Saturday, September 12, 2009
"He was a man from humble origins, a bricklayer, black. All his life he worked with his hands, with sweat on his face, but he was a man of much sensibility -- a musician, a poet and he was a soldier in revolutionary combat from the first moment,"
One of the original revolutionaries of the Cuban revolution, Juan Almeida Bosque, has died of heart failure at the age of 82.
Almeida was one of the vice-presidents in the Council of State under Raul Castro.
He was the black commander of the Cuban leadership.
From a poor Havana neighbourhood, Almeida was in the group of guerrillas led by Fidel Castro which seized power in Cuba in 1959. He went on to become a general in the armed forces, a member of the politburo and a member in the Council of State.
Sunday has been declared a national day of mourning, and flags will be flown at half-mast.
There will be no lying-in-state, in accordance with his wishes.
A former construction worker, Almeida participated in the failed 1953 assault on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, and was among those sent to jail. Following an amnesty, the rebels were released and in 1956 they went to Mexico to regroup and prepare for a fresh assault.
Almeida was on board the Granma boat when it sailed back to Cuba carrying a small group of fighters that would launch the campaign from the Sierra Maestra mountains. He was promoted to the rank of commander during the mountain campaign.
Outnumbered in one of the early battles, Juan Almeida is said to have stormed to the front shouting, "Here, nobody surrenders!"
It became a slogan of the revolution.
"The name of Commander of the Revolution Juan Almeida Bosque will remain always in the hearts and minds of his compatriots."