Monday, August 17, 2009

1957: Mothers' Protest staged for US Ambassador

Cuba History Timeline Events
July 31, 1957
Castro’s M-26-7 operatives stage a phony “spontaneous protest” of Cuban mothers carrying sign: "Stop the murders of our sons" to coincide with the new US Ambassador’s visit to Santiago de Cuba. The protest is so clumsily organized that Smith recognizes it for what it is. In his own words:

“While I was receiving the keys to the city of Santiago […] you could hear a growing roar of voices outside. The mothers of Santiago were demonstrating in the square. A group of approximately 200 women—some quite young, and to all appearances, representatives of the upper middle class—staged a demonstration in Parque Céspedes in front of the Municipal Palace. The women were dressed completely in black. Many were too young to have been mothers of grown sons. They were obviously recruited for the occasion.”

A disturbance broke out when the women protesters tried to break through the police cordon. Batista suspended the Bill of Rights for a period of forty-five days. The suspension of constitutional guarantees meant the temporary loss of such rights as habeas corpus, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, free assembly and free speech.

After returning to Havana and holding interviews with many political leaders, pro- and anti-Castro, Smith correctly sized up Castro and his revolution and flew back to Washington to publicly warn the American people that Castro would not honor international obligations.

Santiago Mothers Protest, Cuba July 1957Amb Smith Santiago Protest, Cuba July 1957
Santiago Mothers Protest, July 1957 (photo from Latin American Studies collection)US Amb Smith & Santiago Mother-protesters, 1957 (photo from Latin American Studies collection)

based on Manuel Márquez-Sterling's Cuba 1952-1959 and
Cuba 1952-1959 Interactive Timeline

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