Today is the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s first attempt to take power from Battista in Cuba. The date is so significant to Cubans that the Fidelistas originally referred to their cause as the July 26 movement.
On this day in 1953 the Fidelistas tried to take over the Moncada military barrack and bring about a popular rising against the increasingly unpopular dictator.
The Fidelistas were largely upper middle class Cubans with little military experience and it is a miracle that they weren’t all killed in the rising. Those who were captured – including Fidel Castro – were put on trial – an event that Castro used to justify his attempted revolution. He was found guilty of treason and served in a prison on the Isla de lost Pinos off the coast of the mainland. He was released early and went to Mexico with his closest associates to learn to be true guerrillas; it was here that he met Che Guevara and the revolutionary struggle continued in earnest.
As historians, we should question the significance of the Moncada rising and how it contributed to the eventual success of Castro and the Fidelistas in 1959.