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Cuba recalls Julio Antonio Mella on his 95 death anniversary

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Julio Antonio Mella was probably the most hated revolution fighter by the dictator Gerardo Machado, who did not hide his homicidal intentions when -in the face of arguments to free him from arbitrary detention- he told his lawyer Ruben Martinez Villena: “I do not know what communism is, nor anarchism, nor socialism. But neither the students, nor the workers, nor the veterans, nor the patriots, nor Mella. And I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him!”.

Faced with the threat, Mella declared: “I am not afraid of death, the only thing I feel is that they are going to kill me in the back”.

That prediction would unfortunately come true on January 10, 1929, in the Mexican capital, where he was in exile and preparing an insurrectionary plan.

On the night of that day he was strolling carefree with Tina Modotti, Italian revolutionary and photographer, when henchmen of the Machado dictatorship shot him twice in the back. They only left him time to tell his beloved, already on the ground: “Machado ordered me killed. I die for the Revolution. Tina, I am dying”. In two months he would be 26 years old.

The assassins traveled to Mexico with the complicity of the Cuban ambassador to that country and the Cuban ambassador to Washington, from where the U.S. government was aware of the sinister plot, which was demonstrated years later in an investigation based on documents of the time by Cuban writers Adys Cupull and Froilan Gonzalez.

After the crime, a campaign was launched in the Mexican and Cuban right-wing press, which today we would call fake news, to repeat ad nauseam that “Gerardo Machado’s Cuban government had nothing to do with Mella’s death”.

They promoted the lie that it had been a crime of passion and that Tina Modotti was a woman of questionable decency, who reacted coldly to the tragic episode and had suspicious contradictions in her police statements.

Modotti was not daunted and expressed: “(…) Machado, a caricature of Benito Mussolini, has committed a new crime, but there are dead people who make their murderers shake and whose death represents, for them, the same danger as their lives as combatants”.

Mella in a short time was consecrated as one of the most capable revolutionary leaders of continental stature, who began in the student struggles but understood that true social redemption was achieved with the change of the entire pro-imperialist system prevailing in his homeland and in Latin America.
His rapid political maturity led him to be the founder of the first Communist Party, at only 22 years of age in 1925, but government repression led him to be expelled from the University in 1926 and he had to go into exile in Mexico.

In that country he collaborated with the Mexican Communist Party, the continental Communist International and made trips to meetings of that organization in Russia and Brussels, but he did not cease to relate with the revolutionary movements of the region and creatively applied Marxism-Leninism to the historical and social particularities of our Latin American peoples, to achieve his own road to socialism.

This projection created misunderstandings and even attacks within the dogmatic currents of the international communist movement, which did so much damage to the unity of the revolutionary forces, although for the Machado dictatorship and Yankee imperialism it was very clear that the young leader was the main danger and they decided to assassinate him.

Even after his death he remained the greatest symbol and example of unity and struggle of the student body and the revolutionary forces, as was evidenced under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista on January 15, 1953, when on the occasion of the outrage to his bust in front of  Havana University, the first massive demonstration led by students against tyranny took place.

On that historic day Ruben Batista, a medical student, was mortally wounded, the first martyr of the new stage of struggle that would be decisive for the triumph of January 1959.


Órgano de la Central de Trabajadores de Cuba.

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