JG: I was there when it happened. I was 14 years old and was attending Colegio De La Salle in the Vedado district of Havana. My parents had some Batistianos friends who informed them that the Fidel Castro rebels were advancing in Central Cuba. I was sent to Reparto Fontanar, outside of Havana, near the airport, where my godmother lived, together with one of my cousins and his wife and children. I wasn't told of what was going on beforehand.
On the early morning of New Year's Day, 1 January 1959, the news spread like wildfire: Batista Huyó- Batista Fled!
Everyone was on the streets immediately, laughing and dancing. Cuba was finally free of the Yankee-supported tyrant.
I returned to Vedado and the whole neighborhood was like a YUGE party. My mom found some black and red cloths and she made a 26 of July flag and we put it on our third floor balcony. From that building, University of Havana students had launched a failed assault on Batista's Presidential Palace in 1957. Scores were assassinated by Batista's hated police.
The U.S. mafia-controlled gambling dens were immediately sacked. I would never again have to spend my scarce nickels in criminally controlled enterprises.
When Fidel entered Havana on January eighth 1959, we walked to 23rd street and 24th avenue to watch the rebels on their way to occupying Columbia Barracks, where Batista had staged his 10 de Marzo coup d'etat in 1952.