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companero che .com - the truth about Ernesto Che Guevara
Argentina South America Mexico Cuba Soviet Union Africa Bolivia
    - baptism of fire    
      - el Comandante    
       - heading toward victory    
      - victory      
      - political life      


On 2nd December 1956 with Fidel Castro and the rest of the expeditionaries, Ernesto Guevara landed in Las Coloradas Beach, on the southern coast of the then province of Oriente. In the rebel troops, Che, as he was already called, had been assigned the post of head of health services. He was a lieutenant and member of the staff of the rebel forces.


"As soon as we landed, with all haste and carrying only the essential things, as we were moving into the marshes, we were attacked by enemy planes. Of course, moving through swampland covered by mangrove, we could not be seen or harassed by the planes, but the dictatorship's army was already on our track."


On 5th December 1956 at Alegra de Po, near the village of Niquero, Ernesto Che Guevara had his baptism of fire on Cuban soil when the members of the Rebel Army were surprised by the forces of the Batista tyranny. The rebel fighters suffered a hard setback. They were widely dispersed and many were captured and murdered. Che himself received a slight flesh wound in the neck. Only a small number of combatants, scattered into small groups, managed to elude the persecution of the forces of the dictatorship and moved on to the Sierra Maestra mountains. In one of those groups was Ernesto Guevara and another seven rebels.


"At four o'clock that afternoon, without previous warning, not even the glimmer of suspicion, we heard the first shot followed by a lead symphony that rained down on our heads, not yet inured to that virile sport. Some of the comrades fell and I, personally, had the terrible experience of receiving in my flesh the simultaneous baptism of fire and blood".


On 20th December 1956 after more than 15 days of strenuous march, characterized by harassment from the forces of the tyranny and the terrible scourge of hunger and thirst, the group of rebels Ernesto Che Guevara was in reunited with Fidel Castro and other revolutionary combatants in the early morning hours at the farm of "Mongo" Prez, a Sierra Maestra peasant.

Previously, on the 18th, the small groups headed by Fidel Castro and his brother Raul had regrouped at Purial de Vicana. Despite the setback they had suffered and the terribly difficult conditions they were facing, the morale of the revolutionary group remained high and there was a generalized disposition to continue fighting.


"...It was incredible to hear that small group of people who did not know each other too well yet talk of victory, talk of attacking."


On 31st December 1956 Che sent his relatives in Buenos Aires a letter in code words letting them know he was alive. It was the first direct news they had from him after his arrival in Cuba in the Granma expedition.


"Dear Mom and Dad, I'm doing perfectly well, I've used up two and still have SEVEN left. I'm still at the same old job. You'll be getting news sporadically, but keep trusting that God is Argentine. A hug for all, Tet."


On 17th January 1957 around 45 days after the setback at Alegra de Po, the members of the Rebel Army scored their first victory against the soldiers of the dictatorship. "


The attack against a small garrison on the mouth of the La Plata River in the Sierra Maestra mountains was our first victory. It' s impact resounded beyond the abrupt region where it took place. It called everyone's attention, proving that the Rebel Army existed and that it was ready to fight . On 22nd January 1957 The rebel fighters prepared and carried out an ambush against an army column marching along Arroyo del Infierno in the Sierra Maestra mountains. During the fight, the members of the Rebel Army inflicted significant casualties on the troops of the dictatorship and captured weapons and ammunition.


"We were once again overloaded, many of us carrying more than one rifle; in this situation the going was not easy, but, evidently, a different morale prevailed, different from what we felt after Alegra de Po ..."

<- Che in prison El Comandante ->

A detailed chronology of Che's life you can find
in this book "A Brave Man" on Cuba Directo website


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