14ymedio, Havana, July 25, 2021 — Reserve Major General Rubén Martínez Puente died this Saturday at age 79, according to a brief note released by the Ministry of the Armed Forces in which the cause of death was not specified.
Martínez was born in 1942 in Santiago de Cuba. He was part of the Rebel Army, joining the Revolutionary Armed Forces in 1958 as a soldier in the Frank País Second Eastern Front, under then commander Raúl Castro Ruz. He graduated as a pilot in 1961 and was commander of the Air Force from November 1987 to 1999.
Since 2003, Martínez and fellow pilots brothers Lorenzo Alberto and Francisco Pérez Pérez have been indicted in the United States for the murder, on February 24, 1996, of four members of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, created to help the rafters who escaped from the Cuba.
Martínez was charged with having given the order to fire the missiles, from Mig fighter planes of the Cuban Air Force, to shoot down the planes in which the exiles were traveling. The attack occurred over international waters, although the Cuban government justified the shoot-down by claiming that the planes had entered the island’s airspace.
Among other positions, Martínez was also head of the San Antonio de los Baños Air Brigade, Deputy to the Minister of the FAR (Revolutionary Armecd Forces), and Director of the Military Agricultural Union. He was part of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and also a deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power. He was deployed in the military in Angola and received various official decorations.
“His body will be cremated and his ashes will be displayed for the family tribute on a date that will be reported in due time,” the note states.
With the death of Martínez, three generals have died in Cuba in the last week. Last Tuesday, the official media reported the death of reserve brigadier General Marcelo Verdecia Perdomo, who was Fidel Castro’s bodyguard in the Sierra Maestra.
On Saturday, July 18, the death of another general was announced, the head of the Eastern Cuban Army, Agustín Peña (b. 1963) from undisclosed causes, but knowledgeable sources indicated that Covid-19 was the cause of his death.
Translated by Tomás A.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.