Víctor Arzuaga Rodríguez, while polishing the shoes of those who arrive at his armchair, remembers the explosion of La Coubre ship in Havana Harbor on March 4, 1960, which killed more than a hundred people, where he was about to die.
Arzuaga Rodríguez, who still shows sadness, speaks about that day, when he was on duty on board with 12 other comrades from Contramaestre, who suffered that terrorist act, orchestrated by the US Government, to prevent the ammunition and weapons bought in Belgium from reaching the hands of the Cuban Government.
“There, many of my comrades died, who were torn apart. They occurred two explosions. The second happened when many people came to the boat to help the wounded, so there were many more people…”, Arzuaga remembers with deep pain.
“There my colleague Israel Galán, who also fell together with me, looked at me and thought that I was dead, but the box where I fell was lit, the fire made me move, I complained and that’s when my colleague realizes that I’m alive he takes me out as far as I could be rescued”, he recalls.
Victor Arzuaga was one of more than 200 wounded, victims of that brutal and monstrous terrorist act. No matter the means, what counts is the end for those who unscrupulously attempted against the lives of hundreds of people.
Arzuaga continues with his memories: “I always get very sick when this date comes because I remember those fallen comrades and others mutilated forever. That’s a trauma you have for life…”
On March 5, 1960, the maximum leader of the Cuban Revolution, when bidding farewell to the mourning of those who fell in the fateful act, pronounced for the first time the phrase “Homeland or Death”, symbol of the decision of the Cuban people’s struggle, which remains fully valid today.
At that time Fidel said: “And not only will we know how to resist any aggression, but we will also know how to defeat any aggression, and that once again we would have another dilemma than the one with which we began the revolutionary struggle: that of freedom or death. Only now freedom means something even more: freedom means fatherland. And our dilemma would be: Homeland or Death!”
This terrorist act remind the Cuban people of the explosion perpetrated by the United States government when they blew up the Maine ship in Havana harbor, to fabricate the pretext of intervention in the the War of 1895, when the Spanish colonialism was almost defeated, so there occurred the Spanish-American War in 1898.