Blas Roca, the indomitable fighter

Blas Roca, the indomitable fighter
Fecha de publicación: 
25 April 2022
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The example of the revolutionary Blas Roca Calderío revives with more strength and relevance than ever 35 years after he fell ill and died on April 25, 1987, at a time when the Cuban people are striving to maintain their accomplishments in terms of sovereignty and social justice.

Born Francisco Calderío, Blas Roca became of sort of banner since he chose it as his pen name for his revolutionary and political publications. He came from a humble family and could only attend school up to fourth grade, but he later on managed to graduate as a teacher, a profession he could only practice for three months because he did not have the required political recommendations.

Persevering as he was, this boy did not give up and kept teaching himself, reading a lot about everything and, at the same time, he learned the shoemaker's trade to make a living, following a family tradition.

At the age of 20, he began to study Marxism-Leninism, and in 1929 he joined the Communist Party of Cuba, founded by Julio Antonio Mella and Carlos Baliño in 1925. His courageous and tenacious attachment to the principles of this ideology marked his life and made him an unbending fighter, as Fidel recognized, for just causes.

By 1931, he founded the Communist Party in the then-province of Oriente and was a member of the Central Committee, a responsibility he shared with Lázaro Peña and Jesús Menéndez. Those were years of intense action against dictator Gerardo Machado’s government, which he fought since 1925.

In mid-1932 he was sentenced to one year in prison, but the imposed isolation did not prevent his political work. From his cell he wrote articles that circulated clandestinely, founded a newspaper called Voz Proletaria, and became a member of the board of the monthly magazine El Comunista.

In the crucial 1933, the year of the revolutionary uprising that overthrew Gerardo Machado, he decided to be at the frontline of the popular revolution, convinced that he could do even more, and in 1934 he was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party, at the age of 26, and represented Cuba in a Congress of the Communist International held in Moscow.

In the following years he also was a delegate to the Constituent Assembly of 1940 and became a national deputy for his party in several legislatures.

Political-ideological journalism continued to attract him, so he founded the journal Fundamentos and cooperated with other publications like Gaceta del Caribe, Mella and La Última Hora.

However, he still had enough time and will to live to become General Secretary and First Vice President of the Popular Socialist Party (PSP).

When Fulgencio Batista, later dictator of Cuba, staged a coup d'état in 1952, Blas Roca was among those who opposed the illegal act and later fought against the regime in the underground revolutionary ranks.

January 1, 1959 consolidated the dreams of the seasoned fighter who never gave up. He was part of the National Directorate of the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) and later of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba, and he became first president of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, established on December 2, 1976.

Roca earned the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa in Juridical Sciences of the University of Havana in 1974 and made a notable contribution to the drafting of the Cuban Constitution of 1976.

He was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and its Political Bureau since its foundation in 1965 and until his death, after which this noble and great son of the homeland was buried with the honors of a General fallen in combat. However, as was his will, his tomb was erected at ground level.

In his eulogy, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz said: "An exceptional man has passed away, a man of singular virtues and extraordinary talent; an exemplary revolutionary who dedicated his life entirely to the cause of the humble, teacher and leader of communists for more than half a century, an unbending fighter who for almost three decades led the first Marxist-Leninist party in Cuba".

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