December 2, 1956: Castro & Guevara
In Mexico, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara met. Che Guevara was an Argentinian revolutionary, and, by the time he met Castro, already a Marxist. His political ideologies were largely in response to the widespread poverty and oppression he had witnessed throughout South America. Guevara went to Mexico in 1954, and met Fidel Castro in 1955.
He joined Castro’s 26th of July Movement, and played a key role in the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. The 26th of July Movement took its name from Castro’s failed 1953 attack on the barracks in Cuba.
On December 2, 1956, 82 revolutionaries, including Guevara, led by Castro, sailed from Veracruz, Mexico to Cuba. They landed in daylight and were attacked by the Cuban air force. The attack divided their party into two, and caused massive casualties. Batista inaccurately announced Castro’s death. Twelve of the 82, including Guevara and Castro, took refuge in the Sierra Maestra mountains to reform and gain additional support.
This was the first phase of the Cuban Revolution. It resulted in a significant amount of guerilla warfare, as Castro gained supporters. Che Guevara was wounded in the fighting, but continued to provide medical care to others.
Che Guevara remained a close friend and associate of Castro’s after the successful revolution. He remained in Cuba until 1965, actively encouraging Cuba to engage in a close relationship with the Soviet Union. In 1965, Castro announced that Guevara had left Cuba to help aid in other revolutionary efforts. After a short time in Africa, Guevara returned to Cuba, welcomed by Castro. He stayed only briefly before leaving for Bolivia. Guevara was executed in Bolivia in 1967, after his capture by the U.S.-supported Bolivian army. He was exhumed and reburied in Cuba in 1997. Guevara’s grave was the first spot on Castro’s final tour, as his remains reverse the course of his victory in 1959.