- Title: Cubans mark the anniversary of Castro's history landing in Cuba sixty years ago
- Date: 3rd December 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF LOPEZ POINTING TO PHOTO OF HIMSELF AT 14 YEARS OLD
- Embargoed: 18th December 2016 03:22
- Keywords: Fidel Castro generational gap veterans Julio Lopez
- Location: BAYAMO AND SANTA CLARA AND CAMAGUEY AND COLORADOS BEACH, CUBA
- City: BAYAMO AND SANTA CLARA AND CAMAGUEY AND COLORADOS BEACH, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Reuters ID: LVA0045B70K07
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Cubans commemorated on Friday (December 2) the sixty year anniversary of Fidel Castro's historic landing in Cuba, the first step of his decades-long revolution. It has had several landmark movements, including the toppling of U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista back in 1959, and the death of Fidel Castro last week.
Elderly Cubans like Bayamo resident Carlos Tase remembered when Castro first appeared on the scene.
"Sixty years since the Granma landed. And it's logical that throughout the country there is a moment of consternation when we learned that we had lost the leader of the revolution but his example will go on forever. He has forever been an icon. He has represented an icon for our country and for the world because there is no work in our country that was not by the hand of our commander-in-chief, his idea, his supervision and his example for our country," he said.
Julio Lopez was a hungry, barefoot 14-year-old in 1956 when he first met Castro, who was just beginning his revolution in the Sierra Madre mountains.
Lopez talked to Reuters about the day when Castro and his insurgents, including Ernesto "Che" Guevara, arrived in Cuba after spending a week at sea after leaving Mexico. When the group landed in Cuba a week later, they were ambushed upon arrival.
"He had to disembark two kilometres higher because the plan that he had to disembark on the Colorados Beach, take the barracks there and run to the Sierra Maestra he couldn't do. And in the Alegria de Pio they spread out and they were attacked with impunity because they didn't have experience. And they were resting and eating sugar cane and they all were sick and they all said good-bye. And there they were killed. And since they were all saying good-bye, some of them left. He left with Che - just the two of them. And Raul leaves with someone else. And the thing is that when they arrived to Cinco Palos, he hugged his brother and asked 'how many weapons did you bring?' and he said 'I have five.' "And the two that I have, now we really will win the war.' That's not something just anyone would say, not with that spirit," he said.
Only 12 of the original rebels managed to regroup on December 18.
For Lopez, now 77, Castro was a messianic figure who brought meaning and dignity to a life marked by deprivations.
"The 17th of January, 1957, we attacked the barracks of La Plata and captured 10 weapons, a lot of bullets. We were missing some shoes and that's why we were half-naked, some pants, all of these things we got. That was when - on January 17 - that I joined Fidel as a soldier. It was the first time I saw him. I did not know him. It was after that I got to know him," Lopez said.
Illiterate until Castro's friend Che" Guevara taught him to write his name, Lopez went on to train as a mechanic.
Early on Friday morning, young people joined the remembrances of older generation by reenacting the landing of Castro, his army and the Granma at the Colorados Beach.
Cuba is experiencing nine days of national mourning for Castro who died last Friday at the age of 90.
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