Castro to chronicle the birth of his revolution

He may no longer be president of the country he ruled so uncompromisingly for almost half a century, but Fidel Castro once again seems to be everywhere in Cuba. His latest foray into the limelight, announced yesterday, is a first volume of memoirs to be published next month, chronicling the birth of Cuba's communist revolution when his few hundred guerrilla fighters defeated the far larger regular army of the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The book, entitled The Strategic Victory, appears almost exactly 52 years after the battle of Las Mercedes in the first week of August 1958, when – in the words of a foretaste of its contents provided this week by El Comandante to the Cuban website – "the fate of the tyranny was sealed," and its military collapse became inevitable.

It also comes amid gathering hints of a thaw in the deep frozen relations between Cuba and the US. Since he officially took over as president in 2008, Fidel's brother Raul Castro has taken some cautious steps to liberalise the economy, and this month agreed to release 52 Cuban political prisoners.

In Washington, a Congressional committee voted in June to lift the ban on Americans travelling to Cuba and to remove restrictions on farm exports to the island – a sign of the growing recognition on Capitol Hill that not only have 50 years of a comprehensive US embargo failed to topple the regime, but may actually have helped it stay in power.

Mr Castro, about to turn 84, says he has spent months working on the 25-chapter book since becoming ill in 2006 and handing power to Raul. As well as an account of the crucial turning point in the revolution, it will also have a short autobiographical section, describing his childhood and the beginnings of the armed struggle against the Batista regime. A second volume of memoirs, The Final Strategic Counteroffensive, is now in preparation.

But for the former president, the decisive engagement was Las Mercedes when, by his account, his forces suffered only 31 dead, compared to 300 for the government's army, which also lost large quantities of weapons and ammunition. Five months later, in January 1959, the guerrillas took control of Havana, and President Batista fled into exile.

Now, the leader of the revolution is again making news. Although he missed for the first time the traditional anniversary celebrations in June marking the return from the US to Cuba in 2000 of the 6-year old Elian Gonzalez – hailed as a huge victory over Washington – Mr Castro has made seven public appearances in recent weeks, including three televised speeches. For a man who underwent serious intestinal illness and surgery in 2006/7, he seemed fit and vigorous.

His re-emergence is seen by some as a sign of his personal opposition to further liberalisation and accommodation with the US. In public he has always lived modestly, and always argued that accommodation with capitalism would ruin Cuba.

Such was the theme of his autobiography, Fidel Castro: My Life, co-written with the Spanish author Ignacio Ramonet and published in 2006, in which – still as president – he admitted not the slightest error in his organisation of Cuba's society and economy, or in his brutal treatment of dissidents and political opponents. The revolution, he declared, was "irrevocable".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before