What became the July 26 Coalition began when supporters of the Cuban Revolution in New York and New Jersey joined together in 2003 to organize a major, united event to mark and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953. The assault on the military fortress was organized by young Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro and Abel Santamaria, fighting to overturn the US-backed military dictatorship of Fulgencia Batista. The Moncada Attack was militarily defeated but became the political spark that ignited the mass revolutionary movement and armed guerrilla struggle that eventually led to then triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959.
In 2003, an event was attended by over 700 people and the July 26th Movement was a rousing political and cultural celebration. It was held at the Martin Luther King Labor Center of the 1199 SEIU Health Workers Union, a trade union with a proud history of fighting Washington’s over 50-year-old economic and political war against revolutionary Cuba (for which it has been targeted for terrorist bombings). Since that first Celebration, the July 26 Coalition has organized events every year around July 26. Some forty Cuba and Latin American solidarity organizations, political parties, African-American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, religious, labor, and other groups, and many independent activists have united in this annual event which revives the tradition in the New York area started by Casa de las Americas in the early 1960’s.
The July 26 Coalition has also expanded its work to organize other activities in solidarity with Cuba and to free the Cuban Five, including events featuring top Cuban leaders who are able to come to New York for gatherings at the United Nations as well as representatives of the Federation of Cuban Women, Cuban trade union and student leaders who are able to legally travel to New York.