small-arms target range. Other soldiers also confirmed the execution of prisoners immediately after the attack, abetted by Col. del Rio Chaviano. Yet, when I point-blank asked Rosell about the executions, he replied: “I do not know anything about that.”
    I interviewed and met with Rafael Guas Inclan numerous times during 1974-75. He lived in a public housing building in Miami and did not own a car. He used to take the bus everywhere. On a few occasions, I gave him a ride home in my VW. I attended his funeral in 1975 in Miami.

  30. Should of could of but didn’t. All of this doesn’t really matter because the SOB in chief took power on 1/1/59. History is full of these. We should remember these brave men who gave their lives to eliminate a dictator. We should not waste time speculating what could have happened. Lets not lose focus of the task at hand. A Free Cuba.

    ¡Viva Cuba Libre!

  31. Henry,
    Jimmy Carter’s Department of State also ignored history in 1979 when they followed the Cuba blueprint to ease the Sandinistas into power. Ironically, Carter imposed an arms embargo on Somoza nine months before the State Department gave him an ultimatum to leave. Likewise, the U.S. State Dept. imposed an arms embargo on Batista nine months before they gave him an ultimatum on Dec. 17, 1958, to leave office. In both situations, they had no contingency plans for the totalitarian regimes that followed suit.

  32. Tony:

    What you say about Cuban Vice President Rafael Guas Inclán touches me deeply; for he was indeed a great and noble man, but, above all, an honest man. When Batista fell, Guas Inclán and most of the members of Batista’s cabinet (including my grandfather) found themselves penniless since they had no riches in the exterior and had never betrayed their public trust. My grandfather and others relied on their children for support; but Guas Inclán’s only son, as you mentioned, was killed at the Bay of Pigs. He lived out his days in poverty but not desolation, because he was loved and admired by all who knew him. By the way, the men of his generation and class owned cars but never learned to drive. That was left to chauffeurs. I’m sure Guas Inclán felt quite content on a bus because at least he didn’t have to do the driving.

    Another great and noble man was Santiago Verdeja, Batista’s last minister of defense. Verdeja was one of Cuba’s greatest doctors and already in his 80s and nearly blind when he accepted Batista’s call “to save the country.” Also left penniless by the Revolution, he went to work at a tomato cannery in Miami.

    I could multiply these examples by hundreds. Great, good and noble men: the real heroes of our country, which, sadly, our country doesn’t know.

  33. How did Communist Cuba mark the 50th anniversary of the attack on the Presidential Palace? Raúl Castro handed-out commemorative stamps to the survivors of the attack and their relatives in front of the so-called “Museum of the Revolution.” The event was also a demonstration in favor of the Five Cuban Spies, who were also members, it was noted, of the FEU. Yes, some pale semblance of the FEU still exists in Cuba, sans legal autonomy, academic freedom and, of course, rebeldía.” The president of the shadow FEU is Carlos Lage Codomiú, son of his father. The gelded youth said that today the mission of the FEU is to “build, strenghen and embody the popular consciousness” in support of the Revolution. “These,” he said, “are our new palaces.” Ricardito Alarcón, the regime’s original niño bitongo, pledged in his best manner that if “the annexationist Batistinian mafia attempted to return Cuba to the days of tyranny,” blah, blah, blah. Oh, yes, Fidel sent a wreath. He probably took it off his own rotting corpse.

  34. The 1954 presidential election was highly irregular. Batista changed the rules of the game (electoral policy) beforehand. Most of the opposition refused to participate. Only one party or faction (led by Grau) participated, but Grau withdrew from the race a couple of days before the voting. Therefore, in effect, Batista wound up running unopposed, so victory was automatically his by default.

    Whether the opposition acted wisely is certainly open to question, but the fact is the election, such as it was, resolved nothing. Subsequent political negotiations with Batista also failed, since he simply did not want to leave power, which is the only thing that would have really worked.

    Yes, one can also blame Prio for being weak, and blame Grau for being cynical and betraying the enormous hopes once placed on him by the Cuban people, just as one can blame other political figures and so on and so forth. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but if Batista had somehow left office in time, it’s highly unlikely that the Castroite disaster would have befallen Cuba.

  35. asombra:

    There was nothing “irregular” about the November 1, 1954 elections, or, rather, any “irregularity” springs from the capriciousness and taciturnity of Grau. He didn’t withdraw a “few days” before the election, but on Oct. 31 (a few hours before the polls were scheduled to open). Moreover, he didn’t even bother to inform the other candidates on his ticket of his decision. In any case, the legal deadline for withdrawing had passed so Grau’s name stayed on the ballot. The people had a choice and they made it. This was no “victory by default” as you suggest. Also, a greater percentage of the Cuban population participated in these elections than in U.S. presidential elections. Many candidates on Grau’s slate did win election and duly took their seats in Congress and the Senate. No winning opposition candidate refused his elected office.

  36. Jaime Suchlicki, in one of various editions of his book on the history of Cuba, writes “The mock elections of November 1954, from which Batista, running unopposed, emerged victorious, placed Cuba at a dangerous crossroads.” Carlos and Manuel Marquez Sterling, in their book on the history of Cuba, say that Grau decided to withdraw 48 hours before election day. Herminio Portell-Vila, in his book on the history of Cuba, refers to the 1954 election as a farce. These men are/were hardly casual observers or trivial commentators, and certainly not Castroite revisionists, so evidently their information and interpretation differs from yours, as does mine.

    I’m not interested in arguing, certainly not for its own sake, and regardless of the specific details (such as exactly when Grau pulled out), the bottom line remains the same: Batista turned out to be very harmful to Cuba, because he caused and stubbornly sustained the conditions that allowed Castro to reach power. Other factors also played a role, as is usually the case in any complex situation, but the basic underlying problem was always Batista being in power. Attempts were certainly made after the 1954 election to negotiate a political solution with him, but he never did what was necessary till he had no choice and it was too late. Cuba has been paying the price ever since.

  37. I’ll just say this: another dark anniversary, another fragment of Cuba’s history that, when taken together with the other bits and pieces of that history, makes one want to weep.

  38. Alberto,

    I share your sentiment. I was speaking with my mother the other day. She knew Jose Antonio and her family members well. She told me “so many good men dead and so much blood shed . . . and for nothing.” She was referring to the struggle against Batista, which unfortunately resulted in castro’s betrayal of the ideals of all those who fought for justice and honest government. It is indeed enough to make anyone weep.

  39. asombra:

    It doesn’t make me weep; it makes me rage not only against Castro but against those who are trying to salvage something — anything — that might assuage their guilt or excuse their actions in a “revolutionary” process that was putrid from beginning to end. It wasn’t Batista who destroyed our country but Fidel and the other terrorists who made war not against Batista but against the Cuban people.

    No, Carlos Marquez Sterling and Portell-Vila are not “casual observers or trivial commentators, and certainly not Castroite revisionists.” What they were was lifelong opponents of Batista and their testimony must be viewed in that light. As for Suchlicki his knowledge of Cuban history is well-displayed in the comment that “Batista ran unopposed.” The election campaign lasted months and for not one second was Batista “unopposed.” Grau may have decided to “withdraw 48 hours before the election date” but he didn’t communicate that decision to his supporters or the nation until a few hours before the elections were scheduled to take place. By that time the deadline for withdrawal had passed. Cubans went to the polls on Nov. 1 and elected Batista on a ballot that also included Grau’s name. If you choose to believe that Batista was “unopposed” then put the blame on Grau, not Batista. Batista did not control Grau. But, according to you, Batista is to blame for everything bad that ever happened in Cuba. You somehow don’t realize that by blaming Batista you are exculpating Castro.

    But, you are right. Further discusion is fruitless.

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