The Grenada Revolution Online

Manuel "Barba Roja" (Red Beard) Piñeiro Losada
[1934-1998]

Manuel Piñeiro

By 1984, Piñeiro's beard was white. Every account seems to make this point, even though he was called 'Barba Roja.' The former 'Red Beard's' companionship was firm within Fidel Castro's inner circle. He was a close friend and advisor to Fidel Castro; one of those who could walk into Castro's office at any time.

Kempe writes in "Divorcing the Dictator" about a view of the world held by Piñeiro that the drug problem is a U.S. problem. If the U.S. drug war causes damage to the United States, so be it. Drug-trafficking raises money for 'The Revolution.' This manner of thinking entails the argument that if you use the wrong means to achieve the right goal, that is not wrong. This belief is not to infer that Cuba was involved in any extensive way in drug-trafficking, although the inference does invite examination for a Cuban studies person.

Manuel Piñeiro Losada, during the time of the Grenada Revolution, was Head of the Americas Department [Departmento de Américas] in charge of sabotage and subversion. He was responsible for all Cuban operations in Grenada, for example, as well as Nicaragua and El Salvador, other countries in Central and South America, as well as the United States. Piñeiro was chief coordinator for all Cuban covert operations in the Americas. Another way of saying this is that by the mid-1970s Piñeiro was in charge of the Americas Division of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee [CC] of the Cuban Communist Party. He advised the Sandinistas in 1979. Information is right sparse concerning Piñeiro's contact with the People's Revolutionary Government [PRG], but commonsense can lead to speculation.

Piñeiro was born in Cuba 14 May 1934. He died in a car crash 12 March 1998. After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, he studied business at Columbia University in New York City where he married an American woman. In the Havana anti-Batista group, which was underground, his apartment, according to investigative journalist and author Tad Szulc, was an arms repository. Recall that the insurgents had attacked the Batista government in 1957 and were pushed to the hills, so to speak. Next we find Piñeiro under Raul Castro's command in the Sierra before he left Cuba for studies in the United States.

Piñeiro's real work was founded in the G-2 Section (security and intelligence). He was Cuban DA chief 1961-1964. He then moved to become Deputy Minister of the Interior in charge of the state security aparatus 1964-1968. According to Szulc, Piñeiro was "Cuba's top political policeman under [Ramiro] Valdés until 1968, when a Soviet-imposed reorganization of the Security Service forced him out--and Castro put him in charge of Latin American affairs."

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