Map drawn and signed by Fidel Castro showing his failed July 26, 1953 assault on the Moncada Barracks - it was his "26th of July Movement" that brought him to power 49 years ago!Fidel Castro Hand-Drawn Map in ink inscribed and signed "A mi brillante/amigo Vierita/Fidel," one page, 13" x 8.5". [Havana, May 17, 1955]. Toning in portions does not affect the clarity of the blue ink drawing. Originally folded in eighths, the lower right eighth has cleanly detached from the map; proper display makes the separation indiscernible.
On July 26, 1953, 26-year-old Fidel Castro with a group of his followers led an attack on the Cuartel Moncada (Moncada Barracks), Cuban President Fulgencio Batista's largest military outpost. The assault failed and Castro was arrested. The New York Times reported on July 27th that "fifty-five persons were reported killed and many more were wounded in a rebellion today at Santiago de Cuba and near-by Bayamo. Martial law was imposed in Santiago following the uprising and military authorities began to round up members of revolutionary groups...According to reports from Santiago, a group of about 200 made the 800-mile trip in twenty automobiles from Havana and Pinar del Rio provinces under the command of Fidel Castro, leader of the Ortodoxo party, and arrived in Santiago during the past few days, ostensibly to attend the traditional carnival there. The group mingled with the carnival crowds and then, armed with machine guns, rifles and hand grenades, attacked the Moncada barracks early this morning. The rebels seized part of the post, as well as the palace of justice in near-by Saturnino Lora and two hospitals. A battle ensued and the police and army ousted the attackers at 10 o'clock this morning." President Batista announced that "Today a new crazy attempt against the armed forces and public order was made in Santiago de Cuba by elements in accord with former President Prio and his followers." However, the Times reported that "the revolt appears to have been engineered only by members of the Ortodoxo party faction, which has frequently expressed its opposition to former President Prio."
An Associated Press story on August 1, 1953 reported that "Cuban Army authorities announced today that Fidel Castro, 30-year-old student leader at the University of Havana, had confessed directing the unsuccessful rebellion...The announcement came shortly after Castro surrendered in a mountain area near Santiago and was led to the city prison, with seven other suspects, by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Santiago, Msgr. Enrique Perez Serantes...Castro was quoted as saying he had led the abortive attacks on two army barracks in which eighty men died...Col. Albierto del Rio Chaviano said Castro 'took full responsibility for the entire movement...'" In the trial that began on September 21, 1953, Castro, described in the Times as a "young lawyer," was granted permission by the court to act as his own attorney. He said that he and his followers attempted to forcibly oust the Batista regime "as the only solution to the present national problem." On October 16th, Castro was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. In early May 1955, President Batista signed a bill passed by Cuba's Senate and House granting amnesty to all political prisoners and on May 15th, Castro was released from Presidio Modelo, Isla de Pinos. It took him two days to reach Havana and his sister Lydia's home.
Present is a two page, 8.5" x 11", Typed Manuscript Signed "Bernardo Viera Trejo" and "Bernadette Viera-Rausseo" (his daughter) dated January 2, 2008, headed "Timeline," stating that "All the dates and information documented in this timeline has been provided by Bernardo Viera Trejo." In part: "Bernardo Viera Trejo, a journalist of Bohemia Magazine, was a close friend of Castro and fellow member of the Young Orthodox Cuban Party whose members fought for the rights of the Cuban people...Bernardo Viera Trejo went to see him in Lydia Castro's home (his sister) the same day he arrived. Viera asked him how the assault to the Cuartel Moncada had taken place. Castro then proceeded to draw on a piece of paper while he explained. When Castro had concluded his explanation Viera asked him to sign the drawing. Castro asked Viera for what purpose did he want for him to sign Viera explained he just wanted him to...Some days later Luis Conte Aguero met my father in a café and told my father that he was putting together material and documents about the assault at Cuartel Moncada for a book he was writing. Viera told him that he had a drawing Castro had dedicated to him and lend them the document. Days later Bernardo Viera Trejo left for Europe as correspondent of Bohemia Magazine. Castro, in turn, left with a group of friends and followers to Mexico where he began military training...The objective of the training was to lead a coup against Batista." Castro and a group of his followers left for Mexico on July 7, 1955. The next day, he met Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara for the first time. Organized by Castro in Mexico, the "26th of July Movement" ("Movimiento del 26 de Julio" or "M-26-7"), named after the date of the unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Barracks, overthrew the Batista government on January 1, 1959. Viera's "Timeline" concludes: "1959. Bernardo Viera Trejo returned to Cuba to support Castro. At his arrival he realized that Castro had left the party they had all belonged to and was now associated with the Communist party of Cuba. After writing against Castro's new ideals and being arrested for doing so, Bernardo Viera Trejo left Cuba an exiled in Venezuela."
Also included is a first edition of Fidel Castro: Vida y Obra by Luis Conte Aguero, 702 pages, 5.5" x 8" (Editorial Lex: Havana, 1959). This was the author's personal copy, gifted to Viera who was a personal friend. Reproduced on page 642 is the map Castro drew for Bernardo Viera Trejo, captioned in Spanish: "Plano del Cuartel Moncada dibujado por Fidel antes del asalio del 26 de Julio. Dedicado a Bernardo Viera, que hizo el hallazgo." This copy of Fidel Castro: Vida y Obra was heavily annotated by the author Conte in preparation for a revised edition of the book. There are edits through most of the text, crossing out paragraphs and pages, changing titles, and adding text in his own hand. It is important to note that after Viera was exiled to Venezuela, the illustration of the map and mention of Viera were removed from subsequent editions.
Moncada Barracks is now a school and a museum and is frequently visited by foreign dignitaries, the most recent being Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in December 2007. This map of the July 26, 1953 attack on Moncado Barracks, drawn and signed by Fidel Castro two days after being released from prison where he spent 19 months for organizing and leading the assault, is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and historically important documents created by Castro ever to be offered for sale.
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