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Cuban Bay of Pigs commander Jose Ramon Fernandez dies at 95

Jose Ramon Fernandez (Jorgegonzar/WikiCommons)
January 09, 2019

Jose Ramon Fernandez, a founding force in Cuba’s Communist party and who directed the Cuban army’s victory at the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, died on Jan. 6, at the age of 95.

Fernandez held many titles during his lifetime, but his primary role and one that he will be best remembered for was being a leader for the people in Cuba, the Associated Press reported.

From 1976 and until he died, Fernandez was the deputy to the National Assembly.

Fernandez contributed greatly and played a key role in laying the groundwork for Communist Cuba’s new army.

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In 1997, Fernandez became president of the Cuban Olympic Committee and served until his death, according to Team USA.

Fernandez was born on Nov. 4, 1923, in Santiago, Cuba, to Spanish parents.

Fernandez attained a degree in social science from Cuba’s School of Cadets in 1947 and relocated to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to study artillery.

After, he joined the military, joining the “Movement of the Pure” in the 1950s, whose primary purpose was concentrating on “government corruption under the rule of dictator Fulgencio Batista,” according to The New York Times.

Fernandez served three years in prison in 1956, on the Isle of Pines, for his role in the movement, and wasn’t released until the revolt prevailed.

On Jan. 1, 1959, Batista fled to the Dominican Republic following the collapse of his leadership by Fidel Castro’s rebel forces, later going into exile, according to The Guardian.

On Jan. 12, 1959, Castro reached out to Fernandez for a meeting of officials that had been imprisoned under Batista’s rule.

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During the meeting, Castro offered Fernandez a job running a new school for cadets, which he initially declined because he was making more money at his job on a sugar plantation.

Fernandez recanted that at that time Castro said, “You are right. I’ll go write a book about the Sierra Maestra, you go to the sugar plant, and the revolution can go to hell,” the AP reported.

Fernandez added, “Fidel could be very persuasive, sometimes very rock-like. I thought about it for five seconds, and two hours later I was at the school for cadets.”

In 1961, Castro again called on Fernandez and his 1,900 troops from the cadet school after 1,500 enemy forces invaded the Bay of Pigs near Cuba’s southern coast with the intention of ousting Castro.

After three days of battle directed by Fernandez, Cuba declared a final victory.