José Antonio Echeverría
José Antonio Echeverría (July 16, 1932 in Cárdenas, Matanzas – March 13, 1957 in Havana, Cuba) was a Cuban revolutionary and student leader. The President of the Federation of University Students (Federación Estudiantil Universitaria - FEU), he was a founding member of the Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (DRE), a militant organization that played an important role in the Cuban Revolution to oust President Fulgencio Batista. He had the nickname "Manzanita", meaning "Little Apple".
Three Minutes of Truth
Echeverría and his colleagues took part in an assault at the National Radio Station of Cuba on March 13, 1957, at the time of a music program which most of the Cuban people usually listened to so that Echeverría's anti-Batista speech would be broadcast to the whole Cuban nation. Echeverría estimated that the rioters could only occupy the radio station during three minutes, therefore he had to prepare a speech which lasted three minutes at most. Echeverría finally managed to finish his speech right at the 181st second. He managed to leave the station unharmed and on the way to the University of Havana, just a few blocks away, he opened fire on a police patrol. He was killed during the shootout on the sidewalk of the north side of the university, where there is now a memorial plaque.
Echeverría's speech was mentioned in the poem "Three Minutes of Truth" written by the Soviet-Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. The Vietnamese writer Phùng Quán also wrote a short story with the same name about Echeverría's speech, and commented:
The story about Manzana teaches me a great lesson about language arts. Even the greatest topics like reality or truth could be expressed only in 180 seconds, on condition that the author has to use his life to pay for such invaluable time.
- Quirk 1993. p. 102.
- Quirk, Robert E. (1993). Fidel Castro. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393034851.