Juan Almeida Bosque
Almeida in 1963
February 17, 1927|
|Died||September 11, 2009
Juan Almeida Bosque (February 17, 1927 – September 11, 2009) was a Cuban politician and one of the original commanders of the Cuban Revolution. After the 1959 revolution, he was a prominent figure in the Communist Party of Cuba; at the time of his death in 2009, he was a Vice-President of the Cuban Council of State and was its third ranking member. He received several decorations, and both national and international awards, including the title of "Hero of the Republic of Cuba" and the Order of Máximo Gómez.
Early life and revolution
Almeida was born in Havana. He left school at the age of eleven and became a bricklayer. Whilst studying law at the University of Havana in 1952, he became close friends with the revolutionary Fidel Castro and in March of that year joined the Cuban Revolution. In 1953 he joined Fidel and his brother Raúl Castro in the assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, and was arrested and imprisoned with the Castro brothers in the Isle of Pines Prison. During the amnesty of May 15, 1955, he was released and transferred to Mexico.
Almeida returned to Cuba with the Castro brothers, Che Guevara and 78 other revolutionaries on the Granma expedition, and was one of just 12 who survived the initial landing, during which Cuban government forces killed most of the rebels. Almeida is often credited with shouting "No one here gives up!" (alternatively "here, nobody surrenders") to Guevara, which would become a long-lived slogan of the Cuban revolution, although the quote was actually said by Camilo Cienfuegos. Almeida was also reputed to be a good marksman. Following the landing, Almeida continued to fight Fulgencio Batista's government forces in the guerilla war in the Sierra Maestra mountain range. In 1958, he was promoted to Commander and head of the Santiago Column of the Revolutionary Army. During the revolution, as a black man in a prominent position, he served as a symbol to Afro-Cubans of change from Cuba's discriminatory past.
After the success of the Cuban revolution in January 1959, Almeida commanded large parts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba. In April 1961, during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, as Major Juan Almeida, he was head of the Central Army, with headquarters in Santa Clara, Cuba. Later he was promoted to General, was chosen as a member of the central committee and political bureau, and held a number of other government positions.
In 1998, Almeida was named a "Hero of the Republic of Cuba" by Fidel Castro. Almeida also headed the National Association of Veterans and Combatants of the Revolution. His interests included writing and music, of which several books and recordings have been made, including the popular trilogy Military prison, Exile and Disembarkation. He was also a songwriter and one of his songs, "Dame un traguito" (English:"Give me a Sip") was popular in Cuba for several years.
In 2005, a book entitled Ultimate Sacrifice was published, alleging that Almeida had been picked by the Kennedy administration as the key power figure in a plot to remove Castro. The plot was called AMWORLD or C-Day and was run by Robert Kennedy. It was set to launch on Dec. 1, 1963, but was aborted by John F. Kennedy's assassination a week earlier, which the narrative attributes to a revenge slaying by Mafia figures prosecuted by the Kennedys.
On September 11, 2009, Juan Almeida died of a heart attack, aged 82. On September 13, a memorial ceremony was held in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana, with several other memorials occurring across Cuba. A national day of mourning was also declared, with flags flown at half mast. The memorial service was attended by tens of thousands of his countrymen, who queued across the Plaza to view a large photograph of Almeida. The service was initiated by President Raúl Castro, who placed a pink rose in front of the photograph, but did not make a statement. Fidel Castro, who at the time had not been seen in public since resigning as president in 2008, did not attend the ceremony, but did release a statement praising Almeida's "exemplary conduct during more than half a century of heroic and victorious resistance". Fidel Castro also sent a wreath to the memorial, which was placed alongside one from Raúl Castro. Other senior government and Communist Party members also attended the ceremony.
Internationally, there were several tributes. The President of Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Triet, sent a message to Raúl Castro, in which he expressed his sadness, describing Almeida as a great friend of the Vietnamese people who contributed to the ties of solidarity between the two nations. In Bolivia, the Coco and Inti Peredo Foundation (named after two brothers who died alongside Che Guevara) paid tribute as well. The Secretary of the Colombian Communist Party, Jaime Caicebo, also expressed his condolencess. Additionally, a musical homage was held in Moscow where the collection of Almeida's songs entitled "El Bolero Cubano" (Cuban Ballads) were to be released for the first time in Russian translation.
- "Juan Almeida Bosque, a Comrade of Castro’s, Is Dead at 82". The New York Times. Associated Press. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.[dead link]
- Revolution Commander Juan Almeida Bosque Passes Away on Friday by the Cuban News Agency, September 12, 2009
- "Cuban revolutionary Almeida dies". BBC News. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
- Castro/Ramonet (2007), p. 681
- Guevara, Ernesto (1969). Episodes of the Revolutionary War. New York: International. p. 15.
Someone on his knees said we had better surrender and I heard a voice (later I learned it was Camilo Cienfuegos) shouting, 'No, nobody surrenders here!' - followed by a four-letter word.
- "Cuban vice president Juan Almeida dies". AFP. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
- "Cuba revolution commander Juan Almeida dies at 82". Reuters India. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
- "Cuba mourns key revolution leader". BBC News. September 13, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "Thousands of Cubans pay tribute to Castro's right-hand man Juan Almeida Bosque". Daily Mail. September 14, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
- "Cubans pay homage to deceased vice president". Xinhua. September 14, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
- Sorrow for Almeida´s Decease Continue by the Cuban News Agency
- Juan Almeida, Forever Alive. Homage in Moscow by Marta O. Carreras Rivery, September 16, 2009
- "Cuban revolutionary commander Almeida dies". Brisbane Times. September 13, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- Castro, Fidel, with Ramonet, Ignacio. 2007. My Life (Fidel Castro autobiography) ISBN 1-4165-5328-2
- Fernandez, Jose Ramon. 2001. Playa Giron/Bay of Pigs: Washington's First Military Defeat in the Americas. Pathfinder ISBN 0-87348-925-X ISBN 978-0-87348-925-6
- Franqui, Carlos. 1984. Family portrait with Fidel. ISBN 0-394-72620-0 ISBN 978-0-394-72620-5
- Rodriguez, Juan Carlos. 1999. Bay of Pigs and the CIA. Ocean Press. ISBN 1-875284-98-2
- Thomas, Hugh. 1998. Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80827-7
- Juan Almeida Bosque by The Daily Telegraph
- Cuba Honors a "Commander of the Revolution" by Workers World
- With Juan Almeida, they Broke the Mold by People's Weekly World
- Cuba: "Almeida is More Alive Today than Ever!" by Green Left Weekly
- Almeida Lives Today More Than Ever by Fidel Castro, Monthly Review, September 13, 2009