Andrés Nazario Sargén

Diehard opponent of Fidel Castro

Andrés Nazario was one of the founders of Alpha 66, a Miami-based paramilitary organisation dedicated to the overthrow of President Fidel Castro of Cuba, which recruited many of its members from among veterans of the disastrous CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Despite innumerable setbacks, Nazario never gave up hope of removing Castro, even when many of his erstwhile allies deserted him and the world moved on.

Andrés Nazario Sargén, politician: born Zaza del Medio, Cuba 1916; married (one son, one daughter); died Miami, Florida 6 October 2004.

Andrés Nazario was one of the founders of Alpha 66, a Miami-based paramilitary organisation dedicated to the overthrow of President Fidel Castro of Cuba, which recruited many of its members from among veterans of the disastrous CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Despite innumerable setbacks, Nazario never gave up hope of removing Castro, even when many of his erstwhile allies deserted him and the world moved on.

Nazario, who was born in 1916, was active in the violent, chaotic party politics of pre- revolutionary Cuba, and took up arms against the dictator Fulgencio Batista after he seized power in 1952. As a member of Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo's Second Front, Nazario fought in the Escambray mountains, in central Cuba, while Fidel Castro's 26th July Movement operated in the Sierra Maestra, further to the east.

After Castro's victorious entry into Havana on New Year's Day 1959, Gutiérrez Menoyo's band gave grudging support to the new government, but they soon parted company with Castro as his politics moved steadily to the left. In 1961 Gutiérrez Menoyo and Nazario joined the growing exodus of middle-class Cubans, known derisively to the government as gusanos (worms), who left the island to settle in south Florida.

In Miami, the two men joined up with like-minded fellow exiles to form Alpha 66, which took its name from the original number of members. The group was one of several mutually antagonistic fringe organisations that advocated the violent overthrow of the Castro government, and organised both sabotage operations inside Cuba and commando raids on the island's north coast.

Gutiérrez Menoyo was captured during one of these operations in 1964, and spent the next 22 years in one of Castro's prisons. It was during this time that Nazario emerged as the leader of Alpha 66. He claimed that more than 100 of its members were killed in action over the years, or were executed after being captured. But they were never more than a minor nuisance to Castro, who quickly consolidated his grip on power.

Nazario's reputation took a severe knock in 1992, when it emerged that one of his most trusted lieutenants in Alpha 66, Francisco Avila, had been a triple agent for the past 12 years, feeding information on his boss's activities to both Havana and Washington. A number of senior members of Alpha 66 resigned in the ensuing row, but Nazario hung on.

In recent years, the complexion of the huge Cuban community in Miami has changed markedly, with many younger Cuban-Americans favouring some sort of accommodation with Castro's government, and calling for an easing of the US embargo on trade with the island. They came to regard diehards such as Nazario, who were still training in the Everglades for the day when they would be called upon to join a mass uprising in Cuba, as old-fashioned and increasingly irrelevant.

Among those who abandoned Nazario was his old commander in the Escambray, Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, who now advocates dialogue with the Castro government as the only way forward for Cuba.

Colin Harding

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy