|Raul Castro in 1953|
THIS is a facsimile which I kept from the front page of the Santiago de Cuba Oriente newspaper, datelined July 30, 1953.
For its eloquence it is worth reproducing. A youthful Raúl Castro Ruz, captured before Fidel and when he did not know his brother’s fate, but did know that Abel Santamaría, second chief of the movement, had been assassinated, assumed full responsibility for the Moncada assault.
The photo, taken in the Santiago de Cuba Bivouac has a caption that reads:
"THIS YOUNG man, who does not seem to be more than 18 years old, brother of the man charged with being chief of the insurrectional movement, Dr. Fidel Castro, name of Raúl Castro Ruz, was arrested yesterday in the vicinity of San Luis.
"According to reports, this individual was the man who personally directed the assailants of the Moncada Garrison last Sunday, who took cover in the Palace of Justic after having managed to flee in the resulting confusion, when the aggression was repelled by the Moncada garrison. (Photo: Senén Caravia)."
After all the events of the Moncada assault, Raúl, who knew the Santiago topography, left the city. He thought about going to his home in the northern area of the eastern region. However, 72 hours later, he was captured by a pair of Rural Guards. From the first moment he did not disclose his identity. He said that he had gone to the Santiago de Cuba Carnival but, having no money left, had to return to his parents’ house. The excuse was not accepted: he was taken to the area barracks. That was how they operated with any young suspect. Santiago was the inevitable destination. At that stage, the regime had drowned the survivors of the assault in their own blood.
In the statement taken from the young Raúl Castro Ruz (they wrote Ruiz) in the Bivouac, he stated that "first the government had to be destroyed, in order to subsequently sort out the country so that it could progress as it should; to undertake an Agrarian Reform, but one that is not only giving land to the campesinos, one that is something more than that: giving them land and making it productive; this system has been evil since the Republic began; Cuba is full of illiterate people, injustices are being committed, money is being stolen from the people, the Batista regime had to be defeated in order to initiate the Revolution."
Later, in September, when the Moncada trial (Cause 37) took place, the prosecution berated him because in the court hearing he declared himself a rank and file combatant, in open contradiction to his statements in the Bivouac.
With his arms crossed behind him, his head held high, his hair cut like a brush and a discreet smile on his lips, Raúl stood to attention before the court and replied:
"When they took a statement from me in the Bivouac, I assumed responsibility for the Movement because I supposed that they had killed Fidel, I knew that Abel had been assassinated and somebody had to assume responsibility for that action which was frustrated in the first attempt. But, with Fidel being alive, fortunately, things have fallen back into place. I am a simple soldier who was assigned a post and a mission.
BY MARTA ROJAS — Granma daily staff writer.