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Anniversary of the Assault on the presidential palace

Today March 13 marks the 64th anniversary of the Assault on the Presidential Palace in Cuba. This heroic act was an armed action that occurred on March 13, 1957, in Havana, Cuba, carried out by young people from the Revolutionary Directorate, which was one of the forces fighting against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista. The purpose of the assailants was to disconcert the regime with the execution of the dictator Fulgencio Batista, deliver the weapons of the garrison to the people summoned through the radio station Radio Reloj and take other points of the city such as the Maestre de la Policia Barracks – occupy its strong arsenal- and so on other police stations and barracks until dominating the capital.
The Revolutionary Directorate proposed to carry out an action that would decapitate the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista, which at that time reigned in Cuba and which had the country bloodied. The general secretary of that group, José Antonio Echeverría, organized the action, which followed the strategy of “hitting up.”
The purpose of executing Batista was correlated with the occupation of the Radio Reloj station, the takeover of the University of Havana, the invasion of barracks and the closure of communications. Through this action in the city, the young people cooperated with the guerrillas who were fighting in the Sierra Maestra under the command of Fidel Castro.
The 50 young people who entered the former Presidential Palace traveled to the building in two cars and a van from the Fast Delivery company, where the bulk of the combatants went. Inside the building, they took on various missions. Those who went to the second floor in search of the dictator found that he had fled down an internal staircase, attached to his office.
The fighting inside the Palace was violent; the resistance of the garrison grew stronger, many young men died, and others ran out of ammunition. It was decided to retreat, to call for reinforcements and to continue the attack later, but the support operation did not work. Fidel Castro has described the assault on the Presidential Palace on March 13, 1957 as “a well-organized operation, an act of extraordinary audacity and courage, in which there were also imponderable failures.”
The military plan contemplated that a command of 50 men, under the leadership of Carlos Gutiérrez, would assault the Presidential Palace; Another command, of more than one hundred men, would lead the support operation, in which the buildings that surround the Palace would be taken and on its roofs they would place machine guns caliber 30 to sweep the roof of the dictator’s burrow with their fire; a third command would take Radio Reloj to spread the news of Batista’s death and harangue the people.
At 3:21 in the afternoon of March 13, 1957, José Antonio arrived at the Radio Reloj booth and delivered several dispatches to the announcers, reporting the attack on the Presidential Palace and an alleged report issued by officers and classes that They would have taken command of the Army, after dismissing high leaders and officers of the tyrant Batista.
At the end of this bulletin, one of the announcers announced that the leader of the University Student Federation (FEU) would give an address to the Cuban people. Immediately, José Antonio began a passionate harangue that still moves Cubans today, where he announced the fall of the tyrant (something that should have happened according to plans) … The speech was cut off when the student leader repeated his words, at the time in which an employee in charge of the transmissions, in another place, took the station off the air. Jose Antonio died that day fighting with the police near the university. Many other young people died that day or later killed by the Batista police.
The attack on Palacio was the heroism of two generations embraced in the same action and it fulfilled José Antonio’s commitment to Fidel to support the armed struggle in the Sierra with actions in the cities.
March 13, 1957 remained in Cuban history as the day when the tyrant Fulgencio Batista was almost executed for a few seconds by a group of students, in his own office. Despite not having achieved its objective, the action of March 13, 1957 has great historical importance, as it shocked the conscience of the Cuban people.


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