Camilo Cienfuegos, Carlos Franqui. (translated by Paul Sharkey)
Born in Havana on February 6, 1932 into an immigrant working-class family of Spanish anarchists (who left Spain prior to the 1936 Revolution), Camilo Cienfuegos —who firmly believed in the libertarian tenets of anarchism (if not himself an anarchist) — will, forever, be inseparably linked to the idealistic period of the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Wounded and arrested in anti-Batista demonstrations in the mid-1950s, Camilo sought asylum in New York and, later, Mexico where he joined Castro’s ’26 July Movement’ (named after the first anti-Batista attack in 1953) and eventually returned to Cuba in December 1956 on board the ‘Granma’. By April 1958 he had been appointed ‘Comandante’, and on December 30 1958 his column, along with that of Che Guevara, successfully captured the provincial capital of Santa Clara. Next day Fulgencio Batista, the USA’s proxy dictator, fled Cuba. On January 8, 1959, during the triumphal entry of the ‘barbudos’ into Havana after two years of guerrilla warfare, the 27-year-old Cienfuegos, the ‘Third Man’ of the Revolution, was acclaimed by millions of Cubans — becoming, in the process, an exceedingly dangerous libertarian ‘leader’. Ten months later he died when his Cessna 310 mysteriously disappeared into the sea after leaving Camaguey en route to Havana. In this account of Cienfuegos’s life Carlos Franqui, a close friend, details the dramatic events and circumstances that led up to his death, events that were to change Cuba’s destiny — and along with it the hopes and aspirations of the Cuban people.