Moncada attack 60 years later: Batista’s errors and Fidel’s opportunism
July 26 marks the 60th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. This ill-fated attack marked the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, 1953-1959, and the beginning of Cuba’s current dictatorship under Fidel and Raul Castro.
The multiple missed “opportunities” by Fulgencio Batista to keep Fidel Castro out of power gave way to the dictator’s rise.
The Cuban Revolution continues to be a polarizing subject between liberals and conservatives, Cuban exiles and Cubans who remain in the island and who view Castro as the savior of the Cuban people.
In 1952, Fulgencio Batista seized power in a military coup. He suspended the 1940 constitution (which he had instated when he was president of Cuba 1940-1944). He revoked political liberties, and his regime became increasingly corrupt and repressive.
At first, Fidel Castro tried to have Batista overthrown through the courts in accordance with the Cuban Constitution. But when legal means failed, Castro launched an armed revolt.
Moncada attack sparked the revolution
By most accounts the attack on the Moncada Barracks was a failure. A 26-year-old Fidel Castro led approximately 135 rebels into battle, but the caravan of cars got separated, some got lost and some did not even have weapons. The rebels were either killed, murdered or jailed. Batista’s regime was hardly bruised by the incident.
The surviving rebel suspects were sent to trial. At the trial, Castro, a lawyer, brought up the issue of the murdered rebel suspects by the military and spoke of the atrocities Batista’s regime was committing.
In order to try to avoid problems and save face, Moncada chief Col. Alberto del Rio Chaviano, separated Castro from the rest of the men, saying Castro was too ill to attend the trial of the rebels. So Castro got his own trial. And this was Batista’s first mistake (although this was not strictly Batista’s order).
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