Cubans mark 65th anniversary of start of Castro-led revolution

World Today

Rebellion Day or Revolution Day is a national holiday in Cuba. It marks the start of Fidel Castro’s armed struggle against the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista more than 6-decades ago.  CGTN’s Michael Voss was in Santiago as people gathered for the remembrance.

Hundreds of Cubans gathered at the former Moncada barracks in Santiago well before dawn. They were joined by President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his predecessor Raul Castro.

This is the 65th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s abortive pre-dawn raid on the Moncada barracks, the first shots of the Cuban Revolution.

Raul Castro is one of the few surviving veterans of that attack and his was the keynote speech for this Rebellion Day event. He spoke at length of the U.S. and the deteriorating relations under President Donald Trump.

“With respect to Cuba,” said former president Raul Castro, “the U.S. attitude is marked by disrespectful, aggressive interference and crude manipulations of historic facts. Tens of millions of dollars are spent each year to promote subversion aimed at provoking political change here.”

But Castro reiterated Cuba’s willingness to continue dialogue with the United States.

Santiago is known as the birthplace of the Revolution.  In addition to the Moncada attack, Fidel Castro launched his guerrilla campaign from the nearby Sierra Maestra mountains.  Santiago is also where Fidel Castro’s remains were laid to rest.

One of Fidel Castro’s final requests was that to avoid the cult of personality he didn’t want any streets named after him nor statues built in his honor.  But his tomb has become a major tourist attraction.

More than a million and a half people, Cubans and foreigners, have come here to pay their respects, according to officials at the cemetery. One group came from Puerto Rico.

“Fidel is a symbol of liberty, freedom, of fight for the just causes so we are here for that,” said one man.

“I’m here because all around the world people talk about Cuba in a negative way,” said a woman from the group.”So I came here to find out the truth about it, so I could see we my own eyes what people say.”

July 26, Rebellion Day is a public holiday in Cuba, dedicated these days to the memory of Fidel Castro.