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One Day in December

One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution

NANCY STOUT
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155jm45
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  • Book Info
    One Day in December
    Book Description:

    Celia Sánchez is the missing actor of the Cuban Revolution. Although not as well known in the English-speaking world as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Sánchez played a pivotal role in launching the revolution and administering the revolutionary state. She joined the clandestine 26th of July Movement and went on to choose the landing site of theGranmaand fight with the rebels in the Sierra Maestra. She collected the documents that would form the official archives of the revolution, and, after its victory, launched numerous projects that enriched the lives of many Cubans, from parks to literacy programs to helping develop the Cohiba cigar brand. All the while, she maintained a close relationship with Fidel Castro that lasted until her death in 1980.The product of ten years of original research, this biography draws on interviews with Sánchez's friends, family, and comrades in the rebel army, along with countless letters and documents. Biographer Nancy Stout was initially barred from the official archives, but, in a remarkable twist, was granted access by Fidel Castro himself, impressed as he was with Stout's project and aware that Sánchez deserved a worthy biography. This is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman who exemplified the very best values of the Cuban Revolution: selfless dedication to the people, courage in the face of grave danger, and the desire to transform society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-8259-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 9-14)
    Alice Walker

    NOTHING MAKES ME MORE HOPEFUL than discovering another human being to admire. My wonder at the life of Celia Sánchez, a revolutionary Cuban woman virtually unknown to Americans, has left me almost speechless. In hindsight, loving and admiring her was bound to happen, once I knew her story. Like Frida Kahlo, Zora Neale Hurston, Rosa Luxemburg, Agnes Smedley, Fannie Lou Hamer, Josephine Baker, Harriet Tubman, or Aung San Suu Kyi, Celia Sánchez was that extraordinary expression of life that can, every so often, give humanity a very good name.

    A third of a century ago I saw a photograph of...

  4. Preface
    (pp. 15-19)
    NANCY STOUT
  5. Map
    (pp. 20-22)
  6. PART I PILÓN

    • 1. December 1955 A Tap on the Shoulder
      (pp. 25-40)

      IT IS A DAY IN PILÓN much like any other, except that it’s late in the year, so it’s cooler and there is more traffic in town. Here on the island’s Caribbean coast, it is the start of thezafra.Sugarcane, bright green in the fields, arrives from the surrounding plantations on wagons that roll along the streets leading to the sugar mill. This is a factory town, but more reminiscent of the Wild West, with noise and bustle and farmers traveling the unpaved streets on horseback.

      Celia, as always, wakes up early. Her bedroom sits to the back of...

    • 2. January 6, 1956 Planning the Landing
      (pp. 41-49)

      ON ONE OF THE LAST DAYS OF 1955, following Fidel’s orders, four men drove south from Manzanillo to meet Celia and have her show them landing points along the coast. They followed the old coastal highway from Manzanillo to Campechuela, then continued south on a road branching inland and across the southwestern peninsula to Pilón. This last section was not a highway, it was more like a network of farm roads for trucks and equipment, chiefly connecting sugar mills but also used by the public. Over considerable stretches the road was too narrow for vehicles to pass, so drivers would...

    • 3. January 1956 Frank País
      (pp. 50-56)

      ONE OF THE THINGS you’re sure to notice on a hillside as you arrive in Santiago is the Frank País Teachers College. The Revolution—which is what the older generation calls the Cuban government—constructed this school almost immediately after victory in January 1959. And the word “victory” is rarely used today, nearly always substituted by something else: “the triumph over the regime of the tyranny,” referring to Batista’s years in power, or simply “the triumph.” In Santiago, the most prominent symbols of that triumph are the memory and the name of Frank País. He was too busy opposing the...

    • 4. February–June 1956 A Change of Strategy
      (pp. 57-72)

      WHEN SHE GOT HOME TO PILÓN, Celia spent a period of time—perhaps as much as a month—thinking through her assignment. That in itself is interesting since she was such a woman of action. She studied the situation, mapped the area, thought her tasks through, and mulled over how best to assist Fidel and his soldiers. She always came back to the same thing: a large group of men was going to land in a place they did not know. Nor did the people in the area know them. Her analysis: she needed to create not one group but...

    • 5. June and October 1956 Final Plans
      (pp. 73-80)

      ON JUNE 24 A NUMBER OF FIDEL’S MEN were arrested in Mexico. They had been there for a year, training under Alberto Bayo, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, when the Mexican police arrested them on charges of preparing to attack another country. Fidel got most of his men released on July 3 by negotiation and by making a large payment. But he was alarmed, and rushed the purchase of theGranma,a twenty-year-old 64-foot diesel-powered cabin cruiser built to accommodate no more than twenty.

      By now, Randol Cossío’s surveillance showed that navy planes’ reconnaissance was confined to a...

    • 6. October and November 1956 The Last Five Days of November
      (pp. 81-101)

      In October Frank flew once again to Mexico. He told Fidel, apparently quite flatly, to forget about making the landing at the end of the year—they couldn’t pull it off. But Mexico was getting increasingly difficult. Batista had placed agents there, and Fidel was uneasy. Unsuccessful in his bid, Frank returned to Santiago and intensified his work preparing uprisings to divert the government forces from the landing. Celia, learning of Fidel’s determination to come within the year, made a quick trip to Havana to ask Armando Hart and Haydée Santamaria for permission to fl y to Mexico and return...

    • 7. December 2, 1956 The Arrival of the Granma
      (pp. 102-111)

      THEGRANMAWAS APPROACHING, slowly. The boat had lost nearly a day plowing through rough seas off the Yucatán peninsula, and only passed the western tip of Cuba, at the remote end of Pinar del Rio Province, at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 29. It then made even slower headway as it traveled east the length of Cuba, following a safe route, far to the south of the island and well out of view of the Coast Guard. Friday, while they were still on this route, their radio had picked up news of the Santiago uprising, but there was no...

    • 8. December 3–5, 1956 Felipe Guerra Matos
      (pp. 112-116)

      AT DAYLIGHT, on Monday, December 3, Celia and Beto Pesant reached the outskirts of Manzanillo. They hid in a cane field so that they could watch the airport, still under government control, and decided to stay out of sight for the rest of the day. Beto took her to the house of a sympathizer, on the edge of town. When they got there, they found the owner completely befuddled by grief. His father had died fifteen days earlier, and he’d barely eaten or gone out of his house since. They spent the rest of the day and night in this...

    • 9. December 5–16, 1956 The Farmers’ Militia
      (pp. 117-122)

      THE GUERRILLAS WERE AMBUSHED on the afternoon of December 5. Chewed cane stalk marked their trail. A hundred Rural Guards armed with machine guns and rifles trapped them at a place called Alegria de Pio, in a field, then set fire to the field to flush them out.

      In the battle that ensued, as Cuban historians explain it, two were killed in combat; nineteen were captured and immediately executed; and nineteen escaped one way or another, making it out of the mountains to safety as best they could, but did not return to the life of a guerrilla. Twenty-one were...

    • 10. December 18, 1956 How Many Guns?
      (pp. 123-126)

      WHEN ACCOUNTS OF THE REVOLUTION were recorded, months and years later, Celia’s network of farmers, fishermen, ranchers, and cattlemen was given a formal name: the Farmers’ Militia. Nobody, least of all Raúl and Fidel, questions the fact that they saved the Revolution. Of the twenty-one survivors discovered by the farmers, sixteen made it to Mongo’s place: three with Fidel on the 16th, five with Raúl on the 18th, another man on the 19th, and seven came with Almeida on the 21st. (Che has given a good account of the last group.) By December 21, theGranma’s scattered forces had reassembled....

    • 11. January 1957 The Dove and the Zebra
      (pp. 127-132)

      AS ACLANDESTINA, CELIA BEGAN a new kind of life. Manzanillo’s police force had a new captain, brought in from another part of Cuba specifi cally to capture her. She changed locations every few nights, and was managed by one person, a kind of keeper, a guardian angel. Guerra Matos ruminates on this. “She still had to keep in touch with the movement. But when you receive two or three persons in one place, there are security measures you have to use. Some of the people who visited could be arrested. And they could talk, because you never know. You...

    • 12. January 7–February 15, 1957 The Traitor
      (pp. 133-142)

      HAVING RESOLVED MANY OF THE ISSUES of the landing by getting Fidel into the mountains, Frank and Celia set about augmenting his depleted guerrilla forces. First they sent Beto Pesant, who led a small group of men from Manzanillo.

      While awaiting Beto’s arrival, Fidel’s unit was finding sympathizers and becoming familiar with its new territory. Farmers and rancher known to Crescencio let them camp on their properties, got their wives to prepare food, and suggested where they might spend subsequent nights. In this setting, on the evening of January 7, the group arrived at the ranch of Eutimio Guerra, who...

    • 13. February 16 and 17, 1956 The Meeting in the Mountains
      (pp. 143-155)

      CELIA AND FRANK SLEPT AT THE FARMHOUSE. Rising early and making their way up the mountain, guided by a couple of Epifanio’s sons, they ran into Fidel and Ciro in an open field. It was still so early in the day that mists hung in places. There is no record of what happened next. Fidel had never met Celia, so Frank may have performed the introductions. He hadn’t seen Fidel in four months, not since the previous October, in Mexico. Here, on this path, Fidel was finally face to face with Frank, his partner in revolution, and the lovely woman...

    • 14. February–March 1956 The Marabuzal
      (pp. 156-164)

      WHEN FRANK RETURNED TO SANTIAGO—after the Matthews interview and the meeting of the movement’s directors—he informed his cells that he’d be selecting combatants to fight with Fidel in the mountains. Celia did the same, contacting operators in all the cities along the coast. Frank’s guidelines were extremely clear: priority was going to members of the underground who had been detected, were in hiding, and no longer effective for clandestine work. Yet the recruits had to be capable soldiers, strong enough mentally and physically to withstand the rigors of guerrilla warfare. They had to have been “proven in action,”...

  7. PART II MANZANILLO

    • 15. March, April, and May 1957 Clandestinos
      (pp. 167-184)

      DURING THE FOLLOWING MONTHS, the heat was centered on Celia. The new and embarrassing revelations by the foreign press only caused Caridad’s police to step up their hunt for her in Manzanillo. One day, when Lilia Ramيrez was looking out of the second-floor window at the telephone company, she saw a group of police leave headquarters. She quickly alerted Hector of a raid. Very likely, this was the day the police raided Angela Llَpiz’s house, only to find that Celia wasn’t there. Ana Irma Escalona, who worked for and lived with Angela, describes the raid. 26th of July documents were...

    • 16. May 28, 1957 The Battle of Uvero
      (pp. 185-194)

      WHEN CELIA HAD BEEN A MEMBER of the rebel army just over a month, she went into battle. On May 23, the rebel army was still camped near the beaches on the Caribbean when a boat loaded with men and arms, organized by the anti-Batista Authentic Party, tried to land. TheCorynthiawas quickly intercepted by the army, blown up as it landed, with only one survivor. Although the 26th of July Movement had had nothing to do with this landing, Fidel vowed he would strike back because the troops on board had been fi ghting against the same dictatorship,...

    • 17. July 2, 1957 Thanks to Moran
      (pp. 195-200)

      ON TUESDAY, JULY 2, Felipe Guerra Matos was arrested for the third time as he drove into Manzanillo. He had just transported some men into the mountains, and his arrest was, he says, “Thanks to Moran.”

      During our interview, Felipe’s voice dropped, markedly; his tone became soft, reflective. “It didn’t happen overnight. A person doesn’t come down from the Sierra one day and start working with the enemy the next. He worked for several months in Manzanillo. He worked with all of us.” According to Felipe, Moran had been arrested by the police, let go, and after that “many of...

    • 18. July 12, 1957 The Manifesto
      (pp. 201-205)

      FRANK HAD BEEN REALIZING one of his greatest political achievements during the two weeks he helped Celia with her problems in Manzanillo. He had charmed a couple of high-profile Cubans into going up to the Sierra to talk with Fidel: Raúl Chibás, Eduardo’s brother, and Felipe Pazos, former head of the National Bank of Cuba. Frank initiated this project after his brother’s death, and carried it to completion in less than two weeks.

      “The idea you proposed is a good one,” he compliments Fidel, “precisely because the 26th of July Movement lacks respectability among the general populace.” People of Cuba...

    • 19. July 31, 1957 The End of an Era
      (pp. 206-215)

      IN SANTIAGO, DURING THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF JULY, the police started daily searches, apparently looking for Frank, as if intending to cover the whole city, neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house. Fidel, listening to the radio, wrote Frank: “I am overcome by a feeling of suspense every time I listen to the radio and hear that some young man was found murdered in the streets of Santiago. Just today they announced they had found the unidentified body of a young man, about 24 years old, with a mustache, etc., etc. This will worry me for hours until I know...

    • 20. August 1957 After Frank
      (pp. 216-220)

      WRITING FROM THE MOUNTAINS, Fidel instructed Celia to take over. “For the moment you’ll have to undertake, in regard to us, the better part of Frank’s work,” and carry on with “all the things that you know more about than the others”—this until the 26th of July Movement could designate a replacement. She—numb with grief, and on the very day of Frank’s funeral—duly began to compose a report for the movement’s national office. Over three days, she added to her draft, finally completing the letter on the 2nd of August. She addressed her thoughts to Haydée Santamaria....

    • 21. September 5, 1957 The Maps
      (pp. 221-225)

      IN THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST, SIM launched a widespread investigation in Pilón. When they got to the offices of the sugar mill and began to examine files, they came upon the empty folder with maps signed out by Celia Sánchez. The government’s agents quickly confirmed that these missing charts were those discovered on theGranma. Although the army had for some time accused her of supporting Fidel Castro, here in hand was concrete evidence. An order was issued to search Manuel Sánchez’s house. Soldiers arrived in jeeps and trucks; they confronted the doctor by holding up the empty map folder...

    • 22. September 1957 Chaos
      (pp. 226-242)

      THE BATTLE OF PALMA MOCHA was one of the worst battles of the Revolution—and, from Fidel’s letters, it is clear that after he returned from this battle he’d anticipated getting a reply from Celia. He heard and received nothing and stopped writing for the ten days remaining in the month. But, on the 1st of September, when he heard that her father had been arrested, Fidel sent a man to Manzanillo to pick up Celia and bring her back to his camp. After this concerned gesture things started to fall apart. She left Manzanillo with Fidel’s man, confident that...

  8. PART III SIERRA MAESTRA

    • 23. October 17, 1957 Celia Leaves the Underground
      (pp. 245-258)

      CELIA LEFT MANZANILLO for good on October 17, 1957, accompanied by Hector Llópiz, who flew into exile to Costa Rica, where he lived until the end of the war. Both took an escape route via a particularly pretty country house owned by local Coca- Cola executive Rene Suarez. Their host was arrested almost immediately; he quickly left for the United States, along with his wife, Teresa Marinol, and teenage daughter. Celia would always recall this period in the Sierra Maestra as the best time of her life, something wonderful, as if she had entered Paradise instead of a war zone....

    • 24. January–June 1958 Planning War
      (pp. 259-276)

      DURING THE FIRST MONTHS OF 1958, Celia and Fidel planned a defense strategy. The 26th of July had an informer within the Cuban army and knew it would be staging an all-out offensive in the upcoming summer months. This piece of intelligence gave Fidel time to make preparations.

      By January 1958, the rebels held most of the mountains of southeastern Oriente. After a year of rebel army harassment, the Rural Guard had pulled out of nearly all the smaller garrisons in the Sierra Maestra. Now, with this geographical zone in their possession, it was up to the rebel army to...

    • 25. June–July 1958 The War
      (pp. 277-294)

      CELIA WAS STILL IN LAS VEGAS when the enemy began to advance toward fragile, rebel-held territory. After a few days, in early June, the army had moved so close that she traveled back up the mountain to the command post for safety. There she helped Fidel contact his commanders as he sent orders to the various columns engaged in battle. Seeing how important it was to have someone at the front—Las Vegas, their most vulnerable location—he and she came to the conclusion that she’d go back. She went to Mompié, where she installed a battery telephone, and there,...

    • 26. The House that Celia Built
      (pp. 295-304)

      EXCEPT FOR A FEW BREAKS to go into battle, Fidel and Celia stayed at theComandanciafrom late July to November 1958. They lived in the third and final house, the only one that Celia completely designed and furnished. It is simple, quite beautiful, and you can see her hand in every detail.

      The military complex, which covered a square kilometer, was always being changed. They constructed new buildings and moved the old ones to more secure locations. The Cuban army still didn’t know the exact location of theComandancia,yet knew, generally, where it was, and every day around...

    • 27. August 1958 Mariana Grajales
      (pp. 305-307)

      CAMILO CIENFUEGOS LEFT THE MOUNTAINS and headed west with his “Antonio Maceo” Column on August 21, and ten days later Che Guevara followed. Che’s column was fi ghting in the name of Ciro Redondo, one of theGranmaveterans who had died in battle at Mar Verde on November 29, 1957. It was up to Camilo and Che to take the war outside the Sierra, to the plains, to meet Batista’s forces head on, and to cut the island in two—as Antonio Maceo had done in 1896—ensuring that the 26th of July would control the entire eastern side...

    • 28. September 1958 Lydia and Clodomira
      (pp. 308-312)

      BEFORE CHE LEFT, he told Lydia to get in touch with him as soon as he reached Las Villas. As he explained, she was going to be his primary means of communicating with Fidel at theComandancia.He wanted her to go ahead of him to Havana, to set things up before he got there. The Office of Historical Affairs collected information about Lydia Doce and Clodomira Acosta well into the 1970s, and I have taken most of this account from OHA compiled reports.

      Soon after speaking with Che (who left the mountains on August 21), Lydia made her way...

    • 29. November 1958 The Triumph
      (pp. 313-322)

      CELIA LEFT THECOMANDANCIAwith Fidel and did not return there for the rest of the war. Neither seems to have regretted trading paradise for the battlefield. Fidel was about to command his final battle against Batista’s forces.

      They traveled slowly, stopping at the rebel army’s training school in Minas de Bueycito first, and on the 17th were approaching Guisa (inland and to the northeast of Pico Turquino). In that town the army maintained a significant garrison, which the rebels were ready to engage. On the 20th, Celia left Fidel to start receiving and assigning recruits, at a place called...

  9. PART IV HAVANA

    • 30. January 1959 Arrival in Havana
      (pp. 325-335)

      THE HUGE CAVALCADE ARRIVED in Havana on January 8 via the old industrial city of Guanabacoa, wending its way on the old harbor road past freight yards, factories, and refineries along the port, to the Presidential Palace. The country’s new leadership was to give a press conference there, in the Hall of Mirrors. The newly appointed president, former judge Manuel Urrutia, was waiting with his wife. Celia and Fidel joined them on the stage. I’m not sure when—maybe it was before Camilo Cienfuegos arrived from Camp Columbia—Fidel looked around at the mirrors and rococo moldings, and at the...

    • 31. See the Revolution
      (pp. 336-337)

      WHEREVER THEY WENT, Fidel urged his audience to visit Cuba and promised they’d find a low-cost, see-the-Revolution-atfirsthand vacation in the sun. If speaking to college students, he’d invite them to come to Havana on July 26th. Celia and he hatched this plan for a new kind of tourism, then went back to Havana and worked out the details. Here, for the first time after victory, she seems to have found a modus operandi. It became a pattern for how she worked with Fidel: he’d express an idea, and she’d put it into action. In the decades to come, she would...

    • 32. The Urban Comandancia and the Zapata Swamp Resort
      (pp. 338-350)

      STEADILY, THROUGH THE EARLY MONTHS following victory, Celia was building a home for herself and Fidel. By mid-1959, most of the other tenants in Celia’s apartment house had moved out as she took over the building. Her own apartment grew into an urban command post, with security guards stationed on the ground floor (and both ends of the street). Her first apartment, vacated by Silvia, was on the ground floor, but she soon got an apartment on the first (above ground) floor, and there installed a kitchen and a dining room with a big, easy-to-clean countertop, plus a few banquettes...

    • 33. Turning Havana into Pilón
      (pp. 351-360)

      WHEN CELIA FIRST MOVED TO ONCE, most people from Oriente Province who’d gone into exile in Havana were headed home. In her own family, only Flávia and Rene stayed because they’d established a new dental clinic in Havana. Chela and Pedro went back to Manzanillo, and Silvia and her family returned to Santiago. Celia (and Fidel) started off in the ground-floor apartment at Once No.1007 in February, but whenever an apartment became available, Celia would take it and move close friends or family members in.

      She started with her cousin Miriam Manduley and Miriam’s husband, Pepito José Argibay, a commander;...

    • 34. 1960–1961 The United Nations
      (pp. 361-369)

      CELIA IGNORED THE POSSIBILITIES of personal danger and resolutely refused to have bodyguards. She drove her own car, and in that way she was like Frank. Later, this habit of going it alone took on a kind of symbolism. It is not unusual for Cubans to tell you that she was protected by the love of the people. Many believe that she was so well loved no one would touch her. Perhaps this even extended to a superstitious belief in her invulnerability, because in Cuba this is an aspect of Santeria that is strongly felt. The question is, did she...

    • 35. 1961–1963 The Bay of Pigs Invasion
      (pp. 370-380)

      “IF YOU CAN’T STAND UP TO CASTRO, how can you stand up to Khrushchev?” John F. Kennedy aggressively challenged Richard Nixon during the fi nal months leading up to the 1960 presidential elections. Kennedy blamed Eisenhower for tolerating Batista; and Nixon—Eisenhower’s vice-president and Kennedy’s opponent—for being weak. Finally, on October 6, Kennedy delivered his most famous challenge in Republican Cincinnati, Ohio. He labeled Nixon indifferent to a “communist menace 90 miles from our shores,” and called for funding anti-Castro guerrillas. As it turned out, Eisenhower was already doing so. By the end of October 1960, Eisenhower announced an...

    • 36. 1964 The Archives
      (pp. 381-382)

      IN 1964, CELIA ESTABLISHED the Office of Historical Affairs, officially founding the archive on May 4, simply by announcing it in a conversation with a group of people at her house. I don’t know who these people were, but she informed them that she had decided to create an office that would function as an institution responsible for the documents. It would operate under the direction of the secretary of the presidency (herself). “In this manner, characteristically informal, and from her living room,” historian Pedro Tabío Álvárez writes, “theOficina de Asuntos Historicos was born.”

      Some of the material is...

    • 37. The Florida Story
      (pp. 383-390)

      CONSEQUENCES OF THE REVOLUTION persist in nearly every Cuban family. When the prisoners taken at the Bay of Pigs finally left Cuba in late December 1962, Celia’s sister Chela and her husband, Pedro Alvarez, were on the same boat, emigrating to Florida. As with all Cuban families, their story is seen across the 90-mile divide.

      The Alvarez family had returned to Cuba in 1959 to participate in the Revolution, and that is when the boys went to the Jesuit-run Belén school and stayed in Celia’s apartment. The Alvarez family hoped—at least for a time—they could live within the...

    • 38. Havana, 1965–1970 The Household and the Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor
      (pp. 391-405)

      IN HAVANA, CELIA’S DUTIES were overtly governmental, since she held several ministerial posts as secretary to Fidel Castro on the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, the two branches that lead the country. In 1965, she was elected to the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. As a member of the Central Committee, she had come to wield considerable—one might think complete—political power. Yet the most frequent reply when I asked people about it was that she was not political: her real power was her ability to help people. Exactly what she did on the...

    • 39. The 1970s The Kids, Lenin Park
      (pp. 406-413)

      IN THE ELEVENTH YEAR of the Revolution, Fidel decreed that the country would bring in its greatest sugarcane harvest ever: the goal was 10 million tons. “Fidel would cut a lot of cane,” Tony laughed, recalling those days at Once. “He would get home at whatever hour, all full of red soil, and his boots covered in mud. We didn’t have an elevator then. He’d go up the stairs, and Roberto would boil. He’d just cleaned the stairs. Now he had Fidel’s boots to clean—and he would make them beautiful. And Fidel would put the boots on and leave,...

    • 40. Life at Once
      (pp. 414-423)

      THE CHILDREN LOVED SPENDING HOLIDAY time at Once, especially the week-long school holiday to commemorate the Bay of Pigs victory, Semana de Girón, which was celebrated every year. They didn’t go on vacation “like everybody else,” according to Tony. Celia would take them to work in the fields. “Volunteer work. We’d clean cane fields. The people who worked in her office did this, too. It was in the countryside outside Havana. We’d go in the morning and come back home.”

      It was those stay-at-home, stay-in-Havana vacations that gave Celia time with the children. She taught them how to cook. She...

    • 41. September–December 1979 Two World Meetings and a Wedding
      (pp. 424-434)

      THOUGH SHE WAS ILL, Celia took on one last significant project: overseeing the design and construction of a convention center to host a summit conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to be held in Havana in September of 1979. Fidel had been named the president of that organization and Cuba would be the host of its big gathering.

      The Convention Palace in Havana is a large white building that sits on the edge of a woods in Cubanacan, and was inaugurated in late August 1979. Sixty heads of state and several thousand delegates attended the conference, including Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito,...

    • 42. January 11, 1980 The Country Is in Mourning
      (pp. 435-441)

      ON JANUARY 11, 1980, the newspaperJuventud Rebeldeprinted a 12:30 p.m. edition. Its headline: THE COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING. “At 11:50 a.m.today la compañeraCelia Sánchez Manduley, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Deputy to the National Assembly, and Secretary to the Council of State, passed away.”

      The Council of State had declared that flags would fly at halfmast from 4:00 p.m. of that day, the 11th, until 6:00 p.m. on January 12. The casket would be placed at the base of the José Martí monument in the Plaza of the Revolution at...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 442-442)
  11. Writings about Celia Sánchez Manduley
    (pp. 443-445)
  12. Select Bibliography/Further Reading
    (pp. 446-458)
  13. Index
    (pp. 459-472)