Fidel's Historic Defense Remembered

"But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me."

The historic defense by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, known as "La Historia me absolvera" (History Will Absolve Me) is being remembered today here on the 60 year anniversary of that statement.

On October 16, 1953, young lawyer Fidel Castro made a court appearance in handcuffs and under heavy guard, at the Saturnino Lora Civilian Hospital in Santiago de Cuba, in the eastern part of the country.

Fidel Castro was the main defendant in Case 37, dealing with the attack on the Moncada Garrison, the country's second most important military fortress, attacked on July 26 of that year in an attempted overthrow of the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship.

"Justice must be very unwell, to have summoned illustrious judges from such a high level court to work in a hospital ward," the defendant said as he faced the government maneuver to remove public opinion from the judicial process.

The small room was full of high level officers openly hostile to the defendant, who represented himself and proved iniquitous the prosecution charge of having promoted "an armed uprising against the constitutional government." 

Marta Rojas, then a young reporter in Santiago de Cuba attending the trial, recalled today in Granma newspaper that Fidel Castro explained in detail "with a firm and energetic voice" the economic, political, and social program of the Revolution he would lead just a few years later.