Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Comandante Victor Dreke on Playa Giron

An extended extract from Comandante Victor Dreke Cruz's speech to a Cuba Solidarity Campaign meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban victory at Playa Giron (the Bay of Pigs).

Dreke fought alongside Ernesto Che Guevara during the Cuba Revolution and assumed control of two companies during the Playa Giron invasion. He served as second in command, under Che Guevara, of the Cuba internationalist combatants in the Congo. On this mission, Che wrote about Dreke in his report to Fidel Castro: 'He of the pillars on which I relied. The only reason I am not recommending that he be promoted is that he already holds the highest rank'.

Dreke then went back to Africa in 1966-68 to head Cuba's military mission in Guinea-Bissau in their fight for independence from Portugal. In 1969 he was head of the Political Directorate of the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
In 1973 he was named chief of the newly formed Youth Army of Labour (EJT) in Oriente province, working on the most difficult and challenging agricultural developments in the area. In 1981 he graduated from the University of Santiago de Cuba with a degree in law. He retired from active military service in 1990.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Playa Giron remembered

Commander Victor Dreke Cruz “ is one of the pillars on which I relied “ wrote Ernesto Che Guervara after a mission to Africa in the mid 60s. An incredibly humble but passionate man, this outstanding veteran of the Cuban revolution shared his experience and thoughts in a rapturously received speech at the National Union of Teachers headquarters in London on Tuesday night. To a packed hall Dreke spoke about his personal experiences as a 22 year old in the battle of Playa Giron(Bay of Pigs) in 1961.

But he is no ‘one battle’ hero trading on former glories. He is a veteran of numerous campaigns and is still as enthused today about the revolution he witnessed 52 years ago as he was then. Rejoicing in the equality that was achieved for everyone in socialist Cuba Dreke praised every aspect of a revolution made by the people for the people.

Victor Dreke Cruz: Cuba's history man still talks of revolution

One of Che Guevara's 'pillars' is in London for the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs. Nina Lakhani meets Victor Dreke Cruz

The curiosity and romanticism surrounding Cuba's revolutionary hero Che Guevara has refused to abate, even slightly, in the 43 years since his death. Victor Dreke Cruz, who served as Che's number two in Africa, is one of the very few who can lay claim to a special personal relationship with the man. Dreke, 74, a former rebel fighter and army commander, is in London to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the disastrous attempt by CIA-backed Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro's communist government, that severely embarrassed President Kennedy.