Death By Exploding Mollusc
On 26 July 1953, a 25 year-old Cuban revolutionary named Fidel Castro led about 150 men in an attack on Moncada barracks, the strongest garrison of Fulgencio Batista, Cuba’s dictator and a puppet of American interests, corporate, criminal and political.
Dozens of Castro’s men were killed in battle, and Castro was captured and charged with treason. At his trial, he delivered an impassioned two-hour closing argument that was widely circulated under the title History Will Absolve Me!
Castro was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but a public groundswell called for amnesty, and Castro was released in 1955 and went into exile in Mexico.
On November 26, 1956, Castro and a group of 81 followers, mostly Cuban exiles, set out from Veracruz, Mexico, aboard the yacht Granma bound for Cuba.
The rebels landed at Playa Las Coloradas close to Los Cayuelos near the eastern city of Manzanillo on December 2, 1956. In short order, most of Castro’s men were killed, dispersed, or taken prisoner by Batista’s forces. While the exact number is in dispute, it is agreed that no more than twenty of the original eighty-two men survived the bloody encounters with the Cuban army and succeeded in fleeing to the Sierra Maestra mountains.
The group of survivors included Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raúl Castro, and Camilo Cienfuegos. Those who survived were aided by people in the countryside. They regrouped in the Sierra Maestra in Oriente province and organized a column under Fidel Castro’s command.
On Jan.8, 1959, Castro’s victorious army rolled into Havana.
Castro claims to have survived 634 attempts on his life, mainly masterminded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. They involved poison pills, a toxic cigar, exploding molluscs, a chemically tainted diving suit and powder to make his beard fall out so as to undermine his popularity.
In four weeks, it’ll be the 62nd anniversary of Castro’s triumphant entry into Havana. Let’s have poems on revolution, revolutions and revolutionary leaders. Up the rebels…