Orlando Pantoja, unforgettable son of Maffo

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Contramaestre, Nov. 19.- Orlando Pantoja Tamayo, Olo, is one of an unforgettable and immortal sons of Maffo. He wrote with blood and his own life the legacy that keeps him alive in his people. He was a member of the Revolutionary Army commanded by Fidel Castro, and of Ernesto Che Guevara’s Guerrilla in Bolivia.

He was born on October 2, 1934 in the town of Maffo, in the former municipality of Jiguaní, Oriente. From an early age, he was a member of the youth section of the Orthodox Party and served as secretary of propaganda for the municipal leadership of Jiguaní.

He joined the 26th of July Movement that operates in Contramaestre after the attack on the Moncada Barracks, where he was head of Action.

On October 21, 1957 he joins the armed forces commanded by Fidel Castro Ruz in the Sierra Maestra, and shortly after he meets with Commander Ernesto Che Guevara. Because of his merits Che confers him the rank of Captain and appoints him to the command of a inexperienced troop that is in charge of advancing to Camaguey and participates in the conquest of Sancti Spiritus and Jatibonico, during the Invasion to the West.

When the Revolution triumphed on January 1, 1959 in Cuba, he was already captain of the Revolutionary Army, he developed an intense activity as part of the leadership of the Army, which earned him the confidence to carry out different duties.

He immediately became executive assistant to the Commander Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, developing an intense activity as an officer of the Cuban Intelligence Direction (G-2). This was the genesis of the future Cuban hero.

On March 5, 1963, Captain Orlando Pantoja Tamayo was appointed head of the Department of Surveillance of Ports and Coasts, to defend the national territory against enemy infiltrations and pirate attacks.

“Olo” continued to be Orlando Pantoja Tamayo’s friendly name, even though he fulfilled high and complex responsibilities during the early years of the Cuban Revolution. The young soldier never gave up his humble background, corresponding with extreme kindness to those who required his services, opinions and advice.

Of her human quality, one of Olo’s sisters expressed:

“Olo was aware of the problems of those around him and offered them help (…) he was the demanding leader capable of sanctioning his subordinates, but also of taking an interest in their concerns and supporting his own family; the loving son who was always caring for our mother and who became the family’ axis, who liked to see gathered in activities that he himself summoned and where he sometimes reproached us, some of the other siblings, why we did not visit our mother more often…”. (Continued)

Olo”, Faith and Glory

Written by Jorge Lora

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