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In Pictures: Cuba's revolutionary museum
Cuban fighter has built a museum to honour those who took part in the July 26, 1953 attack that marked the revolution.
Last updated: 26 Jul 2014 09:38
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Alejandro Ferras has spent nearly four decades creating a shrine that pays tribute to fighters who took part in a 1953 attack that marked the start of the Cuban revolution.

Now 93, he built his private museum, called the Moncada Seat of Honour, along Marques Gonzalez Street in Havana, where the ruins of a collapsed building once stood. It contains photos, letters and other memorabilia related to the July 26 attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba. And it will eventually contain Ferras' ashes, too.

Ferras wants to be buried in a shady corner at the back of the museum.

"My destiny is here. My life is enshrined here," he said.

Ferras was one of about 135 fighters who joined Fidel Castro in the attack. Twenty-five fighters staged a second intrusion in the town of Bayamo. Not many of the former rebels are still alive.

"Fourteen of us are left," Ferras said.

He pointed to a gallery of photos of other former attackers. "This one died two months ago," he said.

Ferras figures he won't be the last insurgent standing. He doubts it will be Fidel Castro, either. Whoever it is, he wants the final fighter to be honoured at the museum while the ex-rebel is still alive.


/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Alejandro Ferras stands in the corner of the museum where he wants to be buried. Two of his younger brothers, Armelio and Antonio, also fought at Moncada. They survived the battle and lived until 2005.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Ferras said it’s important to recognise that women also joined in the Moncada attack and later carried out 'a revolution within a revolution' to help boost equality of the sexes in Cuba. 'Someday a woman will be president of Cuba,' he said.

 


/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Photos of former fighters appear on the walls of the museum, where they are regarded as 'eternal heroes'.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Coins, medals, and other revolutionary memorabilia are on display at the museum.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Rubble covered the site when Ferras and his brothers began building the museum in 1976. 'All this was in ruins,' Ferras said. 'Forty trucks of debris were taken out. I did it with children who helped me.'



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Fidel and Raul Castro were captured, tried and sentenced to prison terms after the Moncada attack. After nearly two years in prison, the government gave them amnesty. They went to Mexico, regrouped and returned to Cuba to continue fighting. The brothers were separated after a December 1956 battle with government forces. This painting depicts Cinco Palmas, or Five Palms, the town where the Castro brothers were reunited.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Ferras said he built the museum without any help from the government. 'I didn’t have any money, either. I had to look for scraps and material to get started. But I hope it will last a long time.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Ferras displays a book for visitors to sign. He turned the pages, stopping at a photo of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. A Brazilian visitor left that along with a flag of Brazil.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Ferras is a staunch supporter of the Cuban revolution. He says government leaders have been busy 'erasing the mistakes' they’ve made, which he says 'are few ... but now we’re making progress'.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Ferras is 93 and says he figures he 'has little time left'. But he isn’t waiting around for the inevitable. He said he plans to continue adding exhibits to his museum and hopes to write a book. Cuba’s Council of State awarded Ferras this medal on the 50th anniversary of the Moncada attack in 2003.



/Tracey Eaton/Al Jazeera

Government forces defeated the rebels during the Moncada attack, but Ferras doesn’t consider it a failure. '…it was a victory,' he said. 'If not, this wouldn’t exist. If we had lost, the Yankees would still be there running things.'




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images:
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captions:

Alejandro Ferras stands in the corner of the museum where he wants to be buried. Two of his younger brothers, Armelio and Antonio, also fought at Moncada. They survived the battle and lived until 2005.

;*;

Ferras said it’s important to recognise that women also joined in the Moncada attack and later carried out (***)a revolution within a revolution(***) to help boost equality of the sexes in Cuba. (***)Someday a woman will be president of Cuba,(***) he said.

 
;*;

Photos of former fighters appear on the walls of the museum, where they are regarded as (***)eternal heroes(***).

;*;

Coins, medals, and other revolutionary memorabilia are on display at the museum.

;*;

Rubble covered the site when Ferras and his brothers began building the museum in 1976. (***)All this was in ruins,(***) Ferras said. (***)Forty trucks of debris were taken out. I did it with children who helped me.(***)

;*;

Fidel and Raul Castro were captured, tried and sentenced to prison terms after the Moncada attack. After nearly two years in prison, the government gave them amnesty. They went to Mexico, regrouped and returned to Cuba to continue fighting. The brothers were separated after a December 1956 battle with government forces. This painting depicts Cinco Palmas, or Five Palms, the town where the Castro brothers were reunited.

;*;

Ferras said he built the museum without any help from the government. (***)I didn’t have any money, either. I had to look for scraps and material to get started. But I hope it will last a long time.

;*;

Ferras displays a book for visitors to sign. He turned the pages, stopping at a photo of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. A Brazilian visitor left that along with a flag of Brazil.

;*;

Ferras is a staunch supporter of the Cuban revolution. He says government leaders have been busy (***)erasing the mistakes(***) they’ve made, which he says (***)are few ... but now we’re making progress(***).

;*;

Ferras is 93 and says he figures he (***)has little time left(***). But he isn’t waiting around for the inevitable. He said he plans to continue adding exhibits to his museum and hopes to write a book. Cuba’s Council of State awarded Ferras this medal on the 50th anniversary of the Moncada attack in 2003.

;*;

Government forces defeated the rebels during the Moncada attack, but Ferras doesn’t consider it a failure. (***)…it was a victory,(***) he said. (***)If not, this wouldn’t exist. If we had lost, the Yankees would still be there running things.(***)

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