Sergie del Valle Jimenez

The Independent (London, England), December 13, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Sergie del Valle Jimenez


Aide to Castro

Sergio del Valle Jimenez was Fidel Castro's trusted military aide during the tense 1962 Soviet missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. At the time, he was Chief of Staff of the Cuban armed forces, making him the island's military number three, after Fidel, the armed forces' Commander-in-Chief, and his younger brother Ral, the Defence Minister.

Up until his death, del Valle continued to write articles for the Cuban state media on the missile crisis, revealing aspects of a story known largely to the world only from the US perspective. He never revealed to what extent he influenced the Cuban leader, however. It was Ral Castro who was seen as the driving force behind the deployment of Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuban soil and the most reluctant to see them dismantled.

Fidel Castro had certainly taken del Valle's advice on earlier occasions. In a rare admission of fault, the Cuban leader said that, had he followed the advice of his Chief of Staff during the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack, Che Guevara and other units would not have lost so many men.

At dawn on 15 April 1961, del Valle and Fidel Castro stood together in their command post on the southern Almendares peninsula, firing their Soviet-made rifles in symbolic defiance as B26 aircraft bombed and strafed Cuban airfields. The planes were painted with the FAR insignia of the Cuban Revolutionary Air Force but Castro and del Valle knew they were being flown by anti-Castro Cuban exiles, the first wave of a would-be invasion.

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