Originally posted by KazetNagorra
I have no idea why he is so revered, even in leftist circles. Charismatic appearance, I guess.
Not suprised an elitist academic wouldn't get it. Perhaps this will provide a clue:
The Rebels land on the coast of Cuba
It was daylight on 2 December by the time they reached the beach of Las Coloradas. A coast guard boat had spotted them and they were immediately attacked by enemy planes as they disembarked. They ran for cover and became lost in mangrove-covered swamps. It had been seven days of continuous hunger and seasickness. Exactly ten days after the departure from Mexico, after a night march interrupted by fainting, exhaustion, and rest for the troops, they reached a point known - paradoxically - by the name of Alegria [joy] de Pio. They stopped to rest for a day and continue the following night. 'All that was left of our war equipment was our rifles, cartridge belts and a few rounds of ammunition. Our medical supplies had disappeared, and most of our knapsacks had been left behind in the swamps. The previous night we had passed through one of the canefields...We had managed to satisfy our hunger and thirst by eating sugarcane, but due to our lack of experience we had left a trail of cane peelings and bagasse all over the place. Not that the guards looking for us needed any trail to follow our steps, for it had been our guide - as we found out years later -who had betrayed us and brought them there.' (ibid) A hail of bullets rained down on the 82-man troop. Che was hit in his chest and neck. Camilo Cienfuegos shouted 'Nobody surrenders here!' and Fidel vainly attempted to get everybody together in the shelter of the adjoining canefield. By the time they managed to reach the canefield many of them were dead and planes flying low straffed the field. Columns of flame and smoke began to rise as the canefield was set on fire. They walked until they were too exhausted to continue and threw themselves down to sleep, starving, thirsty and plagued by mosquitos. Only a handful of them were left.
On January 14, 1957 they came across the La Plata army barracks. They staked out the barracks and at nightfall on the 16th the Rebel Army crossed the shallow La Plata river and took two peasants `into custody'. Reassured that they would come to no harm they told the rebels that there were only about 15 soldiers in the barracks and that one of the region's most notorious foreman was about to ride by. 'Shortly afterward, Chicho showed up, astride a mule, with a little black boy riding "double". Chicho was drunk. Universo Sanchez gave him an order to halt in the name of the Rural Guards and immediately Chicho replied: "Mosquito". That was the password. We must have looked like a bunch of pirates, but Chicho Osorio was so drunk we were able to fool him. Fidel stepped forward and, looking very indignant, said he was an army colonel who had come to find out why the rebels had not yet been wiped out...Sheepishly, Chicho Osorio admitted that the guards spent all their time inside the barracks, eating and doing nothing...He told us how he had killed two men...Fidel asked Osorio what he would do if he ever caught Fidel Castro and Osorio, with a very expressive gesture, replied "We'll have to cut his____ off...Look," he said, showing us his shoes..."these shoes belonged to one of those sons of _____ we killed."...he agreed to accompany us to the barracks in order to surprise the soldiers and prove to them they were badly prepared and were neglecting their duties.' (ibid)
They had 22 weapons for the attack. They were so short of ammunition that if they failed to take the barracks they would have been left defenceless. The rebels' Brazilian hand grenades failed to go off and they had to risk their lives by approaching close to the barracks to set the houses on fire. After initial resistance the rebels took the barracks with no casualties on their side. They freed all the prisoners and armed with the weapons they had captured started for Palma Mocha and from there they sought out the most inaccessible zones of the Sierra Maestra.