From the website of Radio Havana Cuba:

HAVANA – Cubans are mourning the death of Commander of the Revolution, Juan Almeida Bosque. He is a legendary character in the history of the Cuban Revolution, who always combined literature with music and gave us the possibility to know his sensibility to the world and life.

The work of Commander of the Revolution Juan Almeida Bosque stands at the top of Cuban popular music. His pieces Dame un traguito (Give me a drink), Déjala que baile sola (Let her dance alone); Este son (This son) and Homenaje (Homage) quickly became hits among the lovers of Son and dancers.

“La Lupe” stands out in Juan Almeida’s compositions as one of the most popular and well-known songs he ever wrote, where he reflected deep-rooted love for a woman and his Homeland. His repertoire encompassed over 500 songs in different genres.

Others of Juan Almeida’s better known songs are: “Este camino largo” (This long road), “Mejor concluir” (We’d better part), “Vuelve pronto” (Come back soon) and “Mejor diciembre (December is better).” These are pieces of thorough writing and fine expressive and rythmatic shades.

We should not omit his record “Elegy”, where he pays tribute to the Homeland and its founding fathers. The instrumentals include pieces dedicated to Jose Marti and Major Generals Antonio Maceo and Ignacio Agramonte. Evocation was dedicated to the Revolutionary Armed Forces, as well as Homeland’s Victory. These pieces had a beautiful sound and high patriotic content.

As for Juan Almeida’s literary work, he wrote several texts with the testimony of one of the main characters in unforgettable moments of Cuban history. There are titles like Contra el Agua y el viento (Against water and wind), winner of Casa de las Americas Award in 1985; La única ciudadana (The only citizen); El general en Jefe Máximo Gómez (General in Chief Maximo Gomez); Presidio (Prison); Exilio (Exile); Desembarco (Landing); La Sierra (The Mountains); Por las faldas del Turquino (Trekking Turquino hillsides); ¡Atención! (Attention) ¡Recuento! (Summary); La Sierra Maestra y más allá (Sierra Maestra and yonder) and La aurora de los héroes (The Heroes’ Dawn). In addition, more than 50 of his poems were published at “Bohemia” magazine.

Commander Almeida was born in Havana City, on February 17 1927. He joined the revolutionary struggle March 10 1952, in Havana University, where he met Fidel Castro Ruz. Along side him, he participated in the Assault to Moncada Garrison on July 26 1953. He was subsequently apprehended and condemned to 10 years imprisonment in the Penitentiary of the former Island of Pines.

After he was pardoned, he traveled to Mexico, where he joined the expedition on the Granma Yacht, which landed in Las Coloradas, to the southeast of the former Oriente province on December 2 1956.

He fought in several battles for the Rebel Army at Sierra Maestra and was promoted to the rank of Commander of the “Santiago de Cuba” Column on February 27 1958. In March 1958, following Fidel’s orders, he organized the third front of operations in that mountain range, which would be eventually called “Mario Muñoz Monroy” Third Eastern Front. Its main mission was keeping the pressure on Santiago de Cuba, the seat of the second most important garrison of Fulgencio Batista’s tyranny.

After January 1 1959, he served in different posts for the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the Communist Party and the State.

In the First Congress of Cuban Communist Party, Juan Almeida Bosque was elected member of the Central Committee and the Politburo.

He served as member of the National Assembly of People’s Power (Parliament) and Vice-president of the Council of State.

On February 27 1998, he was conferred the honorary title of “Hero of the Republic of Cuba” and the “Maximo Gomez” Award in its First Degree. Many other medals and decorations were bestowed on him.

As poet Roberto Fernandez Retamar wrote in the foreword of one of his works: “Happy is the revolution whose heroes have music and words in their souls to preserve battles, endeavors and dreams.”

Translated by Pedro A. Fanego