January 6, 2019 / 7:11 PM / 6 months ago

Key Cuban figure in Bay of Pigs victory dies at 95

HAVANA (Reuters) - 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 at 95.

Fernandez passed away in the early hours of the morning, Cuban state-run media reported, but as is customary in Cuba no information was given on the cause of death. He had reportedly been in poor health the last few years and was hospitalized several months ago.

Fernandez joined the Cuban military in the 1940s and received training in the United States. He joined the opposition to the Batista dictatorship in the 1950s but was caught and imprisoned in 1956. He remained behind bars until Castro’s revolution triumphed in 1959.

Fernandez was soon put in charge of training the country’s civilian militia due to his military background. He was named commandant in 1961 and brigade general of the reserve in 1966.

Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul considered Fernandez a man they could always rely on and he served throughout the decades in various military, government and Communist Party posts, including adviser to the president, minister of education and president of the Olympic Committee.

Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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