CAMAGUEY.- José Antonio Echeverría, could have been another one of the brave young men who fought and climbed down the Sierra Maestra along with Fidel, but history reserved him another high seat of honor when he was barely a 24-year- old man.

He was brave during the university students´ protests. Bravery was an intrinsic quality to him. His University of Havana was forge of heroic defenders of our motherland facing the repressive tyrannies of Gerardo Machado, Fulgencio Batista… (to quote some of the bloodiest) supervised by the United States.

Manzanita (Little Apple), as his friend fondly told him, was studying architecture when he traveled to Mexico to reinforce with Fidel Castro - who was preparing the Granma Yacht expedition-, the union between the "26th of July Movement" (MR-26-7) and the FEU (Federation of University Students).

That same year in which the young men led by Fidel wrote with unequal fire the first action of the newborn Ejército Rebelde (Rebel´s Army), in the afternoon of December 4, the students’ leader with a group of young men interrupted a baseball game between Havana and Almendares teams. In the Cerro Stadium´s terrain, they unfolded a big piece of fabric to achieve that thousands of Cubans watched in national television the students´ public accusation against crime and abuse of Fulgencia Batista´s regime.

José Antonio, as well as thousands of young revolutionaries, was convinced that peaceful manifestations were not the way to defeat the unpopular government, which repressed the manifestations brutally sending the police and the rural guard to burn huts and to remove forcibly peasants from the lands they worked as slaves for the USA and national landowners. That´s why on March 13, 1957 he led the courageous students of the FEU to take the Radio Reloj Station and to attack on Batista's Presidential Palace in order to bring the tyrant into justice from “his own den” as Echeverría announced to the people by the radio station, a few minutes before he was killed fighting with a revolver facing a police´s machine-gun near his beloved University of Havana.

At that time in the afternoon, while José Antonio was leading the historic assault, Fidel marched in the lower slope of Caracas Hillock in the Sierra Maestra with only 12 men…

“But that afternoon, I can´t tell that it was 3:20, it would be after that, between 3:30 and 4:00 in the afternoon, who knows if it was at 4:00, we opened the radio – we always carried one radio to know what was happening in the country –, and when we put Radio Reloj we only listen to the signal of Radio Reloj – that tic-tic, or toc-toc, or tac-tac, or tic-tac, I wouldn´t know how to define it well – and we couldn´t hear anything else. I told my comrades: “Something extraordinary is happening in Havana”. And we waited, until the news of the attack to the Presidential Palace began to appear at last.

“Enormous was our anxiety to know what had happen, because at some point later they started talking about the death of José Antonio. I imagine the wave of repression that would come after against the revolutionaries, fighters, because we knew by experience that those bloodthirsty people didn´t know what are the prisoners. And although I have tried to specify exactly if they did something similar to what happened in the Moncada, it called my attention the news of the death of 25 fighters, but they didn’t about any prisoner”, related the leader of the Revolution to the Cuban people on March 13, 1997 in the same Presidential Palace, during the 40th anniversary of the feat.

This year when we arrive to the 60th anniversary of the courageous feat, the dreams of those young men who gave their lives for Cuba, are realities which are celebrated in the free soil of the empire who continues lying in wait as the Apostle predicted, and that it´s confirmed by the American administrations that pretend to make the young generations of Cubans forget about their history and feel indifference to a sovereign Country that so many lives in different epochs were sacrificed to achieve our liberty.

Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez