Fidel, after “declaring war on the Batista regime,” began to organize the underground struggle. In the last years of his stay at the university, Fidel has already formed a circle of like-minded people who are ready to support him with his work. The group began to pull the loyal people from among the young employees, workers, peasants.
Gradually, the military core of the leadership of the resistance. It includes Fidel's brother Raul, employee of the local branch of General Motors Jesús Montana, employee of Pontiac, Abel Santamaría, Pedro Miret, José Luis Tasenda and Renato Guitart Rosell. Engineering student and amateur weapons Pedro Miret led the rifle training squad. Great attention was paid to the conspiracy, the group was divided into dozens, whose members knew only their commander. All assigned pseudonyms. As a result, the case was kept secret. Work in the detachment was carried out in two directions: 1) increasing the political training of members and 2) developing the skills of handling small arms (the shooting range was made in the basement of the university).
The big problem was the financing of the operation, the purchase of weapons and ammunition. Young people literally sold their property, gave meager savings to scrape money for weapons. With great difficulty, they raised money to buy weapons for 165 people who were selected to storm one of the military facilities. Although the underground was already up to 2, thousands of people who were ready with arms to oppose the Batista regime. In order not to be illuminated when buying weapons, we bought hunting rifles, small-caliber rifles, the sale of which was completely free in stores. This weapon was not necessary to register. Through one of the participants of the movement, who was a soldier and served in the military camp “Columbia”, about a hundred sets of soldiers and sergeants were procured. It was an easy task, as soldiers often sold uniforms to the peasants (they used strong clothing in agricultural work). Other kits were made by women from typical army fabric.
The rebels decided to storm Moncada in Santiago de Cuba. They were named after the famous Cuban hero, a member of the national liberation movement against the Spanish colonialists Guillermo Moncada. The regiment of the regular army and cavalry squadron were stationed there. Santiago is located about 8 km from the Cuban capital, and it was impossible to quickly transfer troops there. The fact that the city was covered by a half ring mountain range of the Sierra Maestra was taken into account. It was believed that success in Santiago would lead to a rebellion in the province of Oriente. To organize the base in the suburbs of Santiago, a small farm "Siboney" was acquired. It brought weapons and ammunition. Speech outlined on July 800. These days traditional carnivals took place in the city, which made it possible for a significant number of strangers to come to the city without causing questions. In addition, the combat capability of the military fell, many officers went to layoffs.
By the evening of July 25, all the participants in the operation gathered on the farm - just 134 people. Several people hesitated at the last moment and left them on the farm. A group of fighters - Juan Almeida, Jesús Montana, Renato Guitarta and José Suárez, were to remove the sentries at the gate and let the convoy inside the complex. The assault group commanders hoped to take the garrison by surprise and arrest sleeping soldiers without too much bloodshed. To maintain the progress of the main operation, two auxiliary detachments were allocated. The first person, under the leadership of Abel Santamaría number 24 man, was to occupy the hospital building. The building was behind the barracks and allowed to control the rear of the enemy, besides the group had to ensure the reception of the wounded, in its composition was a doctor. The second under the command of Raul Castro in the 10 man had to take the building of the Palace of Justice, which adjoined one of the sides of the barracks. The building was high and from it it was possible to fire at enemy firing points located on the roof of the barracks.
At around 5 in the morning of July 26, a column of 26 machines left the farm. To the goal was about 15 minutes away. At the very beginning of the operation, an overlay occurred that affected the outcome of the assault decisively. The foot patrol, who performed the external round, did not pay attention to the convoy of cars, but noticed something was wrong at the gate, where the sentries were filming. The first shots rang out. When the patrol was neutralized, inside the barracks they had already raised the alarm. The battle had to be taken under the most unfavorable conditions: the effect of surprise was absent, with the numerical superiority of the enemy and the battle was going on outside the barracks building. The fight went about two hours. This was due to the fact that the garrison officers for a long time were at a loss, not understanding what was happening. Initially, the garrison only fired back, only then went to the counterattack and began to cover the rebels from the flanks.
Realizing that the assault had failed, Fidel gave a signal for retreat. Raul Castro's group fought until it saw the retreat of the main forces. The withdrawal of the main forces covered the squad of the best shooters under the command led by Pedro Miret. Most were able to return to the farm on the cars in which they had left for the operation. Several dozen people gathered on the farm, the rest who did not die scattered. Their mood was depressed. All dreams have collapsed. However, Fidel was not going to give up. His distinguishing feature was the belief in victory. He proposed to continue the fight. He was supported by 18 people. They went to the Gran Piedra mountain range and almost all saved their lives. Those who remained fell under the flywheel of terror and were brutally murdered. The authorities organized a real hunt for the participants in the uprising, tortured many before they killed.
Moncade barracks immediately after the attack of the revolutionists 26 July 1953
On the same day, the assault failed in Bayamo, which was an auxiliary operation of the insurgent movement. A group of 25 people attacked the barracks in Bayamo. If successful, the rebels should have called the people for an uprising and, having blocked the highway leading to Santiago, become the outpost of the main forces.
Fidel's group wandered for several days in the mountains, people were exhausted and hungry. The sick and wounded - 6 people, they decided to let go in Santiago, four of them were seized by patrols, two were able to escape from the local peasants. Fidel proposed to descend from the mountains and cross the Gulf of Santiago by boat, hitting the main mountain range of the Sierra Maestra, which could be made a base for partisan warfare. Half of the group went after Fidel, the rest remained at the Grand Piedra (they saved lives, because the authorities had reduced their ardor in the persecution of the patriots). 29 July Raul was arrested, he was detained far from Santiago, so he was not killed by the military.
1 August military patrol detained Fidel's group. The rebels were lucky, they were detained by Lieutenant Pedro Sarria, who had a fair character. He did not allow the soldiers, and then other military on the way to kill the rebels on the spot. Sarriya also took the rebels to a civilian prison, not to Moncada, where they would be killed. The fact of the transfer of Fidel to the justice authorities was officially registered. On August 2, all those arrested were transferred to the Boniato Provincial Prison.
21 September trial began, it was held in the building of the Palace of Justice, in Santiago. 30 stormed the participants before the court. Fidel Castro prepared the materials and defended himself. The authorities were annoyed that Fidel was protecting himself. Under the pretext of Fidel's illness, although he was healthy, his case was singled out into separate legal proceedings. At the general process, he no longer appeared. October 16 1953, Fidel Castro delivered his speech, which became known to the world as “History justify me. " She became one of the most brilliant examples of revolutionary oratory. Fidel received an 15-year prison sentence, Raul and three more rebels were sentenced to 13 years in prison, 20 people were 10 years old, three were 3 years imprisoned, and both women who were in the squadron, 6 months.
The rebels were serving a sentence in a prison on the island of Pinos. The rebels organized a school in prison, where they were engaged in the replenishment of political and other knowledge. The leading role in the training was played by Fidel. Relatives and comrades sent them the relevant literature. In May 1955, Castro and his comrades, under public pressure, were released under a general amnesty.
Fidel Castro on trial.
July 26 Movement (M-26) and landing in Oriente
Already during the departure from the island of Pinos, it was decided to create the “July 26 Movement”, which will continue the fight against the Batista regime. First, Raul, and then Fidel Castro left Cuba, because the island was highly likely to be killed or a new political process, under a made-up pretext. The revolutionaries went to Mexico. This country was considered at that time one of the most democratic in Latin America. She traditionally provided asylum to political refugees. Fidel hoped to assemble and prepare in Mexico a strike force for the invasion of Cuba.
The headquarters for the preparation of the liberation expedition was the apartment of Maria Antonia Gonzalez Rodriguez, who emigrated from Cuba. In July, 1955, Ernesto Che Guevara joined the revolutionary squad. He was enlisted as a doctor, since he was a medical doctor by training. 8 August 1955, Fidel signed Manifesto No. 1 - the first political document addressed to the whole Cuban people. The document called on all honest Cubans to cooperate with the Movement, whose goal is the restoration of democracy and social justice in Cuba. The first requirement of the Movement was the prohibition of large land tenure (latifundia), the distribution of their land among the peasants who received them into inalienable property. Workers should have been eligible for most of the profits of all large industrial and commercial enterprises. It was proposed to industrialize the country on the basis of a single plan, nationalize those industries that serve the entire population (electricity, gas, telephone networks), drastically reduce the rent that took people up to a third of earnings, create ten children's camps in which they can learn and eat for free to 200 thou. children of workers and peasants. The state apparatus was proposed to reorganize in the interests of the people, and not narrow groups of wealthy citizens. All property of corrupt officials and embezzlers was subject to confiscation.
Flag of July Movement 26.
Gradually, the sympathies of most members of the orthodox party leaned toward the July 26 Movement. A major role in the preparation of the revolution was played by Juan Manuel Marquez, Camilo Cienfuegos. In Cuba, one of the leaders of the underground was Frank Pais Garcia. Gradually, participants in the 1953 uprising of the year, other Fidel supporters, arrived in Mexico. In various parts of the city of Mexico, they began to rent apartments, where individual battle cells lived - by 7-10 people. Together they ate, trained, studied literature, etc. Money for the Movement was collected with the world on a string. The former Colonel of the Spanish Republican Army Albert Bayo became a military professor. He graduated from the Academy of Land Forces in Madrid and the School of Military Pilots in Spain. He had battle battle against the Moroccan partisans. Gradually, this elderly man became so fired up that he refused payment, sold his furniture company, and gave the money to the Movement. Military training camouflaged under the lessons of the English language, which was well known to Bayo. The military retiree has prepared a very busy schedule for learning the basics of tactics, for partisan and anti-guerrilla methods, military sports training, shooting, etc.
The training took place on the Santa Rosa ranch in 40 km south of Mexico City in the Chalco district. It belonged to the veteran of the Mexican revolution Erasto Rivera. “Santa Rosa” was located in a mountainous area at an altitude of about 3000 meters above sea level, which was unsuitable for farming, but turned out to be a good training ground for training fighters in extreme conditions. Lead in practical classes Ernesto Guevara and Raul Castro. Weapons were bought with the help of the owner of the gun shop in Mexico City - Antonio del Conde Pontones, from the workers of the arms factory, who carried the weapon from the company, as well as in gun shops in the United States.
In October-December 1955, Fidel visited the United States and the Bahamas. He spoke to immigrants from Cuba, explaining the goals of the movement, with an analysis of the situation in Cuba. In Nassau, Fidel Castro compiled the Manifesto No. 2 “26 Movement of July” to the Cuban people, where he asked people to help with money, how much they can: “Others ask money for themselves and give pledged houses, land, clothes, we ask money for Cuba, and as a pledge we give our lives. ” The influx of volunteers and money increased.
At this time, the situation in Cuba escalated, a revolutionary situation developed. Attempts by some politicians to persuade Batista to voluntarily leave the power failed, the conspiracy of military personnel also failed. 29 April 1956, a group of young people attacked the army barracks in Matanzas, but their attack was repelled. Part of the group hid in the territory of the Haitian embassy. The Batista government, violating generally accepted diplomatic norms, sent a police squad to storm the embassy. All the rebels were killed.
In addition, the Cuban government stepped up its activities regarding the July 26 Movement. He was attacked by the Federal Security Directorate (the Mexican secret service). Searches began, arrests. Some documents, leaflets, some of the weapons were found. Among those arrested was Fidel and Che Guevara. However, many prominent Mexican politicians stood up for the Cuban revolutionaries, including the ex-president, General Lazaro Cardenas. Their intercession and scant evidence forced the security forces to release Fidel and his comrades. The conspiracy system also helped. The entire 23 man was detained. After this event, the conspiracy measures were further strengthened, some of the people were relocated to other cities.
In the autumn, for the 15 thousand dollars, the yacht Granma (Granus) was bought from an American citizen. An 82 man was selected for the expedition. People were gathered on the night of November 24 1956 of the year in Tuxpan. On the night of November 25 the yacht lifted the anchor. Granma was moving at a slower speed than revolutionaries had supposed. They planned to land on Cuba on November 30, an uprising on the island was scheduled for that day. Opportunities to warn comrades about the delay was not. On November 30, several hundred people under the command of Frank País began an assault on important objects in Santiago de Cuba. After a few hours of battle, the military and the police were able to put down the uprising, arrests began. On the way the yacht came across a patrol boat, but her peaceful appearance, she looked like a pleasure boat from a wealthy man, saved revolutionaries.
The yacht "Granma".
On December 2, 1956, a detachment landed ashore near the village of Belik in the Los Colorados area of Oriente province. The revolutionaries were in a hurry, fearing the appearance of a patrol aviation or Navy ships, therefore, they landed in a swampy mangrove forest, not looking to find a more convenient place. The swamp was overcome with great difficulty. More than 5 hours of tremendous effort was required by the detachment to overcome 1,5 km of marshy thickets.
Granma Route November 25 - December 2 1956
Guerrilla war and the victory of the revolution
Due to the difficulties that the expedition experienced at the very beginning, being late with disembarking, having to throw some of the weapons and ammunition, food, the detachment did not think about the attacking actions (they originally wanted to capture the town of Nikero). Dead tired and hungry fighters moved in the direction of the Sierra Maestra massif. December 5 exhausted detachment made a halt, having made unforgivable mistakes in the field of camp guard. On the revolutionaries stumbled upon a company of soldiers, scouring the area. The rebels were taken by surprise, defeated and scattered.
During the retreat, three main groups emerged - Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Juan Almeida with Che Guevara (he was wounded). They were able to get to the spurs of the Sierra Maestra. On the way, Fidel was assisted by local residents, provided a guide. 18 December guides led a group of Raul Castro. By December 21, an 15 man from the expedition gathered at the Ramon Peres Ranch. During the further movement several more people joined the detachment. The size of the squad grew to 29 people. 16 January 1957, the rebels conducted the first combat operation, attacked a post at the mouth of the La Plata River, off the coast. The garrison post was 12 soldiers. The first trophies were captured - a machine gun, 9 rifles, about 1 thousand cartridges, fuel, knives, uniforms and some provisions. The prisoners were released.
On January 22, the rebels ambushed and successfully attacked a convoy of government forces that were searching for revolutionaries. These first victories were insignificant militarily, but caused a great political, public response. The rank and file and part of the officers began to refuse to conduct operations in the mountains. The actions of the military and civilian authorities, who evacuated the population of the mountain areas, caused irritation of local peasants. 17 February 1957 of the Year Fidel Castro gave his first interview to the correspondent of the American newspaper The New York Times Herbert Matthews. February 24 newspaper gave the first article entitled "Visiting the Cuban rebel." She made a huge impression. All of Cuba learned that Fidel was alive and fighting (previously, false information about the death of a group of revolutionaries was spread).
The revolution began to gain momentum. Rallies, protests, campaigns of disobedience were held throughout the country. Castro was able to communicate with the underground workers M-26, who operated in Santiago de Cuba and Havana. 13 March 1957, a group of 50 people, mostly students, attacked the presidential palace hoping to kill Batista. Heroes made their way to the presidential office, but the dictator escaped. The remains of the rebel detachment retreated, in subsequent raids most of the young people were captured and executed. This attack caused a huge public outcry. At the same time, another group of young people from the “Revolutionary Directorate”, under the leadership of its secretary general, José Antonio Echeverria, seized a radio station and called on the people to revolt. Almost all brave men died.
In March, Fidel's squad received reinforcements - 50 volunteers from Santiago de Cuba. In April, there was another information breakthrough of Fidel's squad, which was still very weak militarily (80 fighters). The film about the rebels shot Columbia Broadcasting Systems correspondent Robert Taber with the operator Wendell Hoffman. Cinema made a big impression. From now on, a real stream of journalists has gone who wanted to meet with Fidel. The revolutionaries began to beat up over the Batista regime in information terms, they were supported by the majority of the population of Cuba.
May 18 rebels received from the underground the first significant batch of weapons - 3 heavy machine guns, 3 light machine guns, nine carbines and 6 thousand cartridges. 28 May 1957, the rebels defeated the garrison of the barracks in the town of Uvero, off the coast of the Caribbean (53 man). During the 3-hour battle, the garrison lost 11 people killed, 19 wounded and 14 people captured. Several people managed to escape. A rebel detachment lost 7 people killed and 8 wounded. 1 light machine gun, 44 rifles, 6 thousand cartridges and other property were captured as trophies. This battle became an important stage in the guerrilla war - the army command began to divert minor posts and garrisons from remote areas to the main forces. Under the control of the rebels passed vast territories.
The authority of Fidel has grown even more. In July, the head of the orthodox party, Raul Chibas, and the representative of the ousted President Batista Prio Socarras, Felipe Pasos, arrived to him. 16 July 1957 was adopted by the Sierra Maestra Pact, which called for the unity of all progressive forces opposing the Batista regime. On July 26, a new squad was formed - “Column No. 2” commanded by Che Guevara. She was assigned to conduct hostilities in the area east of Turkino Peak.
September 5, 1957 representatives fleet and the July 26th Movement revolted in the city of Cienfuegos. The rebels captured the city, but then the Air Force attacked the naval base, and ground units entered the city. The uprising was crushed. Several more naval bases were to rise at the same time, but this did not happen.
By the end of the first year of the war, the situation was fairly stable. The rebel detachment grew to 200 people. Government forces did not risk climbing the mountains, blocking the rebellious area. The government wanted to strangle the movement with hunger. The guerrillas quickly created an autonomous life support system, established contacts with the peasants. They created their rear service, hospital, armory, sewing. The detachment maintained strict discipline, adopted its charter.
In the period 1957-1958. the rebels carried out dozens of small and several large operations. A rebel army was created. At the beginning of 1958, a partisan detachment led by R. Castro made the transition to the Sierra del Cristal massif. The Second Front was opened. In the west, in Pinar del Rio, rebels opened a Third Front. May 24, 1958, government troops tried to conduct a general operation, collecting up to 14 thousand soldiers. On July 11-21, 1958, the battle of El Higue took place, partisans surrounded and forced the capitulation of an infantry battalion under the command of Major Quevedo. July 28-30, 1958 in the battle of Santo Domingo, the rebels defeated large government forces, capturing two light tank, 10 mortars, more than 30 machine guns and other trophies. A strategic turning point occurred in the war.
At the end of the summer - in the autumn of 1958, the partisan army launched an offensive and began to win one after the other victories, to occupy settlements and areas. The army almost completely lost its combat capability, many of the military went over to the side of the rebels. December 31 1958, Batista fled from Cuba. January 1 1959, the revolutionary forces entered Santiago, January 2 - in Havana. It was a complete victory. The Provisional Government was led by Manuel Urrutia (President), Miro Cardona (Prime Minister) and Fidel Castro (War Minister). Fidel had the opportunity to "turn the country to the ground."