Juan Almeida Bosque was born February 17, 1927 in Havana, Cuba. Leaving school at age 11, he became a bricklayer and subsequently went on to study law at the University of Havana. At the university, he became close friends with Fidel and Raúl Castro, and ultimately became a revolutionary. In 1953, he joined the Castro brothers and others in the failed assault on the Moncada Barracks, ending up in the notoriously brutal Isla de Piñas prison.
He was amnestied in 1955 and subsequently ended up in Mexico, where a revolutionary expedition to liberate Cuba was planned. In 1956, Bosque was on the famed Granma expedition, which started out with 82 soldiers and ended in Cuba with only 12. Bosque was one of these 12 that survived the initial landing. He subsequently became a well-known and respected comandante, or commander of the guerrilla forces that waged a war to liberate the Cuban people from the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista’s regime and the neocolonialism of the United States.
As an Afro-Cuban, Bosque was a shining example of the revolutionary forces’ break with the discriminatory past inherited from the Spanish slave society. Almeida triumphantly rode into Havana with the rest of the popular forces in 1959, victorious.
After the victory of the Cuban Revolution, Bosque continued to play a major role in the military forces of the newly liberated republic. He was promoted to General after playing a major role in the repelling of the CIA-backed counter-revolutionary project at the Bay of Pigs, and continued to hold a leading role in the construction process of a new Cuba. Bosque died in 2009 of a heart attack, outliving such figures as Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara by decades.