Tuesday, 26 July 2011

In Santiago it's always the 26th July

Visitors to Santiago will see the figure 26 all over the city. It is used in slogans such as “En Santiago Siempre es 26” (In Santiago it always the 26th); the cartoon character associated with the city, Chaguito, wears a red and black bandana with the figure 26 in the middle; there are many murals of the turrets of the Moncada Barracks, with the figure 26. Mick Shaw, writes about the events leading up to the most important date in the city’s history

The 26th July 1953, a very important date in the history of Cuba and particularly the city of Santiago. It was on that date that Fidel Castro and 128 comrades set out in the early hours of the morning, from a small farm near the seaside town of Siboney, to launch an attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, the second most important military installation of the government of Cuban dictator Fulgencia Batista. Although militarily unsuccessful, the events of that day were to change the course of Cuban history and lead to the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution five and a half years later.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

At home with Cuba's public enemy number one

The following article was originally written for the BBC by Rob Walker. To read the article in its original format and watch an associated video click here.

Luis Posada Carriles is a Cuban militant, a former CIA operative, and to some, a mass murderer.

But at home in Miami, he proudly shows me a plaque from supporters dedicated to "Bambi", one of the half dozen noms de guerre he used in five decades of fighting Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Mr Posada is also quick to show me the scars he says that battle has left him. He takes my hand and presses it to the smashed right side of his face - the result of a 1990 assassination attempt in Guatemala.

"A bullet hit me in the jaw. Another one hit me in the chest and exited from my back," he said. "I was shot six times."

He says the attack was carried out on Mr Castro's orders, a charge Cuba denies. I ask him how many times he believes Mr Castro has tried to have him killed.

"That I know of, three," he says.

I ask: "And how many times how you tried to kill Fidel Castro?"

At this point, his lawyer intervenes and stops him from answering. Mr Posada smiles at me. He looks as though he is bursting to say more.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Letters to Fidel

Julie Lamin revisits the Cuban National Literacy Campaign of 1961 at the National Literacy Museum, Havana, Cuba.

‘It is the most important thing I have ever done in my life,’ said Marta, now in her sixties, describing her role as a volunteer literacy teacher in Castro’s 1961 crusade to take a million Cubans to functional literacy.

Following the 1959 revolutionary victory which ousted the dictator Batista and freed Cuba from United States control, Fidel Castro asked for volunteers to teach literacy skills to over one million illiterate land and factory workers.  100,000 young people, half of them teenage girls, stepped forward to enrol.  For girls like Marta, who was fourteen at the time, this huge adventure required the permission of reluctant parents, wary of letting their daughters travel to the countryside of the distant Eastern provinces from the relative safety of Havana. Once permission was secured, they were soon engaged as literacy teachers.