Monday, July 27, 2009

1957: El Uvero Attack

Cuba History Timeline Events
May 28, 1957
M-26-7 Rebels reinforced by Frank Pais Militia overwhelmed a small Guardia Rural (State Police) post at El Uvero in a daylight attack, raising rebel morale and acquiring weapons and supplies. The rebels publicized this action as their first major military victory, and had success in getting some press reports describe the event as an attack on an Army post.

The attack on El Uvero was an operation similar to the La Plata attack. La Plata was also a small, isolated Guardia Rural post in the Sierra region. The El Uvero attack was different from earlier M-26-7 raids primarily in being conducted during daylight hours. Earlier rebel attacks had all been ambushes and surprise attacks during night while troopers were sleeping.

In Cuba, the Guardia Rural (Rural Guard) performed a police function roughly equivalent to State Police in the US. Its history went back to formation by the US Provisional Government in 1898 to provide law enforcement, replacing the constabulary that maintained order in rural areas during the Spanish colonial period: the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard). It was retained to serve this police function in the new Republic of Cuba, through legislative action (Ley de reorganización de la guardia rural del 18 de octubre de 1902).

The New York Times reporting on the El Uvero attack continued the practice of giving equal or greater attention to rumors (which would prove entirely unfounded) than to the facts of the El Uvero attack, and of the Corinthia landing at Cabonico which the same story revisited:

The battle took place at Ubero, on the south coast Oriente Province, about thirty-five miles from Santiago de Cuba. Fifteen rebels were killed and twenty-one wounded, the communiqué said. It stated that rebel forces had fled in groups into the mountains taking their wounded with them in four trucks. The Army said it was continuing to pursue the dispersed groups.

General Tabernilla denied a report circulating here that another group of insurgents had landed at Chivirico Beach near Santiago de Cuba. He also said the Army had no further encounters with the rebel group that landed on the north coast at Carbonico Bay last week and fled into the Sierra del Cristal. General Tabernilla said he considered the rebellion there to have been terminated.

The Army says twenty-seven insurgents landed, of whom five were captured, sixteen killed, leaving only six unaccounted for. Reports from Oriente Province, however, put the number of attackers near 150

Continuing in the same vein, that Times story reports charges that Castro is a Communist, but in a discrediting fashion :

While the Government consistently contends that Señor Castro is a Communist, adherents of the young rebel leader declare he is a deeply religious person. It is noted that he attended Belen College in Havana, which is conducted by Jesuits, and that his closest friend during school at graduation in 1945 was the Rev. Arturo Cherino, now serving with the Jesuit Order in Japan.

It is said that young Castro’s first trips into the Sierra Maestras were as a member of students groups taken there by Roman Catholic priests on camping trips as rewards for good scholarship.

It is recalled that in 1953, when Señor Castro led an attack on the Moncada military post of Santiago de Cuba in which 100 men were killed, his life was saved through the efforts of Archbishop Perez Serantes of Santiago

based on Manuel Márquez-Sterling's Cuba 1952-1959 and
Cuba 1952-1959 Interactive Timeline

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