Camilo Cienfuegos was born in Havana on February 6, 1932, son of Ramón Cienfuegos Flores and Emilia Gorriarán Zaballa, Spanish anarchists and republicans, from Pravia (Asturias) and Castro Urdiales (Cantabria) respectively.
From a very young age, at the age of 16, he had already taken part in demonstrations against the abuses suffered by the Cuban people . For this reason he was wounded once and another prisoner.
Camilo joined the forces under Fidel’s command to come to Cuba and continue the armed struggle. He came on the Granma Yacht with 81 compatriots. In a short time under the orders of Ernesto Che Guevara, he became a great guerrilla.
On March 31, 1958 Camilo Cienfuegos is designated to take the struggle to the plain, by strategic agreement of the Rebel Army, to extend the scenario of the war towards the area of Bayamo, Las Tunas and Manzanillo. Column N°2 “Antonio Maceo” is created, with a total of 29 men commanded by Camilo Cienfuegos, the Señor de la Vanguardia (“Lord of the Vanguard”), as he was known from then on.
On April 15 he is promoted by Fidel Castro to the rank of Commander, given the success of his brief campaign, in which he harassed the enemy communications, ventured into the city of Bayamo and confronted the army in the combat of La Estrella.
Camilo and the invasion to the West
On August 21, 1958, Camilo, in fulfillment of Fidel Castro’s order, initiates the invasion to the west at the front of Column N°2 “Antonio Maceo” from the place called El Salto in La Sierra Maestra.
His courage, astuteness and total devotion to the cause he defended led him to triumph in each combat, in each battle as he moved westward. The bloody Battle of Yaguajay stood out, where he defeated the enemy after 11 days of fire, with injured and dead on both sides. Hence the second name: The Hero of Yaguajay.
Camilo and the Caravan of Freedom
On January 2, Camilo takes over the Columbia Military Camp. After the triumph of the Rebel Army over Batista’s dictatorship the day before, Camilo waits for Fidel Castro and others from the east of the country, in the vicinity of the capital and accompanies the Caravan of Freedom as it enters Havana on January 8, 1959.
On January 3, Camilo assumes the leadership of the Cuban Armed Forces in Havana. And the 20th Camilo is appointed Chief of Staff of the Army. He also officially assumes command of the Columbia Military Camp.
Because of his charisma, his way of treating individuals, and his way of relating to people, a third way of naming him appeared: Man of the people.
Camilo is appointed by Fidel Castro to neutralize a conspiracy in Camagüey, and arrest its chief Huber Matos. Upon his return to Havana in his serna plane, he mysteriously disappeared on October 28, 1959, leaving no human or physical traces, either on land or in the waters to the north of Cuba.
The Cuban government instituted the Camilo-Che Jornada, on October 28, all over Cuba, people throw flowers into the sea, rivers or dams to remember the unforgettable Hero of Yaguajay.