CALIXTO GARCIA FLINCHED INVOLUNTARILY AS he heard the unmistakable report of a Russian SVT semi-automatic carbine rifle. The carbines were furnished to them by the Soviet Union and were deadly accurate and efficient when fired in the semi-automatic mode. They had a solid wooden stock, an accurate aim and sight device, and were 7.62 x 54 caliber with a ten-round clip insert.
Within a matter of seconds, he heard multiple rifle shots, each coming in rapid succession, like the Gatling gun of the Old West. The shots rang out so frequently that it became impossible to distinguish one shot from the other.
Further down the line, Juan Almeida sensed the enemy before he actually saw them. It was almost pitch dark, but he knew they were there. His ears perked up as he heard the soft trampling of high grass that could only have been made by the sound of another human being wearing combat boots.
As he jerked his head around toward the direction of the barely audible footsteps of the enemy, he instantly froze, seeing the silhouetted outline of an enemy soldier a mere ten feet in front of him. If he had hesitated more than a split second, his foe would have seen him first, and he would have breathed his last breath. He instantly regained his composure, yelling “Aaagh,” and firmly squeezed the trigger on his carbine. The enemy soldier slumped to the ground, totally unaware that he had been shot.
Almeida and his men had no time to think. As soon as he had squeezed the trigger, a dozen or more enemy soldiers appeared directly in front of them. Th ere was only time to fire one round, point blank, at the enemy.
All up and down the line, Juan Almeida heard the blood-curdling screams that accompanied a close-fought and tenacious battle. Being somewhat of a historian, he had read up on some of the major battles of the U.S. Civil War.
This is what it must have been like to smell the unmistakable odor of the enemy soldier. Calixto Garcia hesitated slightly before he gave the order. “Charge!” he yelled out at the top of his lungs.
As each of the other officers heard the order, they methodically repeated it up and down the entire line. And, on key, Castro’s guerillas charged the surprised government troops, their bayonets at the ready to stab the life and breathe from the faceless enemy.
“Viva la Cuba! Viva Castro!” shouted Che Guevara at the top of his lungs as he led his troops down at the end of the line and on the fl ank. As the dead bodies began to mount, Garcia retreated to the rear of the line in an effort to find Raul or Fidel Castro. The fighting had been going on for several hours, and Batista’s troops were slowly retreating back toward the main highway.
Garcia chuckled to himself as he rubbed his stubbly beard. A wry, devilish smile spanned across the lower part of his jaw. Th e government troops were such fools, he thought. Or maybe it was just that bastard, Batista. Th eir military blunder was so devastating that he now knew with absolute certainty that fate was on their side, an invisible ally that could counter any insurmountable obstacles they came across.
Finally, as the wee hours of dawn began to approach, he found them. Fidel, Raul, and Che Guevara were all huddled toward the rear, some hundred yards in the distance. As he glimpsed them in the distance, he began to run toward them, gasping air in with a panted excitement that was just dying to tell them of the enemy’s retreat.
As Garcia approached, Raul Castro was the first to speak.
“Take it easy, Calixto, we don’t want you to have a heart attack just when we’re ready to take over Cuba. Or do we?” he asked rhetorically, laughing heartily as he mockingly asked the question.
“Very funny,” retorted Calixto Garcia between large gasps of breath.
“Did you see those government troops?” he asked in amazement.
“They were using American made M1 carbines with no bayonet attachments! Can you believe that?! The poor bastards never stood a chance, especially in hand-to-hand combat.”
“After we fired our first salvo into them, and attacked with our bayonets raised, they were virtually defenseless. It was like stabbing pigs in a pigpen.”
Fidel Castro struck the side of the matchbox, and the wooden match fired to life as he lit another one of his cigars. Unlike most cigar smokers, Fidel Castro had the unusual habit of inhaling every so often. This was one of those occasions. The dense, thick smoke of the fine Cuban cigar filled the entire expanse of both his lungs, holding it there for what seemed like an eternity. As he exhaled slowly, large halos of smoke billowed from between his lips into the thick, humid air.
“Ah yes, my good friend, it seems that as of late, the generalissimo has committed numerous tactical errors, all of which have been to our advantage,” remarked Fidel Castro.
“I have always said that fate and destiny have been on our side. These two things plus persistence and an unlimited amount of patience will eventually lead to our ultimate victory. Need I remind you again that these were the key strategies in place in pre-revolutionary Russia before the communists took over?” They all knew better than to interrupt him when he was orating like this. It was like he was reminiscing in is mind that he had actually been there and helped Trotsky and Lenin orchestrate the Bolshevik Revolution.
“Well, what do you think, my comrades? Are you ready to run the new Cuban government?”
“Fidel, we haven’t taken over yet,” remarked his brother Raul.
“Si, we haven’t even won this battle yet,” chimed in Juan Almeida.
“Ah, but don’t you see, my friends? The will of the enemy is no longer there. It has disappeared along with their morally corrupt motives that once gave them the false sense of righteous indignation to inflict their senseless pain and unbridled greed on the impoverished Cuban people. But soon this will be no more. Not because it is our right, but our destiny to restore the proper order of nature in the lives of each and every ordinary Cuban citizen. It will be each according to his ability and each according to his need. The wealth will be distributed among all of the people.”
With the quote from Karl Marx, Fidel Castro ended his eloquent soliloquy. The silence hung in the air like a blanket of deafness. No one dared or even wanted to speak.
How awe-inspiring Fidel could be, thought Che Guevara. This is why he had stuck it out with Castro through thick and thin. He could be demanding and caring at the same time. His oratorical skills, combined with his charisma and unmatched intelligence, gave him the effective power to sway the accepting will of the Cuban people. They wanted a savior, and were more than willing to have Fidel Castro fill that role.
Maybe he was right, they thought in unison. And if he was, then they were certainly ready to take over and play an important role in the new Cuba.