The exploits of a group of men led by Fidel Castro, who by May 28, 1957, were already part of the nascent Rebel Army, resonate in our days. That precise day they carried out the second victorious military action, when they attacked El Uvero barracks in the Sierra Maestra.
Fidel had disembarked with an expedition of 82 men on December 2, 1956 along the southwest coast of eastern Cuba, and after the surprising baptism of fire of Alegría de Pio that reduced the group to 12 men, the idea of continuing the struggle for Cuba’s freedom was maintained.
The battle of El Uvero, preceded by the assault on La Plata barracks on January 17, 1957, demonstrated to the world Fidel’s permanence in the Sierra Maestra, his guerrilla capacity to take over barracks and weapons from the enemy, and his willingness to fight until the final victory.
Upon learning that on May 23 the Corynthia had landed on the northern coast of the Oriente, bringing a group of revolutionaries to Cuba, Fidel decided to attack El Uvero barracks, with the aim of distracting the dictatorship’s forces and lessening the pressure on the expeditionaries.
Some 16 kilometers away and eight hours on the road, the fighters won the night of the 27th to reach the El Uvero barracks.
The enemy force located in the barracks consisted of 53 men and defended itself tenaciously for two hours and 45 minutes.
In addition to Fidel, who personally led the combat, on the rebel side several of the men who would later become the main leaders of the revolutionary forces took part in the action, including Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara and Juan Almeida, who was wounded in an arm and a leg.
Of the members of the army of the tyranny, 11 were killed, 19 wounded and 16 prisoners, according to the account of this action made by the Commander in Chief to Frank País.
After the triumph of the Revolution, in one of his valuable writings on the war of national liberation, Commander Ernesto Che Guevara would describe that action as “the victory that marked the coming of age of our guerrilla. From this combat, our morale increased enormously, our decision and our hopes of triumph also increased, simultaneously with the victory and, although the following months were of hard test, we were already in possession of the secret of the victory over the enemy”.