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      Haydée Santamaría

      Haydée Santamaría (1922-1980) is a fundamental leader of the Cuban Revolution. She and Melba Hernandez were the two women participants in the assault on the Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953. Led by Fidel Castro, the assault was a military failure as most of the young participants were captured and tortured to death, but it is credited as the spark that lit the flame of the Cuban Revolution.

      She survived prison and was a founder of the 26th of July Movement, led by Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara. When the July 26 Movement led the Cuban Revolution to victory in 1959 she founded and directed, "La Casa de las Américas", which became the most important cultural institution in Latin America. Haydée was also an original member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

      "Do you know what that means! Do you know what it means for a woman not to have to marry for economic reasons? Here women didn't work because they couldn't find jobs. You had to have an extensive education, and even then you were earned less than any man. Even if you weren't in love you had to pretend to be to solve the financial problem. Or you had to be married if you wanted to have a child, because having a child without being married, that was as much as asking to be rejected by society. Do you know what it means to have a child with whomever you want to be the father, and you don't want to marry him for whatever reason? You know what it means to break with all that! And that man has to give his surname if the woman wants him to, but if the woman doesn't demand that, she just gives the child her surname and that's that. You've got to remember that in Latin-America we have a strong Spanish influence, and Cuba was the last colony to liberate itself from Spanish rule, so the influence is very strong."

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