A soldier of the revolution

May 22, 2023

Tomás Diez Acosta, author of October 1962: The ‘Missile’ Crisis as Seen from Cuba, published in English by Pathfinder Press, died in Havana April 17 at the age of 76. Diez wrote over a dozen books about U.S.-Cuba relations; but more than a historian he was a soldier of the revolution. He joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces in 1961, and a year later, then 16, participated in the mobilizations of October as the political officer of his military unit in western Cuba. He retired from active military service in 1998 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Diez was a leader of the Committee for Defense of the Revolution in his working-class neighborhood in western Havana. He helped organize anniversary celebrations and community fiestas, and he proudly showed friends the basketball court and playground that he and others had cleaned up and made functional.

Diez spoke frequently at national and international conferences on the October Crisis, most recently at a conference in Havana only six months ago. He loved teaching young people about how the Cuban people had responded to the threats of U.S. invasion in 1962. He often spoke in lecture halls and TV studios, but he much preferred teaching in the open air at the actual missile sites. I remember a slog through the mud with him on a 2-mile trek to a remote missile site. Tomás kept up a soldierly pace, and the students, a half-century younger than him, sometimes struggled to keep up.

Matilde Zimmermann,
New York, New York