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    Camilo Cienfuegos, the keys to his closeness

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    Camilo Cienfuegos, las claves de su cercanía

    The 90th anniversary of Commander Camilo Cienfuegos (Havana, February 6, 1932) arrives in 2022, when evoking him once again encourages his compatriots with the springs of a closeness that neither death nor time have managed to blur.

    Moreover, more so at a time when his stature as a warrior shines and the example of the Lord of the Vanguard inspires the revolutionary convictions of so many young people today. At 90, the Hero of Yaguajay accompanies, simple and revived, the nationals who today defend sovereignty, condemn the blockade and work for the development of the country.

    Nevertheless, everyone knows that the smiling young man in the wide-brimmed hat was more than just a first soldier in the Rebel Army. Since he was a child and adolescent he showed his attachment to the most genuine roots of the idiosyncrasy of his people and his loving and patriotic heart was also a well of Cuban identity. That is one of the keys to his constant presence among his fellow citizens.

    One example among thousands attests: Who does not remember him dressed as a baseball player, when he participated in a pleasant game of baseball with his fellow combatants, including the leader of the Revolution himself? In addition, that joke with which he announced that he belonged to the same team as the Commander in Chief, because he would never go against him, not even in the national game.

    His relatives at that time kept multiple anecdotes that remembered him as a reveler and mischievous person as a child, although he behaved like a lion in the combats of the troops he commanded in the Rebel Army against the soldiers of the tyranny.

    There are those who recalled that Che, in a much more serious mood, only tolerated and consented to the jokes that Camilo played on him, whenever he could, between combats or military operations. Like the feat of taking part of the small portions of condensed milk that the Argentine consumed more slowly, since it was a real luxury to get a can of the product, destined to kill hunger and recover energy.

    Another trait of his personality, dear to Cubans, was his solidarity, which he put into practice from childhood in defense of the shyest little friends who suffered abuse at the hands of big men. His chivalrous conduct with girls is also remembered.

    They may seem trifles, but... What compatriot does not like to remember Camilo Cienfuegos not only as the outstanding strategist who went along with Che in the rebel offensive from East to West?

    Many also love to feel it so plain, so Creole and as good people as oneself. It is true that his guerrilla career and performance were decisive. It was a very influential stage, as it grew much more from the second half of 1958 and provided a notable impetus for the achievement of the revolutionary triumph of January 1, 1959. Who knows if Camilo's perennial joy was a driving force behind his leadership.

    Another quality of the Creole or Cuban personality was his passion and his impetus in the actions of his life. Since he was a teenager, he participated in protests against the cost of living and other excesses of the Batista tyranny.

    He then traveled to the United States and was deported from that country. He returns to Havana and joins the student revolutionary movement. Being booked by the repressive organs of the dictator, he opts again for exile.

    Her tenacity, another trait of the national spirit, was put to the test again and she succeeded when she decides to travel to Mexico to try to meet the young lawyer Fidel Castro there. He had had confidential news that he would prepare an expedition to Cuba, for libertarian purposes. Moreover, of course, he wanted to participate.

    A digression: Camilo Cienfuegos, a humble patriot, had someone to go out with. He was the son of two poor Spanish emigrants, living in the Lawton neighborhood of the capital, who, despite not having been born in this land, instilled in their children decorum, patriotism and many traits of their own honesty and inclined the child towards the love of José Martí, a hero they admired.

    Upon being accepted among the expeditionaries, he left the sister nation on the Granma yacht on November 25, 1956 from the Port of Tuxpan along with 81 other future combatants willing to win or die for the independence of the country.

    The hazardous landing took place on December 2 in the area of ​​Las Coloradas. Along with Alegría de Pío's harsh baptism of fire, these events led him to make the decision to be faithful to the cause until the end. He obtained the rank of Commander of the Rebel Army in April 1958.

    He shone in organizational tactics, offense and strategy. Later, as head of the Columna dos Antonio Maceo, he carried out successful missions in the Cauto plains, outside the territory of the Sierra Maestra chain.

    At the time of deploying the final offensive, on August 18, 1958, the Commander in Chief ordered the execution of the invasion from East to West, as the mambisa hosts did in the last war of independence.

    Camilo fought at the head of his Column two Antonio Maceo, while Che Guevara headed Column eight Ciro Redondo. From October to December 1958, he led battles in remote and hitherto unknown areas such as Seibabo, Venegas, Zulueta —on two occasions—, General Carrillo, Jarahueca, Iguará, Meneses, Mayajigua and Yaguajay.

    The site of Yaguajay culminated after nine days of intense fire with the rebel victory. Victory that coincided with the taking of the city of Santa Clara by Che's troops and with the escape of the tyrant, on December 31 of that year.

    Sensing his end, the dictator fled, not without trying new tricks that sought to abort the triumph of the Revolution. Camilo received the order to march quickly towards Havana. There he took the General Staff of the enemy army, the Columbia Barracks.

    Nothing stopped the Freedom Caravan, which began in Santiago de Cuba and arrived in the capital on January 8, led by Fidel. The Hero of Yaguajay was one of those waiting for him, as well as Che and Almeida.

    During his speech at night, the leader of the Revolution demonstrated the trust placed in the young Commander with beautiful and simple words, forever engraved in the minds of Cubans.

    Camilo tragically died on October 28, 1959, a few months after the triumph, when he was returning in a small plane after completing an important mission that aborted an act of sedition in Camagüey.

    The physical departure of that great Cuban, in the prime of life, meant a hard blow that still hurts. However, seeing so many military students in present-day Cuba revives him forever.