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      Teté Puebla

      Teté Puebla joined the Cuban Revolution as a guerilla fighter when she was 15 years old, becoming an officer in the women’s battalion “the Marianas” during the Revolutionary war. Teté is now the highest ranking woman in Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

      “Fidel is the one who taught us how to shoot. We had to hit a quarter – or a 20 centavo coin – 20 to 30 meters away, depending on how he wanted to test our aim. And he drilled us. We had to split that coin.

      It was decided that the M-1 was to be our weapon, because it was lighter. Fidel ordered that everyone in our squad be supplied with that rifle. Nevertheless, he didn’t drill us with the M-1; he made us practice with the Garand and other, heavier guns. He’d say that the M-1 was easier to use, but that we needed to be able to fire any kind of rifle. Once we had learned to shoot, the last thing that we practiced with was the M-1.

      Then Fidel informed us: ‘You are going to be my personal security detail.’

      From that day on, when people saw us, they would comment: ‘the Marianas are here. Our commander in chief must be arriving.’ We were his advance detachment. He did this to demonstrate his confidence in women, in women’s equality.

      Some of the other men would say things like, ‘If the enemy soldiers toss a lizard at them, the women are going to dump their rifles and run.’ But they were jealous, because Fidel used to say ‘They’re better soldiers than you are.’”

      Excerpt from “The Marianas in Combat” (Pathfinder Press, 2003)

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