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Posted August 20, 2004 by publisher in Cuban History

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Fiery speech by boy orator at rally is lauded by Castro and top woman aide Celia Sanchez.

From Look magazine - Our woman in Havana - November 8, 1960

  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 06, 2004 by Rich Haney

      The 1960 Look Magazine picture of Celia Sanchez was very precious.  I have an upcoming book and a popular Website that is devoted largely to Celia and the Cuban Revolution.  The book will be published in 2005 by Algora Publishing of New York City and is entitled REVOLUTIONARY HEART: The True Story of Celia Sanchez.  I also have a popular Website [url=http://www.cubatruth.com]http://www.cubatruth.com[/url] that shows the front and back covers of the book; the “Updates” icon features columns about Cuba.  I visited Cuba in March of 2004 via a legal license from the U.S. Treasury to finish research on my Celia Sanchez book.  The book and the Website often quote letters Celia wrote (from 1959 till her death from cancer in 1980) to a dear American friend, an elderly black woman who became my all-time dearest friend.  I admire Celia enormously, as you can detect from my Website and upcoming book, and I believe she was/is the most important person in the Cuban Revolution, and I believe Fidel Castro agrees with that assertion.

              Rich Haney

  2. Follow up post #2 added on October 13, 2004 by greg

    I am doing a research project for which I have to pick a prominant woman in Latin America and I ran upon Celia.  I was wondering if anyone knew of any other good books about her life and what she did do for the people of Cuba? if you know of anything please write back or e-mail me .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  3. Follow up post #3 added on November 10, 2004 by Eddie McCabe.

    So little is known here in the u.k about the wonderful heroic Celia Sanchez that I look forward to your forthcoming book so in the meantime I welcome any advice on unbiased printing matter on Celia’ life andstruggle for Free Cuba   .Please e-mail suggested reading to me at my office in Scotland.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on July 22, 2007 by Moe

    I wrote this.  I have never stopped working for a better world and better tomorrow.  Celia is my hero.

    A Celia Sanchez

    Celia Sanchez Manduley,
    from days as a young rebel,
    26th of July movement,
    early days before Mexico and the Gramna.

    Came from Manzanillo
    walked through Sierra Maestra
    during the insurrection.

    After the triumph,
    walked through streets
    Santiago de Cuba
    January 1st, 1959.

    Side by Side with Fidel

    to women brutalized
    by deadly regimes.

    to us
    who had hope
    for better tomorrows.

    I remember
    walking down Linea,
    buscando el apartmento,
    she lived
    after the revolution.

    sticky humid nights,
    bodegas en la esquina.

    el apartmento
    Celia long gone.

    I held hope
    walking by
    enough times
    catching a glimpse of her
    returning to the neighborhood

    Reading about her death,
    January 11th, 1980
    my world not the same.

    lost a small piece of hope

    wanted to hold on
    wanted to meet her

    wanted her to tell me
    what Frank Pais was like.

    What was the revolution
    from the inside out?

    ten years after she died,
    I’m left alone,
    separated from Cuba.

    can’t help but think of her.

    If I had only one wish…

    to lay flowers in front
    of the bust of Jose Marti
    you placed in the Sierra.

    In your memory,
    I can only hope

    I’m doing right by you
    you’re proud of me.

    Celia Sanchez Manduley

  5. Follow up post #5 added on July 22, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Great info. Thanks.

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  6. Follow up post #6 added on October 21, 2007 by Marco Antonio Huerta

    In answer to Richie Haney Boy,
    I’ve read your book. It doesn’t tell me anything new about this wonderful woman. I would like to stay in touch with you through my e-mail: marcoantonioha at hotmail.com. Hope you answer soon.
    Best regards,
    Marco Antonio Huerta

  7. Follow up post #7 added on January 01, 2008 by Lynn Holley

    Off and on since 1984, I have researched Celia Sanchez, in the hopes of writing a book or doing a documentary; however my life got in the way. I may finally have an opportunity to go to Cuba soon and finish my project. I once had a viedo in Spanish of Celia; it was taken by a producer who I thought might help me and she never returned it and is not to be found. Who out there can help me get back on track. All my research is in storage and I’m getting it out this week of the New Year!
    I am a writer by passion and profession; and a curator of art and photographs in a number of galleries in California.
    Lynn Holley

  8. Follow up post #8 added on January 02, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Lynn, I MIGHT be able to help you. I have been to Cuba many times. A few years ago I stayed at a Casa Particular outide of Havana The woman who owned the house was the widow of a rebel fighter and officer in the Sierra Maestra in 1958, and had some unpublished photos of here husband , Celia and others. Unforunately , her husband died in the mid 90s but she MAY be a good source of information for your book. I have to go through my records and see if I have a business card from the house. When are you going to Cuba ?

  9. Follow up post #9 added on June 21, 2008 by Rich Haney

    I appreciate the comments about Celia Sanchez and about my 2005 biography of her published by Algora Publishing of NYC.  I have a second biography of Celia that will be published late this year; this one is 25 chapters, 223 pages, with each chapter fronted by a quotation by or about Celia Sanchez, such as her quotation: “The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives.”  She first made that declaration in 1959 and then repeated it at least three historic times prior to her death from cancer in 1980.  A notable and determined LA/NY actor/producer has purchased the film rights to my new Celia Sanchez manuscript.  The new column that first comes up on my http://www.cubatruth.com Website explains why I have chosen to write a second biography of the incomparable Celia Sanchez.  (Rich Haney)

  10. Follow up post #10 added on June 21, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Interesting. Thanks for posting.

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  11. Follow up post #11 added on June 23, 2008 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    I respect the above opinions including the author’s, I and I’m completely sure that many Cubans from Cuba and abroad would disagree with them.
    Celia Sanchez was definitely a strong character woman and I admire a lot her time during the guerrilla war.
    However her “successes” after the revolution are another example of what the Cuban government leaded by Castro had done with the country.
    After the revolution she had no official position but every body knew that she had a lot of power. She was able to solve the unsolvable and more.
    She was part of a system where people got houses, cars and things only because they were her acquaints, while much more needed people did not get anything.  She did not give anything that belongs to her; she played with Cuba’s money as if it were her own.
    After 1959 the dove, her family and friends lived as millionaires in a country where Doctors were making 20 USD a month and sugar workers 7 USD a month.
    That’s how totalitarian and dictatorial regimes work.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on June 23, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    I wont dispute with what you’re saying about the standard of living of the new elite after teh revolution (won’t necessarily agree with it - i don’t know), but i think the result of the revolution was a definite upward shift in teh standard of living of the majority of the people - medical care, higher education etc which they did not get under batista.
    I dont think there was either a net gain or loss of personal freedoms because i think the battista governement was anything but liberal.
    My problem is that once the standard of living improved it was time to allow more personal freedoms and even set the stage for the castro government to be voted out of office if the majority of the people felt it best for the country to do so.  Cecila, i’m sure played a major role in preventing that from happening so that, unfortunately, we may see it happening only in the waning days of the castros or even have to wait beyond that - kind of sad. 
    To many people , incl myself, Fidel is a very great man nevertheless; he could have been one also to the many who, for good reason, dispise him.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on June 24, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Where is Lynn Holley ?

  14. Follow up post #14 added on June 24, 2008 by Rich Haney

    Postings #11 and #12 relating to my posting about Cuban revolutionary heroine Celia Sanchez discussed the point that “After 1959 the dove (Celia Sanchez), her family and friends lived as millionaires in a country where Doctors were making 20 USD a month…”  That is, of course, 100% wrong but is typical of the ease with which total misinformation about the revolution is prevalent in the U. S.  From 1959 till her death from cancer in 1980 Celia was the top decision-maker in Cuba, so the internationally acclaimed photographer Roberto Salas, an intimate of both Celia and Fidel Castro, was correct when he stated in his book A REVOLUTION IN PICTURES that “Celia made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and the small ones.”  Yes, if she had chosen to do so, Celia as well as her family and friends, could have lived as millionaires in Revolutionary Cuba.  But, like Castro, she was born rich and all her life was noted for giving her material possessions to the peasants.  As the prime decision-maker in Revolutionary Cuba, Celia continued to do exactly that.  Her prime residence was a small apartment on 11th Street in Havana; her only car was a cheap, small Matari.  One reason Celia is idolized, even worshipped, on the island today is because that basic fact of Celia’s character is well known to the majority peasants, including the younger generation that is constantly told about her.  If you have been to Cuba, as I have, you will readily be exposed to the worship of Celia Sanchez; if you don’t go to Cuba, you are not supposed to ever hear about her because it is a bit hard for her enemies—the Batistianos, the Mafia, and the U. S. government—to demonize her because every aspect of her guerrilla fighting and her governmental leadership was centered on bettering the lives of the peasants, not enriching or empowering herself.  Rosa Jordan, one of Canada’s top authors, has been to Cuba many times and she wrote the notable book Cycling Cuba as well as books made into Hollywood movies.  Ms. Jordan wrote me an 8-page letter after reading my first biography of Celia Sanchez, and she spent that long letter confirming the amazing hold Celia Sanchez has on the Cuban peasants to this day.  Thus, I agree with Rosa Jordan that Celia Sanchez was not only the prime reason the Cuban Revolution triumphed on January 1, 1959, but is the prime reason it has survived against overwhelming odds for all these decades.  Thus, I believe in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave we should be free enough and brave enough to learn about an historic figure of that statue.  I am a lifelong conservative Republican and I believe the Cuban Revolution can be criticized but I think it belittles and demeans the U. S. to so easily lie about both the Cuban Revolution and the vile U.S.-backed and Mafia-backed Batista dictatorship that preceeded it.  Celia, for example, was transformed from being an angelic doctor’s daughter to the greatest and most fearless anti-Batista guerrilla fighter and revolutionary leader by what she considered the legal and typical rape-murder of a ten-year-old peasant girl named Maria Ochoa.  If you watch the History Channel documentary DECLASSIFIED: The Godfathers of Havana, you will see that Batista’s Cuba was precisely as Celia Sanchez depicted it.  Then, perhaps, you will understand why Celia made (and backed up) her most famed proclamation: “The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives.”  When asked how in the hell she put together a peasant revolution that ended up defeating the combined forces of Batista, the Mafia, and the United States, Celia replied: “I loved Cuba.  They loved gluttony.  I guess I loved Cuba more than they loved gluttony.”  She was very modest and always tried to deflect credit to others.  But she loved Cuba and the Cuban peasants with a passion.  As it turned out, her powerful enemies had no one who could out-fight or out-smart her.  And no, although she had that opportunity, she never enriched or empowered herself but always tired to enrich and empower the peasants.  If she had a milllion dollars, she gave a million dollars to the peasants.  To say the opposite, I believe, demeans the U. S. but not Celia Sanchez.  (Rich Haney)

  15. Follow up post #15 added on June 27, 2008 by Lynn Holley

    Some people have wanted to know where I reside: I’m in Santa Barbara, CA. For the moment I have abondoned my efforts to resurect my deep interest in Celia Sanchez (life gets in the way and I have other projects), however, as some of you may know there is a video on her, which I have, in Spanish—“Celia” Layenda y Precencia. I have no idea where I got it from, but it is most interesting?
    I continue to believe that Celia was the “women behind the man” and that both the revolution and the strides that Cuba did make were directly a result of Celia’s efforts and closeness to Fidel. History always focuses on “the man” in most cases, but usually there is a force behind him (except George Bush—where any force wouldn’t help him!).

    Lynn Holley

  16. Follow up post #16 added on July 28, 2008 by frank

    ho celia i worship u even in death.

  17. Follow up post #17 added on July 28, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Celia was his concubine,but other than Raul, she was by far the most trusted individual in el jefes inner circle. It is said that after Celias death Fidel went in to months of depressionand was not seen in public nearly as much

  18. Follow up post #18 added on July 29, 2008 by frank

    they were deeply in love with each other and that translated into their love and passion for cuba.she was also like a mother to him,and the other revolutionaries-ofcourse she was older by about 6 years and more matured than fidel.celia was the engine room of the revolution,fidel only brought the candle but celia lit the flame and kept it burning.she was like the evita of cuba although celia was closer to the grassroot.she was beautiful and like haydee and vilma must be respected even in death.they were faithful in politics and love.they stuck to love through thick and thin.little wonder fidel went through a depression when celia died.THE REVOLUTION DIED WHEN CELIA DIED.

  19. Follow up post #19 added on July 29, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    With all due respect frank , the revolution did not die with Celia. Just watch Cuban TV , read the billboards , and watch Minint on the streets, it is with them 24/7
    The “revolution” may have been adjusted , refined,updated, hijacked , corrupted, redefined, manipulated .... or any number of words you can use. But the end result is, and there is no getting around this reality for the people, the Cubans live with the “revolution” every day of their life. It is still very much alive.

  20. Follow up post #20 added on July 30, 2008 by frank

    thanks for your comments mako,perhaps i was a bit overdramatic when i said the revolution died with celia.that stems from the fact that i have digested every information about celia that i could in the last 10 years. but with all due respect the revolution is not in billboards,tv screens but in the heart.what do the cuban people whisper to each other when the cameras are not rolling?i know celia is still in the heart of most cubans 20 years after her death but is the revolution still in their heart?after all the satanic sanctions against the cuban people(not the leaders but the people) coupled with the demise of the soviet union.my hope is that whatever ideology cuba decides to follow in the future it should be maintained on the core grassroots ‘ideology’ of the early days of the revolution-freedom,justice,anti-corruption,education,health,shelter.that was celia’s dream for cuba and that is my prayer for cuba and Africa where i come from.

  21. Follow up post #21 added on July 30, 2008 by frank

    please correct the 20 years i typed to 28 years.celia died in 1980.it was a typographical error.no historical fact about this great woman must be distorted!

  22. Follow up post #22 added on July 30, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    She was a very courageous woman. And I agree with you, had she lived , the revolution might have taken a very different course. Where are you from in Africa frank? I spent a month there earlier this year

  23. Follow up post #23 added on July 31, 2008 by frank

    yes,she was courageous.the rebels in sierra miestra couldnt have survived without women like haydee and celia.che needed a celia to have overcome the difficulties and the intrigues he faced in bolivia,sandwiched between the CIA and KGB.only a woman like Celia could have overcome those two monsters.i am from nigeria and although i am male,like celia i believe women need to be more assertive in enforcing their rights.in the past we had great heroines like queen amina and funmi kuti.i think winnie also deserves a place in history too despite her shortcomings as she contributed immensely to the fall of apartheid in south africa.they dont have to carry arms like celia(i dont pray for war anywhere in the world as i fought in two of africa’s most brutal civil wars-liberia & sierra leone and war is hell.i have completed a book on conflicts in africa and will publish next year).they can fight in the battle field of politics,bizness,science,education and agriculture etc,those are the only battlefields left.hope your trip to africa was eventful mako?where are you from also please?

  24. Follow up post #24 added on October 20, 2008 by Asoka Kuruppu

    At last I found out how this great & lovely lady died.
    I read that she committed suicide and wondered why.

  25. Follow up post #25 added on October 20, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Please quote your source. I have not heard this. She died of cancer.

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  26. Follow up post #26 added on October 20, 2008 by frank

    i am also aware celia died of cancer or perhaps you were reffering to haydee.as an amendment to my comment in 23,where i said che needed a strong woman like celia to have succeeded in bolivia i wish to say that che had a strong and brave woman,the vivacious and extraordinary tamara bunke aka TANIA.tania was strong and gave up all including her youthful life. like celia she was great.

  27. Follow up post #27 added on October 21, 2008 by Asoka Kuruppu

    I can’t remember in which country I read about the suicide story ( CIA fabrication ?)- short reference.
    It bothered me for a long time until I thought of http://www.google.com  yesterday and was relieved that it was not a conflict with Fidel but still saddened by her early exit.

  28. Follow up post #28 added on October 21, 2008 by frank

    celia sanchez is strongly believed to have died of cancer.

  29. Follow up post #29 added on October 21, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Yes , everything I have read says cancer. She was reportedly a heavy cigarette smoker

  30. Follow up post #30 added on October 21, 2008 by frank

    sure, i know she smoked cigarettes heavilly but i can not say if it was the ‘habit’ that gave her the cancer that killed her.but she lived to the ‘young’ old age of 60.

  31. Follow up post #31 added on October 24, 2008 by Justice in Cuba can only come from the barrel of a

    should have been a bullet to the head if justice had been served. criminals. every last one of them.

  32. Follow up post #32 added on October 24, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I know Cuba can bring out good and bad passion in people but we try to avoid that kind of talk around here.

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  33. Follow up post #33 added on October 26, 2008 by frank

    a bullet to the head is not justice.may celia’s gentle soul rest in perfect peace.you should have been more convincing in making me hate celia but n31 ur comment without any cogent argument makes me love her the more

  34. Follow up post #34 added on March 09, 2009 by alan norrington

    I was in Cuba this January and happened to be at Celia Sanchez’ grave on the anniversary of her passing.Needless to say,she is still very much loved and respected and not just by Cubans.My being there was in no small part due to Mr Haney’s book.Of course I was familiar with Celia’s life and history before his book but in rather more general terms - from, shall we say, overviews of the Cuban Revolucion. 
    In the absence of other books specifically about Celia Sanchez I would say that Mr Haney’s book is an essential read for anyone with any interest in Cuba post 1953.But I would also suggest that there is so much more to be written on Celia.So I am glad to read here that some people are or have considered writing such a thing.I encourage you to continue.I ask,is anyone still working on or considering such a project?
    I believe it’s long overdue.Essential to such a tome would be Fidel’s contribution if that were possible.Perhaps it would and could be possible now that his circumstances have changed.If an author could let Fidel see that they were writing with due respect he might talk of the subject now whereas he has not done so before.Please note his comment on biograpies in his “Thought Of Fidel” dated March 6, 2009.
    For those that have not been fortunate enough to visit Cuba,Celia’s childhood home in Media Luna is now a museum with many interesting and beautiful exhibits.On the day I was there I noted with interest that young children visit the museum on school day-trips.These children seem to be genuinely interested in the lady who’s (former) house they are visiting.I noted that some kids had seperated from the main group and were really into what they were experiencing…...they were not trying to avoid the teachers or the subject.What a fitting tribute to such a woman.(?)
    Also in Media Luna is Parque Celia Sanchez which has a very beautiful and
    lifelike statue of her.A wonderful place to sit for a while if you happen by…..

    I would love to give the world the next definitive book on Celia Sanchez,a book that I think the world would benefit from having.Alas,I am no journalist or investigator.Again,I salute and encourage someone…..anyone who can write it…...and I’d like to know if someone still is…......
    Viva la Revolucion!

  35. Follow up post #35 added on March 12, 2011 by Geoff

    I hope that at least one biography of this remarkable woman will be written by someone who neither loves nor hates Celia Sanchez Manduley, but who is determined to paint as complete and accurate a portrait of her as possible. Injustice often begets compensatory injustice, and it is critically important to understand the motives, successes, failures and legacies of people like her.

  36. Follow up post #36 added on May 29, 2011 by Schoultz

    Has anyone seen the letter written by Fidel Castro to Celia Sanchez, 5 June 1958, that Carlos Franqui reproduces in his Diary of the Cuban Revolution, pp. 337-38.
    The letter contains the well-known statement about the destruction caused by U.S. weapons supplied to Batista’s forces and that “the Americans are going to pay dearly for what they’re doing.  When this war is over…I’m going to fight against them.  I realize that will be my true destiny.”
    Since 1976, when Franqui’s book was published, this statement has frequently been quoted, but always with a footnote to Franqui, not the original.
    Does anyone know if the original exists and where it might be?

  37. Follow up post #37 added on May 29, 2011 by Rich_Haney

    In reply to Schoultz, the original of the 5-June-1958 letter/note that Fidel wrote to Celia Sanchez is encased under glass at the Celia Sanchez Library Addendum in Havana. If you want to see a photo of the original (Fidel’s writing in Spanish) Google the name “Celia Sanchez” and then hit “Images” and then scroll down till you see the letter/note on the right-hand side. Then hit the letter to enlarge it and you will see the original in Spanish as well as an English translation and a full explanation of why Fidel wrote Celia the letter/note—he was upset about the bombing of the shack of his peasant friend Mario Sanol. Another way to view the photo of the original, the explanation, etc., is to go directly to: http://cubajournal.blogspot.com/2008/06/fifty-years-ago-historical-letter-of.html. (Rich Haney)

  38. Follow up post #38 added on May 30, 2011 by Rich_Haney

    I inadvertently hit “no more e-mails” but you can reverse that because I do enjoy receiving comments and/or questions pertaining to Celia Sanchez. (Rich Haney)

  39. Follow up post #39 added on July 17, 2011 by Pattrick

    Wow…Just wow. This woman led an amazing life. It is terribly sad that the average educated person doesn’t know more about her. It’s also sad that she isn’t celebrated as a strong, powerful woman on a more public level.

  40. Follow up post #40 added on July 17, 2011 by Lynn Holley

    As an update: I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Naples, Florida. And, somehow, this whole Cuba and Celia journey has crept back in to my mind. Perhaps, it is because I am now much nearer Cuba. I pray the policies change soon regarding travel, etc. The older I get, I think the only way I’ll get to Cuba without a big hassel is to die and let my soul pass through there on its way to Ireland where it also must touch down.smileL

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