Celia Sanchez — a crucial organiser of Cuba’s revolution
Monday, July 1, 2013
By Ben Peterson
By Nancy Stout, Monthly Review Press, 457 pages, US$28.95
Revolutions are great processes. Thousands and then millions of people, who had previously been excluded from their societies, take centre stage to challenge existing structures.
In doing so, these movements of people can create history. These movements can propel people from relative obscurity to truly amazing heights as they are thrust into leading roles by the forces in motion.
The Cuban revolution was one such process. The actions of millions of people; workers, peasants, students and more, collectively overthrew a brutal dictatorship and opened up a process that radically redistributed wealth and power in the tiny Caribbean nation.
Often, the focus in history books on big events becomes tied too closely to the actions of a few grand leaders, usually men. Great processes become personalised, and the conscious actions of the many become the personal ambitions of a few.
In the case of the Cuban revolution, the actions of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and their band of rebels in the Sierra Maestra mountains has been extensively covered. But often, this comes at the expense of the broader revolutionary movement.
Nancy Stout’s new book One Day in December: Celia Sanchez and The Cuban Revolution cuts against this trend. Most histories that mention Sanchez largely limit their scope to questioning the nature of her relationship with Castro. This book, however, does Sanchez justice, and takes pains to restore a powerful woman to her rightful part as an important historical protagonist.
Sanchez joined the anti-dictatorship July 26 Movement (J26M) via her work as an activist in the anti-corruption Orthodox Party. While Castro was training his soldiers in Mexico in preparation for the revolutionary war, she was recruited to the revolutionary underground by J26M leader Frank Pais.
Sanchez was immediately involved in establishing a network of sympathisers in her local area to assist the imminent landing of Castro and his troops, and help them reach the Sierra Maestra mountains where they intended to launch their guerrilla war…
Read the entire review in Green Left Weekly