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News > Cuba

Cuban Revolution Hero Jose 'El Gallego' Fernandez Dies at 95

  • José Ramón Fernández with Raúl Castro

    José Ramón Fernández with Raúl Castro | Photo: Cuba Debate

Published 7 January 2019

Jose Ramon Fernandez Alvarez, who commanded Cuban forces under the leadership of Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs, repelling an exile invasion supported by the United States, died on Sunday (January 6) at 95.

Hero of the Republic of Cuba and retired Brigadier General, Jose Ramon Fernandez Alvarez, passed away in the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 6, at the age of 95.


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Familiarly known as “El Gallego Fernandez,” he was born Nov. 4, 1923, in Santiago de Cuba. From a young age, he participated in the revolutionary struggle against the Batista dictatorship, in conspiratorial movements with different military and political groups. He was imprisoned for almost three years on the Isle of Pines for these activities.

With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, he joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces, participated in the fight against counterrevolutionary bandits, as well as in the direction of the battles in Playa Girón, under the orders of the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

Fernandez held different responsibilities within the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, including director of the Rebel Army Cadet School, the School of Militia Officers of Matanzas, and the Militia Battalion Schools of the province of Havana, and was head of the Combative Training Directorate and FAR deputy minister.

He also served as deputy minister and minister of Education, as a vice president of the Council of Ministers, and as advisor to the President of the Councils of State and Ministers. He presided the Cuban Olympic Committee from 1997 to October 2018, the year in which he was elected as its Honorary Life President.

He was a Founder of the Communist Party of Cuba, a member of its Central Committee since the First Party Congress in 1975, and was an alternate member of the Political Bureau from 1980 to 1991.
He was also a deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power from its constitution in 1976, and member of the Council of State between 1981 and 1993.

Bachelor of Social Sciences and Professor of Merit of the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical University, he was awarded honorary doctorates in Education from the University of Havana; in Military Sciences from the General Máximo Gómez FAR Academy; and in Physical Culture and Sports Sciences from the University of Physical Culture and Sports Sciences; as well as the PhD in Historical Sciences from the University of Oriente.

Fernández received numerous orders, medals and awards. In 2001, he was awarded the honorary title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba.
His final resting place will be the Frank País Second Eastern Front Mausoleum, Holguín.

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