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26th of July Movement
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26th of July Movement

The 26th of July Movement (Movimiento 26 De Julio) was the revolutionary organisation led by Fidel Castro that in 1959 overthrew the Fulgencio Batista regime in Cuba. Its name originated from the attack on the Santiago army barracks on July 26, 1953. The movement began organising from Mexico in 1955 by a group of exiled revolutionaries (including Castro and numbering a mere 81 people). Their task was to form a disciplined guerrilla force ready to overthrow Batista. Some members of the movement remaining in Cuba carried out acts of sabotage and tried to stir up political discontent there.

The Argentinian Che Guevara joined the group in Mexico.

On December 2, 1956 82 men landed in Cuba, having sailed in the boat Granma from Mexico, ready to organise and lead a revolution to be rid of the Batista regime. The early signs were not good for the movement as they landed in broad daylight and were spotted by the Cuban Air Force. The landing party were split into two and wandered lost for two days with most of their supplies abandoned where they landed.

They managed to regroup though and headed for the Sierra mountain range where they encountered the Cuban Army with Guevara taking a minor injury to the neck in the fighting. This was the opening phase of the war of the Cuban Revolution which was to last for two years. It ended in January, 1959 after Batista had fled Cuba on New Year's Eve. The movement's forces marched into Havana to be greeted by a general strike of the workers. Of the 82 who came ashore sailed aboard the Granma only just over 20 eventually regrouped in the Sierra Maestro.

After the revolution's success the 26th of July 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.

See also: Cuban Revolution