EXPIRED: 09/11/09 – Juan Almeida Bosque, 82, was a bricklayer at age 11 who later composed traditional Cuban music. As a law student at the University of Havana met another attorney wannabe named Fidel Castro and ended up as one of Communist Cuba’s elite.
Almeida took part in the 1953 assault on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba that is seen by historians as the starting point of the Cuban Revolution.
He participated in the Granma guerrilla expedition and fought the rebel war in the Sierra Maestra Mountains against the government of US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
After the communist revolution triumphed in 1959, he was promoted to general of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces and later became a member of the central committee and political bureau of the Cuban Communist Party. He was also the third-ranking member of the Cuban Council of State.
Almeida was named a “Hero of the Cuban Republic” by Fidel Castro in 1998. In retirement he wrote books including the popular trilogy Military Prison, Exile and Disembarkation. He was also a songwriter and one of his songs, “Dame un traguito” (English:”Give me a Sip”) was popular in Cuba for several years.