Orlando Pantoja, a Cuban hero from Contramaestre

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Orlando Pantoja Tamayo, “Olo”, a hero from Contramaestre, lost his life in Bolivia, on October 8, 1967,  while fighting for justice under the lidership of Ernesto Che Guevara. Born in Maffo on October 2, 1934, since very young, he became member of the Orthodox Party of Cuba, and he took part in many actions against Batista dictatorship, which had taken power through a coup d’etat 1952.

He joined the branch of July-26 Movement, founded by Fidel Castro, after being released from prison because of the attack on the Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953. Pantoja was assigned head of the Movement in the area.

On October 21, 1957 he joins the armed forces commanded by Fidel Castro Ruz in the Sierra Maestra, and shortly he became joined the troops of the 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 he participated 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.

By personal request, on December 19, 1966, he joined the guerrilla in Bolivia under the pseudonym “Antonio”. Thus he begins the last and most glorious stage of his revolutionary life.

On October 8, 1967, a military combat took place in the Quebrada de El Yuro, where Olo Pantoja lost his life. With the unfortunate death, the legacy of Captain Orlando Pantoja Tamayo’s fidelity to justice, freedom and especially to the leader and fellow fighter Ernesto “Ché” Guevara has not ended.

It seems that by a wonderful coincidence, history kept “Che” and “Olo” Pantoja united in eternity: after 30 years of intense search for the corpses of the guerrillas killed or dead in the Quebrada del Yuro and in La Higuera Little School, on July 3, 1997, the remains of the Heroic Guerrilla and Pantoja Tamayo were found in a common grave and identified, along with 5 other guerrilla fighters.

On October 17, 1997, the remains of the guerrillas were placed in the Memorial of the city of Santa Clara. Thus, the remains of that illustrious son and hero rest on Cuban soil. He knew how to march against death for the triumph of life.

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Radio Grito de Baire

Webmaster Jorge Luis Lora Moran Digital Edition Radio Grito de Baire, Contramaestre, Cuba.

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