Juan Almeida: The Musician, the Hero

Escambray

By Gisselle Morales

Before boarding Granma yacht in 1956, Juan Almeida was already thinking about music. At that time he was not a Commander of the Cuban Revolution yet, nor had survived the first combat in Alegria de Pio where he pronounced that famous phrase of his left for posterity.

He was just a young man willing to change the course of events in the island, no matter if he had to exile in Mexico, collect funds or get to the sea in a yacht which was too small for a crew of 82 people.

Besides his unrest for the sea travel, Almeida felt nostalgic about Guadalupe, the girl he had met in Chapultepec and  who, almost unintentionally, was immortalized in a song sang by the rebels in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains and later on known all the world around after the end of the liberation struggle in the country.

In a documentary film by Cuban filmmaker Santiago Alvarez, Juan Almeida confessed that he wrote La Lupe lyrics inspired on a Mexican girl and not on the patron saint of that brother country, as many people supposed.

Given his taste for music since very young, Almeida always dedicated some time to compose amidst his political duties. He wrote over 300 song lyrics among which Vuelve pronto (Come back soon), Esa mujer (That woman), Dame un traguito (Give me a drink) and Déjala que baile sola (Let her dance alone) are some of the most popular ones. He is also the author of a dozen books.

That’s why, the Comander of the Sierra Maestra mountains will be remembered in Cuba not only for his revolutionary trace, but also for his artistic sensitivity and the innate talent with which he decorated all days of his life.

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