Cuba’s Most Famous Day

Today is Cuba’s most famous day of the year, the 26th of July. It’s the birthday of the Movimiento 26 de Julio, or M-26-7, which was the day in 1953 that Fidel Castro made his first armed attack against the government of Fulgencio Batista. It was a disaster. 138 rebels tried to take over the Moncada Barracks near the town of Santiago. Instead, many were killed, many were taken prisoner and later executed. Castro himself escaped on that day, but was later captured and put on trial.

That was one of Batista’s many mistakes: allowing Fidel Castro, a lawyer and accomplished orator, to defend his actions in court. His speech went on for four hours, and while no recording was made of it, his most famous lines are well known to this day: “Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”

Whether history has done so is still the subject of much debate.

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