HAVANA (AP) — Cuba marked the 59th anniversary Thursday of the failed uprising against the Moncada military barracks that the island considers the beginning of Fidel Castro's revolution.
The main celebration kicked off at sunrise at a plaza in the eastern province of Guantanamo, home to the U.S. naval base of the same name.
The American presence in Guantanamo is a sore point for Cuba, which demands the base be shut down and accuses the U.S. of torturing terror suspects held in the military prison.
"We will continue to fight such a flagrant violation. ... We will never stop trying to recover that piece of ground," first Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura said.
In the past the July 26 national holiday has sometimes been used to make major announcements, but less so since Raul Castro replaced his older brother as president.
Castro had a front-row seat for the main event, but left it to Machado Ventura to address the crowd.
Musicians sang "Guantanamera" and a young girl read a speech paying homage to the revolution and resistance to "Yankee" imperialism.
"We will be like 'Che,'" she said, repeating the mantra taught to schoolchildren across the island. Argentine-born guerrilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara is held up as a model of personal conduct in Cuba.
Each year the celebration rotates between Cuba's 15 provinces plus the special territory of the Island of Youth.