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Cuba - Political Flags - Part I

Last modified: 2015-01-23 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: cuba | july 26 | communist party |
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   Part II

See also:

26 July Movement

[Cuba 26 July Movement]
image by Ivan Sache , 22 December 1999

[Cuba 26 July Movement]
image by Maikel Arista-Salado and Eugene Ipavec, 2 August 2006

[Cuba 26 July Movement]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 2 August 2006

[Cuba 26 July Movement]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 28 August 2008

[Cuba 26 July Movement]
image by Ivan Sache, 1 August 2010

In the center appears frequently a star (white or yellow) or M26, 26-7, 26J, etc...
Jaume Ollé'

The flag of the 26 July Movement, as far as I can remember, didn't spell 26 de Julio but M-26-7. Perhaps there is two different versions.
Carlos M. Ramos , 7 Febuary 2000

The July 26th Movement flag appeared in several ways, two of which were most prominent: one was the red above the black with a white five point star in the centre, the other was the acronym 'M-26-7' in white letters in the middle, so that the top half overlapped the red and the bottom the black. Alternately it could appear with the '26 de Julio' in the middle or the phrase "Libertad o Muerte" (Liberty or Death) in the middle in white letters sometimes script, sometimes printed. I have seen the originals of these versions in the Cuban revolutionary museum in Havana (formerly Batista's palace).
Greg Dubecky, 18 February 2001

Eons ago, my parents' Caribbean cruise stopped in Havana. It was shortly after Castro had seized power, and realtions with the US had not been severed. They brought me back a souvenir flag/pin which was red over black with a gold "26" on it. Whether that had any official status or was just an abridged version of a larger flag (to fit in a lapel) I don't know.
Al Kirsch, 19 February 2001 and 25 May 2002

The 26th of July Movement (Movimiento 26 de Julio) constituted Fidel Castro's personal political following during the anti-Batista period, founded 26 July 1956 (?), from which the Communist Party was formed.
Source: Political Handbook of the World 1997
Jarig Bakker, 26 May 2002

Your source may not be reliable. My memory was that 26 July was the anniversary of Castro's unsuccessful assault on the Moncada Barracks. See <>. The year was 1953. Cuba's Communist Party is much older than that.
Al Kirsch, 26 May 2002

On 15 May 1947 Fidel Castro (while a student at the Univerity of Havana) was a founding member of the Partido Del Pueblo Cubano (later Partido Ortodoxo), devoted to political reform. In 1952 he ran for Congress on this party ticket, but Batista cancelled the elections in a bloodless coup. Castro consequently founded a revolutionary movement which mounted its first attack (by 100 men) on the Batista regime on 26 July 1953 at Moncada Army Barracks, Santiago.  The attack was a dismal failure.  The few survivors were tried and imprisoned, but Castro's speech in his defence was a propaganda coup as a call for revolution ("la historia me absolverá"). He was released on 15 May 1955 in a general amnesty.  He and a few followers went to Mexico on 24 June 1955, and in July 1955 organised the Movimiento Revolucionario 26 de Julio (MR-26-7), named for their first revolutionary act in 1953.  On 30 November 1956, 300 men (led by Frank País) wearing red and black armbands with the July 26 emblem (the first public display of this insignia?) attacked police headquarters, the Customs House and the harbour headquarters in Santiago.  Two days later, 80 men led by Castro in a leaky boat ("Granma") landed in Cuba to resume to 1953 revolution.  This too was a disaster, but 12 survivors fled to the Sierra Maestra and organised the first guerrilla unit of the 26 July Movement on 18 December 1956.  Twenty-five months later the victorious movement entered Havana and Batista fled.  The former Batista Presidential Palace is now the Museum of the Revolution and contains "Granma", and countless artifacts and insignia and flags of the 26 July Movement. To this day Castro wears a red/black lozenge of the 26 July Movement as his shoulder rank insignia for General of the Army.  (Other rank insignia are Russian-style shoulder boards.)
During a few speeches in 1961, Castro began to refer to the revolution as "socialist" and Marxist-Leninist.  On 3 October 1965 the new Communist Party was founded (originally established in 1925).  The First Congress of the Communist Party met in 1975 and drafted a new constitution.
T.F. Mills, 30 May 2002

In Cuba there is a flag that's seen almost as the National Flag but given scant attention as it doesn't enjoy the status and rank of the national flag.  I’m talking about the flag of the 26 July Movement – the organization that deposed the dictator Batista, and led by Fidel Castro (1953-1959).
The Movement adopted this name as it was on 26 July 1953 that the struggle began to evict the tyrant from the Presidency. On that day occurred the assault on regime strongholds of Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cispedes – the former the second most important in the country. This historic event made Fidel a household name in Cuba.  From that point to the final victory, the 26 July Movement become known the length and breadth of the country, its emblem stuck on doors and windows as a sign of approval.  That custom stuck, and on anniversaries of the Revolution, both flags are hoisted together.
The flag is used de facto, that is, it has no official standing at law but is used informally as a sign of loyalty to the Government and a signal of approval.
In many workplaces, offices and so on, it often appears together with the national flag, in many cases of equal height and size with the national flag, notwithstanding that it has no other status than that of an historical curiosity that had its time and place in the struggle against Batista.
To note is its similarity with the flag of the Sandinistas – although with colours reversed.
Maikel Arista-Salado (translated by Tony Burton), 21 September 2004

Currently this flag is of official use, almost at the same level as thre national flag. It is also shown on the site of the Heralatin School of Cuba at <>.
Maikel Arista-Salado (translated by Esteban Rivera), 3 June 2005

This movement's flag has a variant (with inscription "26 JULIO") seen in this commemoration act, shown on BBC on July 26, 2008.
E.R., 26 August 2008

On "Radio Nuevitas", 26 July 2010, Ricardo Ferrer Aluija reports a 26 July Movement flag of unusual design. THe flag is horizontally divided olive green-black, with a red triangle charged with a white star placed along the hoist, and the white writing "M - 26 - 7" over the two horizontal stripes.
This flag exists in several copies in the town of Nuevitas - located on the nothern shore of Cuba, 70 km east of Camagüey. It was made in 1957 by Mercedes Saroza Forcelledo upon request of his neighbour Ángel Gutiérrez Núñez. The today's location of the prototype of the flag is unknown.
Ivan Sache, 1 August 2010

Communist Party of Cuba

image by Eugene Ipavec, 14 February 2010

According to a stamp shown at <>, the flag of the Communist Party of Cuba should be plain red, presumably in the same 1:2 ratio as the national flag.
Eugene Ipavec, 14 February 2010

Other Communist Flags

At Ebay there were few Cuban Communist flags:
1) at <> :
This flag was adquired in Cuba a while ago. It is made of fabric, the letters are sew to the flag and the center figure of Lazaro Pe-a (he was minister of CTC (the Cuban Workers Union) back in the 70's.He died long time ago.The faces around his portrait are all painted on the fabric (interesting effect) ) and it says in espanish "And the seed sprouts" on the other side the embroided flag of the CTC is beautifully embroided and still very bright. The flag measures 48"x30" and except for a yellowish tone in some parts due to age, it is in very good condition.
2) at <cgi.ebay.comitem=1076121595> :
This flag was adquired in Cuba a while ago. It is made of fabric, the letters are sew to the flag and the center figure of Fidel Castro and Camilo Cienfuegos is beautifully embroided and still very bright. The flag measures 48"x30" and has some dirt but no rips. Both sides have the same design. The curious part of this flag is the historical significance. In 1970, the cuban government took most workers to the cane fields because they projected the largest sugarcane harvest in history (10 million tons of sugar) They only got to 8.5 millions and the economy went down the toilet because the rest of the industries were niglected. Every time they reached to a new million of tons they would make these flags and distributed to the best sugarcane cutters (a BRIGADE). Now, this flag was prepared to give to the first BRIGADE to get to the 9th million. BRIGADA NONA-MILLONARIA. So this flag never had the use it was intented and probably the reason it survived until today. The XVI anniversary is based on the July 26 of 1956 attack to Cuartel Moncada and the beginning of the Revolution.
3) at <> :
This flag was adquired in Cuba a while ago. It is made of fabric, the letters are sew to the flag and the center figure of Lazaro Pe-a (he was minister of CTC (the Cuban Workers Union) back in the 70's. He died long time ago) is beautifully embroided and still very bright. The flag measures 48"x30" and except for a yellowish tone in some parts due to age, it is in very good condition.
Rob Raeside, 21 Febuary 2002

Not sure if it was official but I have seen a pictures of Cuban revolutionaries that used as a upper shoulder badge a flag divided horizontaly red over black with a yellow star in the middle.
Marc Pasquin, 6 March 2002

I recall a button in the shape of a flag which was red over black with a yellow "26" (not a star). My parents brought it back from Cuba not long after Castro took over. Is this an alternative design to the one with the star, or is it just a tourist souvenir?
Al Kirsch, 6 March 2002

That was probably the 26 July Movement flag that was used by the revolutionaries. Initially, many of them (including Castro) were not communist. The Communist party played a large part in trying to get these guys to become communist in the beginning, but failed until later.
Rob Raeside, 6 March 2002

Cuba has a rich flag heritage, and markedly so over the last 50 years.  Society has become more flag conscious (“vexilogizado”).  Trade Unions all have their flags, and so do other mass oragnziations, that in reality function as political organizations properly so-called in these sense that they are the means of mobilizing all or most of the population.  The greater number of these flags of “Mass movements” have a red field, given the historic association with the communists. I would personally be very interested to know if the Soviets were the first to adopt that usage, or whether there were historical antecedents.
Most of these flags have a red field with the organization emblem in the centre – eg the National Pioneers organization and those of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (entities for political repression but with a popular façade).
Maikel Arista-Salado (translated by Tony Burton), 21 September 2004

Pioneer Organizations Flags

Organización de Pioneros "José Martí" (flag)
image by Eugene Ipavec, 14 February 2010

Organización de Pioneros "José Martí" (logo)
image by Eugene Ipavec, 14 February 2010

One of the last remnants of the Pioneer organizations which were to replace scouting in the Soviet system. Here is the flag of the José Marti Pioneers' Association of Cuba.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 9 January 2002

Pioneers Organization "Jose Martí" - this organization groups the primary and elementary education students and those of high school, until 9th degree.
This one is the ordinary flag, the "protocolar" one have a yellow fringe imitating silk, in all the edge, is used preceded of Union de Jovenes Comunistas (UJC - Something like Young Comunist Union) and the one of Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), and all, naturally, of the National flag. It's, although not officially, an organization with political intentions, controlled by Young Communist  Union. The initiation in these organizations takes place with a traditional act which consist of giving, depending the student's category, a neckerchief, blue or red, that ties to the neck and since that  moment it form a part of the scholastic uniform. It's very exciting. I made it twice, first when I received blue neckerchief, and second when I received the red one, because I had passed to 4th degree, that is a new category; in high school the neckerchief is repalced by a symbol consisiting in the bars with colors of the national flag and to the right, the "Che's" (Ernesto Guevara de la Serna) signature, the symbol measures approximately 1.5 cm by 10 cm in some cases and is the symbol of High school. is sticks directly on the white shirt of the uniform.
Maikel Arista-Salado, 21 June 2005

The website of the organization gives the meaning of the flag and emblem. The flag symbolizes the loyalty of the pioneers to the cause of Socialism. The flag is red, a colour representing the blood shed in the struggle for liberty, with the emblem of the organization in the middle.
The emblem is made of two triangles, a red one above a blue one, the red triangle being charged in the middle with the Cuban lone star. The red triangle represents the blood shed in the struggle for liberty, the star means that Cuba is a free and sovereign state, while the blue triangle represents the fatherland's skies. A blue scroll with the name of the organization is placed over the lower part of the red triangle. Above the triangles, three tongues of fire represent the three stages in the life of a revolutionary: the greater, the Communist Party of Cuba; the middle, the Union of the Communist Youth; and the lesser, the José Martě Pioneers' Organization. The latter red tongue has two smaller yellow tongues in its lower part, representing the two stages in the organization, the Moncadist Pioneers and the José Martě Pioneers.
Source: <>
Ivan Sache, 7 February 2008

Youth League

image by Eugene Ipavec, 14 February 2010

image by Eugene Ipavec, 14 February 2010

This is the Communist Youth League's flag (Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas).
Maikel Arista-Salado, 2 April 2006

XIXth CTC Congress

"Central des Trabadajores de Cuba" (CTC - Cuba Workers' Group of Affiliated Trade Unions) is the sole workers' trade union in Cuba. "Confederación Nacional Obrera de Cuba" (CNOC - Cuba Workers' National Confederation) was founded in 1925 and suppressed after the March 1935 general strike. It was reconstituted in 1939 as "Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba" (CTC - Cuba Workers' Confederation), renamed "Central de Trabajadores de Cuba" in 1961. The CTC groups 19 national unions and approximatively (sic) 2,998,634 workers. "Central" is also used in French as "centrale syndicale", and is translated in Robert-Collins dictionary as "group of affiliated trade union. The CTC groups 19 national unions and approximatively (sic) 2,998,634 workers. See also Cuban Communist Party website.
The XIXth "Congreso Obrero" (Workers' Congress) of CTC will take place in September 2006 in Havana. The sessions of the Congress will be "presided" by the flag of the XIXth Congress. During year 2006, the flag has travelled all over the country, from "production center" to "production center". Norberto Rivero, in "El Habanero Digital", 7 June 2006, reports the arrival of the flag in Havana, coming from Matanzas. The flag was saluted by "La Guantanemera" and was carried by a Hero of the Work of the Republic of Cuba. The source shows a picture of the flag, which is, as expected, red with emblems and writings, including XIX CONGRESO. It can be inferred from this that each congress has its own flag, probably designed on the same template. See also <>   Here is e a portion of the photography shown in "El Habanera".
Ivan Sache, 22 July 2006

Photo of the flag <>.
Dov Gutterman, 24 September 2008

Bandera Che Guevara

The newspaper "Escambray" proudly reports on 15 October 2007 that it was awarded the "bandera Che Guevara", celebrating 40 years of victory. The flag was granted by the National Office of the CTC (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba). A colour photography shows the flag as red and black, with the white writing "40 AÑOS DE VICTORIAS".
Ivan Sache, 28 October 2007

Directorio Revolucionario

image by Eugene Ipavec, 3 August 2006

At <> there is an image of flag titled: "Bandera del Directorio Revolucionario"
Any more information about this flag?
Dov Gutterman, 4 October 2002

The flag represents a non-Communist student group which sought to overthrow Batista in 1957. The survivors fought with Castro's army against the Batista regime but had differences with Castro and some later fought him in the "Bandit War" of the early 1960's. 
David Ott, 12 July 2008

The full name of this organization was Revolutionary Directory March 13th (Directorio Revolucionario 13 de Marzo), after the date on which its members attacked Batista's residence.
In 1961, it merged with the Popular Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Popular), which also supported Castro's revolution, and with the 26 July Movement, to form the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas), which in 1962 took name: United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution (Partido Unido de la Revolución Socialista de Cuba) and in 1965 eventually became the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba)
- website
- Spanish Wikipedia page about the Revolutionary Directory March 13th
- Wikipedia page about the Communist Party of Cuba
- Spanish Wikipedia page about the Communist Party of Cuba.
Tomislav Todorović, 21 September 2008

Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution)

[Comités de Defensa de la Revolución]
image by Poon Tat Ming William posted in I Love Flags on 23 March 2013

Cuba CDR flag,
Poon Tat Ming William posted in I Love Flags on 23 March 2013

I am guessing that CDR are Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) and indeed the logo can be seen at
Rob Raeside, 27 March 2013

"The Mourning Flag"

[he Mourning Flag]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 27 June 2006

I happened to see on BBC TV news earlier this week a report that Cuba has erected a monument of 138 flags in front of the U.S. mission in Havana. There are number of reports and pictures, including <> and <>. The flags have a black field with a single five-pointed white star in the middle.
André Coutanche, 10 February 2006

The mourning flag (bandera luctuosa) was hoisted on February 6th, 2006 at 6:00 p.m.; 138 mourning flags were hoisted in front of the US Interests Section in Havana, representing "a small portion of many men and women killed by terrorists attacks organized by the United States of America". The flag is black with a white star in its center. The black colour represents the mourning of the Cuban people and the white star its dignity. The Cuban mourning flags remain hoisted 24 hours a day and they are never lowed not even in the night. This flag has the same proportion than the national flag.
Maikel Arista-Salado, 22 February 2006

The reason the flags are not lowered, not even in the night, is because their primary purposes is to obscure the illuminated scrolling message board which had been erected on the front of the building occupied by the United States interest section in January. In my opinion, this is not a funeral flag (although it could perhaps be termed a memorial flag). It is quite clear from reliable and credible news sources that the display of these flags is part of an escalating situation between the United States and Cuba. Clearly, these are political and propagandist flags, as well as any other meaning which might have been subscribed to them by those who erected them, or by those who have lost relatives.
Source: "Black flags block US sign in Cuba" - British Broadcasting Corporation News web site, 7 February 2006 at <>.
Colin Dobson, 22 February 2006

The Miami Herald reported today about the use of 138 black flags being used to obscure the view of an electronic billboard on the US diplomatic mission in Havana.
Albert S. Kirsch, 1 July 2006

There are three classes of flags: they vary in dimensions and the position of stars.
Maikel Arista-Salado, 3 July 2006

The Mourning flag (Bandera luctuosa, in Spanish) is not actually a mourning flag stricto sensu, but rather part of a propaganda battle as Colin Dobson stated in his 22 February 2006 post.
"The José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform (Spanish Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí) is located in the Plaza de la Dignidad, across the street from the United States Interests Section in Havana. It was opened in April 2000". Source:
"The number and design of the flags were to memorialize Cuban victims of terrorism, especially the 73 people who died in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger airliner. When the flags were first hoisted in early February 2006, the alleged mastermind of this attack, Luis Posada Carriles, was under U.S. custody for illegal immigration to the U.S."
The flags can be seen here. There's also another set of Cuban flags in the same location.
Now, wheter the Mourning flag was changed for the Cuban flag, or both are present, I do not know.
Esteban Rivera, 26 January 2013

Panoramio have another photograph of coloured Cuban flags at the Monte de las Banderas (the wedonthavean embassy can be seen in the lower right corner), which according to the title was made in 2006. In 2009 a comment was added that sometimes they fly black flags.
- 4 October 2006 - black  
- 13 Augustus 2008 - coloured  
- 18 April 2009 - black 
- 6 October 2011 - coloured
I also note that in the last photograph, the highest poles are not in use. I would speculate that this might be related to the USA removing their ticker board, in (or before) 2009.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 27 January 2013