Rolando Cubela, the Cuban commander who conspired to kill Fidel Castro, dies in Miami

Rolando Cubela, the Cuban commander who conspired to kill Fidel Castro, dies in Miami

The commander, former political prisoner and doctor Rolando Cubela died at the age of 90 on Tuesday morning at the Miami hospital where he had been admitted for several weeks, according to family sources. A member of the Rebel Army, the guerrilla leader was part of a conspiracy in the 1960s to kill Fidel Castro.

Born in 1932 in the city of Cienfuegos, Cubela studied medicine and was a leader of the University Student Federation (FEU). After Fulgencio Batista’s military coup on March 10, 1952, he joined the Revolutionary Directory, a group founded by José Antonio Echeverría and Fructuoso Rodríguez.

Cubela was part of the clandestine cell that on October 27, 1956 assassinated Colonel Antonio Blanco Rico, head of the Military Intelligence Service, in Havana. After that action, he went into exile in Miami, where he was when his colleagues from the Directory stormed the Presidential Palace on March 13, 1957, and failed in the attempt to kill Batista.

Upon his return to Cuba, he established himself with other members of the Revolutionary Directorate in the guerrilla struggle in the Escambray mountains, where in 1958 he signed the El Pedrero Pact with Ernesto Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, an alliance with the July 26 Movement that allowed the capture of the city of Santa Clara, in which Cubela was wounded.

After Fidel Castro came to power, he was promoted to the rank of commander of the Armed Forces and in that same 1959 he was elected president of the FEU against Pedro Luis Boitel

After Fidel Castro came to power, he was promoted to the rank of commander of the Armed Forces and in that same 1959 he was elected president of the FEU against the other candidate, Pedro Luis Boitel, who in 1972 died on a hunger strike in the political prison. From the first years, Cubela began to have deep differences with the communist direction of the revolutionary process.

In November 1963, a CIA agent met Cubela in Paris, who was then serving as military attaché at the Cuban embassy in Madrid. There they gave him a pen with poison so that he could prick Castro when he was close to him. Although Cubela never used the device, as he preferred to use a rifle with a telescopic sight and a silencer so as not to be so close to the target.

The delivery of the rifle was delayed and the Cuban intelligence services ended up surrounding Cubela, who was arrested in February 1966 and sentenced to death, although, due to direct intervention by Castro, it was commuted to a sentence of 25 years, of which he turned 12. In 1979 he went into exile in Madrid, where he worked as a doctor, and in 1988 he obtained Spanish nationality.

His profile in Madrid was very discreet due to the danger of being assassinated by Castro. In 2007 he participated in two public events organized by the Democracy Now Platform, one of them in front of the Cuban Embassy in Madrid. Unlike other exiled commanders, such as Huber Matos and Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, Cubela did not found an anti-Castro organization during his time away from the island.

Once retired from his work as a doctor, he settled in Miami, where he also kept a low profile. The man who could have killed Fidel Castro outlived him by at least six years.

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