The Cuban Revolution is an historical event of which most people know the story. It took place between July 1953, when a group of rebels attacked the military base Moncada in Santiago de Cuba, and January 1959, when Castro entered the capital of Cuba, Havana. When in 1955 Fidel Castro was released from prison because of the attack to the military base, he was exiled in Mexico where he met Ernesto “Che” Guevara. In November of the following year, 82 rebels sailed from Mexico to Cuba, where they were attacked as soon as they landed. Among the 82 rebels were Castro and Guevara and another man who was not Cuban, was not even American actually, and apparently had nothing to do with Castro, Guevara and their Revolution.

Gino Donè Paro was born in 1924 in the tiny village of Rovarè which belongs to the municipality of San Biagio di Callalta, Treviso and is the only European who joined the Revolution. Paro joined the Italian Partisans during the Second World War, but when the war ended, Paro felt the need to leave his country because, as he himself told, when former Partisans revealed the nature of their engagement in the war, they were accused of being criminals. So in 1948, with a few money in his pocket, he went to France for a period, then moved to Belgium and finally to Germany where he did many jobs in different places. Yet, he constantly felt that Europe was not the place for him, therefore one night in Hamburg, he found a way to leave and cross the ocean. On board of the ship Sibilla, Gino hid himself until hunger and thirst became unbearable so that the third day on board he came out and let himself be identified. He was a clandestine on his way to Cuba.

Once arrived and settled, he changed his name adding the surname of his mother – Donè – to the one of his father and, being attracted by nature to the less privileged, silently followed the unfolding events of Batista’s golpe and the students’ protests. When the 26th of July Movement was created, Fidel Castro heard that in Trinidad de Cuba lived an Italian man who fought as a Partisan in the Second World War and wanted to meet him in order to talk about his plan to free Cuba from the dictatorship. After their meeting, thanks to his Italian passport Gino worked as the rebels’ messenger between Cuba and Mexico, where Castro was exiled. This was the beginning of Gino’s long friendship with Castro and Guevara and of his involvement in the Cuban Revolution. Yet, in the days of the revolution, Paro became wanted by the Cuban police and had to leave for the United States. After that it was almost impossible for him to go back to Cuba, and Gino only participated to the 39th anniversary of the Granma landing in 1995 in Havana. After 1995 he went back to Cuba many other times, the last one for the 50th anniversary of the landing in 2005.

Gino Donè Paro died in his homeland, in San Donà di Piave, near Venice, the 22th of March 2008, the fearless “obedient revolutionary”, as he defined himself, who in Havana met Ernest Hemingway and with whom had the possibility to talk about the region where he came from before joining a revolution thousands of miles away.

If you’re interested in Gino Donè Paro’s full story, you can check out this documentary on YouTube: Gino Donè: un italiano per Fidel
Unfortunately, most of the articles and videos about him are extremely difficult to find in English or Spanish translations or subtitles.