Rafael del Pino (pilot)

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Rafael del Pino (born September 22, 1938 in Pinar del Río and also known as Rafael del Pino Diaz) is a Cuban airplane pilot and political dissident.


Del Pino joined Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement at the age of 17, in December 1955. He was arrested and sent to prison in early 1957. After his release he went to exile in Venezuela, where he was arrested during the uprising against dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.

In early 1958, he returned to Cuba and joined Fidel Castro's guerrillas in the mountains of Sierra Maestra. By the end of the war against Batista's dictatorship, Del Pino was a first lieutenant.

After the Cuban Revolution, he joined the new Cuban Air Force at the beginning of 1959 and began his flying training to become a fighter pilot. In April 1961, he flew against CIA-sponsored armed forces in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Flying a Lockheed T-33 jet, he shot down two Douglas B-26 Invaders and sunk several enemy vessels. During the three-day battle, Rafael del Pino flew 25 combat missions.[1] As a result of the decisive role of Cuban pilots during this historic event, president Fidel Castro declared them "Heroes of Playa Giron".

In October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, General Rafael del Pino was assigned to assist President Fidel Castro in all matters regarding the Air Force.

In 1987, Del Pino's antagonism with Fidel Castro regime reached the maximum level and he decided to break with the regime on May 28 of that year, flying in an Aero Caribbean twin engine Cessna 402 to Key West, Florida, with all of his family.[2]

Del Pino thereafter has become an active promoter of Western democracy for Cuba. For that purpose he founded in 1996 the "Cuban American Military Counsel" (CAMCO) with former opponent Erneido Oliva, second military leader of the 2506 Brigade in the Bay of Pigs invasion.[2]

Life chronology[edit]


  1. ^ Wyden (1979), p.251
  2. ^ a b c d Urribarres, Ruben. "Cuban Aviators, II Part • Rafael Del Pino Diaz". Cuban Aviation. Retrieved July 26, 2016. 


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