* On December 2 1956, Fidel Castro and 81 other combatants, including Che Guevara, landed in Cuba to begin the revolutionary war against the US-backed regime of Fulgencio Batista. Over the next two years, the Rebel Army conducted an ever-widening guerrilla struggle that won increasing popular support in the countryside and the cities, culminating in the revolution's victory on January 1, 1959.
* On March 10, 1952, Batista led a bloodless coup on the island of Cuba. On July 26th, 1953, Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada army garrison in Santiago de Cuba that marked the beginning of the revolutionary armed struggle against the Batista regime. After the attack's failure, Batista's ...view middle of the document...
'We sang the Cuban national anthem and the July 26 Hymn for perhaps five minutes total, and then the whole boat took on a ridiculously tragic appearance: men with anguished faces holding their stomachs, some with their heads in buckets, and others lying immobile on the deck, in the strangest positions, with their clothing soiled by vomit.' (Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution: Episodes in the Revolutionary War)
* On November 30 they heard on the radio that Frank Pais had started an uprising in Santiago de Cuba. The following day they set a course for the coast of Cuba. They had run out of water, food and fuel.
The Rebels land on the coast of Cuba
* It was daylight on 2 December by the time they reached the beach of Las Coloradas. A coast guard boat had spotted them and they were immediately attacked by enemy planes as they disembarked. They ran for cover and became lost in mangrove-covered swamps. It had been seven days of continuous hunger and seasickness. Exactly ten days after the departure from Mexico, after a night march interrupted by fainting, exhaustion, and rest for the troops, they reached a point known - paradoxically - by the name of Alegria [joy] de Pio. They stopped to rest for a day and continue the following night. 'All that was left of our war equipment was our rifles, cartridge belts and a few rounds of ammunition. Our medical supplies had disappeared, and most of our knapsacks had been left behind in the swamps. The previous night we had passed through one of the canefields...We had managed to satisfy our hunger and thirst by eating sugarcane, but due to our lack of experience we had left a trail of cane peelings and bagasse all over the place. Not that the guards looking for us needed any trail to follow our steps, for it had been our guide - as we found out years later -who had betrayed us and brought them there.' (ibid) A hail of bullets rained down on the 82-man troop. Che was hit in his chest and neck. Camilo Cienfuegos shouted 'Nobody surrenders here!' and Fidel vainly attempted to get everybody together in the shelter of the adjoining canefield. By the time they managed to reach the canefield many of them were dead and planes flying low straffed the field. Columns of flame and smoke began to rise as the canefield was set on fire. They walked until they were too exhausted to continue and threw themselves down to sleep, starving, thirsty and plagued by mosquitos. Only a handful of them were left.
* On January 14, 1957 they came across the La Plata army barracks. They staked out the barracks and at nightfall on the 16th the Rebel Army crossed the shallow La Plata river and took two peasants `into custody'. Reassured that they would come to no harm they told the rebels that there were only about 15 soldiers in the barracks and that one of the region's most notorious foreman was about to ride by. 'Shortly afterward, Chicho showed up, astride a mule, with a little black boy riding "double". Chicho was...