Starting on Sunday, The Miami Herald will publish a 10-part series marking the 50th anniversary of the day when Fidel Castro's guerrilla movement toppled Fulgencio Batista and began the radical changes that became known as the Cuban revolution.
The series will examine some of the crucial moments in Cuban history that affected both sides of the Florida Straits and explore whether anything was achieved in a nation that now boasts a highly educated populace, but one steeped in economic despair.
On Wednesday, The Herald will focus on the seven-year-long Freedom Flights -- the largest, longest and most organized resettlement effort of Cuban refugees ever sponsored by the U.S. government. Our work will include a unique online database of the 265,000 passengers, in an effort to reconnect one-time "freedom fliers'' with the event that dramatically changed the course of their lives.
Other parts of the series will focus on women political prisoners known as plantadas; the social and political role of Afro-Cuban societies before the revolution, and what was lost when they were banned after 1959; and the frenetic U.S. embassy activity in Havana leading up to the day the revolution claimed victory.
We will take a behind-the-scenes look at the crucial role that William Morgan, the so-called Yanqui Comandante, played in the final days of the guerrilla movement. And we will introduce many readers to William Wieland, the then-head of the State Department's Caribbean-Mexican Affairs Office. Wieland was eventually blamed for convincing high-ranking U.S. officials to take a chance on Castro. He was exonerated, but his career was shattered.
Our coverage also will look back to that key date in the island's history -- Jan. 1, 1959 -- and end up with stories on how Cubans on the island will commemorate that historic day.