Granma is the yacht that was used to transport 82 fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 for the purpose of overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Batista. The 60-foot (18 m) diesel-powered cabin cruiser was built in 1943 and designed to accommodate 12 people. "Granma", in English, is an affectionate term for a grandmother; the yacht is said to have been named for the original owner's grandmother.
Role in the Cuban revolution
The yacht was purchased on 10 October 1956 for MX$50,000 (US$15,000) from the U.S.-based Schuylkill Products Company, Inc. by a Mexican citizen—said to be Mexico City gun dealer Antonio "The Friend" del Conde—secretly representing Fidel Castro. Castro's 26th of July Movement had attempted to purchase a Catalina flying boat or a US naval crash rescue boat for the purpose of crossing the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, but had been thwarted by lack of funds. The money to purchase the Granma had been raised in the U.S. state of Florida by former President of Cuba Carlos Prío Socarrás.
Shortly after midnight on 25 November 1956 in the Mexican port of Tuxpan, Veracruz, the Granma was surreptitiously boarded by 82 members of the 26th of July movement including their leader, Fidel Castro, his brother, Raúl Castro, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. The group—who later came to be known collectively as los expedicionarios del yate Granma—set out from Tuxpan at 1 a.m. and, after a series of vicissitudes and misadventures, including the near-foundering of their heavily overladen and leaking craft, disembarked on 2 December on the Playa Las Coloradas, Municipality of Niquero, in what is now Granma Province (after the vessel), but was then part of the larger Oriente Province. The Granma was piloted by Norberto Collado Abreu, a Cuban Navy veteran and ally of Castro. The location was chosen to emulate the voyage of national hero José Martí, who had landed in the same region 61 years earlier during the wars of independence from Spanish colonial rule.
After the revolution
Soon after the revolutionary forces triumphed on 1 January 1959, the cabin cruiser was transferred to Havana Bay. Norberto Collado Abreu, who had served as main helmsman for the 1956 voyage, was given the responsibility of guarding and preserving the yacht.
Since 1976, the yacht has been on permanent display in a glass enclosure at the Granma Memorial adjacent to the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. A portion of old Oriente Province, where the expedition made landfall, was renamed Granma Province in honor of the vessel and the Landing of the Granma National Park established at the location (Playa Las Coloradas) was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its natural habitat. Every year on 25 November a group of Cuban youths sets out from Tuxpan aboard a replica of the Granma to re-trace hour by hour the voyage of the original Granma to its landing spot at Playa Las Coloradas a week later.
The date 2 December is celebrated as the "Day of the Cuban Armed Forces", and the replica has also been paraded at state functions to commemorate the original voyage. In further tribute, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party has been called Granma. The name of this vessel became an icon for Cuban communism. Although the name is sometimes described as having been misspelled, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary lists granma as a variant of grandma.
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