Front Door to Cuba

Timetable History of Cuba

BEFORE The Revolution - 2

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June 24 - July 3. In Mexico City, 28 Cuban revolutionaries and supporters are arrested. Castro is not released until July 24, and Che Guevara is released a week later.

October 21. Fidel and Raul Castro’s father, Angel Castro dies at age 80. “…exactly the age when Castro became gravely ill fifty years later,” wrote Ann Louise Bardach in her introduction to The Prison Letters of Fidel Castro.

October 27. Antonio Blanco Rico, Batista’s Chief of Police, is gunned down by members of the Directorio Revolutionario which includes Rolando Cubela Secades.

November 25. On a 60-foot yacht named Granma, 82 men lead by Fidel Castro depart for Cuba.

November 30. In Santiago de Cuba, 300 young men led by Frank País in olive green uniforms and red and black armbands with the July 26 emblem, attack police headquarters, the Customs House and the harbor headquarters.

December 2. The Granma lands in Las Coloradas, Oriente province, after being delayed by weather and logistical problems, including poor communications between the expeditionaries and the Cuban undergroun.

December 5. The rebels are surprised by Batista's troops while resting on the edge of a cane field at Alegría de Pío, not far from the Sierra Maestra. The majority of the revolutionaries are killed or captured, but few escape to the Sierra Maestra, including the Castro brothers Fidel and Raúl, Che Guevara, Juan Almeida, Calixto García and a handful of others.

December 8. Don Cosme de la Torriente dies.

December 18. 12 survivors of the "Granma" expedition regroup at Purial (in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains) and organize the first guerilla unit.

December 21. Che Guevara and Juan Almeida join the others at Purial. At this point the Rebel Army consists of 15 fighters with 7 weapons, and they begin to move higher into the Sierra Maestra mountains.

December 24. In Santiago de Cuba, leaders of the 26th-July Movement meet secretly to discuss support for the rebels in the Sierra Maestra.


January. Cuban Defense Minister Santiago Rey visits Washington as an official guest of the U.S. government.

January 2. In Santiago, 4 youths are found dead in an empty building, including 14-year old William Soler. They had been arrested as suspects in revolutionary activities and tortured.

January 4. A procession of 500 women dressed in black and lead by William Soler's mother, moves slowly through the streets of Santiago. They carry a banner: "Stop the murders of our sons."

January 17. The war opens with a successful rebel attack on a small army garrison at the mouth of the La Plata River. The Rebel Army has 23 usable weapons.

January 21. Lt. Angel Sánches Mosquera leads a company of elite Batista troops into the Sierra Maestra mountains to search for the rebels. A larger unit, lead by Major Joaquín Casillas, follows.

January 22. At Arroyo del Infierno, rebels ambush a column of army soldiers.

February 9. Rebels are attacked by the Army at Altos de Espinosa and disperse for three days.

February 17. New York Times journalist Herbert Matthews arrives in the Sierra Maestra to interview Castro and the rebels.

March 11. In Santiago, Frank País is arrested for his participation in the November 30 uprising.

March 13. Student leader José Echeverría and a small group take over a radio station in Havana. He is killed while retreating to the university. In a simultaneous attack on the presidential palace, 35 rebels and 5 palace guards are killed.

March 30. The new Shell Oil refinery is inaugurated by Batista, who tells the press that there are no guerrillas in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

April 6. The Havana Hilton opens with a party attended by half of Batista's cabinet.

April 20. Under orders from Batista, Police Captain Esteban Ventura guns down 4 of the surviving student leaders of the March 13 Palace attack. The event is known as the 7 Humboldt Street massacre.

April 23. In the Sierra Maestra, Castro is interviewed on film by U.S. journalist Robert Taber. The film is shown by CBS-TV in May.

May 10. In Santiago, at the trial of "Granma" survivors, Judge Manuel Urrutia declares that all should be acquitted. Two other judges send men to prison for varying periods of up to 8 years.

May 14. Arthur Gardner, U.S. Ambassador to Cuba and a close friend of Batista, is removed from office. He is replaced a month later by Earl Smith.

May 18. In the Sierra Maestra, rebels receive a shipment of over two dozen automatic weapons and 6,000 rounds of ammunition (sent by the July 26 Movement in Santiago).

May 26. In Matanzas, a bomb seriously damages the old Tinguaro mill.

May 28. The first major battle of the war is a rebel attack on the El Uvero garrison in a small town south of the Sierra Maestra range. "For us," writes Guevara, "it was a victory that meant our guerrillas had reached full maturity. From this moment on, our morale increased enormously, our determination and hope for victory also increased, and though the months that followed were a hard test, we now had the key to the secret of how to beat the enemy."

June 4. United Press International (UPI) reports that 800 U.S.-trained and equipped Cuban troops will be sent to fight against the Rebel Army in the Sierra Maestra.

July 12. After days of discussion in the mountains, the Manifesto of the Sierra Maestra is issued, signed by Fidel Castro, Raúl Chibás and Felipe Pazos. Most of it is written by Castro, and calls for all Cubans to form a civic revolutionary front to "end the regime of force, the violation of individual rights, and the crimes of the police."

July 21. Ernesto Che Guevara is the first fighter promoted by Castro to Commander. He is named head of the Second Rebel Army Column

July 30. Chief of police, Colonel José Salas Cañizares kills Frank País, a 23-year-old leader of the July-26-Movement and a Castro ally.

July 31. In Santiago, a crowd of 60,000 attend a funeral march for Frank País. The crowds are too large for the police to control and the city closes down for three days.

August 15. A large number of arrests are carried out by Batista's police, including: Francisco Pérez Rivas, María Urquiola Lechuga, Mercedes Urquiola Lechuga, José Manuel Alvárez Santa Cruz (student, age 17), Francisco Miares Fernández (student, age 18), Manuel de Jesús Alfonso (age 15), Enrique Delgado Mayoral (age 18), Eliecer Cruz Cabrera (age 18), Eladio and Ignacio Alfonso Carrera (ages 16 and 19), José Herrera León (age 16), Ubaldo Fiallo Sánchez (age 20), Antonio Fernández Segura, Jorge Alvarez Tagle (age 19), Juan Fernández Segura, Francisco Gómez Bermejo (age 17), Pastor Valiente Hernández, Norberto Belanzoarán López and others.

August 20. At Palma Mocha, in the Las Cuevas region, the Rebel Army, lead by Fidel Castro, is victorious over Batista's army.

September 5. Members of the July-26-Movement in Cienfuegos attack the naval police headquarters and the garrison of the Rural Guards.

October. Ex-president of the Cuban Medical Association, Dr. Augusto Fernandez Conde, denounces the atrocities of the Batista regime at the World Medical Association meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.

November. The Miami Pact is signed by officials from the Authentic Party, Orthodox Party, Revolutionary Directorate, and others. The Pact creates the Cuban Liberation Junta, which is controlled by bourgeois opposition forces and does not oppose U.S. intervention.

November 4. El Cubano Libre, (The Free Cuban) the newspaper of the Rebel Army, is published by Guevara in the Sierra Maestra.

November 29. Rebel captain Ciro Redondo is killed in battle at Mar Verde. He is posthumously promoted to commander.

December 6. Led by Lt. Lalo Sardiñas, rebel troops clash with Batista's army at El Salto.

December 10. Hotel Riviera opens in Havana. (It costs $14 million, most of it supplied by the Cuban government for Meyer Lansky.) The floor show in the Copa Room is headlined by Ginger Rogers. Lansky complains that Rogers "can 'wiggle her ass, but she can't sing a goddam note."

A weekly news magazine, Revista Carteles, reports that twenty members of the Batista government own numbered Swiss bank accounts, each with deposits of more than $1 million.

American firms make profits of $77 million from their Cuban investments, while employing little more than 1 percent of the country's population.

By the late 1950’s, American capital control:
90% of Cuba’s mines
80% of its public utilities
50% of its railways
40% of its sugar production
25% of its bank deposits


Early in the year Batista receives $1,000,000 in military aid from the U.S. All of Batista's arms, planes tanks, ships, and military supplies come from the U.S., and his army is trained by a joint mission of the three branches of the U.S. armed forces.

February 24. On the 63rd anniversary of the beginning of Martí's War of Independence, Radio Rebelde begins transmission from "the free territory of Cuba."

March 1. Raúl Castro and Juan Almeida leave the Sierra Maestra with a column of 67 men to open a second front in the mountains north of Santiago, the Sierra Cristal.

In March, 45 civic institutions sign an open letter supporting the July-26-Movement, including the national organizations of lawyers, architects, public accountants, dentists, electrical engineers, social workers, professors, and veterinarians.

April 9. A national strikes fails due to timing errors and lack of popular support. This is a serious setback for the rebels.

May. Batista launches a vast offensive against the guerillas in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

May 25. In the Sierra Maestra mountains, the Rebel Army holds the first peasant assembly attended by 350. Among the topics discussed is a plan for agrarian reform.

June 29. In Santo Domingo, on the Sierra Maestra mountains, the rebels achieve a serious victory with many captured prisoners and supplies. (Prisoners are later released.)

July 11-21. The Battle of Jigüe lasts about ten days and marks a turning point in the war.

July 20. From the Sierra Maestra, Radio Rebelde broadcasts the text of the Caracas Pact, signed by Castro and others. It calls for armed insurrection to establish a provisional government and an end for U.S. support of Batista.

September 4. In the Sierra Maestra, the Mariana Grajales Platoon is formed. It consists of women fighters.

September 18. The Rebel Army defeats Batista's forces at Yara.

September 27-28. The Mariana Grajales Platoon participates in the battle to destroy Batista's military garrison in Cerro Pelado, Oriente.

October 9. The Rebel Army creates a new front to operate in the Oriente province. This Fourth Front is commanded by Delio Gómez Ochoa.

October 10. Law no. 3 of the Sierra Maestra is issued by the Rebel Army. It states that tenant farmers and sharecroppers are entitled to the land they work.

October 26-27. The Rebel Army captures the army garrison at Güinía de Miranda.

October 31. U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his wife dine with the Cuban Ambassador at the Cuban Embassy in Washington to commemorate Teddy Roosevelt (who refused to allow the Cuban liberating army from entering Santiago in 1898).

November 2. The Rebel Army captures the army garrison at Alto Songo in Oriente province.

November 3. In a mock general election, Batista's presidential candidate, Andrés Rivero Agüero, is declared the winner.

December 9. The Rebel Army takes Baire and San Luis, in Oriente province.

December 9. In Havana, William D. Pawley meets with Batista for 3 hours, offering that the dictator retire to his home in Daytona Beach, Florida. Batista declines.

December 15-18. Che Guevara's column captures the city of Fomento.

December 19. The Rebel Army achieves victories at Jiguaní, Caimanera and Mayajigua (in Northern Las Villas).

December 22-25. The rebels capture the towns of Guayos, Cabaiguán, Placetas, Manicaragua, Cumanayagua, Camarones, Cruces, Lajas, Sagua de Tánamo, Puerto Padre and Sancti Spíritus.

December 27-28. The rebels capture Caibarién, Remedios and Palma Soriano.

December 26. U.S. native Alan Robert Nye is arrested by the Revolutionary Army in Baire, near Jiguany, and charged with a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro.

December 29. Che Guevara takes the city of Santa Clara and captures over 1,000 prisoners.

Terrence Cannon writes:
"The U.S. did not send in the marines for one basic reason: it did not fear the Revolution. It was inconceivable to the U.S. policy makers that a revolution in Cuba could turn out badly for them. After all, U.S. companies owned the country."

It is estimated that by the end of 1958, 11,500 Cuban women earn their living as prostitutes.

Women comprise 14.8% of the Cuban work force.

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