On July 26, 1953 a group of young men and two women led by Fidel Castro attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba while another group attacked the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in the city of Bayamo.
Although this was a defeat for the revolutionaries, this event paved the way for the insurrection against Batista. It was “the small engine that ignited the big engine of the Revolution.”
How many countries commemorate a military defeat as their national holiday? Cuba does. In fact, it celebrates the ill-fated events that took place on July 26, 1953 with three days off.
Want to lean more about how the revolution was won?
Checkout these three books
One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution
Celia Sánchez is the missing actor of the Cuban Revolution. Although not as well known in the English-speaking world as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Sánchez played a pivotal role in launching the revolution and administering the revolutionary state. She joined the clandestine 26th of July Movement and went on to choose the landing site of the Granma and fight with the rebels in the Sierra Maestra. She collected the documents that would form the official archives of the revolution, and, after its victory, launched numerous projects that enriched the lives of many Cubans, from parks to literacy programs to helping develop the Cohiba cigar brand. All the while, she maintained a close relationship with Fidel Castro that lasted until her death in 1980.
‘Aldabonazo’: Inside the Cuban Revolutionary Underground, 1952-58
More than six decades ago, Armando Hart emerged as a leader of the young generation of students and working people who burst into history as they took to the streets in opposition to the 1952 military coup d’état in Cuba that installed one of the most brutal dictatorships Latin America had yet experienced. The Centennial Generation, as they became known, refused to accept or compromise with the tyranny and corruption that marked political life in Cuba. They asserted not only the right but the obligation of the Cuban people to rise in armed insurrection if need be to bring down a bloody, illegitimate regime that had usurped power by force. And they set out to forge a revolutionary movement capable of achieving their aims.
A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrillas’ Victory
This book analyses a wealth of leaflets, pamphlets, clandestine newspapers, and other agitational material from the 1950s that has never before been systematically examined, along with many interviews with participants themselves. Cushion uncovers widespread militant activity, from illegal strikes to sabotage to armed conflict with the state, all of which culminated in two revolutionary workers’ congresses and the largest general strike in Cuban history.