On July 24, 2012, a tribute to our compañero Arnaldo Goenaga Barrón was held in Havana for his valiant service to the Revolution and to his homeland, Cuba. Our compañero was awarded the Friendship Medal. This acknowledgement was presented to him by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and was certified by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba and its President, the Honorable Raúl Castro Ruz.
The hot, tropical summer afternoon was no impediment for his friends and comrades in struggle, which included representatives of the revolutionary government, to gather in honor of Barrón. The celebration was led by Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada. Also present were the Ambassador of Cuba to the United Nations, Pedro Núñez Mosquera, comrade Rafael Dauza, who represented the Minister of Foreign Relations, Kenia Serrano, President of the ICAP, the Executive Board of Casa de las Américas, and Andrés Morejón and Esperanza Luzbert, officials of the ICAP who had the task of organizing this auspicious event. The proclamation was read by Esperanza Luzberty. In a moment of great honor, Alarcón decorated Barrón with his deserved medal, which he placed on Barrón’s guayabera, over his heart. As soon as the medal was pinned, the audience erupted in thunderous applause.
What follows is a brief explanation of the reasons for which this distinction was given to our beloved Barrón. Compañero Barrón tells us that the motivation to involve himself fully in the struggle to eradicate from Cuba Fulgencio Batista’s bloody dictatorship was the failed attempt during the attack on the Moncada Barracks by that valiant group of Cuban patriots, led by Fidel Castro on July 26, 1953. With close attention and with great pain, Barrón followed the infamous trial and the conditions of imprisonment to which Fidel and the other survivors of that heroic endeavor were subjected by the bloodthirsty Batista regime.
International pressure and the criticisms of the atrocities committed by the henchmen of Batista against the prisoners of that heroic deed resulted in the freedom of Fidel and the other imprisoned comrades. Fidel went abroad and in Mexico, he began to organize Cubans in the Diaspora. It was at that time that a group of young Cubans from the committee of the Orthodox Party of Cuba in New York, led by Arnaldo Goenaga Barrón, made contact with Fidel and asked that he visit them in that city. Fidel accepts the invitation and travels from Mexico to Texas and continuing by train to New York City, arriving on October 15, 1955. He was received by the members of the Committee of the Orthodox Party.
Gloria Goenaga and Arnaldo Barrón welcomed Fidel into their home for the 15 days he was in New York City. During his stay, Fidel commits all his efforts toward organizing the different sectors of the Cuban Diaspora in order to unite them into one organization. On October 28, 1955, the July 26 Movement is established in the United States, and was led by comrade Arnaldo Goenaga Barrón.
Members of the July 26Movement in the United States, including those who are no longer with us, knew how to valiantly respond to the call of the homeland and dedicate their lives to the ultimate expression of the apostle Jose Martí who tells us that, “The genuine person does not look toward what side lives better but rather on which side his duty lies.”
Who better than the President of Cuban Parliament, Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, to elaborate upon these magnificent individuals? Alarcón, in an emotional and eloquent dissertation about Barrón at the ceremony, spoke precisely and clearly about the revolutionary history of these anonymous heroes of the Revolution. Alarcón declared that if anyone deserved the recognition being given, it was Arnaldo Barrón, saying: “At the very least we can give him that distinction today and with how many more could we express the gratitude that we Cubans should have toward this comrade who represents so many others who, in the ‘belly of the beast’ knew how to defend and maintain a living image of the homeland and live the revolutionary ideals?” What the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba has done through the action of the ICAP has been simply to carry out an act of justice.
Further on, Alarcón forges a framework for the accomplishments and virtues of Arnaldo and his fellow Movement comrades. He goes on to explain step by step the most daring moments of the revolutionary struggles in which those tireless Cuban fighters participated, under the leadership of our beloved Barrón. Alarcón next addresses those present in order to point out that “I have allowed myself to speak these words on this occasion to tell those who did not know him, that what we have here is a living and inseparable part of what is best in the Cuban revolutionary struggle. And in all those years that Arnaldo was not here in his homeland, he was there struggling for his homeland every second and for his people. He had to wage a little known and very hidden struggle in order to gather arms and organize actions, and he had to do this confronted with groups that were in opposition to the revolutionary process.”
“Martí said that to honor, honors, but to honor is also a duty of gratitude for those whom should never be forgotten. If we have come this far in this prolonged struggle it is because many people sacrificed their lives along the way and among these is comrade Barrón.”
In conclusion, the history of the Cuban Revolution is incomplete without the inclusion of the activities that occurred in the Cuban Diaspora in the United States and its struggles and sacrifices against the Batista dictatorship and in defense of the Revolution. We have presented here some of the actions that took place in the struggle during those times. The history of the July 26 Movement in the United States encompasses many more activities and actions unknown by many. Casa de las Américas has taken up the task of compiling and documenting everything that is relevant to that incredible history so that it may be known in the future as a gift for those who today struggle for social justice and the rights of the peoples to genuine independence. To honor the memory of all those who with so much valor and sacrifice knew how to raise the banner of the Cuban homeland on high, without caring about the risks that this entails, is our patriotic duty.
¡Viva Arnaldo Barrón, Viva Gloria Goenaga!
Eternal glory to the Fallen of our glorious revolution!
Casa de las Américas