Born in Lawton, Havana, Camilo studied at the San Francisco de Paula elementary public school and San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts, which he had to leave due to economic problems.
In 1948, he participated in protests against the pro-U.S. Presidents. In 1952, he joined the movements fighting the Batista dictatorship, so he was forced to exile in the U.S at a very young age.
In exile, Cienfuegos participated in various revolutionary demonstrations and wrote a critical article against the Batista dictatorship entitled "Moral Identification”. For this activity, he was deported in 1955 to Cuba, where he again joined the fight against Batista.
After being wounded in a protest demonstration, Camilo was imprisoned and tortured, so he had to go back into exile in New York. Upon learning of the existence of the July 26 movement, which was led by Fidel Castro, he decided to travel to Mexico to join it.
Cienfuegos participated in the expedition of the Granma yacht, which arrived in Cuba on Dec. 2, 1956, to start a guerrilla war against Batista. Once in Cuba, he joined the “Jose Marti” Column and excelled in combative actions, like the attack on La Plata barracks and the Plains of Hell fight.
#Cuba expresses deep sorrow, solidarity and willingness to cooperate with the people and government of Türkiye after the earthquake this Monday which caused the loss of human lives and material damages. We convey our condolences to relatives and friends of the victims. pic.twitter.com/2H3zDb965m
In 1957, Camilo was promoted to lieutenant. In this position, he led a platoon in the Cauto River area. A year later, he became Commander and Chief of the “Antonio Maceo” Column, with which he led actions in Bayamo, Manzanillo, and Las Tunas, as well as a successful campaign to bring the war to Western Cuba.
After the triumph of the Revolution, Cienfuegos became Chief of the Revolutionary Army. He took the Columbia Camp, which was Batista’s Army headquarters, on January 1959 to prevent other pro-U.S. politicians from taking power.
Dear by the Cuban people for his humility and simplicity, Cienfuegos also contributed to the political education of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. He stressed the importance of boosting revolutionary unity and approving agrarian reforms.
On Oct. 28, 1959, Cienfuegos disappeared while returning from Camaguey to Havana. Despite intense searches, his remains and those of the plane on which he was traveling were never found.
“Camilo was the companion of a hundred battles, Fidel’s trusted man in the difficult moments of the war, and the fighter who tempered his character and forged the troops. Camilo was a complete guerrilla fighter, our ‘Lord of the Vanguard,” Ernesto “Che” Guevara said about him.
"Camilo was a humble person, a man of his people. What he needed was the opportunity to demonstrate his magnificent and extraordinary virtues. Among Cubans, there may be one or many Camilos! And so, should the occasion arise to defend the homeland again, many heroes like him will emerge,” Fidel once stated.
#OnThisDay | On December 22, 1961, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz proclaimed Cuba as the first free territory in Latin America, thus putting an end to one of the great problems of Cuban society. pic.twitter.com/Vk7GPoS5v7