On the occasion of the commemoration of Angola’s independence, this coming November 11, the Council of State agreed to posthumously award the honorary title of Hero of the Republic to Brigadier Generals Raúl Díaz-Argüelles García and Víctor Schueg Colás.
Likewise honored with the decoration was Division General Carlos Fernández Gondín, first deputy minister of Interior.
Díaz Argüelles was recognized for his service and loyalty to the Revolution, since he joined the March 13th Revolutionary Directorate during the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. He reached the rank of Commander in 1958.
Among his many contributions was undertaking the responsibility he was assigned by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, in August of 1975, when in response to Agostino Neto’s request for military aid, he was asked to establish and direct the Cuban Military Mission in Angola during its first stage, composed of a 429 Cuban officers who participated in the creation of four military instruction centers with capacities of 500 students each, in Benguela, Salazar (now N’Dalatando), Enrique de Carvalho (now Saurimo) and the oil producing region of Cabinda, in which thousands of combatants in the glorious People’s Liberation Armed Forces of Angola (FAPLA) were trained.
This effort allowed the Angolan forces to confront and repel the enemy, composed of regular troops from the Angolan National Liberation Front (FNLA) and mercenaries in the north, as well as the South African army and UNITA in the south, which were advancing toward the country’s center to cut short the independence process.
These training centers also contributed to the defeat in Cabinda of forces from Zaire, which, along with those of the Cabinda Liberation Front (FLEC) and mercenaries, attacked the region from three sides with tanks, artillery and armored vehicles, three days before the proclamation of Angola’s independence. A brilliant victory was achieved in the November 12 battle under the direction of now Army Corps General Ramón Espinosa Martín.
In his position at the instructional center, Díaz Argüelles directed the training of Angolan troops and the first actions in which Cuban instructors fought alongside this sister people’s troops, in defense of the capital city.
Given the difficult situation, the decision was made to send regular FAR troop units to Angola, with current Army Corps General Leopoldo Cintra Frías first designated as head of the mission on November 13, until the arrival of Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, also currently an Army Corps General, who assumed command of the mission on the 26th of that month.
For that reason, Díaz-Argüelles was moved to southern Angola to lead a group of troops, which included some 300 combatants from the Ministry of the Interior’s Special Forces. Among other successful missions, these troops prevented the enemy from crossing the strategic River Queve and won other important victories.
He died in combat, when the armored vehicle in which he was traveling made contact with an anti-tank landmine on December 11, 1975 - exactly one month after Angola had declared its independence.
Víctor Schueg Colás joined the July 26 Movement and later the Frank País Second Front at an early age. After the triumph of the Revolution, he completed internationalist missions in Tanzania and Belgian Congo with Che. He was among the first combatants to arrive in Angola, and was designated chief of the Cuban military mission’s General Staff, and in November of 1975, took on leadership of the northern front.
In December of 1975, in cooperation with Angolan troops, he participated in an offensive to liberate several towns and cities, contributing to the defense of Angola’s border with Zaire. He later went to reinforce the southern front and returned to Cuba in August of 1976. On December 2 of that year, he was promoted to Brigadier General. He died February 9, 1998.
Division General Carlos Fernández Gondín was also recognized for his revolutionary contributions over a lifetime, since joining the Rebel Army. After the triumph of the Revolution, he assumed different responsibilities with the Revolutionary Armed Forces and more recently, the Ministry of the Interior. He was also among the first Cuban combatants to arrive in Angola, and when the military mission was established, he was designated second in command.
He played a decisive role, alongside valiant FAPLA combatants, in the defeat of an offensive against the city of Luanda, in the battle of Quifandongo, when enemy troops came within only 23 kilometers of the capital, so close that as President Agostino Neto proclaimed the country’s independence, the thundering of artillery fire could be heard, basically from the Zairian army.
Fernández likewise completed important combat missions in the northern region, and later assumed the leadership of the eastern front, where he directed the taking of several towns and cities, among them the capital of Lysa province, now known as Luena, which allowed Angola’s eastern border with Zambia to be secured. He concluded his mission April 15, 1976.
General Fernández Gondín has received other honors including the Ernesto Che Guevara Order in the First Degree; the Antonio Maceo; and for Service to the Homeland in the Revolutionary Armed Forces in the third degree.
The three compañeros were also awarded the Máximo Gómez Order in the first degree honorific title, which they will receive in a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of Angola’s independence, this coming November 11.