For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Celia Sanchez
The Legend of Cuba's Revolutionary Heart
  • Rich Haney
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Celia Sanchez.  The Legend of Cuba's Revolutionary Heart
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Celia Sanchez was the dynamo behind the Cuban Revolution; this book is a historical first, illustrating her leading role in bringing down Batista and her relations with Fidel Castro.

About the Author

Rich Haney built a long career in radio, TV and newspaper journalism, serving as Sports Anchor/Director for regional CBS affiliates. For several years he also published a weekly, “The Rich Haney Report,” and a syndicated newspaper sports column. Ten years ago, Haney began researching and writing historical works; he lives in Laramie, WY, and is a full-time writer. Haney recently published a Civil War novel, Chattahoochee, and a nonfiction book, Sacajawea: Her True Story. He has researched and written two Western novels.

Rich Haney has studied the Cuban Revolution for over twenty years, particularly how it relates to America. This all-consuming interest in Cuba began innocently enough. Throughout the 1970s, he was Sports Anchor/Director of WTVR-TV, the CBS affiliate in Richmond, Virginia. After airing an interview with the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis, he received a telephone call from an elderly black woman named Nora Peters. As a retired free-lance journalist, she knew Joe and he fondly remembered her. Over the next twelve years, until she died at the age of 82, Haney and Peters established a warm friendship.  Ms. Peters first met Celia Sánchez in 1953 in Batista’s Cuba.

The letters Ms. Peters received from Celia between 1959 and 1979 describe Celia’s life during and after the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Batista regime, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the continuing harassment from Florida-based Cuban émigré groups. Haney writes from the basis of this remarkable collection of letters, plus personal correspondence with Cuban journalist Marta Rojas and information gathered from Cuban archives and museums and the US National Archives. He went to Cuba in March 2004, on a legal license from the U.S. Treasury, to attempt to confirm the mystical hold Celia exercises over Fidel Castro to this day.

That confirmation was realized. Celia Sánchez was and is the heart and soul of the Cuban Revolution, and it will be her Cuba as long as Fidel Castro is in place.

About the Book
Fidel Castro was powerless, in prison, when the Cuban Revolution was launched  by a tiny woman named Celia Sanchez. A fearless and brilliant organizer and recruiter, she created, nurtured, and led the insurgency that ousted the...
Fidel Castro was powerless, in prison, when the Cuban Revolution was launched  by a tiny woman named Celia Sanchez. A fearless and brilliant organizer and recruiter, she created, nurtured, and led the insurgency that ousted the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, the Mafia, the Communist Party of Cuba, and the U.S. capitalists from Cuba in 1959.

Castro's first two thrusts against Batista were dismal failures — the attack on the powerful Moncada Army Barracks on July 26, 1953, when everyone in his terribly outmanned and outgunned little force was either killed or captured and imprisoned; and, after two years of imprisonment, his return from Mexico on a leaky yacht in December of 1956, when 70 of his 81 rebels were quickly ambushed and killed by a Batista army as they scrambled ashore at Playa Colorado. The twelve survivors — including the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Juan Almeida — were saved by and joined up with Celia's already viable guerrilla movement in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra Mountains of eastern Cuba. Only then did they begin to make a dent in the supposedly impregnable Batista arsenal.

From their first meeting in the Sierras till victory was theirs in the first week of January, 1959, Castro never forgot whose revolution it was — Celia's. And from January of 1959 till she died of cancer in January of 1980, he never forgot whose Cuba it was — Celia's. And it still is, as Castro has ruled the beleaguered island even since 1980 only in the manner he perceives Celia would want him to rule it.

Castro turned 80 on August 13, 2006, in his 47th year as Cuba's leader. The transition to post-Castro Cuba looms vividly on the horizon, whether it comes as a result of natural causes or with an "assist" by the Batistiano-influenced U.S. government. This highly personal account gives insights into the U.S.-Cuban relationship and the motivations of Cuba's leaders at a historical juncture.
Cuban historian Eusebio Leal called Celia a sweet and friendly woman with strong determination and character, intelligence, and willingness to give firm assistance.
Yet little has been written about Celia Sanchez. She is mentioned in Georgie Anne Geyer’s Guerrilla Prince and other works that focus on Fidel Castro, and she is tantalizingly introduced in websites for Cuba buffs and pro- and anti-Castro factions — all forums for readers who want to know more about her.

Introduction

Celia Sánchez Manduley was born on May 9, 1920, in the sleepy Cuban town of Media Luna. Her character was most shaped by her love for Cuba and by two special people — her father and little María Ochoa.

Celia virtually worshipped her father, Dr. Manuel Sánchez. He was head of the Cuban Medical Association — until he was ousted as a...

Celia Sánchez Manduley was born on May 9, 1920, in the sleepy Cuban town of Media Luna. Her character was most shaped by her love for Cuba and by two special people — her father and little María Ochoa.

Celia virtually worshipped her father, Dr. Manuel Sánchez. He was head of the Cuban Medical Association — until he was ousted as a dissident. A wealthy man, he owned three farms. Celia came to sympathize with the farmhands and other rural folk, and she often assisted her father in caring for them. Celia’s mother, Acacia Manduley, died in 1926 of a tropical fever relating to childbirth; her sister soon moved in with the family to help raise the nine children and look after the home, a nine-room house.

University-educated as a biologist and then trained at home as a nurse, Celia was profoundly attached to the country people and the country landscape, the “soothing and beautiful tones that flowed inside me like a tropical breeze from my little hometown of Media Luna,” as she told Nora Peters in a letter dated February 17, 1977. Twice, Celia was about to be married but she abruptly broke off each engagement when her suitors insisted she move to big cities — Havana, in one case, Miami in the other.

A genteel doctor’s daughter, she was in her early thirties when the crimes condoned by the Batista regime in 1953 revolted her and transformed her into a guerrilla fighter determined to overthrow the dictatorship.

In 1944, Celia assisted at the difficult birth of a peasant baby, María Ochoa. The little girl was sickly and three times the skilled Dr. Sánchez predicted she would “not survive the night” because of severe asthma attacks. Those nights, Celia held María in her arms, not wanting her “to die alone in a crib.” Each time, the baby simply refused to die, “blinking her brown eyes up at me each time it seemed nature tried to take her last breath away.” By age five, María had outgrown her breathing problems and had become, as Celia told Nora, “the sweetest and most beautiful thing in beautiful Cuba.”

María spent many of her days and nights with Celia until, at age ten, in 1953, she was kidnapped….


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Pages 196
Year: 2005
LC Classification: F1788.22.S26H36
Dewey code: 972.9106'4'092dc22
BISAC: BIO010000
BISAC: HIS024000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-395-5
Price: USD 21.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-396-2
Price: USD 27.95
Ebook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-397-9
Price: USD 27.95
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