January 1959

Well then. Who won the war? The people, the people won the war…it’s the people who gain or lose with the Revolution.—Fidel Castro, who would become famous for his long speeches.

Music: “Conga Santiaguera” from “Carnival A Santiago De Cuba “ 1959 Viny LP on French ‘Le Chant Du Monde’ label Source: https://fidelseyeglasses.blogspot.com/

Fidel Castro and Los Barbudos arrive in La Habana on January 8, 1959 in Jeeps, sporting fatigues and long beards.

At 3 am on January 1st, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista with his family and supporters had fled the island, defeated by the rebels of the 26th of July Movememt and a popular revolution.

The rebels take a victory lap, called La Caravana de la Libertad, from the la Sierra Maestra on the eastern end of the island to La Habana in the west, followed everywhere by the enthusiastic support of cheering crowds.

The rebels travelled in a “comparsa” from Oriente in the east, across the island and into La Habana. This photo shows that Cubans come in all colors.

The malecón is the sea wall that wraps runs along the shore of La Habana. The malecón is a broad and paved walkway, a place to gather day and night. Children play. Lovers argue and make up.  The city-dweller casts out fishing lines. It’s a pleasant walk to work. A refreshing break from the tropical heat. On that day in January 1959, masses of Cubans filled the malecón cheering and rushing to catch a glimpse of the triumphant bearded men who deposed Batista the dictator.

The celebrating masses gathered on the steps of La Universidad de  La Habana. At the top of the escalinata sits a statue of the Alma Mater. The university of 10,000 students had been closed since 1956 during the  political unrest of the Batista dictatorship.

Los Barbudos soundtrack here.

The National Capitol Building is a central feature of La Habana and the barbudos and their cheering masses accompanied them as they entered the city. 

El Capitolio was built in 1929 and although it is similar to the Capitol building in Washington, DC.  it is not a replica, as it is larger with a richer interior.

Before 1959, the building housed Cuba’s Congress. The  Cuban Revolution abolished Congress and the building fell into disrepair.

January 1959

February 1959

March 1959