Cuba, 1952: General Fulgencio Batista instigates a putsch, takes over power, and cancels the general election. Defying this corrupt dictator, Fidel Castro, a young lawyer and candidate running for the post of deputy under the People’s Party banner, moves into action. In the hope of provoking a popular uprising, he and 150 young people attack the Moncada Barracks, Batista’s largest garrison outside Santiago de Cuba, on July 26, 1953. The operation fails; Castro spends two years in jail. Granted an amnesty in 1955, he takes exile in Mexico. During this time, in Guatemala, a young idealistic Argentinian, Ernesto Guevara, becomes involved in politics. 1n 1954, when a military plot supported by the CIA overthrows the democratically-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz, Guevara takes refuge in Mexico. After first making contact with them in Guatemala, he joins a small Cuban revolutionary group. On July 13, 1955, in a modest Mexican apartment, Raul Castro introduces Guevara to his older brother, Fidel. It is an encounter that will mark a key date in Cuba’s history. Guevara is immediately given responsibility for a guerrilla operation aimed at overthrowing Batista. The Cubans give the young rebel a nickname common in Argentina: “Che.”
November 26, 1956: Fidel Castro sets out for Cuba with 80 rebels. The offensive ends in a massacre: only twenty-seven men escape, including Che, the group’s doctor, and Castro. Hiding out in the Sierra Maestra, the “barbudos” declare “total war” on Batista’s regime. Guevara proves his fighter qualities and makes himself indispensable to his companions. The resistance intensifies and takes over the whole island. January 1, 1959: the rebels celebrate their victory in Santa Clara. The dictator flees.
End of Part 1.