THIS DAY IN CUBAN HISTORY
Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriarán (1932- 1959). Raúl Castro’s predecessor as commander in chief of the armed forces, born in the Jesús del Monte district of Havana, Cienfuegos was an early supporter of Fidel Castro who sailed on the Granma and fought alongside him in the Sierra Maestra. He entered Havana as a major in the victorious rebel army in January 1959 and was appointed its commander. His influence on Castro was slight and his position following the Revolution of 1959 was due largely to his prominence during the last months of the war. Castro, nonetheless, popularized Cienfuegos, along with himself, his brother Raúl, and Ernesto Guevara. After Cienfuegos’ disappearance in a mysterious plane crash over Cuban waters on October 28, he became a martyr of the Revolution, although many suspected that Castro had eliminated him as a popular potential rival.
Jaime Suchlicki is Director of the Cuban Studies Institute, CSI, a non-profit research group in Coral Gables, FL. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro & Beyond, now in its 5th edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to the Rise of the PAN, 2nd edition, and of the recently published Breve Historia de Cuba.