A day like today, October 20th, but from 1927, Abel Santamaría Cuadrado was born in Encrucijada, former province of Las Villas. Son of Benigno Santamaría Vázquez, a Galician from the province of Orense who had emigrated to Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century, and Joaquina Cuadrado, also a Spanish emigrant from Salamanca, whom he married in 1912.
His childhood and adolescence were spent in the sugar mill Constancia, along with his brothers Haydée, Aida, Ada and Aldo. He began working at the age of nine in the central store, where he was a cleaning man, merchandise dispatcher and office worker.
At thirteen he met the sugar leader Jesús Menéndez and this drove him along the path of socialist ideas. Later he travels to Havana in search of improvement and rents an apartment in Vedado, a site that would become a meeting place for young people recruited by Fidel. From there the nascent Revolution was forged.
When the coup d’etat took place on March 1st, 1952, Abel was among the first to express his repudiation. Together with a group of young people, among them, Jesús Montané and Raúl Gómez García, he edits the clandestine newspaper They are the same, later The Accuser. At this time he and his companions join the insurrectional movement organized by the then lawyer Fidel Castro.
Abel Santamaría and Fidel met during the acts of remembrance of May 1, 1952 in the Columbus cemetery. There Santamaría found who, like him, believed that: «A revolution is not made in one day, but it begins in a second.» Fidel, on the other hand, met who he cataloged «as the most generous, beloved and intrepid of our young people.»
From that moment on, an extraordinary friendship was sealed between the two. Fidel would trust Abel with the most important issues and tasks of the incipient insurrectionary group. For his modesty, confidence and discipline, Abel Santamaría Cuadrado is elected as the second head of the Centennial Generation Movement.
In this condition he participated in activities of military training, cell preparation, propaganda, search for economic resources, purchase of weapons and uniforms. It also assumes the preparation of the headquarters of the movement in the Siboney farm and the accommodation of the revolutionaries.
On the night of July 25th, Abel and Fidel met with the assailants to expose their missions in combat, then Abel would say: “It is necessary that we all go with faith in the triumph; But if fate is adverse, we are bound to be brave in defeat, because what happened there will one day be known (…) Our example deserves sacrifice and mitigates the pain we can cause our parents and other loved ones. To die for the country is to live! ”
Prior to the attack, Abel once again tries to convince Fidel to go to the place of greatest danger to protect the life of the revolutionary leader, but this was denied: “We are not going to do as Martí did, go to the most dangerous place and immolate you when you most need it, you all”.
Faced with this statement, the young lawyer, understanding the concern of the second head of the action, puts his hands on his shoulders and decisively states: “I go to the barracks and you go to the hospital, because you are the soul of this movement and if I die, you will replace me.”
Abel Santamaría was to take the Saturnino Lora civil hospital, bordering on Moncada, with 19 fighters, including his sister Haydeé, Melba Hernández and Dr. Mario Muñoz Monroy. But the armed action failed and he was taken prisoner with several companions, he was brutally tortured by the minions of the Batista army and finally killed on the same day July 26th, 1953. He was only 26 years old and the Batista tyranny put out his life.
«It is better to know how to die to live forever,» Abel told his sister Haydée before he was killed. With this premise Abel lives among us by his example, by his love for the Fatherland, by his principles, by his values.