Meeting Castro

Meeting Castro

In Mexico City, Che Guevara and his wife Hilda Gadea reconnected with the Cuban exiles he had met in Guatemala. They introduced him to another group of Cubans who had fled to Mexico. These leftist dissidents, led by Fidel Castro, had been jailed in Cuba for their participation in the failed attack in 1953 on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago da Cuba. While incarcerated, Castro formed The 26th of July Movement. Its name honored the date of his abortive attempt to overthrow the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Once they received amnesty and were released from jail in 1955, the revolutionaries continued to harass the government of the American supported dictator but a crackdown soon forced them to leave Cuba and settle in Mexico.

Che-Guevara-and-Fidel-Castro-in-JailChe was introduced to Raúl Castro in June 1955 and through him was introduced to his brother Fidel. Fidel and Che discussed political theory at length and Che was invited to join the guerilla forces of The 26th of July Movement as head of personnel. The little band of revolutionaries, supported to some extent by funds raised by Fidel in Miami, was trained in military tactics by Cuban General Alberto Bayo, then living in Mexico City. The Cuban leftist guerillas practiced their military skills by engaging in skirmishes with the Mexican government, American law enforcement agents and the Mexican henchmen of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

In April of 1956, Hilda Gadea, living in Mexico City, was visited by two men who took her and her four-month old daughter to a police station. There she was interrogated. One of the men, she was convinced, was a FBI agent. She was threatened if she did not condemn Fidel as a Communist.

Che-with-HilditaOn June 24, 1956 the Mexican police captured several of the Cuban guerillas on a ranch near Mexico City. Che is reported to have confessed to the authorities that he believed that through an armed revolutionary struggle social justice could be achieved in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America. He stated categorically that he was a Communist and that the continent-wide revolution should have as its goal the installation of communist governments. Fidel Castro was not pleased with this as he believed that the success of a revolution in Cuba depended on not alienating the USA and in gaining support of the powerful minority of Cuban socialists who were not inclined to transfer their allegiance to communists.

After staging a hunger strike most of the detainees were released in July of 1956 but Che was not, as the Mexican authorities claimed his papers were not in order. Che was visited regularly by Hilda with their daughter Hildita with whom he played as an adoring father. Fidel paid a large bribe to the police and Che was eventually released. Guevara resumed his activity with the Cuban guerillas coming home to Hilda’s apartment on weekends. Che and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement left Mexico to invade Cuba in November of 1956.


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