13 March 1957: The Assault on the Presidential Palace / Somos+
We trust in the purity of our intention,
May God favor us,
To achieve the Empire of Justice in our country.
José Antonio Echeverría Bianchi
Somos+, Jose Presol, 13 March 2017 — Today, March 13, we celebrate a
date that, fifty years ago, could have radically changed the history of
Cuba. A date that could have been, but was not. And it was not because
of betrayals that, even today, are not clearly defined
That day, according to the policy of the Revolutionary Directorate, was
“to attack the head.” A very high “head”: Fulgencio Batista.
From the beginning of the idea, towards the end of 1955, the goal was
unity of action between its time.
In 1956, the plan was picked up again and, recalling the pact between
the Directorate and the M26J (26th of July Movement) so-called Mexican
Letter, Faustina Perez who was heading the “26th” in Havana was
contacted, and he refused to collaborate on orders of Fidel. The writer
doesn’t know of any reference to the proposal being communicated to
Frank Pais or to other members of the National Directorate, on some
dates when Fidel was by no means the Maximum Leader.
Thus, everything was conceived, planned and executed by the joint forces
of the Authentic Organization and the Revolutionary Directorate.
Nothing was left to chance. There were enough weapons. Surveillance
equipment. Political and military leadership. The leaders were Menelao
Mora (for the Authentics) and Jose Antonio Echeverría (for the
Directorate). The military commander was Carlos Gutiérrez Menoyo, who
had been an officer with the Free French Forces during World War II.
Those who did not participate in the action were intended to: (1) Start
the guerrilla action in the Escambray Mountains, (2) Arm and reorganize
the Revolutionary Directorate in Havana, (3) Send troops to Frank Pais
to be used in the El Uvero combat and to initiate the 2nd Eastern Front.
The plan was complex and simple at the same time: A frontal attack by a
group transported in a delivery truck and two cars, which would go up to
Batista’s office and take him prisoner or execute him, and that would be
supported by men distributed on nearby roofs, to prevent the arrival of
reinforcements; others as support and in reserve along the Paseo del
Prado; and a main reserve that would arrive from Guanabacoa.
Messages would be broadcast for the uprising of the militants and
sympathizers of the FEU and the Authentic Party throughout Cuba. In
Havana they had to concentrate on the School of Architecture, where the
group that had previously occupied Rádio Reloj would be organized, armed
and instructed to occupy their objectives. As for the Army, the officers
of higher rank next to the Authentics would take control of the garrisons.
Menelao Mora would assume the provisional presidency, until the arrival
of the previous President-elect, Carlos Prío Socarrás, and then the
process of elections interrupted by Batista with his coup d’etat would
But, if everything was so measured and calculated, what was it that
failed? Well two things:
Batista fled from the Presidential Palace at the moment of the attack
through a door the assailants didn’t know about.
Someone sabotaged the action. I base this on two things.
A. Everything (weapons, communications and vehicles) was checked several
times and was in order. On leaving the Presidential Palace a tires of
the delivery truck were low in air, affecting the suspension. The
driver, Amado Silveriño, insisted on continuing, promising to get
there. Did someone let the air out? It is not known.
B. The reserves did not receive the order to mobilize. Who was in charge
of sending it? Someone who still walks around Havana: Fauré Chomón. The
men who had to occupy the access points and those concentrated in
Guanabacoa never moved of their collection point.
The result was, apart from the failure of action, the almost total
dismissal of the only two organizations that could have cast shadows
Fidel Castro’s aspirations: the Authentic Party and the Revolutionary
Fidel can be considered the only winner of the failed attack.
Translated by Jim
Source: 13 March 1957: The Assault on the Presidential Palace / Somos+ –
Translating Cuba –