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Days of combat

Fidel 23 y 12 abril 1961Rumors of the fighting were heard during the dawn hours. It was at a distance. I went out on the balcony. From the heights of Vedado, militia men ran down the hill as they finished buttoning their uniform shirts. Right away, the news began to spread. They had bombed the Ciudad Libertad airport. We were in the prelude to an imminent invasion, expected since the United States had broken diplomatic relations. We were on the eve of Playa Girón. (on the Bay of Pigs)

Moved by an impulse from the depths of my conscience, I decided to end the convalescence that followed a series of operations. I joined the work. My individual reaction was the same as that of the vast majority of the people who were not on the front lines. On the rearguard, it was our responsibility to assure the normal functioning of the country. And so it was.

With absolute serenity, following the latest news, the collective will to defend the country under attack was made clear in the ongoing provision of services and increase in production. This spirit of resistance concretely supported the combatants who advanced under the bombs toward Playa Girón and the pilots who made decisive strikes from their dilapidated planes. An impenetrable wall was raised to stop the enemy, defeated in 72 hours.

After the bombing of the airports, before a crowd of militiamen holding their weapons high, Fidel proclaimed the socialist nature of the Revolution – the organic result of the process that began with the January 1959 victory, that was itself the continuation of our centenary struggle for national liberation. On the eve of Girón, only two years had transpired since the Batista dictatorship’s defeat. That victory, against a professional army backed by imperialism, that seemed so improbable to many, had returned the people’s confidence in its own strength.

In the depths of the collective moral conscience, the rebels’ triumph reanimated the original sources of inspiration supporting a nation project, counterpoised to the skeptical currents produced by the frustrating impact of the United States’ intervention in the war of independence, and the subsequent imposition of the Platt Amendment. In fact, the revolutionary government has closed the door on the traditional interference of U. S. ambassadors in the country’s internal affairs, speaking with its own voice in international forums and strengthening ties with Latin American countries which shared a common destiny.

The country’s resources had been redirected to benefit the nation. With the Agrarian Reform, demanded since the Constitution of 1940, campesinos received titles to the land they worked. The time was over for evictions and the dramatic events retold by Pablo de la Torriente Brau in Realengo 18. In response to reprisals by the U.S. government, the country’s oil refineries and banks were nationalized.

Cultural institutions were emerging along the way. Their design reflected the longings forged during the neocolonial republic by the underground work of a layer of intellectuals, who despite the lack of official support, maintained a creative spirit alive, motivated by the search for the recovery of the nation’s essence, without renouncing the worthwhile assimilation of the vanguard renovation developing beyond our borders, and productive dialogue with its natural audience, the potential public marginalized at that time. Publishing houses printed books that had been filed away. Theater emerged from miniscule venues to welcome a broader audience. Spectators learned to decipher the language of dance with the National Ballet and the experimental works of modern currents.

The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) fortified its industrial base to develop a cinema of our own. Folklore research brought to the stage, and legitimized, the living legacy of our African heritage.

In this way, some of our historically marginalized essences were exhibited. The

Casa de las Américas established bridges of dialogue of unprecedented intensity with all of Latin America.

Only 72 hours had passed since the landing at Playa Girón. In the well known voice of actress Raquel Revuelta, news of the victory was announced. The invader had not been able to establish the beach head needed to justify an OAS intervention. United in resistance, the people displayed the strength that would allow them to confront other battles. The spirit of a nation re-conquered had taken shape in Girón

Looking to the future, amidst the fighting, the Literacy Campaign continued.


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