The Escambray is a chain of mountains stretching all along the current municipalities of central provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus, in which lays most of their demarcation. Its selection by our neighboring imperialist nation as a perfect clout to boost armed uprising, responded not merely to its high-altitude characteristics.
But the very existence of other factors that joint to specific social, economic and political conditions, became firm antecedents of the dawn of anti-Revolution bandits, emerging, then, as the exact response of why the Escambray was finally chosen.
Shortly before the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution on 1959, pro-revolutionary forces as the 26th of July Movement, the 13th of March Revolutionary Directory, the People’s Socialist Party, as well as the Second National Front of the Escambray, operated in the region.
This latter one was led by Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo (notorious counterrevolutionary leader, captured along with other 29 mercenaries in former eastern province of Oriente on December of 1964) who used to practice back-door methods to deceive peasants and to split revolutionaries.
Once the People’s Revolution took over power in the island, a handful of leaders of this organization did not enforce correctly the denominated Agrarian Reformation Act, causing that some landowners could still remain standing and supporting anti-social individuals that opposed to the Revolution.
Likewise, these hard-line foes held disgusting and intense political lobbying and who, moreover, distributed among themselves all administrative and political positions at local governments of the Escambray’s surrounding municipalities. For some, these individuals were the real representatives of the revolutionary power.
To all mentioned, it is necessary to add that in this region resided an elite of rich and middle-class peasants, who joined to reactionary elements linked to the Second National Front of the Escambray, as well as the confusing propaganda unleashed by early politicians that blighted on poor peasants, and created suitable conditions for harboring and supporting anti-Cuba bandits in this area.
This blurring situation was enormously availed by ex-military officers of defeated dictator Batista´s army, lumpens, opportunists, convicts and former officials of the Second Front, all fully sponsored by the U.S imperialism to stage a terrorist rebellion in Las villas’ mountain range.
At the beginning, it was only the then-Rebel Army to fight against those heavily-armed squads, but later forces of the Ministry of Interior and the National Revolutionary Militias enrolled in such a crucial military crusade.
Later on July 3, 1962, a special section for this type of war was to be created “the Fight Against Bandits” (LCB) in charge of directing the organization of the necessary sectors and sub-sectors, as well as of assuring that a straight political-cultural program that aimed increasing the level of culture of the working mass, accompanied military operations. Commander Raúl Menéndez Tomassevich was called to be at the forefront of this newly-created section.
The long-suffering highland population from that region was target of an unceasing anti-Revolution propaganda. Many were illiterates unable to countervail such negative political stream. Rural towns ranging from Caracusey, San Pedro, Manacal de Línea, Cuyují to the city of Trinidad, underwent first hand the lashes of the counterrevolution.
The Cuban Revolution’s literacy campaign was another magnificent achievement for the well-being of its people. The painful death of teachers Conrado Benítez, Manuel Ascunce Domenech and farmer Pedro Lantigua are real evidences of such indiscriminating crimes perpetuated by staunch supporters of the U.S imperialism. However, none of these murderers could impede that this Escambray Cordillera, precisely, was to be declared as the Cuba’s first free-illiteracy territory.