Juan Almeida Bosque

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Juan Almeida Bosque
Almeida in 1963
Born(1927-02-17)February 17, 1927
DiedSeptember 11, 2009(2009-09-11) (aged 82)
Political partyCommunist Party of Cuba

Juan Almeida Bosque (February 17, 1927 – September 11, 2009) was a Cuban politician and one of the original commanders of the insurgent forces in the Cuban Revolution. After the rebels took power in 1959, he was a prominent figure in the Communist Party of Cuba. At the time of his death, he was a Vice-President of the Cuban Council of State and was its third ranking member. He received several decorations, and national and international awards, including the title of "Hero of the Republic of Cuba" and the Order of Máximo Gómez.[1]

Early life and revolution[edit]

Almeida was born in Havana. He left school at the age of eleven and became a bricklayer.[2] 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 anti-Batista movement. In 1953 he joined Fidel and his brother Raúl Castro in the assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago. He was arrested and imprisoned with the Castro brothers in the Isle of Pines Prison.[3][4] 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.[3] Almeida is often credited[5] with shouting "No one here gives up!" (alternatively "here, nobody surrenders") to Guevara, which would become a slogan of the Cuban revolution, although the words were actually spoken by Camilo Cienfuegos.[6] Almeida was also reputed to be a good marksman.[7] Following the landing, Almeida continued to fight Fulgencio Batista's government forces in the guerilla war in the Sierra Maestra mountain range.[3] In 1958, he was promoted to Commander and head of the Santiago Column of the Revolutionary Army.[4] During the revolution, as a black man in a prominent position, he served as a symbol for Afro-Cubans of the rebellion's break with Cuba's discriminatory past.[7]


After the success of the Cuban revolution in January 1959, Almeida commanded large parts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba. As a major during the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April 1961, he headed of the Central Army with headquarters in Santa Clara, Cuba. Later he was promoted to general, chosen as a member of the central committee and political bureau, and held a number of other government positions.[4]

He was honoured with the title of Commander of the Revolution and at the time of his death was one of just three living holders of that title, the others being Guillermo García and Ramiro Valdés.[3]

In 1998, Fidel Castro named Almeida a "Hero of the Republic of Cuba".[8] Almeida also headed the National Association of Veterans and Combatants of the Revolution. He authored several books, 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.[8]


Almeida died of a heart attack on September 11, 2009.[8] On September 13, a memorial ceremony was held in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana and several others were held across Cuba. A national day of mourning was declared, with flags flown at half mast.[9] Fidel Castro, who had not been seen in public since resigning as president in 2008, sent a wreath that was placed alongside one from Raúl Castro.[10] Other senior government and Communist Party members also attended.[10]

Internationally, there were several tributes. The President of Vietnam, Nguyễn Minh Triết, sent a message describing Almeida as a great friend of the Vietnamese people who contributed to the ties of solidarity between the two nations.[11] The Secretary of the Colombian Communist Party expressed his condolences.[11] In Moscow, a musical homage was staged and a collection of Almeida's songs entitled "El Bolero Cubano" (Cuban Ballads) was scheduled for release for the first time in Russian.[12]

Almeida did not want his body to lie in state.[3] He was given a military funeral at a mausoleum in the mountains near Santiago de Cuba, an area in which he had fought during the revolution.[10][13]

In 2013, a mural relief portrait of Almeida was installed on the façade of the Teatro Heredia in Santiago de Cuba. The sculpture was designed by Enrique Ávila González, creator of the portraits of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos located in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana, and includes the quotation “Aqui no se rinde nadie” (Here no one gives up).

A book published in 2005 alleged that the Kennedy administration had selected Almeida for a key role in a plot run called AMWORLD or C-Day to remove Castro and set to launch on December 1, 1963. It contended the plot was managed by Robert F. Kennedy and aborted by John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.[14][page needed]


  1. ^ Revolution Commander Juan Almeida Bosque Passes Away on Friday[permanent dead link] by the Cuban News Agency, September 12, 2009
  2. ^ "Cuban revolutionary Almeida dies". BBC News. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Juan Almeida Bosque, Laborer Who Rose to Power at Castro's Side, Dies at 82". New York Times. Associated Press. September 12, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Castro/Ramonet (2007), p. 681
  5. ^ "Juan Almeida Bosque". The Telegraph. September 18, 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b "Cuban vice president Juan Almeida dies". AFP. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
  8. ^ a b c "Cuba revolution commander Juan Almeida dies at 82". Reuters India. September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
  9. ^ "Cuba mourns key revolution leader". BBC News. September 13, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c "Cubans pay homage to deceased vice president". Xinhua. September 14, 2009. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Sorrow for Almeida's Decease Continue Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine by the Cuban News Agency
  12. ^ Juan Almeida, Forever Alive. Homage in Moscow[permanent dead link] by Marta O. Carreras Rivery, September 16, 2009
  13. ^ "Cuban revolutionary commander Almeida dies". Brisbane Times. September 13, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  14. ^ Waldron, Lamar (2009). Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK. Basic Books.