Sergio del Valle Jimenez: Aide to Castro

Sergio del Valle Jimnez, doctor, soldier and politician: born 15 April 1927; died Havana 15 November 2007

Sergio del Valle Jimnez 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, Ch 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.

Castro's still-fledgling armed forces repelled the attack, but only after an uneasy JFK reneged on his promise to provide full US air support to destroy the Cuban airfields. The would-be invasion force were wiped out or jailed, JFK was embarrassed in the eyes of the world, Castro's popularity was boosted, he courted the Soviets and for the first time declared a Marxist-Leninist regime, only 90 miles from Miami. The seeds of the following year's missile crisis were sown.

Sergio del Valle was born in 1927. He studied medicine and, in 1957, joined the Castro brothers and Ch Guevara in the Sierra Maestra mountains as they sought to overthrow the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. After Castro's forces marched into Havana in January 1959, del Valle was named Comandante, the highest echelon of the revolutionary leadership, and later promoted to General.

He served as a parliamentary deputy from 1976 and was later elected by parliament as a member of the Council of State. He was appointed Interior Minister in 1968. In 1979, he switched to the Ministry of Public Health, where he served until 1986.

Phil Davison

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence