Castro was a 'wetback', admits Havana

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The Independent US

Fifty years ago this weekend, a 30-year-old Cuban calling himself Alejandro became a mojado - literally a "wetback" - by swimming the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States. Had he been caught by border patrolmen the Cuban revolution might never have happened.

According to a report in the official Cuban media, the man, whose real name was Fidel Castro, was on a secret mission on 1 September 1956 to get money to liberate their island from its dictator.

Castro had been forced into exile the previous year by Fulgencio Batista. Now heset up a meeting with exiled former Cuban President Carlos Prio Socarras, the man Batista had overthrown in a 1952 coup. Castro believed Prio should put back some of the money he had skimmed from Cuba into getting rid of the dictator. Prio agreed to meet Castro but only on US soil, fearing abduction by Batista's agents.

Castro returned with enough cash for 200 vintage rifles and ammunition, and a battered yacht. Then he, his brother Raul, 28-year-old Ernesto "Ché" Guevara and 79 others set sail. On 2 December 1956, they landed in Cuba, where their leader declared to a local farmer: "I am Fidel Castro and I have come to liberate our country."

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