July 26th is one of the most important dates in Cuba’s political calendar. It marks the first armed uprising of the Cuban revolution, a failed attack in 1953 on the Moncada Barracks. CCTV-America’s Michael Voss reports from Havana with more on the national holiday called “Rebellion day.”
Rebellion day was traditionally an occasion for keynote policy speeches. This year, though, it was more a tribute to the past and to the country’s aging leadership. President Raul Castro didn’t address the crowd, he left that to a Vice President, 82- year- old, Ramiro Valdes. He’s the only surviving political leader who fought alongside the Castro brothers in their failed attempt to take the Moncada barracks back in 1953.
A year earlier, General Fulgencio Batista had seized power in a military coup, cancelling the elections he looked set to lose. One of the candidates for Congress was a radical young lawyer – Fidel Castro.
His political ambitions were thwarted by Batista’s coup. Fidel Castro decided to swap the ballot box for the gun and his first attempt at an armed uprising was an assault here on the Moncada Barracks in Cuba’s second city Santiago.
The raid was a disaster; almost everyone was either killed or captured. Fidel and Raul Castro, along with Ramiro Valdez, were given long prison sentences. Later pardoned they went into exile in Mexico, putting together a guerilla force. They returned and from their base in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, finally overthrew Batista and came to power.
Of those who did survive, the generation that made the revolution, remain firmly in power.
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