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March 13, 1957: the commitment of José Antonio with the Homeland

Published: 2017.04.05 - 15:34:55   /  /  Daynelis Rodríguez Peña  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

So many and important were the events that took place in Havana on March 13, 1957, and that day could well be one of the most glorious in the Homeland.

For the Commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), Faure Chomón Mediavilla, the attack on the Presidential Palace - amongst the events of the day - "was the heroism of two generations embraced in the same action: ours and that of the 30s, like the men of '68 and '95, when they joined in the struggle for the independence of Cuba."

Six decades are celebrated this Monday of those events that also linked the Taking of Radio Reloj and the death of José Antonio Echeverría Bianchi (1932-1957), a student leader that if he had not fallen in combat when heading to the University of Havana, would have continued towards the assault on the Palace, and perhaps with his presence the situation would have been completely different.

His companions admired his revolutionary prestige and until that moment "Manzanita" - as they also called him - was the only one able to summon all the scattered forces around, recalls Chomón Mediavilla, "pushing the undecided to rescue the truck with the weapons that would be used in the support operation."

For José Antonio, says the Commander, "it was also a matter of honor to perform as much as he did, until he fell in combat." And even when the true objective of that revolutionary action was not achieved, to follow up on the agreement of the Carta de México* by Echeverría himself, and the leader of the 26 July movement, Fidel Castro (1926-2016) gained ground in popular awareness and repudiation of Batista regime.

That March 13 has also come down in our national history as the day in which for a few seconds the dictator Fulgencio Batista, president of Cuba at the time, was almost executed by the words of Manzanita from the cabin of Radio Reloj, where in his statement stresses that even the tyrant's own den, at the Presidential Palace, the people of Cuba have gone to settle accounts.

No wonder the leader of the Revolutionary Directory (DR)* affirmed in what is known as his political testament: "if we fall, our blood will point the way to freedom."

And nothing was more successful to promote the struggle at that time, since young people from the countryside and the city were integrated thereafter to insurrection, and for that the DR – the driving force of the University Student Federation (FEU) - organized guerrillas in the center of the country, which were placed under the orders of Che and helped to wage decisive battles such as that of Santa Clara, to reach the definitive triumph.

Sixty years after the event, Cuban pioneers will re-issue this Monday at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), on Calle M, at 3:21 pm, the taking of Radio Reloj by José Antonio Echeverría.

That same radio station at 9:30 in the morning will issue the start signal for a marathon from the main steps of the University of Havana up to La Punta, and fighters of the Revolutionary Directory, university students of Havana schools, Radio Reloj workers and members of the National Secretariat of the FEU will participate in this event.


*Carta de México: A unitary pact signed on August 30th in 1956 by the leader of the 26th of July Movement, Fidel Castro Ruz, and José Antonio Echeverría, representing the Revolutionary Directory and the combative University Student Federation (FEU). It sealed the duty of the patriotic youth to insert themselves in the struggle to overthrow Fulgencio Batista and carry out the Cuban Revolution.

*Revolutionary Directory (DR): An insurrectional organization that emerged in Cuba during the struggle against Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. Its conception of the armed struggle was the fight in the streets. In 1961, it ceased to exist as it merged with the 26 de Julio Movement and the People’s Socialist Party.

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