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The first flower for Camilo

flores CamiloThe Cuban people’s first tribute to Camilo Cienfuegos, pilot Luciano Fariñas and soldier Félix Rodríguez, after their disappearance during took place in the city of Cardenas, November 15, 1959, organized by the Youth Patrol.

At 6:00pm on October 28 that year, a small CESSNA 310 No.53 departed from Camagüey’s airport, heading to Havana, with Camilo Cienfuegos and his two companions aboard. They never reached their destination. The massive country-wide search that ensued was ended on November 12, without discovering the fate of the 27-year-old revolutionary, who after years in the guerilla struggle, lived only 310 days of the triumph.

This 28th of October, Cubans across the entire country will throw flowers into the sea and rivers to honor Camilo, though few know of the tradition’s origins.

Just three days after Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro announced the end of the unsuccessful search, the people of Cardenas marched along the city’s central Céspedes Avenue to the coastline, to express their deepfelt loss of the man Ernest Che Guevara described as absolutely loyal to the people.

The municipal band led the march which included members of the Youth Patrol and veterans of the July 26th Movement. A Navy ship carried numerous floral offerings brought by the people out into the bay, a gesture recalling Camilo’s presumed disappearance into the sea.

María Teresa Clark, president of the Cuban National Union of Historians, emphasized in the magazine Bohemia’s May 19, 2000 issue that it was Celia Sánchez who heard of the event, and proposed that it become a national tradition, moving the date to October 28.


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