The Hero in a White Coat

The Hero in a White Coat
Fecha de publicación: 
25 July 2023
Imagen principal: 

Matanzas.–When he fell face down on the ground, he was wearing his white gown, distinctive of the medical clothings.

Lying on the floor, the bloody body of Mario Muñoz Monroy revealed the traces of the projectile that hit him in the back.

He was murdered in the little street inside the garrison, he was a few meters from us, was the testimony, sometime later, of Melba and Haydee, who had been designated as nurses and their assistants, and among the last people to see him alive.

The henchmen did not find a weapon on him. That man acted as the doctor of the participants, and he was there to assist the wounded in the action.

Due to his comprehensive preparation, he would also be in charge of operating the plant at the radio station, from where the revolutionary manifesto would be read that would call the people to a general strike against the dictatorship.

In July 1953, the date chosen for the assault on Moncada Garrison, Mario was already in his early forties, which is said to be a mature man. Due to his age, he could have been the father of some of the revolutionary fighters who assaulted the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes garrisons, a group in which very few were over 30 years of age.

By the whims of playful fate he died that July 26th, the same day he turned 41 years old.

He was assassinated on the date that marked his birth, something he surely hadn't expected, though he understood the risk of the intrepid move and the possibility of danger it involved.

–What date have you chosen?, today I turn 41– they say that he expressed, taking care not to upset Fidel in that tense circumstance, after which he gave the young revolutionary a fraternal hug.

The news of his death shocked Colón, his hometown, where he was one of the most beloved and respected men. Many mourned him, because he was a helpful and humanitarian doctor, who sometimes did not charge for examining humble people.

"For my grandparents Marceliano and Catalina, Mario's death was a devastating blow," said his nephew Roberto Muñoz, who was not yet a year old when the Moncada events occurred.

He was, moreover, an intrepid guy, who experimented on radio broadcasting and was even able to fly a small plane, after taking classes as a pilot. These and other commitments like photography, filming, and the practice of the strange sports, were postponed due to the summoning for the attack.

Mario Muñoz could well lead a comfortable life without material limitations of any kind, but he gave up comfort. According to historians, he was a detached man, greed free. His determinations were never aimed at seeking personal well-being. They were not that important for him.

These and other attributes, undoubtedly, made him from the very moment he met Fidel set a reciprocal affection.

The leader of the Centennial Generation must have been struck by the firmness of the Doctor from Colon, in whom he placed unfailing trust, as history tells.


Undertaking that journey that demanded his duty and for which he offered his life reveals his altruism and greatness, as well as other qualities visible from an early age, like honesty, something his teacher once highlighted in elementary school.

Everyone wanted him here, you overhear people saying in any corner of the city.

In the volume El Médico del Moncada, researchers Miriam Hernández and Eduardo Marrero signify his exquisite sensitivity as a medical professional and his love for the family, especially for his two daughters.

«It’s difficult to separate his intimate and family life from the professional and revolutionary one. They complement each other, offer us the real being, without mystifications, and gave him the character and the reasons for his actions.

“He grew up receiving and giving affection. He dearly loved his mother. The same feeling united him with his father, whom he helped in the photographic studio almost daily, despite his many responsibilities.

«The strict family education and its application forged an incorruptible and rebellious character in the face of any injustice or violation of the moral principles within which he was formed, but of a serious character, and sometimes untimely, he adapted naturally to the most dissimilar situations. ».


Casa de los Mártires del Moncada Museum is located on the old Diago street, in the Matanzas city of Colón, which has become a tribute site for those who fell in those actions.

It was there that he met with Fidel and other revolutionaries during the preparations for the assault on Moncada.

Converted into a site of historical and cultural interest, the property favors the study and dissemination of the life and work of those who did not let the Apostle die in the year of his centenary.

The residence inspires honorable feelings and attracts, above all, children, who come to the house to learn more about the Doctor of Moncada, one of the most beloved sons of the city.

Upon the triumph of the Revolution, in its advance towards Havana, and following Fidel's orders, Commander Camilo Cienfuegos made a stop in Colón to visit the family of the hero in the white coat.

In his honor, the first hospital built by the Revolution in Cuba, located in his homeland, bears his name.

Mario Muñoz is also called a Military Hospital and the sugar mill built in the municipality of Los Arabos.

Fidel honored him in a very particular way, giving his glorious name to the third guerrilla front the Rebel Army consolidated on March 6th, 1958, headed by Commander Juan Almeida Bosque.

Regarding the events of July 26, and referring to Mario Muñoz Monroy, Fidel would say in his self-defense statement:

«The first prisoner murdered was our doctor, Dr. Mario Muñoz, who did not carry weapons or uniform and wore a physician's gown, a generous and competent man who would have treated both his adversary and his wounded friend with the same devotion. On the way from the Civil Hospital to the Garrisons they shot him in the back and left him there face down in a pool of blood."

His death was the delusional work of the oppressors in an effort to deter any further attempts to overthrow the tyranny.

But they were wrong. The Moncada, that heroic site that knew the admirable courage of Mario Muñoz, among others, planted hope for an alternative and attracted the admiration of many willing to give their lives, with no other reward than satisfaction for the duty fulfilled.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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