Monday, January 13, 2014

The Derailment of the Armored Train

“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
Translation by Cuba Journal.
Rebel Army Captain Rogelio Acevedo recalls: 
Che sometimes did things or ordered us to do something whose immediate sense we did not comprehend, and which was a product of his great intuition as a combatant. So it was such as, when he ordered us to tear up and remove the railway line with a bulldozer. 
On the night of December 28, [1958], Che had ordered us to a find vulnerable point where the armored train traveled, and to choose a place where the rail line could  be lifted up. 
At dawn, the rebels utilized a D6 yellow caterpillar which belonged to the Agronomy Department of the University of Santa Clara. They lifted a stretch of the rail line which was located about four kilometers from where the armored train was, which impeded the train to go backwards to the installations of the Leoncio Vidal barracks. [Forward from the train was all territorio libre (liberated territory) of Las Villas province.] 
Following his habitual tactics, Che isolated the armored train and its position at the Loma de (Mount of) Capiro, where part of the train soldiers had been deployed, and later on he ordered the infiltration towards the city of Santa Clara to continue. 
The Derailment
December 29, 1958. 
Around three in the afternoon the armored train begins to move backwards in order not to face the intense fire from the rebels. The two locomotives move the train extremely fast. They travel about four kilometers backwards without knowing the the rails had been lifted (20 meters) in the zone known as La Linea (The Line).
Núñez Jiménez relates: 
When they reach that point, the armored train thunderously jumps and abandons the rails, and a few of the wagons and the potent locomotive spectacularly hit a garage, which is destroyed, and also numerous automobiles which were parked inside. All are converted into flattened scrap metal.
The noise was so awful, that all of us who were very close, thought that the world had ended. To the violent hit of the principal impact followed a screech, shortened by more wagons hitting each other. 
The spectacle was impressive. Some wagons were destroyed, others overturned, others had left the rails, “a sea of iron confused.” 
JG: This act was a masterful stroke of guerrilla warfare strategy by the Comandante with the biggest cojones in the Cuban Revolution. The huge number of armaments and war material captured inside the many wagons of the Armored Train is described closely in Tabio's book. All the civilians that had joined the Rebel Army in Las Villas province were now fighting with thee arms that were provided  courtesy of General Fulgencio Batista. Two days later Santa Clara, Cuba's third largest city, would fall to the to the spectacularly brilliant effort of the 26th of July Movement, the March 13 Student Directorate and the Socialist Popular Party. 
On January First, 1959, General Fulgencio Batista, USA's favorite puppet in Latin America, would flee the country with his tail between his legs. He and his esbirros, before they left,  looted the Cuban Treasury and the money was deposited in Florida Banks. It was never returned to the Cuban people by the Yankee imperialists of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who turned out to be a bigger crook than Richard Nixon. 
I highly recommend Tabio's book to those who can read Spanish.  What a great writer he is. There is no single unimportant word about the greatest military feat of the Man from Argentina. The bibliography and the notes are extensive. 
The Yankee imperialists hated Che. They immediately sent orders for his execution when he was captured in Bolivia. 
Che was, without a doubt, the greatest Revolutionary that ever lived in the 20th century. 

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