A leading figure in the Cuban Revolution, Camilo Cienfuegos was born on Feb. 6, 1932, in Lawton, Cuba to a working-class family, immigrants from Spain prior to the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. His father was a tailor with left-wing political beliefs.
Camilo was a loyal fighter and revolutionary, the inseparable companion of Ernesto "Che" Guevara and one of the most charismatic leaders of the Cuban Revolution.
He is remembered for being one of the main pillars of the armed struggle that overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Called the "Hero of Yaguajay" after winning a key battle during the Cuban Revolution, he was the commander of one of three columns in the Cuban rebel army, which finally led to the ouster of Batista in 1959.
After the triumph of the revolution, Camilo was named Chief of the General Staff of the Rebel Army. Camilo was presumed dead when a small plane he was traveling in disappeared during a night flight from Camaguey to Havana on Oct. 28, 1959.
In Cuba, there are military schools named after the revolutionary leader, where the students are called "Camilitos." The image of Camilo is on the Cuban 20 peso bill and he, along with Che, have monuments with their likenesses overlooking Revolution Plaza. Every year thousands of Cubans pay tribute and march to the banks of the Bayamo River to leave flowers for Camilo Cienfuegos.
The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, said that "men like Camilo Cienfuegos emerged from the village and lived for the people. Our only compensation for the loss of a close associate is to know that the people of Cuba produce men like him. Camilo lives and lives in the village."
Che said that Camilo "was the companion of a hundred battles, the man of trust to Fidel in the difficult moments of the war and the selfless fighter who always made of sacrifice an instrument to temper his character and forge that of the troops ... Camilo was Camilo, a man of the vanguard."