The Cuban political situation continued to deteriorate. Cities became battlegrounds between the government’s repressive forces and urban guerrillas that surged in all forms and shapes. By December 1956 Fidel Castro was back in Cuba, in the Sierra Maestra. In March of the following year, in a move to counterbalance Fidel’s increasing political prominence, a number of Havana University students, in cooperation with other opposition groups, almost succeeded in killing Batista in an assault on the presidential palace. In the reprisals that followed the bestknown student leaders were murdered. Whatever competition Fidel might have had for the top opposition spot was now gone.
Batista fled the country on New Year’s Day 1959 after having lost the active support of the military and the confidence of the American embassy. I arrived in Havana five or six days after Fidel descended from the Sierra Maestra and began his triumphal trek to the city. The consolidation of Fidel’s control over all the opposition groups that had fought Batista was not yet complete and armed civilians were all over, all kind of militias, some occupying police stations, others directing traffic, others guarding buildings and others just being there.
The ambience was one of great jubilation, of exhilaration and festivity, of open and widespread glee. Those who regretted Batista’s departure, and there must have been some who did, were nowhere to be seen. It was as if Havana was throwing a big party and the whole city had been invited.
Many of my old friends and acquaintances were now army and police officers, ministers, undersecretaries and ambassadors, and some of my former union colleagues were running the national labor confederation. In the excitement of the situation, I felt that perhaps my misgivings