By Asa Schauffler ~
The story of the Cuban Revolution can be told in many ways, but in Cuba you will mostly only hear it told one way, but if you are lucky like I was, you might get some input from people or a person whose opinion many contradict what the Cuban government wants you to hear. Today we heard the story that the government will tell you, and we were lucky enough to get some input from someone whose opinions slightly contradict what the government says. In my travels so far here in Cuba, I have noticed a common saying that characterizes the revolution. I kept hearing the words “triunfo de la revolución,” which translates to “the triumph of the revolution.” Turns out that this is actually a holiday here in Cuba celebrated on January 1st of every year. The holiday is celebrated on New Year’s Day because Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba on New Year’s Eve of 1958. Batista’s fleeing meant victory for Castro and the revolution.
Today we saw the Museum of the Revolution and we heard and saw the story of the Cuban Revolution, the way the government likes it to be told. The Museum of the Revolution building used to be the presidential palace and was used by Batista. Our guide took us through the museum beginning with the presidential office. There she explained how terrible Batista was and she told us how a group of students attacked the palace in hopes of killing and overthrowing Batista. The students are regarded as heroes of the revolution. We continued through the museum. We heard the story about how Fidel led an attack on the Moncada Barracks. After Fidel led the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks he was captured and tried. Our guide explained to us that Fidel Castro represented himself during this trial because he had been educated in law. The guide said he defended himself brilliantly, but that Fidel was still sent to prison.
We saw the remainder of the museum hearing the stories from the revolution and seeing its artifacts, but later in the day we were scheduled to have a lecture on the Cuba’s history from the revolution to the present day. This was where we got to hear some things that were omitted from the story that the museum told. Our professor was a younger man who had a relative whose milkshake shop was seized by the Cuban government during the nationalization process. He told us that he understood where Castro’s intentions were when it came to nationalizing the majority of businesses in Cuba, however my understanding is that our professor believes that Fidel Castro may have gone a little bit too far. He gave his input on various events of the revolution, however one stuck out to me. When our professor explained how Fidel Castro defended himself when being tried for attacking the Moncada Barracks, he said that it was all theatrics. He said that Castro did not really defend himself as much as he continued to attack Batista’s government. Castro took advantage of this opportunity to get his message out before it could be suppressed.
In my observations, all politics aside, Fidel Castro was very skilled at getting his message out in any way possible. Driving along the roads in Cuba there are all sorts of billboards and posters that to this day carry his message. One wonders how his message has survived through all of the hard times that the Cuban people have faced over the years.