The Che Guevara Blog
The Revolutionary 26th of July Movement explained.
The 26th of July Movement
The 26th of July Movement (Spanish: Movimiento 26 de Julio; M-26-7) was a vanguard revolutionary organization planned and led by Fidel Castro that in 1959 overthrew the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba. The Movement fought the Batista regime on both rural and urban fronts.
The 26th of July Movement’s name originated from the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks, an army facility in the city of Santiago de Cuba, on 26 July 1953. The movement was reorganized in Mexico in 1955 by a group of 82 exiled revolutionaries (including Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Huber Matos and Juan Almeida Bosque). Their task was to form a disciplined guerrilla force to overthrow Batista.
Role of the 26th of July Movement in the Cuban Revolution
On 2 December 1956, 82 men landed in Cuba, having sailed in the boat Granma from Tuxpan, Veracruz, ready to organize and lead a revolution. The early signs were not good for the movement. They landed in daylight, were attacked by the Cuban Air Force, and suffered numerous casualties. The landing party was split into two and wandered lost for two days, most of their supplies abandoned where they landed. They were also betrayed by their peasant guide in an ambush, which killed more of those who had landed. Batista mistakenly announced Fidel Castro’s death at this point.
Of the 82 who sailed aboard the Granma, only 12 eventually regrouped in the Sierra Maestra mountain range. There they encountered the Cuban Army. Guevara was shot in the neck and chest during the fighting, but was not severely injured. (Guevara, who had studied medicine, continued to give first aid to other wounded guerrillas.) This was the opening phase of the war of the Cuban Revolution, which continued for the next two years. It ended in January 1959, after Batista fled Cuba for Spain, on New Year’s Eve when the Movement’s forces marched into Havana.
After the takeover, anti-Batistas and liberals joined the M-26-7 movement, which gained control over Cuba. The Movement was joined with other bodies to form the United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, which in turn became the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965. Once it was learned that Cuba would adopt a strict Marxist–Leninist political and economic system, opposition was raised not only by dissident party members, but by the United States as well.
In April 1961, a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles and dissidents launched the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs Invasion against Castro’s state.
The flag of the 26th of July Movement is on the shoulder of the Cuban military uniform, and continues to be used as a symbol of the Cuban revolution.