Cane Fields

On one of the last days of December, 1955, following Fidel’s orders, four men drove south from Manzanillo to meet Celia and have her show them landing points along the coast. They followed the old coastal highway from Manzanillo to Campechuela, then continued south on a road branching inland and across the southwestern peninsula to Pilón. This last section was not a highway at the time, it was more like farm roads for trucks and equipment, chiefly connecting sugar mills but also used by the public. Over considerable stretches the road was too narrow for vehicles to pass, so drivers would stop at each plantation and phone the plantation ahead to see whether the road was clear, and wait if it wasn’t. The sixty miles would have taken three or four hours; had it been hurricane season the road would have been even slower, or simply impassable. The only other way to get from Manzanillo to Pilón was by coastal ferry that went just a couple times a week.

Image: Celia in Oriente Province on a cane-field highway. Courtesy of the Oficina de Asuntos Históricos, Cuba.

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