In the first years of his adolescence, the characteristics that would later define him as a great leader of the labor movement were awakened in Jesús Menéndez. He was thirteen years old when he began cutting cane in the colonies of the central Nazábal. It was a hard time when there was a surplus of labor. In order to keep his job he had to be a good cutter, and at that time he had the selfless help of José Coeglo, a long machetero who took him as a couple.
During the so-called "Tiempo Muerto" misery ran through the sugarcane colonies and hundreds of thousands of workers were looking for their livelihood where they could, Jesus found work in the tobacco choices of Quintas, Encrucijada, Guayos, and Cabaiguán.
At this stage of his life he learned to know capitalist exploitation, wages of misery, exhausting tasks and the appalling hygiene conditions in which he lived. From 1928, when his brother Pablo managed to use him as a third-hand pulga in Central Constancia, today Abel Santamaría) is beginning to train as a union leader. In 1931 he joined the Communist Party of Cuba.
In 1932 he began to organize Trade Unions in the power plants and the fight for the increase of wages, the eight-hour day and other demands of the working class began. He was fired, but his union activity did not stop, on the contrary, he became more intense, despite the time he had to devote to looking for his life. His hands as a serious and hardworking laborer worked the land, in the tobacco picking workshops and at the same time he constantly strengthened his trade union work.
His union activity led him to fight against the regime of Machado. Participate in the hunger marches, walk the streets melted with the working masses. For these activities he was imprisoned several times.
Following the orientations of the Party, Jesus Menéndez is given the task of integrating all the sugar workers of the country into a single working entity. The First National Sugar Congress held on October 21, 1939, at the premises of the Camagüey Railway Brotherhood, actively participated in the Organization, with the assistance of 77 local unions represented by 113 sugar delegates from all over the country. From that Congress emerged the National Sugar Workers Federation (F.N.O.A), historical predecessor of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (F.N.T.A), being elected in said Congress Vice-Secretary General.
From that moment the activity of Jesús Menéndez becomes indefatigable, develops emulative plans among the unions and also strengthens relations with the worker groups of Puerto Rico, Haiti. Santo Domingo and Lousiana.
One of the most important aspects of Jesús Menéndez's communist formation was the work methods, aimed at achieving maximum cohesion and unity among the masses, and also his constant support for union cadres. His enthusiasm, courage and honesty were his main currency in the political orientation of his colleagues.
Jesús Menéndez won countless battles for the working class, among them we have the following creation of the sugarcane retreat, the participation of Cuban technicians and workers in the negotiations of the harvest, the increase of wages to the railroad workers maritime; the Board of Sanitation of bateyes, centrals and colonies, the reduction of weight to sugar bags, the struggle for education and the overcoming of workers, the application of the Law of Maternity to Peasant Women and many others.
One of Jesús Menéndez's conquests was the famous "Clause of Guarantee" that by his brilliant initiative made possible the Sugar Differential. This Sugar Differential brought to the workers and the country a large income, and was included in the sugar agreement with the United States in the years 1946 and 1947.
In 1947 the financial horizon of Cuba is blackened. The fall of the Sugar Differential means a reduction of eight percent of wages, and therefore, hunger for workers.
At that moment, in which Jesus launches himself into the struggle in the cities, in the countryside, in the workshops. The fight is difficult but the decision to win is unbreakable.
Through strikes the Sugar Differential is won in several power stations, and this triumph opens a breach to the bourgeois economy. The growing strength of the proletarian organization led by Menéndez wins the hatred of the exploiters, who plan the assassination of the union leader.
The chosen killer is a dark army officer, who had a file stained with murders, robberies and pillage. His name Joaquín Casillas Lompuy. The criminal action was backed by the then Chief of the Army, General Genovevo Perez Dámara known as the Titan of Cebo.
A week before the murder. Jesús Menéndez toured the sugarcane areas and in them raised the spirit of struggle of the workers in defense of the Sugar Differential and against the reduction of wages.
The last speech broadcast throughout the nation was in Santiago de Cuba. His words reflected the workers' clamor, the struggle of the humble and represented a brave argument against the regime.
The next day he was killed. The morning of January 22, 1948 surprises Jesús Menéndez at the Central Mabay (now Archimedes Colina), where he obtains victory for the working class in relation to wages and working conditions. From Bayazo Jesus goes to Yara on the train from Manzanillo.
In the Central Estrada Palma (today Bartolomé Mazo) gives a rally for the workers to remain firm in their strike, but in the Terminal de Yara, when they enter enter to Manzanillo, they have their first encounter with the assassin Casillas who already has the mission to assassinate the sugar leader.
Already inside the train, a dialogue was established between amabos and Casillas tries to pretend a feigned cordiality. Suddenly the officer changes the tone of the talk and intends to stop Menéndez. The sugar leader claimed his status as Representative to the House and refused to stop the uniformed beast threatened him, and when the train arrived in Manzanillo, Jesus got off the train and began to walk slowly, while reiterating to the henchman his decision not to accompany him It was at that moment that the criminal Casillas drew his regulation gun and shot the back of the sugar leader who fell to earth without life.
His body was laid in the premises of the Fraternity of the Port, in Manzanillo and throughout his tour of the island and his funeral in Havana, the town showed him his extraordinary affection and pain. Jesús Menéndez was faithful to his principles until death, and his life is an example of a communist fighter. Men of the stature of "Jesus Menéndez" never die, because they have grown up in the class struggle and in the defense of the proletariat.