Freedom Archives on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on the Moncada

It happened 70 years ago on July 26, 1953—the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba. At the time, it may not have seemed of great historical import, but in the light of hindsight, it sparked the process that led to the Cuban Revolution—and that changed the world!

By that July, in the year 1953, the world had just seen the death of Stalin, the last major battle of the Korean War, the inauguration of Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth II crowned, the intensification of apartheid in South Africa, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya sentenced to nine years in prison, the provisional independence of Cambodia gained from France, the first recorded ascent of Mount Everest, and the announcement of a polio vaccine. In the US, a month before Moncada, anti-Communist McCarthyism had reached a peak in the June 19th execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

The young revolutionaries who attacked Moncada were also well aware that 1953 was the centenary of the birth of the great Cuban independence leader, scholar and writer José Martí. Martí, who had lived for some years in the US and said, “I have lived in the monster and I know its entrails, and mine is the sling of David.”

In 1953, Cuba was under US imperialist domination and ruled by the infamously monstrous, brutal, and corrupt dictator Fulgencio Batista. But a new generation was rising and would reflect the truth that Frederick Douglass once proclaimed: “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Or as Fidel Castro would say in “History Will Absolve Me,” his famous speech before the court after Moncada, “No weapon, no force is capable of defeating a people who have decided to fight for their rights.”

The attack on Moncada, the second largest  fortress of the Batista tyranny, was combined with another on a nearby military post in Bayamo. Both attacks failed, with many of the participants captured, viciously tortured and murdered, and others, including Fidel Castro, imprisoned. Yet it was the spark, the catalyst, for the eventual victory of the Cuban Revolution.

Moncada and its significance has been a part of the Freedom Archives from our earliest radio programming days. Underground radio, especially Radio Rebelde, played a key part in the Cuban Revolution and in fact at the time of the failed Moncada attack part of the plan was to seize a radio station to call for mass revolt.  We created special commemorative tributes to Moncada year after year. If you do a search on our site, you’ll see a number of programs and documents about the Moncada rebellion.  For example, you’d find this poem by Margaret Randall called “Catching Up With Moncada”.

The Freedom Archives is a non-profit educational archive  dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of historical audio, video, and print materials documenting progressive movements and culture from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Source: The Freedom Archives