IS THIS WOMAN AND WHY IS SHE
ON THE COVER OF THE WOMAN SHE WAS?
The woman is Celia Sánchez. The hand in the background belongs to Fidel Castro. Had his image not been cropped out, our eyes would have slid past her unfamiliar face to Castro’s familiar one. Journalists and historians have done the same. For 50 years most have focussed on the “guerrilla prince,” barely noticing the woman who actually ran the Cuban revolution and was central to its success.
The Woman She Was is not
Sánchez. It’s about a doctor in modern
native of eastern
Celia’s friends rescued the 16 survivors. Despite Fidel’s record of two disastrous military engagements, she convinced her co-conspirators that he should command the rebel army—fighters she and her people would have to recruit since most of his had been killed. She also took charge of strategy, organization, finances, community relations, and about everything else essential to a successful guerrilla war.
Batista knew her importance to the insurgency and put a $75,000 bounty on her head. Che Guevara, commenting in his diary on a false report that Sánchez had been captured, wrote, “Celia was our [the guerrillas] only known safe contact…her detention would have meant isolation for us.”The CIA reported, “Celia Sanchez is one of the most powerful figures in the 26th of July Movement. All functions not strictly military are under her jurisdiction. All intelligence agents report to her.”