Friday, January 10, 2014

The Armored Train

Here is more historical information about the armored train of General Fulgencio Batista, which was not able to save his dictatorship during December 28-31, 1958, the concluding chapter of the Cuban Revolution.

From the Spanish version as related in:

“La Batalla del Che”
by Paco Ignacio Taibo II
Grupo Editorial Planeta
Mexico, D.F.
First Printing: July 1989.
Edition of 1,000 copies.
ISBN 968-406-123-4

English translation by Cuba Journal.

Batista had an advantage [in men under his command] of 10-1, and that is without counting the famous “armored train.” Comandante Ernesto 'Che' Guevara had 300 rebel army men under his leadership, plus the men from the [March 13] Student Directorate [see note].

Che managed abundant information about the armored train that started being assembled at La Ciénaga (the Swamp) in Havana, and which constituted the “definitive card” of the dictatorship to stop the revolution in Las Villas province.

The train had available two locomotives and 19 wagons, missile launchers, mortars, 14 machine guns of caliber 30, abundant ammunition for the automatic rifles of 400 soldiers which traveled inside the train, food, uniforms and war material engineering.

The train started being assembled in September of 1958 and one month later it was almost finished. It was under the command of colonel F.E. Rosell, chief of the Corps of Engineers.

The cells of the PSP [Partido Socialista Popular] and the 26th of July Movement had transmitted regularly to the Sierra Maestra all the information about the train. The information had then been communicated to Che Guevara. But they did not limit themselves to just inform. About the train and its occupants, a permanent campaign of demoralization and political work had been produced, which provoked the desertion of 200 soldiers (reducing from 700 to 400 those who would finally leave [Havana] inside the train.) The workers at the Swamp also engaged in a multitude of minor sabotages  which delayed the start of the voyage to the combat zone.

Note: the March 13 Student Directorate was named after University of Havana students, who on March 13, 1957, courageously assaulted, in Havana, the presidential palace of dictator Batista.

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