Friday, January 8, 2021

Freedom Caravan Reached Havana

On January 8th, 1959!!

      These Cubans today -- January 8th, 2021 -- are shown standing on a street as the island nation celebrates a reenactment of the day, January 8th, 1959, when the Freedom Caravan reached the capital city of Havana. The cars and trucks, led by Fidel Castro and Celia Sanchez, had started on January 1st, 1959 from the southeastern of the island in Santiago de Cuba on their quest to reach Havana on the northwestern edge of the island. The historic journey took eight days before Fidel & Celia reached Havana to take over the new Revolutionary government after the leaders of the defeated U.S.-backed & Mafia-backed Batista dictatorship had fled Havana in the wee hours of January 1-1959 when news reached Havana that a Che Guevara-led rebel army had taken the key city of Santa Clara and was racing "hellbent toward Havana."
     On January 1st, 1959 Fidel Castro and Celia Sanchez had captured Santiago de Cuba, the former capital and still its second largest city, and they were finalizing plans to hold it before they began their long 500+-mile drive to Havana. Fidel & Celia stopped in towns and cities along the way to greet supporters. The photo above shows one of those stops as Fidel waves to the crowd and a very tired Celia seemed anxious to get back in the car and continue on to Havana.
      On their Freedom Caravan ride from Santiago-to-Havana on Jan. 1-8, 1959 Fidel & Celia stopped off at the home of Jose Antonio Echeverria's mother. Celia personally told Jose's mother that "we rebels will always avenge Jose's murder. Jose helped us start the revolution and his death has inspired us all the way." Jose had been the Student Leader at the University of Havana who led anti-Batista protests. Then Jose and other student leaders were brutally murdered and, as shown above, Jose's body was left on the street as a warning to other dissidents not to resist the brutal dictatorship.
     In Revolutionary Cuba today there is an airport and many other memorials named for Jose Antonio Echeverria. In the photo shown above on January 7th, 2021, you can see Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who was born after the revolutionary triumph, discussing a major topic with students at the Jose Antonio Echeverria Technological Center at the University of Havana. They were discussing the importance today of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic at hospitals and isolation centers.

     Right before Fidel's & Celia's portion of the Liberty Caravan reached Havana on January 8-1959, the back of a big truck carrying Tete Puebla, Eloisa Ballester, Lilia Rielo and other crucial female Guerrilla Fighters had already arrived in Havana. That is Tete on the left looking a bit gloom. Later she would say: "The crowds that greeted us on the way to Havana were euphoric but we girls, like the ones on the truck, were a little sad. That was because we had hoped that Batista and his cronies, the thieves and baby-killers, would have chosen to stay in Havana to fight us, not to run to Miami." The photo above, as you can see, is courtesy of Tete Puebla.
     Now 80-years-old, General Tete Puebla is now a member of the Cuban Parliament. She was born on Dec. 9-1940 in Yara, a Cuban town in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra Mountains.
     The book "MARIANAS IN COMBAT: Tete Puebla & the Mariana Grajales Women's Platoon in Cuba's Revolutionary War" reveals why Tete Puebla became a legendary anti-Batista front-line Guerrilla Fighter starting at 15-years-old. At age 14 in Yara she watched as 300 of Batista's soldiers -- the famed and dreaded MASFERRER TIGERS -- came to Yara and locked some villagers in a shed, including one of Tete's relatives, and burned the shed as a warning as citizens were forced to watch. The Cuban narratives in the United States, of course, will never tell the American people about the MASFERRER TIGERS or about their nemesis Tete Puebla, the famed Guerrilla Fighter.
     This photo shows the Masferrer Brothers flanking Rafael Diaz-Balart, a Batista Minister, at a Batista rally in 1958.
     The leader of the Masferrer Tigers that brutally supported the Batista dictatorship was Rolando Masferrer. He fled to Miami in January of 1959 as Tete Puebla and other highly motivated Cuban Revolutionary rebels raced to capture Havana. As Wikipedia and other sources reveal, in the U. S. Rolando Masferrer was engaged in violent episodes such as trying to assassinate Fidel Castro, trying to recapture Cuba, trying to invade Haiti to use it as a jumping point to attack Cuba, etc...until he himself was killed in Miami by a car-bomb on October 31, 1975.
     This historic photo shows five of the women guerrilla fighters who fought so bravely during the Cuban Revolution. Third from the left is the incomparable fighter, recruiter, and leader Celia Sanchez. Celia is shown giving instructions to Tete Puebla, Eloisa Ballester, and Lilia Rielo about an upcoming battle.
     This photo in Revolutionary Cuba shows Tete Puebla, now a General and a Parliamentarian at age 80 in 2021, at her desk still protecting the Revolution that she helped to win. Above Tete is one of Tete's favorite photos of CELIA SANCHEZ. Tete said, "Celia will forever remain the greatest woman on this planet who has ever lived when it comes to fighting and making decisions that ended up giving innocent people the freedom to survive a truly brutal dictatorship." Tete still lives but Celia died of cancer at age 59 on January 11, 1980.
      This photo taken by Lee Lockwood reveals that Celia Sanchez, from 1953 until she died of cancer in 1980, was the prime decision-maker in Cuba with, of course, Fidel Castro's 100% approval and support. In fact, some key insiders in Cuba claim that even after Celia died she remained the key decision-maker in Cuba because, until he died at age 90 in 2016, Fidel ruled Cuba only as he precisely believed Celia wanted him to rule it. In the Lee Lockwood photo above, that is Celia writing down a decision as Fidel leisurely sits in his rocking chair waiting for her to finish. And whatever decision Celia was writing down, she knew Fidel would make sure it would become a law in Revolutionary Cuba. {And by the way, the photo above was taken on the Isle of Pines in 1965. From July-1953 till May-1955 Fidel was in a BATISTA PRISON CELL on the Isle of Pines. One of Celia's decisions in Revolutionary Cuba was to change the name of the Isle of Pines to its current name, which is Isle of Youth.
     The red image on the map above shows the Isle of Youth, which is the rather island that was known as the Isle of Pines when the Batista dictatorship had Fidel Castro in prison there from July of 1953 till May of 1955.
       Of course, after he exited his prison cell on the Isle of Pines in May-1955 and then met Che Guevara in Mexico, Fidel Castro famously made his way from Mexico to the Sierra Maestra where he joined the Revolutionary War that was being waged by two extraordinary female recruiters and guerrilla fighters named Hayley Santamaria and Celia Sanchez.
       Americans are not supposed to know it, but the Cuban Revolution would not have been won except for the brilliance of Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria. Not only were they leaders of key early Guerrilla Fighter units but in the crucial early days of the Revolution Celia and Haydee were the vital recruiters of rebels, money, and supplies. That includes once when Celia sent Haydee to Miami to recruit a bundle of U. S. dollars that was important to help finance the Revolution. The photo above was taken in 1958 at a time when Celia, Fidel, and Haydee were beginning to capture and hold Batista towns and cities west of the Sierra Maestra foothills...leading to the eventual capture of Havana on January 1, 1959.


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