Fidel Castro starts the 26th of July Movement

Once in Mexico, Castro reunited with other Cuban exiles and founded the 26th of July Movement, named after the date of the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks.

The goal remained the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. Castro had learned from the Moncada experience that new tactics were needed if Batista's forces were to be defeated. This time, the plan was to use underground guerrilla tactics, which were used by the Cubans the last time they attempted a populist overthrow of what they considered an imperialistic regime. The Cuban war of Independence against the Spanish was Cuba's introduction to guerrilla warfare, about which they read once the Cuban campaign ended but was taken up by Emilio Aguinaldo in the Philippines. Once again, it would be guerrilla warfare to bring down a government.
In Mexico Castro met Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a proponent of guerrilla warfare. Guevara joined the group of rebels and became an important force in shaping Castro's evolving political beliefs. Guevara's observations of the misery of the poor in Latin America had already convinced him that the only solution lay in violent revolution.

However, in May 1955, they were freed in a general amnesty by the Cuban Congress. Castro then went to Mexico to prepare for the Dec. 2, 1956, invasion of Cuba with 81 men.

Now once more Castro will be in the center where he will recount in a three- or four-hour speech (if he can endure that long) the glories of that 26th of July and the events that led up to the great victory on Jan. 1, 1959, when the revolution took over from the Batista regime.

Sadly, Castro will not be able to tell his audience that most of the leaders of the 26th of July movement ``are at my side today.''

The original 26th of July movement disappeared almost immediately after Castro sold out to the Soviet Union and the Cuban Communist Party.

The date of the Moncada Barracks attack, July 26, 1953, would give Fidel Castro the name of his organization, the 26th of July movement, and would become the most sacred date of communist Cuba. And, speaking of sacredness, why did Fidel Castro choose the 26th of July for the commencement of his Revolution? Sources tell us Fidel chose July 26 because the patron saint of the city of Santiago de Cuba was the Apostle James the Elder. In medieval Spanish tradition he was resurrected as Santiago the Moorslayer, the avenging angel of the Spanish knights during the Reconquista, as well as the charging fury that led the indomitable conquistadores of Hernán Cortes when battling the Aztecs of Mexico.

The saint was honored every July 25, which also coincided with the end of the sugar harvest, hence the day of the most joyous celebration in Santiago de Cuba. Fidel Castro, "the new Moorslayer, would destroy Batista." Indeed, Fidel had told his Ortodoxo friend, José Pardo Llada, after Batistas bloodless March 10, 1952 coup d'état in which Batista had seized the government, "We have got to kill that Negro."