Fidel Castro and his Marianas

In our history there have been several events that demonstrate the value of a good decision. September is approaching and with it a date of the little is spoken in the calendar, day 4 of 1958, that day in the middle of La Sierra Maestra, that Fidel Castro that very recently was 90 years, and that this November 25 entered at the gates of eternity, fought a difficult battle and as always was victorious.



The insurrectionary struggle for the year 1958 in Cuba covered the whole country. In the cities the 26th of July Movement continued its activities against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista, and in the mountains of La Sierra Maestra the Rebel Army was a consolidated and firm force.


In September of that year, on the fourth day, Fidel Castro, our historic leader fought a singular battle, in it the experienced strategist had to bring up valuable weapons, such as patience, oratory, his teaching skills and the reason he attended the fact that was led to debate. It was difficult, it cost but it was achieved, Fidel later pointed out.


The facts: In the heart of La Plata, Fidel proposed the creation of a new guerrilla squad, the singular thing of the matter was that this platoon would be integrated only by women, whose group would be known by Las Marianas.


Until then the women in the Sierra did many important things, such as attending Rebel Army field hospitals, washing and sewing clothes, giving classes, preparing food and others, but they wanted to be more important, they wanted to fight from you to you with the enemy as one more soldier.


When Fidel announced his decision to create a squad of female fighters within the Rebel Army for September 1958, he found several opponents to his idea, especially for not considering the women fit to engage in direct combat with the enemy, alluding that they were not sufficiently prepared and arguing even greater risk for their lives.


Such was the opposition Fidel found that he had to convene a special meeting to define the matter. Why, said the revolutionary leader, if many women had fallen in the cities and many others continued to fight, this group that was in the Sierra could not face the enemy like a guerrilla but being a right well earned by them?


A little more than five hours, from 6:00 p.m. on that fourth of September until after one o'clock on day five, the singular combat continued, which also required Fidel from a history class about paper of women in the Cuban insurrectionary struggles, as well as making clear to all the role of Cuban women when the Revolution triumphed. A priority and fundamental role within society, without discrimination with all rights and without limitations as happened after the triumph of January 1, 1959.


That day, it could be said that the future of the Cuban woman began to glimpse itself as it is today. In that Cuba of 1958, still under the dictatorial yoke of Batista and his horde of murderous henchmen, gender equality on the basis of justice found a first space in this country never to go back in that direction.


The name of the female guerrilla platoon of the Rebel Army could not be better chosen, guerrilla platoon Mariana Grajales, or Las Marianas, definition that achieved greater popularity. Honor deserved to Mariana Grajales, the mother of Los Maceo, who knew the death of one son harangue another to go to war to fight for independence. The squad was named as a woman who gave up everything by living in the mangrove fighting for her country with equal courage and determination than any man.


Finally, at the end of the meeting, the Commander and the other participants went up to Radio Rebelde, the station of the army, and officially formed the small detachment of thirteen courageous women.


Its members were: Captain Isabel Rielo Rodriguez, as head, today Brigadier General Delsa Esther Puebla Filtres "Teté", second chief, Olga Guevara Pérez, Eva Palma Rodríguez, Lilia Rielo Rodríguez, Rita Garcia Reyes, Angelina Antolín Escalona, Edelmis Tamayo Núñez, Norma Ferrer Benítez, Flor Pérez Chávez, Juana Peña Peña, Orosia Soto Sardiña and Ada Bella Acosta Pompa.


All under the direct advice of Celia Sánchez Manduley and Vilma Espín, along the way joined other valiant companions. The squad was tried very fast in the combat, participated in actions like the one of Holguín, Cerro Pelado, Los Güiros, Velasco, La Cedena, Gibara, Las Uñas, Puerto Padre, Guisa and Maffo, among others that demonstrated how much reason had Fidel and how much the Cuban woman is worth from every point of view.


Tell the history that at the end of that historic meeting of September 4, 1958 in La Sierra Maestra, where the first squad of women fighting for independence was set up, which went down in history with the name of Las Marianas, Fidel told the brave guerrillas: "Little girls, have you seen how I had to argue so that you can fight. You can not make me look bad" and go if they looked. The strain of the Cuban woman has been put to difficult tests throughout history and in the present, but always prevailed and gave priority to her love and courage.


All of them, to the revolutionary triumph, began to play important roles within the new government, from the ranks of the army as in any sphere. Let's remember their wide participation in the literacy campaign to just cite one example.


With Las Marianas squad, founded by Fidel in the command headquarters La Plata, in the heart of La Sierra Maestra, not only was allowed to the women to fight against as a guerrilla, but the foundations were laid for justice and social equality , forever banishing the machismo and discrimination of this beautiful land.


Fortunately, Cuban women have always played an active role in the entire economic and social development of the country. They have encouraged transformations in the health sector, education, legislation, and many others.
Only a country like Cuba allows them to enjoy all their rights thanks to the integrality of their Socialist system....

Translated by Ada Iris Guerrero

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