From Havana to Baltimore

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The Black and Cuba roadshow continues Sunday June 4, 2017 in Baltimore at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum 2pm 803 Pratt Street. Join this caring and vibrant community for what’s sure to be a lively dialogue after the film. If you can’t make it Sunday, Black and Cuba is also available on DVD and on demand at iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

Juan Almeida, a Cuban Revolutionary

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fidel-almeida-580x4281

The stylized monochromatic features of Argentinian Ernesto “Che” Guevara have become the face of the Cuban revolution. It’s a face you will find on clothing, murals, lunch boxes, and never more than a mile from any college campus. As a mascot Guevara has become a fashionable and easy way for the world to simplify and often dismiss Cuba’s politics and much of her modern history. It is romantic to imagine Che and Fidel Castro storming down from the mountainside waging a two-man war on capitalism and oppression but it is not the truth. Countless Cubans died and fought for the nation that they have today and premier among them was Juan Almeida Bosque.

Bosque was born in Havana on February 17th, 1927, into a world of poverty and racism. His desire to succeed and improve economic and social plight lead him to study law at the University of Havana where he met fellow classmate Fidel Castro in 1952 and became an active member of what we would come to know as the Cuban Revolution.  A year later Almeida was arrested with Fidel and his brother Raúl  for participating in an assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. They were all granted amnesty in 1955 and exiled to Mexico.

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Juan Almeida, a Cuban Revolutionary

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Activists, Scholars, Students, Teachers

fidel-almeida-580x4281

The stylized monochromatic features of Argentinian Ernesto “Che” Guevara have become the face of the Cuban revolution. It’s a face you will find on clothing, murals, lunchboxes, and never more than a mile from any college campus. As a mascot Guevara has become a fashionable and easy way for the world to simplify and often dismiss Cuba’s politics and much of her modern history. It is romantic to imagine Che and Fidel Castro storming down from the mountainside waging a two-man war on capitalism and oppression but it is not the truth. Countless Cubans died and fought for the nation that they have today and premier among them was Juan Almeida Bosque.

Bosque was born in Havana on February 17th, 1927, into a world of poverty and racism. His desire to succeed and improve economic and social plight lead him to study law at the University of Havana where he met fellow classmate Fidel Castro in 1952 and became an active member of what we would come to know as the Cuban Revolution.  A year later Almeida was arrested with Fidel and his brother Raúl  for participating in an assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. They were all granted amnesty in 1955 and exiled to Mexico.

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The First Cuban Revolution

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Fidel Castro outlines his “26th of July Movement” before the Rotary Club of Havana.
Fidel Castro outlines his July 26th Movement before the Rotary Club of Havana. Photo courtesy of The Rotarian, 1959.

Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me.”-Fidel Castro, from his four-hour trial defense speech following capture at the start of the Cuban Revolution.

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, and it is an apt time to reflect on this pivotal moment in history. Fidel Castro, a young lawyer, was appalled by the misery of the Cuban people under the rule of U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro petitioned the Cuban courts to oust Batista, accusing him of corruption and tyranny. When legal means proved unsuccessful, Castro decided to take up arms and overthrow the government. Fidel and Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara led the July 26th Movement as a vanguard organization intent on toppling the Batista regime. The Movement’s name originated from a failed attack on an army facility, named the Moncada Barracks, in the city of Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953. Many of the revolutionaries were captured or killed in the battle. Shortly after the July 26th siege, Fidel Castro and his brother Raul were seized by Batista’s forces and put on a highly politicized trial. The men were convicted and sentenced to fifteen and thirteen years in prison, respectively. In 1955, growing political pressure forced the Batista government to free all political prisoners in Cuba. The Castro brothers joined other exiles in Mexico, regrouping and receiving training from Alberto Bayo, a leader of Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. In that same year, Fidel met Guevara, who agreed to join the July 26th Movement as one of its leaders.

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When Africa, Asia and the Americas Unite

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Libya and Angola OSPAAAL posters. Their posters often feature a small weapon of defense. Large weapons of destruction, such as planes and bombs, are only used by the imperial oppressor.
Libya and Angola OSPAAAL posters. Their posters often feature a small weapon of defense. Large weapons of destruction, such as planes and bombs, are only used by the imperial oppressor.

In the post-colonial era, new and sometimes unexpected coalitions have been built that address the lasting effects of colonialism and imperialism. The term “tricontinental solidarity” focuses on alliances that have been built among people from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as these continents were the focus of colonial expansion. The Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL) is a Cuban political movement dedicated to building solidarity between these three continents while addressing issues of globalization, imperialism, neoliberalism and human rights abuses. Their publication Tricontinental Magazine and their brightly colored posters serve as one way they promote global social justice. The organization was founded in 1966 after the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, Cuba, which included over 500 delegates from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The conference was inspired by the Bandung Conference in 1955, an African-Asian alliance that worked to confront colonialism by the West.

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