Merida, July 26th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – As Cuba celebrated the 60th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s 1953 failed assault on the Moncada army barracks, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro described the event as the start of the “fight against the clutches of empire”.
“Today we are here to show our infinite love to Cuba,” Maduro stated from Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago.
“Thanks to the Cuban people today Latin America is what it is. Cuba is responsible for processes such as ALBA [and] CELAC,” he stated.
“It was worth the wait of 60 years of struggles. Thanks to Cuba, thanks to Fidel, thanks to Bolivar,” Maduro said.
The Moncada Assault
Between 100 and 200 rebels led by Castro assaulted the Moncada garrison in Santiago on 26 July, 1953, but were routed by the forces of dictator Fulgencio Batista. In the aftermath of the assault, most of the rebels were killed or captured, including Castro and his brother, Raul. Later that year, in a court hearing, Fidel spoke extemporaneously for four hours in his own self-defense, concluding his speech with the sentence, “History will absolve me.”
Castro and his brother Raul were imprisoned, and eventually exiled to Mexico. Despite its failure, the attack on the garrison is recognised by the Cuban government as the start of the revolutionary movement, which eventually toppled the Batista regime. The garrison has since been converted into a school, and 26 July is a national holiday in Cuba.
Today, President Raul Castro delivered a speech from the site of the assault, where he announced “a slow and orderly transfer of the leadership of the revolution to the new generations” is taking place in the island nation.
“Today more than 70% of Cubans were born after the triumph of the revolution,” he stated.
Castro also paid tribute to his brother Fidel and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“Hugo Chavez was the outstanding pupil of the heroes of Latin American and Caribbean independence,” he stated according to Venezuelan state broadcaster VTV.
Along with the Venezuelan delegation, other Latin American and Caribbean heads of state also attended the ceremony, including Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. The leaders of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica were also present.
“Basically there is no defeat, only those who stop fighting suffer defeat,” Mujica stated.
According to Morales, “the revolution of Cuba is the mother of anti-imperialist revolutions in Latin America and the world.”
“Chavez and Fidel strengthened me, and strengthened the democratic revolution of Bolivia,” Morales stated.
“Cuba, Fidel, Raul [and] the Cuban Revolution are inspiring the peoples of our Americas and the world, lighting the inextinguishable flame of revolution,” Ortega said.
Speaking in Santiago, Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patiño criticised the ongoing United States embargo on Cuba.
“That blockade violates the UN resolutions. There is an international community consensus to condemn that policy,” Patiño stated, according to Prensa Latina.
Today, Venezuela’s ministry for foreign affairs issued a statement describing the assault on Moncada as “an act essential to the national liberation struggle of the peoples of Latin America and the world in the twentieth century”.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles criticised Maduro’s visit to Cuba, tweeting that the president is in Santiago to “answer to his boss”.