OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Fidel Castro Ruz and Abel Santamaría Cuadrado, leaders of the incipient revolutionary movement. Photo: Archive

Fidel considered Abel’s life to be of exceptional value, and therefore assigned him the mission of taking the Saturnino Lora Hospital, which was less dangerous than the garrison. This decision was not to Abel’s liking and he protested his leader’s plan, saying, “I’m not going to the hospital. Let the women and the doctor go to the hospital. I have to fight, if there is a fight. Let others pass out the recordings and proclamations.”

To which Fidel came back, insisting energetically, “You have to go to the civil hospital, Abel, you go because I am the chief, and have to lead the men. You are number two: I may not come back alive.”

Faced with the order, Abel responded, “We’re not going to do what Martí did. You going to the most dangerous spot and sacrificing yourself, when you are most needed by everyone.”

This is when Fidel, understanding the concern of his second in command, puts his hands on his shoulders and says, “I am going to the garrison and you go to the hospital, because you are the soul of this movement, and if I die, you will take my place.”