Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 26 School Complex: Real Heritage of Cuban History

For those who have read about the decisive events that took place July 26, 1953 in the Eastern Cuban city of Santiago de Cuba, visiting what used to be the Moncada Garrison, now 26 of July School Campus, is like having history at our finger tips. Being inside the building museum feels the past, while turning our eyes to its school rooms and outside its walls, translates into an encounter with the reality that inspired the historic action.

The building was raised while Cuba was ruled by the tyrannical Spanish governor Miguel de Tacon, back in the first half of the 19th century, and later during that period the facility was used as a prison for Cuban independence fighters who opposed Spanish colonialism. By that time, the building had only its first floor and a basement with room for 200 prisoners.

The solid facility was first named "Cuartel Nuevo Presidio" garrison, later it was called "Reina Mercedes" and in the early 20th century it was named after independence general Guillermon Moncada, who had been incarcerated in its cells.

In 1937, the building was partially destroyed by a fire. Later it was rebuilt and remodelled with observation points and thick walls that hid the many tortures and murders that took place in its cells under the bloody Fulgencio Batista dictatorship that took power through a coup in 1952.

Following the attack of the garrison by a group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro, July 26, 1953, many of the attackers were murdered or gunned down in different sites of the city of Santiago de Cuba.
One year after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the garrison was turned into a school complex, like many other garrisons and barracks throughout the country were.

At present, the 26 of July School City or elementary education complex is made up of six schools named after martyrs of the historic action.

No comments: