On this day December 2, 1956


The yacht Granma, carrying Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement, reached the shores of Cuba having sailed in the boat Granma from Tuxpan, Veracruz, ready to organize and lead a revolution.

The 60-foot (18-meter) diesel-powered cabin cruiser was built in 1943 and designed to accommodate 12 people. It is said to have been named for the original owner’s grandmother.

The yacht was purchased on 10 October 1956 for the amount of MX$50,000 (US$15,000) from the U.S.-based Schuylkill Products Company, Inc. by a Mexican citizen — said to be Mexico City gun dealer Antonio “The Friend” del Conde — secretly representing Fidel Castro.

Castro’s 26th of July movement had attempted to purchase a Catalina flying boat or a US naval crash boat for the purpose of crossing the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, but had been thwarted by lack of funds. The money to purchase the Granma had been raised in the U.S. state of Florida by former President of Cuba Carlos Prío Socarrás.

The early signs of the revolution were not good for the movement. They landed in daylight and were attacked by the Cuban Air Force, killing most of those who landed. The landing party was split into two and wandered lost for two days, most of their supplies abandoned where they landed.

Of the 82 who sailed aboard the Granma, only 16 eventually regrouped in the Sierra Maestra mountain range. There they encountered the Cuban Army. Guevara was shot in the neck and chest during the fighting, but was not severely injured.

Guevara, who had studied medicine, continued to give first aid to other wounded guerrillas. This was the opening phase of the war of the Cuban Revolution, which continued for the next two years. It ended in January 1959, after Batista fled Cuba on New Year’s Eve when the movement’s forces marched into Havana.



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