Michael Voss looks back at what turned Fidel Castro into a revolutionary fighter and his first failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.
The beginning of the Cuban revolutionMichael Voss looks back at what turned Fidel Castro into a revolutionary fighter and his first failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.
In 1952 Cuba’s fragile democracy was shattered when General Fulgencio Batista seized power in a Coup D’Etat. One of the candidates running for Congress in the cancelled elections was a radical young lawyer named Fidel Castro.
With his political ambitions thwarted he decided to swap the ballot box for the gun and began secretly recruiting like minded rebels.
Ramon Pez Ferro was one of them. A former student leader he recalls his initial meeting with Fidel.
“He was a charismatic man. Fidel’s words and his philosophy about the things the needed doing in Cuba were very convincing. Fidel was not only fighting to overthrow the dictatorship of Batista but also to transform the country,” Pez said.
Ramon Pez was one of around 150 rebels who joined Fidel Castro attempted assault on the Moncada Barracks in Cuba’s second city Santiago.
The assault was a disaster with almost everyone either killed or captured, with many of them subsequently tortured then executed.
Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul both managed to escape but were soon caught and given long prison sentences. Ramon Pez initially avoided capture but he too was arrested.
“It was a disaster from a military point of view. But in political terms it was a great success.
Today the former barracks house a primary school along with a museum where parties of Cuban schoolchildren learn about how Moncada marked the start of the Cuban revolution,” Pez said.
The raid captured the public imagination. After his release from jail Fidel forged a new rebel force launching one of the most successful guerrilla campaigns in history.
Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and for the next half a century exerted a global influence well beyond the size of this Caribbean island.