A few days ago, on May 28, the violent combat at Uvero was commemorated with well-deserved recognition. An elemental duty obliges me to clarify the events.
During those weeks, Manuel Piñeiro, "Barbarrroja", a figure of genius from birth to the grave, as the saying goes, managed to send to Santiago de Cuba a truck containing weapons associated with the Revolutionary Directorate assault on the Palace, which had somehow come into his hands. Frank País, national action coordinator of our 26th of July Movement, delivered a significant part of these weapons to the difficult area of the Sierra Maestra, where our nascent Rebel Army was springing up from its ashes.
That training period had been extremely difficult. Step by step, we were waging initial victorious actions in which we were increasing our forces in terms of weapons and men, without any fatalities at all. During that time, we were also obliged to face the dangerous betrayal of Eutimio Guerra, who had been a rebel campesino until he finally yielded to the many enemy offers. In spite of obstacles, and with the support of men and weapons sent by Frank, we were creating the first guerrilla detachment: with the vanguard under the command of Camilo [Cienfuegos]; rearguard, with Efigenio Ameijeiras; center, with small squads; and the General Command. There was already a hardened group of combatants, well adapted to the terrain, when a good cache of the weapons "rescued" by Barbarroja arrived in jerry cans of heavy grease.
Was it correct from the military and revolutionary point of view to assault the entrenched and well armed garrison right on the seashore, where timber from that area was loaded? Why did we do it?
It so happened that at that point, in May, the Corynthia landing had taken place, under the command of Calixto Sánchez White. A strong feeling of solidarity prompted us to mount the assault on the Uvero garrison.
I must point out, with all honesty, that the decision taken, excluding the merit of solidarity that it entailed, was not in any way correct. Our role, to which any other objective was subordinate, as was the case throughout our revolutionary life, was not in line with that decision.
I remember the first shot from the telescopic rifle I was using, aimed at the garrison radio equipment. After that shot, dozens of bullets fell on the enemy command post. For that reason, the adversary did not know that its garrison was being attacked. Thus we had three hours at least before bombs and shrapnel fell upon us; which invariably happened barely 20 minutes after launching any attack. Without these factors it is very probable that that decision, inspired solely by solidarity, would have reduced our forces from almost 100 veterans and it would have been necessary to recommence their hazardous path, in the best of cases.
It was in those conditions that Almeida was hit in the chest and protected from a more serious injury by a metal object, as he recalled, which he had in his pocket; Guillermo García, with a helmet he had acquired in the first combat, kept up a hard- fought battle with the defender of a bunker made of thick tree trunks; Che, with a submachine gun which jammed, left his position to exchange fire with those fighting against Almeida; and Raúl advanced with his small squad on soldiers entrenched in the pile of tree trunks awaiting loading; all of this before the fighter-bombers appeared. Julio Díaz, a brave combatant who was firing with a tripod, could not advance; he lay beside me with a mortal wound to his forehead.
Is it understandable now what happened on that May 28, 1957, 55 years ago?
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 1, 2012
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