Antonio Núñez Jiménez

20-APR-1923 - 13-SEP-1998

Antonio Núñez Jiménez. Public Domain.
Antonio Núñez Jiménez with Che Guevara and his daughter Hilda, 4 years old, in 1960. Public Domain.
Antonio Núñez Jiménez on the memorial march in Havana on 5 May 1960, for the victims of the La Coubre freight ship explosion. Public Domain.

Dr. Antonio Núñez Jiménez is the Nestor of the Cuban speleology. The Cuban revolutionary and academic received his first doctorate from the University of Havana In 1950. Later he received a second doctorate from the Lomonosov Moscow State University of Moscow. He became famous in 1954, after he authored Geography of Cuba, which replaced Levi Marrero’s Geografía de Cuba as a standard educational text in Cuba. Núñez served as Captain in the revolutionary forces of Che Guevara and as Minister of Agrarian Reform. He was anthropologist, historian, geographer, politician, photographer, and the first true speleologist of the country.

His speleological career started quite early, he founded the Sociedad Espeleológica de Cuba (Speleological Society of Cuba) when he was only 17 years old. His work was recognized, Fidel Castro was presented with the title of Honorary Member of the SEC at the celebration of the society's twentieth anniversary. Fidel Castro actually attended the event and made a famous statement: "El futuro de nuestra patria tiene que ser necesariamente un futuro de hombres de ciencia" ("The future of our country must necessarily be a future of men of science"). That's quite impressive, would you think that the U.S. President would attend a function of the NSS or even the UIS? We guess not. The highest political representative on speleological events is typically the mayor of the town.

The official recognition of his work helped the international caving expeditions to Cuba tremendously. By involving Antonio Núñez Jiménez, they had much fewer problems with permits and visas. Actually in many cases it was the only way to get the permits at all. And fortunately he was open to any kind of research and new idea his whole life.


20-APR-1923 born in Alquízar, Havana Province.
15-JAN-1940 founding of the Sociedad Espeleológica de Cuba.
1950 received his first doctorate from the University of Havana.
1954 wrote Geography of Cuba.
1954 led the first expedition to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás.
1958 awarded the Certificate of Merit of the NSS for his exploration and study of Cuban caves.
1960 received his second doctorate from the Lomonosov University of Moscow.
1961 became Minister of Agrarian Reform.
1962-1972 founder and first President of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
1972 participated in an expedition to the North Pole.
1981 founded the Federación Espeleológica de América Latina y el Caribe (Speleological Federation of Latin America and the Caribbean) and became its first president.
1982 participated in an expedition to Antarctica.
1984 the Escuela Nacional de Speleologia founded in the Pinar del Rio province and dedicated to him.
1987-1988 directed the expedition "In a Canoe from the Amazon to the Caribbean".
1995 received the title of "Fourth Discoverer of Cuba".
13-SEP-1998 died 75 years old in Havana.


His literary work is extensive with more than 190 books and pamphlets and 1,665 articles. He made documentaries for film and television, held uncountable interviews, and courses and lectures at universities and scientific centers in numerous countries.