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Full text of "Fidel Castro; rebel"

^^%^ 



F i de I 


Castro : rebel-- I iberator 


or dicta 


F1788 


C3 D8 

III II II III 1 1 II 


12831 



Dubois, Jules, 

NEW COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA 



(SF) 



F 1788 .C3 D8 
Dubois, Jules, 
Fidel Castro 



1910- 



iJL226£. 



DATE DUE 



BORROWER'S NAME 



ROOM 
NUMBER 



F 

1788 
C3 
D8 



Dubolsy Jules 9 

Fidel Castro 
dictator? / by 
Indianapolis ' 

389 p., [18] 
cm* 

Includes index* 

#12266 Gift:Amsbury 



#12266 

1910- 

: rebel — liberator or 
Jules Dubois* 1st ed* 
Bobbs- Merrill, clP59. 
p* of plates : ill* ; 



23 



$ 



1* Castroy Fidel, 1927- 2* Cuba 

— Politics and government — 1933—1959* 
I* Title 



30 OCT 92 



649220 



NEWCxc 



59-10236 



THE LIBRARY 

NEW COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA 

50 FELL STREET 

SAN FRANCISCO. CALIFORNIA 94l0ii 





DUE DATE 


















































































































































Printed 
in USA 



FIDEL CASTRO 



FIDEL CASTRO 



REBEL- 
LIBERATOR OR DICTATOR? 

by Jules Dubois 




COMPANY, INC. 

AN ASSOCIATE OF HOWARD W.SAMS & CO., INC. 

Publishers • Indianapolis • ne\a/york 






{JN Copyright © 1959 by Jules Dubois 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-10236 

First Edition 

First Printing — March, 1959 
Second Printing — April, 1959 










To 

Lucille, the most wonderful mother and 
bravest wife in the world, who, with our 
children Lucy, Jules, Jr., Victor and Mary, 
suffered a thousand tortures during my trips 
to strife-torn Cuba, especially when Dictator 
Fulgencio Batista cut us off from all commu- 
nication by telephone or mail. 



"Condemn me! It doesn't matter! 
History will absolve me!" 

— Fidel Castro 



INTRODUCTION 

The Latin-American dictator is an egomaniac, a 
man of greed and at times a sadist. 

He is determined to enrich himself from the income of the 
national treasury and considers the entire nation is his personal 
domain. 

He crushes everyone who is an obstacle in his path. 

He demands nonintervention in his affairs but is always inter- 
vening in the internal affairs of other nations. 

He orders the persecution, torture, assassination and exile of 
his political, military and commercial obstructionists. 

He restricts freedom of assembly for opposition political parties 
or bans adverse political activity. 

He converts the labor bosses into docile political tools of his 
regime or bars unions. 

He professes to be anti-Communist but gives the Communists 
a free rein to operate so he can undermine and destroy his politi- 
cal and labor opposition. 

He always brands his critics and opponents as Communists— in 
order to ingratiate himself with the State Department and the 
American public— when an overwhelming majority of them are 
the contrary. 

He acquires a personal fortune by devious means and becomes 
the owner of steamship lines, air lines, bus lines, newspapers, 
radio stations, farms, plantations, businesses and industries. 

He eradicates the independent press and radio and television 
by bribery, threat, intimidation, legislation, confiscation, destruc- 
tion and seldom by purchase. 

He denies to the people the right to dissent. 

He directs the thought control of the entire population and in- 
sists upon the deification of his person and of his relatives. 

He has hospitals, plazas, stadiums, ports, towns, cities and even 
states named after himself, his wife and his relatives. 



He has monuments and busts profusely displayed to honor 
him, his wife and his relatives. 

He forbids the citizens to read newspapers or magazines pub- 
lished abroad or to listen to radio broadcasts from abroad. 

To him the truth is subversive. 

He bans the publication of any news or commentaries that 
might be critical of him, of his administration or of his relatives, 
and distorts the local and national news. 

He instills fear and total subjugation among his subordinates. 

He demands blind loyalty and adulation. 

He purges the judiciary to destroy the independence of the 
courts and governs with a servile congress or none at all. 

He operates a police state with mail, telephone, telegraph, 
press, radio and television censorship and limitless spies. 

He prepares the machinery for the dynastic succession by his 
son or by a faithful relative or friend. 

He orders the national history rewritten to minimize the 
achievements of his predecessors and to accentuate the praise 
for his person and work. 

Those presidents who are not dictators and also enrich them- 
selves in a fabulous and scandalous manner, while they do noth- 
ing to check poverty and misery, perform a devastating disservice 
to the forces of freedom. They create an atmosphere that is made 
to order for ambitious military men who, taking advantage of 
the moral decomposition of the regime, can perpetrate a success- 
ful coup and destroy constitutional government. 

A disillusioned people, who have been mesmerized into a state 
of helplessness, refuse immediately to take up arms in defense of 
the grafters who have sullied the honor of their nation and who 
have wrecked their dreams and hopes for peaceful and certain 
evolution to civic and political maturity. 

The newborn dictator, or the veteran who may have returned 
to power, is thus enabled to consolidate his position because of 
the inertia of the opposition. 

That is what happened in Cuba, and it was not until Fidel 
Castro came along that the people of that island found the leader 
they were willing to follow, to fight for their lost liberty. 

J. D. 

HAVANA, FEBRUARY 1959 



CHAPTE 




The clock had just struck midnight at Camp Co- 
lumbia, the military fortress in the suburbs of Havana, Cuba. A 
new day and a new year had begun, the year 1959. 

General Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar, dictator of Cuba, en- 
tered the door of his sumptuous residence. He had just made a 
momentous decision that was to change history. 

A half hour or so earlier Batista had left his palatial, muhimil- 
lion-dollar estate at Kuquine, about ten miles away, with nothing 
more than a casual farewell. Several traveling bags were stowed 
in the limousine. His second wife, Martha Fernandez de Batista, 
accompanied him, with three of his children. Two sons had been 
sent to New York two days earlier. 

"Adios!" Batista said to the handful of servants, two butlers, 
two maids and a librarian, who were present. His face was seri- 
ous. "We are leaving for a short trip." 

"Adios!" they replied almost in unison. 

Swiftly the presidential limousine, preceded by three military 
intelligence staff cars whose occupants carried submachine guns, 
and followed by five secret service cars filled with men with more 
submachine guns, sped toward Camp Columbia over the prac- 
tically deserted highway. 

Batista lost no time after he entered his office. He picked up 
the telephone and called Andres Rivero Aguero, his closest polit- 
ical friend and confidant and the man he had chosen to succeed 



him as president on February 24, 1959. The conversation lasted 
many minutes. Batista was brisk and persuasive. 

"Come to Camp Columbia immediately," he finally ordered. 
"Send your family ahead with your luggage." 

Rivero's wife and children were quickly dispatched to the Air 
Force Headquarters building. The children were promptly en- 
tranced with the ten-foot-high Christmas tree. Its red, green and 
white lights and fancy ornaments kept them from noticing the 
unusual bustle as automobiles continued to stop under the porte- 
cochere only a few feet from the tree. 

On the other side of the room, exiting from the Operations 
counter, a ramp led down to five transport aircraft almost ready 
for takeoff. Though their pilots had not yet reported, they were 
on the way. A casual observer would have thought their mission 
the pleasant duty of loading and delivering the several thousand 
New Year's packages stacked and waiting in the Operations 
corridor. Each corrugated box carried a large imprint which 
read: A Gift from President Fulgencio Batista and 
His Senora. 

But Batista's main gift to his people was not these packages. 
The cargo on this night was much more important. 

What had immediately preceded this hour of this night of 
Cuba's history? Let us go back a little. 

New Year's Eve in Havana had been warm and cloudless. 
Stars were twinkling overhead. In the distance could be heard 
the sporadic staccato of firecrackers, reluctantly ignited by cele- 
brants or more probably by police on orders to simulate enthusi- 
asm. Otherwise there was silence, tense and ominous. Cuba was 
nearing the dramatic climax of a twenty-five-month-old civil war. 

There were isolated parties such as the one on the second floor 
of the Havana-Hilton, the luxurious hotel built by the Food Ca- 
tering Workers' Union of Cuba and operated by Conrad Hilton. 
The ballroom was filled with merrymakers; the men were dressed 
in black dinner jackets with black ties, and the ladies wore 
lavish evening gowns and sparkling jewels. Most of them were 
Cubans who were either pro-Batista or who were indilTerent to 
the tragedy that afflicted their people. They were oblivious to 
the reality of the situation in their country either because of their 
partisanship or because of their inclination to believe the govern- 

8 



ment communiques, which reported army defeats as victories 
and police killings as accidents or suicides. 

There were revelers, also, in the night clubs adjacent to the 
gambling casinos of the large hotels. They crowded the casinos 
to try their luck at roulette, chuck-a-luck, blackjack and the dice 
table. The Tropicana and the Sans Souci had their share of busi- 
ness on the outskirts of the city, for some Cubans and quite a 
few American tourists had gone there to see in the New Year. 

The coolest man in Havana was John Scarne, the card expert 
who knows every trick in the gambling trade. He walked casu- 
ally around the tables in the Havana-Hilton casino, performing 
the chore for which Conrad Hilton had hired him, to detect the 
sharpies and the cheaters who might try to rob the unsuspecting 
tourist of more than he wanted to lose. A long Cuban cigar was 
firmly caught between Scarne's teeth as the short, stocky man 
made his rounds, occasionally slipping a quarter into a slot ma- 
chine to break the monotony. 

Now just after midnight official cars sped from downtown 
Havana up Linea— the brilliantly lighted express highway to and 
from Camp Columbia, connecting with the heart of Havana and 
the presidential palace. The "clan," summoned by Batista, had 
begun to gather. 

These were the men closest to Batista, those whose tortures of 
political prisoners, whose summary executions— without trials— 
of suspects of subversion, whose reprisal killings of innocent civil- 
ians, whose direction of the waves of terror, were rewarded by 
the dictator with promotions and gifts. 

There were army officers, naval officers, air force officers and 
politicians. General Francisco Tabernilla and other officers met 
in the Army Headquarters building with Major General Eulogio 
Cantillo, whose command was in Santiago de Cuba, capital 
of the province of Oriente. Tabernilla was Chief of the Joint 
General Staff. A tall, robust man, he had reached the retire- 
ment age of seventy, but his loyalty to Batista and the latter's 
need for him kept him on the job. 

The situation they had met to discuss was serious. Except for 
Havana, five of the six provinces of Cuba were aflame. Rebels 
were overrunning cities and towns, sugar mills and cattle ranches. 
The sugar crop was seriously threatened. Nineteen of the 31 



municipalities in the province of Las Villas had fallen to the 
rebels. Fourteen in the province of Oriente were in their hands; 
those not yet occupied were filled with rebel fifth columnists. 

The army once so loyal to Batista had lost its will to fight. The 
military commanders agreed they could not cope with the rebel 
offensive unless they leveled every city and town in the country, 
a move which was probably impossible in view of the rebels' own 
fighter aircraft, which operated from secret bases in the province 
of Oriente. Some Cuban Air Force pilots had defected, refusing 
to bomb defenseless cities, while other airmen expressed, in writ- 
ing, their reluctance to drop 500-pound bombs on open cities, to 
destroy buildings and homes and kill dozens, if not hundreds, of 
innocent civilians. 

Earlier Tabernilla had reported to Batista that General Cantillo 
was ready to take over the army, preserving its structure but 
allowing all the men Batista wished to take with him to leave 
Cuba. The time to go was now, he added, for Cantillo was afraid 
he could not prevent a military uprising somewhere, probably 
in Santiago de Cuba. 

The crisis could be overcome by Batista only if he decided to 
convert Havana into a battlefield. Loyal army troops were de- 
fending Santa Clara, the capital of the rich province of Las 
Villas. Air Force bombers had strafed the city; tanks were firing 
at the rebels, who advanced steadily from street to street. 

Batista had rushed reinforcements to Santa Clara in a desper- 
ate attempt to launch a counteroffensive, but the troops, arms 
and ammunition never got there. The empire of a strong man 
had collapsed and disintegrated around him. 

At one thirty in the morning Batista arrived at the Air Force 
Headquarters. Waiting for him was General Cantillo. Within 
the hour the four-engined aircraft which Batista boarded with 
his wife and others whom he selected taxied down the runway 
and took off for the Dominican Republic. 

Batista had fled from Cuba. The man who drove him out was 
a tall, vocal, bearded rebel named Fidel Castro. 

All this happened only ninety miles from our shores in one of 
the richest nations in the Americas for its size of 45,000 square 

10 



miles, including the Isle of Pines. Its soil is blessed with a fertility 
that enables it to produce 6,000,000 tons of sugar annually, or 
the equivalent of one ton of sugar for each of the 6,000,000 in- 
habitants of the land. Its mountains in the eastern end are rich 
with ores and minerals. Its capital, Havana, has been a favorite 
port of call for thousands of American tourists. 

On the Malecon— the ocean-front drive where the waters of 
the Gulf of Mexico slap furiously against the sea wall and flow 
over onto the road, impelled by the winds and the waves— in the 
wake of the spray stands a monument to the U.S.S. Maine, the 
warship that was blown up in Havana harbor in 1898. That 
action precipitated our entry into the Spanish-American War 
and expedited the independence of Cuba from Spain. Not far 
from the Prado at the eastern end of the Malecon is the presiden- 
tial palace through whose impressive portals have gone some of 
the most corrupt politicians in the nation's history. 

Readers may find the pages immediately following somewhat 
confusing. But history has a way of being confusing. Events of 
the past twenty-some years in Cuba have been especially tangled, 
not only to observers but to the makers of and the participants 
in those events. Some of them must be set down so that we may 
better understand the man named Castro— what he has done, is 
doing and intends to do. 

We begin on August 12, 1933, with one of the worst of the 
corrupt politicians. He was also a dictator and his name was 
Gerardo Machado. On that day in August he was finally over- 
thrown, whereupon there followed three weeks of anarchy and 
chaos. Dozens of men were gunned down in vengeance killings 
on the streets of Havana and from one end of the country to the 
other. Hundreds of fires destroyed business establishments and 
homes. A group of civilians began to meet to discuss ways and 
means of restoring order and conspired with men in the army to 
bring it about. 

Here enters on history's stage a stockily built former sergeant 
who was to be a key figure in Cuba's history for twenty-five years, 
three months and twenty-eight days. He ruled behind the scene 
or as chief of state for eighteen of those years. 

Sergeant Fulgencio Batista was a stenographer at the courts- 

11 



martial of August 1933. He became well acquainted with many 
of the opponents of the Machado dictatorship. On September 4, 
1933, Batista took over Cuba at the head of a sergeant's revolt, 
displaced the officers of the army and promoted himself to colo- 
nel and head of the army. 

That night Batista sent a telegram to one of his sergeant co- 
conspirators in a provincial capital. "Effective immediately," 
Batista's telegram read, "you are promoted to the rank of cap- 
tain. Acknowledge." 

"Your telegram is too late," the other ex-sergeant replied. "I 
already promoted myself to colonel." And a colonel he remained. 

During the period when Batista ruled behind the scenes as the 
strong man, his police and military staff chalked up records of 
brutality that were only to be surpassed in later years. There was 
much opposition to Batista's dictatorship. Newspapers were 
closed, editors were imprisoned, some were tortured; civilians 
were tortured too, and politicians fled into exile to escape perse- 
cution, most of them to Miami. 

Batista's one dream was to be popular but he never achieved 
that goal. To be elected president he first legalized the Commu- 
nist Party of Cuba in 1938. Two years later he rode into office 
on the red coattails of the Communists. He rewarded them for 
their support by naming two of the party leaders as ministers 
without portfolio in his cabinet. He financed the party purchase 
of a radio station and helped the party to start a daily newspaper. 
He also assisted the Communists to gain control of the Cuban 
Confederation of Workers (CTC). 

Batista submitted to pressure by our State Department and our 
embassy in Havana and held an honest election in 1944. The 
opposition candidate, Dr. Ramon Grau San Martin, a physician, 
won by a landslide against Batista's candidate and governed 
until 1948. Batista lived abroad during the Grau administration, 
largely because the latter considered it safer for the stability of 
his administration. Soon after he left office, Batista toured most 
of Latin America but declined an invitation from Dictator Gen- 
eral Rafael Leonidas Trujillo to visit the Dominican Republic. 

One of Grau's cabinet ministers was Dr. Carlos Prio Socarras, 
who in his youth was a fiery revolutionary and who had partici- 

12 



pated in the overthrow of Machado. The Partido de la Revolu- 
cion Cubano (PRC), which Grau headed, was known as the 
Autentico Party. Prio had designs to be elected president in 1948. 
As Grau's minister he broke the stranglehold which the Com- 
munists had on the labor movement and anti-Reds replaced La- 
zaro Pena, Secretary General of the CTC, and other Communists 
who held key posts. Prio was elected in 1948 and succeeded 
Grau. 

Grau gave his former minister one bit of advice when he turned 
over the presidential sash: 

"Don't let Batista back into the country," he warned. "You 
will regret it." 

In 1948 Batista was elected to the senate in general elections, 
while absent from the country. He had established residence in 
Daytona Beach, Florida. Shortly thereafter, Prio allowed Batista 
to return to Havana, even furnishing a military guard to protect 
his life. 

Batista entered the presidential race as one of three candidates. 
One was Carlos Hevia, once briefly president and former Minister 
of State in Prio's regime; Hevia was a 1920 graduate of the 
United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and an engineer with 
a reputation for honesty and integrity. The third candidate was 
Dr. Roberto Agramonte, university professor, and a man of 
honesty and integrity. 

Agramonte was the candidate of the newly born Partido del 
Pueblo (Ortodoxo), which had been founded by the late Eduardo 
R. Chibas to fight corruption in government and advocate reform 
and honest administration. Chibas, depressed over the evident 
corruption in the Prio administration and in that of Grau before 
him, committed suicide one Sunday night after he left the CMQ 
radio station following his regular weekly political talk to the 
people of Cuba. 

One member of Chibas' party was a young lawyer who had 
recently received his doctorate degree at the University of Ha- 
vana. He was a candidate for congress from Havana, and his 
name was Fidel Castro. 

Surveys of the voting population of the island on March 1, 
1952, indicated that Agramonte was the favored candidate, with 

13 



He via second and Batista last. The elections were scheduled for 
June 1, 1952. They were never held. 

In the early hours of the morning of March 10, 1952, General 
Fulgencio Batista entered the sixth gate at Camp Columbia, dis- 
placed the army commanders, ejected Carlos Prio as Constitu- 
tional President of the Republic and took over the power in Cuba. 
Within twenty-four hours Batista had control of the entire island. 
Prio seemed stunned by the coup— although friends had repeat- 
edly warned him it was being plotted. He offered no resistance 
himself and did not encourage it on the part of his loyal com- 
manders in the provinces, who futilely awaited his orders. 

The destruction of constitutional government by Batista and 
the indifference with which the Cuban people reacted aroused 
fire in the heart of Fidel Castro. On March 10, 1952, Batista 
became his enemy, and from that day onward Castro vowed that 
he would do all within his power— even unto death— to rid Cuba 
of the man whose arbitrary grab of the presidency disillusioned 
so many who had believed in Cuba's future. Could this strife- 
torn island which had seemed to be marching steadily toward 
institutional stability survive the pitfalls dug for her by corrupt 
politicians? The idealists and the honest men were utterly dis- 
couraged. 

Fidel Castro's life has always revolved, from the day of his 
birth, around the number thirteen. He weighed ten pounds when 
he was born August 13, 1926, on his father's farm in Biran, a 
district of the municipality of Mayari on the north coast of the 
province of Oriente near Nipe Bay. 

His father. Angel Castro y Argiz, who was born in Galicia, in 
northwestern Spain, had lost his first wife, who had given him two 
children, Lidia and Pedro Emilio. He married Lina Ruz Gon- 
zales, who bore him five children. The first was Angela, the sec- 
ond was Ramon and then came Fidel a year later, followed by 
Raul and Juana. 

Like his sisters and brothers Fidel was baptized by his pious 
parents as a Roman Catholic. As a chubby, barefoot boy he 
loved to romp in the fields of Oriente. When he grew older his 
father used to take him along when he hauled timber from the 

14 



hills with his tractor, which Fidel loved to ride. The sale of the 
timber built his father's modest but comfortable fortune. 

For Fidel's schooling his parents took him to Santiago de Cuba, 
the capital of the rich province of Oriente. It was quite a contrast 
for Fidel, when he left the almost isolated comfort and freedom 
of the farm for the disciplined confinement of a parochial school. 
He was registered as a boarding student at the Colegio La Salle, 
operated by the Christian Brothers, and then was transferred by 
his parents to the Colegio Dolores, operated by the Jesuits, to 
complete his grade schooling. Fidel played a bugle in the school 
band at La Salle and it was there that he first wore a uniform. 
The outfit was navy blue, and slung over his shoulder was a white 
Sam Browne belt. 

In 1942 his parents sent him to Havana for his high school 
education, where he was enrolled in the Colegio Belen, also op- 
erated by the Jesuits. An outstanding student and athlete, he 
was graduated four years later in the upper third of his class. He 
played basketball and pitched on the baseball team and he was 
pretty fast at track. 

The Colegio Belen Year Book in June 1945, when he gradu- 
ated, had this to say about him: 

"1942-1945. Fidel distinguished himself always in all the sub- 
jects related to letters. His record was one of excellence, he 
was a true athlete, always defending with bravery and pride 
the flag of the school. He has known how to win the admiration 
and the affection of all. He will make law his career and we do 
not doubt that he will fill with brilliant pages the book of his life. 
He has good timber and the actor in him will not be lacking." 

In the fall of 1945, after spending the summer months with 
his family in Oriente, Fidel Castro entered the University of 
Havana and then began a new and fiery phase of his life. He was 
a tall young man, nineteen years old, who had passed six feet 
and was still growing. He began his studies in the Law School 
and soon became very active in student affairs. This activity was 
soon to lead him into the vortex of Cuban politics and interna- 
tional intrigue. 

There was time, however, for romance. There was a student 
at the Colegio Immaculada in Havana with whom Fidel fell in 

15 



love. Unfortunately, the good nuns would not let him inside to 
woo the girl. Dr. Ernesto Penalver, several years older than 
Fidel, used to make daily calls at the same door and always man- 
aged to gain entrance to visit his fiancee. Upset by the regular 
rebukes he received, Fidel one day made his concern known to 
Dr. Penalver. 

"Please," he implored Dr. Penalver, "please tell those nuns 
when you go inside that I am a decent man and that I know how 
to behave myself and help me to get inside." 

Dr. Penalver interceded in his behalf and the lovelorn youth 
was allowed to call on the student he wished to woo. But she 
was not the girl he was to marry. 

Castro's studies were interrupted in 1947 when he joined an 
expeditionary force that was training at Cayo Confites, on the 
coast of Oriente. He knew the hills and valleys of Oriente, having 
spent his vacationtime hiking there, just as he used to do on week- 
end trips to the Sierra de los Organos in the province of Pinar 
del Rio while he was in the Colegio Belen. But he knew nothing 
about expeditionary forces and was soon to learn how difficult 
invasion is. The objective of this expeditionary force was to in- 
vade the Dominican Republic and to overthrow its dictator. Gen- 
eralissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. 

The operation was financed by a Dominican exile, General 
Juan Rodriguez, and was led by natives of that island, with vol- 
unteers from Cuba, Venezuela and other Caribbean countries 
recruited. Three thousand men were being trained to sail in sur- 
plus landing craft that had been bought in the United States. 
The Cuban government more than winked its eye at the entire 
plot. In fact, it seemed to encourage it and even lent financial 
aid. 

The landing craft sailed into the cay, amphibious aircraft be- 
gan to assemble and D-day was set for some time in the month 
of August 1947. The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Pan- 
American Union was meeting at that time in the Quitandinha 
Hotel in Petropolis, Brazil, forty-five miles north of Rio de Ja- 
neiro, the capital. The Dominican delegation denounced the inva- 
sion plans at that conference, and there was much commotion 
over the charges. 

16 



The invasion expedition set sail from Cayo Confites as planned, 
but President Ramon Grau San Martin of Cuba ordered it inter- 
cepted by frigates of the Cuban navy. Fidel Castro, aboard one 
of the landing craft, was not going to let himself get caught— a 
trait that was to be exercised on many occasions— and accord- 
ingly jumped overboard with his submachine gun. Despite the 
drag of the gun, he managed to swim ashore. 

He returned to the university and to rabble-rousing student 
activities, for prominence on the campus is always a stepping- 
stone to politics in Latin America and Castro had developed an 
early affinity for politics. 

Even on the campus, Castro proved himself an artist at polit- 
ical manipulations. The first to fall under his wangling were the 
Communists. The Communists supported him for election to 
the vice presidency of the student government body at the Law 
School. Once elected, however, Castro began a militant campus 
campaign against them. The Communists immediately denounced 
him as a traitor. Upon the resignation of the president, Castro 
became the head of the student government body. 

Castro lived dangerously at the university. He clashed openly 
with the leaders of the student federation. The fight was so seri- 
ous and so intense that Castro was several times in danger of 
being gunned down by rival factions and had to go into hiding 
until tempers cooled and he could safely roam the campus again. 

One of the most controversial episodes of Castro's career was 
his participation in the "Bogotazo," the riots of April 9, 1948, 
in Bogota, Colombia, during the Ninth Conference of American 
States, which was held under the auspices of the Pan-American 
Union. The United States delegation was headed by General 
George C. Marshall, Secretary of State. Lieutenant General Mat- 
thew B. Ridgway, later to become commander in Korea, was 
the delegation's military adviser. At that time he was commander 
of the Caribbean operations, with headquarters in the neighbor- 
ing Panama Canal Zone. 

Diverse elements converged on Bogota with the purpose of 
disrupting the conference or bringing pressure to bear on particu- 
lar delegations. The Communists were intent on breaking up the 
conference. The important elections in Italy were only nine days 

17 



away. A Communist success in Colombia would have had an 
effect on the Italian elections and might have given impetus to 
the campaign of the Reds in that country. 

An anti-Colonialism and anti-Imperialist student congress, 
of which Castro had been invited to be one of the organizers, was 
scheduled to meet at Bogota at the same time as the Pan- 
American Conference. Although the students' federations in 
almost all of the Latin-American countries were the ostensible 
organizers of this congress, it was also being quietly backed by 
Senator Diego Luis Molinari, chairman of the Argentine Senate's 
Foreign Relations Committee, who was there as a delegate to 
the Pan-American Conference. 

Molinari expected the student congress to exert pressure to 
embarrass the position of the United States regarding European 
colonies in the Western Hemisphere. Juan Peron, then ruling 
Argentina, sought to set himself up as the leader of the Latin- 
American bloc and champion of the liberation of the Americas 
from European colonial rule. Because of Argentina's claim to 
the Falkland Islands, its interest in the student congress was 
made evident by officials of its embassy in Bogota. 

Castro planned not only to take part in the student congress 
at Bogota but also to include in his trip visits to Venezuela and 
Panama. His plane likewise made a stop in the Dominican Re- 
public, where he narrowly escaped detention. At the airport 
at Ciudad Trujillo an immigration inspector questioned him: 
"Aren't you Fidel Castro and weren't you in trouble recently 
in Cuba?" 

"Yes, but I am now out of trouble," Castro answered. He 
heard the plane's departure being announced and quickly re- 
boarded the aircraft, which left within five minutes. 

In Venezuela he called on the university students and became 
acquainted with former President Romulo Betancourt, who was 
to head that country's delegation at Bogota. 

Castro also visited Panama, talked with the student leaders 
there and was instrumental in drafting the agenda for the meeting 
in Bogota after he reached that city. 

"We decided to include the question of the independence of 
Puerto Rico," he told the author. "I was primarily interested in 

18 



debating the question of the dictatorship in Santo Domingo. 
While in Panama I met the students there. There was one who 
had become a martyr with a bullet in his spine because of trou- 
ble they had over defense bases with the United States, so we 
included that in the agenda." 

The student congress had not yet begun when the Pan-Ameri- 
can Conference got under way. Jorge Elecier Gaitan, popular 
leader of the Liberal Party, had issued a warning days earlier 
that the Communists were planning to sabotage the Pan-Ameri- 
can Conference. Castro was waiting with a group of students, 
most of them Colombians and partisans of Gaitan, to interview 
the Liberal Party leader. The interview was to be held in the 
offices of the newspaper El Tiempo of Bogota. It never was held. 
The day was April 9, 1948. I was present to observe and report 
this event and what was to follow in that capital city 8,500 feet 
above sea level in the central plateau of the Cordillera de los 
Andes. 

Gaitan had visited the Capitolio where the foreign ministers 
of the twenty-one American republics and their delegates were 
meeting. He left there shortly after eleven thirty that morning 
in the company of Roberto Garcia Pena, editor of El Tiempo. 
He was interrupted by well-wishers and partisans as he crossed 
the Plaza Bolivar on foot to walk the six blocks to the newspaper 
office. He never reached it. 

On Carrera Septima, almost as it intersects with Avenida 
Jimenez de Quesada, and only a block and a half away from the 
newspaper office, Gaitan was slain. The news spread like wild- 
fire. A man who was identified as the killer and who had emptied 
the contents of a revolver into Gaitan at almost point-blank 
range was beaten to death by an infuriated crowd. His body was 
stripped of its clothing and only a striped tie was left dangling 
from his neck. 

Fidel Castro, twenty-one years old, felt the indignation of the 
Colombian crowds around him. There was already an atmos- 
phere of tension because of fratricidal clashes between the mem- 
bers of the Conservative and Liberal parties. Only a spark was 
needed to ignite a holocaust from one end of Colombia to the 
other. That spark was the assassination of Gaitan. 

19 



Castro followed the students down Carrera Septima toward 
the presidential palace six blocks away. At the corner of the 
palace was a police station. The chief of police was a member 
of the Liberal Party, and the members of his force had been 
selected for their political loyalty. The President of Colombia, 
Dr. Mariano Ospina Perez, was a Conservative. The police 
handed rifles to the advancing mob that was shouting death to 
almost every Conservative leader. Marching with Castro was 
another Cuban student, Rafael del Pino, who had been a sergeant 
in the Army of the United States in World War II. 

Castro took his rifle from the police. Repulsed from the vicin- 
ity of the palace, the crowd retreated toward the Plaza Bolivar. 
Other mobs had invaded the Capitolio and destroyed furniture 
and fixtures, while from Carrera Septima bricks were hurled into 
the windows of the building and the consequent damage turned 
much of it into a shambles. Among the rooms to suffer was the 
press room, where the author, as well as other correspondents, 
escaped injury. 

The manner in which hundreds of natives devoted themselves 
to the looting of stores appalled Castro; he tried to persuade them 
to stop, but his efforts were futile. They carried out pianos, elec- 
trical appliances, clothing, jewelry and every variety of merchan- 
dise. Disorganized mobs carrying rifles roamed the city, over- 
turning streetcars, setting some of them afire, and stealing or 
burning automobiles. Every vehicle in front of the American 
embassy offices, including jeeps and pickup trucks, was stolen. 

Meanwhile, the Communists were trying to assemble organized 
bands for directed action. Some Communist students grabbed 
microphones at radio stations and shouted into them: "People 
of Colombia! The Leftist Revolution of America has started! 
Soldiers of Colombia! The Army has joined us! You join us, 
too! The Leftist Revolution of America is triumphant!" 

Within the hour after confirmation of Gaitan's death on the 
emergency operating table of a hospital, the Communists were 
in control of the Governor's Palace in the Caribbean port city 
of Barranquilla, where the giant Magdalena River empties into 
the sea. The Communist Party flag with its hammer and sickle 
and red star was flying from the balcony of that palace. Below 

20 



it was a banner which read: The Revolution of Restoration 
Has Begun! 

The Colombian students took Castro to the headquarters of 
the Liberal Party where he talked to some of the leaders, but 
found no organization for direction of the spontaneous uprising 
that followed Gaitan's assassination. Del Pino had been arrested 
in front of the Ministry of War. He managed to talk himself out 
of custody by convincing his jailers that he was a member of 
General Marshall's personal bodyguard. His facility with the 
English language and the fact that he wore khaki slacks and a 
battle jacket helped his story. 

Castro next made his way to the Eleventh Precinct Police Sta- 
tion near the Chapineros district where the police rebels had set 
up headquarters, but only after he had several close escapes from 
falling into the hands of the army. Darkness had fallen and mar- 
tial law had been decreed. He was in a jeep with a police com- 
mander and two other Colombians, following another jeep that 
was occupied by other members of the police force. As they 
reached the Ministry of War, the front jeep stalled and Castro's 
jeep had to halt suddenly with a great screeching of tires. Steel 
helmets bobbed out of the darkness. Finding the police com- 
mander in a state of indecision and disinclined to proceed, Castro 
took the wheel of the jeep, turned around and sped away. 

At the Eleventh Precinct Police Station Castro urged some 
belligerent action. Four hundred policemen, each carrying a rifle, 
stood in formation in the courtyard. Recalling the theory of 
Cuban revolutionaries, Castro was determined that the police 
should break ranks and go into action, for a station full of troops 
usually meant that sooner or later the whole force would go over 
to the wrong side. Nobody would pay him heed. 

He sat down by himself, hugging his rifle between his long 
legs and his equally long arms and began to wonder what he 
was doing in Bogota in the midst of a revolution. He tried to 
rationalize his participation in the events of the day, arguing 
with himself and then refuting his arguments. This went on for 
some time. Finally, he decided he had done the right thing. He 
went out on several missions with one of the officers, mostly on 
liaison tasks, and managed to return safely despite the curfew. 

21 



As an isolated tank rolled by on its way to the center of the 
city, some of the police opened fire on it. Bogota was aflame, 
many of the public buildings and some private ones burning. In 
spite of the drizzle which had settled over the city since the after- 
noon, the sky was lighted by the fires, which burned all night. 

In the morning Castro and all of Colombia learned via radio 
that an agreement had been made between President Ospina and 
the Liberals to end the conflict. With a few students Castro now 
dug himself in on the hills flanking the city below the 1 1 , 000- 
foot peak of Monserrate, where he remained for twenty-four 
hours, firing sporadically with the others until he had expended 
the eleven cartridges that remained for his rifle. It was Fidel Cas- 
tro's first taste of guerrilla fighting. 

When Castro came out of the hills he found himself in a bad 
position. In a nation-wide broadcast President Ospina had de- 
nounced the Cuban students in Bogota as "Communists" and 
had accused them of playing a leading role in the frustrated up- 
rising. The Pan-American Conference had been disrupted. Al- 
though no one knew at that time, it was not to resume until 
April 14 and then at a school in the Chapineros district which 
was heavily guarded by a battalion of crack troops. 

Castro had no money to pay for his room at the Hotel Clar- 
idge, which he had left on the morning of April 9. There was no 
food available because Bogota was paralyzed by both a strike and 
fear. At a boardinghouse where some student acquaintances 
were quartered, he was given a cup of coffee. When the pro- 
prietor, a Conservative, voiced his animosity for the Liberals, the 
rebellious Castro, having left his rifle in the hills, fired away at 
the man with his tongue. He told the proprietor he believed the 
Liberals were right, but his contentious attitude resulted only in 
his being ejected from the boardinghouse. 

It was fifteen minutes before the six o'clock curfew; anyone 
on the streets after that hour was shot on sight by the soldiers, 
almost all of whom were sharpshooters. At the Hotel Granada 
(which has since been torn down), Castro met a secretary of the 
Argentine embassy, who had been active with the student con- 
gress preliminary preparations. 

"You've got to get me out of here! You must get me out of 

22 



here!" Castro said to the secretary. He spoke not only for himself 
but for Del Pino, who had joined him. The diplomat ignored 
him and headed for his automobile parked in front of the hotel. 
The engine was started and the car was about to leave when 
Castro jumped in and Del Pino followed. The Argentine then 
decided to drop them at the Cuban embassy. 

No sooner were they inside the embassy than Del Pino boasted 
that he had killed a priest in the April ninth fighting. Thus be- 
gan the inaccurate story that Castro had killed anywhere from 
three to six priests in Bogota. 

Dr. Guillermo Belt, Cuba's Ambassador to Washington, who 
was the head of his country's delegation to the conference, was 
at the embassy when Castro arrived. Also there was Eduardo 
("Guayo") Hernandez, Cuban newsreel cameraman. Belt ar- 
ranged to ship Castro home aboard a cargo plane that had 
arrived at Bogota a few days earlier to load breeding bulls for 
transport to Cuba. Instead of the bulls the cargo was Castro 
and other Cuban students. Guayo Hernandez made newsreel 
shots of their departure from the Techo airport. 

Thus ended the odyssey of Fidel Castro, law student, organizer 
of an international student conference, newborn guerrilla and 
rebel, in the Bogotazo. 



23 



CHAPTER 




No priest had been killed in Bogota, and the boast 
of Rafael del Pino was nothing more than that, without any basis 
in fact. The author had luncheon with the Apostolic Delegate 
to Colombia at the Italian embassy a week later, and he reported 
that he had not received any word of casualties in the clergy. 
His own residence and embassy had been destroyed by fire set 
by enraged arsonists. Much damage had been done in churches 
where pews had been hurled out onto the streets, and bonfires 
were set with some of the debris. 

But Del Pino's boast was to give Fidel Castro's enemies a thin 
thread on which to hang their accusations that he was a "Com- 
munist." The Cuban Ambassador to Bogota submitted a report 
to the Ministry of State in Havana in which he recorded the 
boast, and this was amplified to place the blame on Castro. 

Castro had returned to Havana in time to witness the final 
drive in the presidential campaign for the elections of June 1, 
1948. Running for the presidency and vice presidency, respec- 
tively, were Carlos Prio Socarras and Guillermo Alonso Pujol 
for the party in power; Eduardo R. Chibas and Roberto Agra- 
monte for the newly formed Partido del Pueblo Cuban (Orto- 
doxo); and Ricardo Nunez Portuondo and Gustavo Cuervo Rubio 
for the Liberal Party. 

Living in comfort from the remains of the estimated forty- 

24 



million-dollar fortune which he had acquired since 1933 was 
Fulgencio Batista at Daytona Beach, Florida. He financed his 
candidacy in absentia as senator for the province of Las Villas. 
The Prio-Alonso Pujol ticket was victorious, and Batista was 
elected to the senate. Voting for the first time, Castro favored 
the Chibas-Agramonte ticket. 

Now Fidel fell in love with Mirtha Diaz Balart, a student in 
the Faculty of Philosophy. She was a native of Banes, and on 
October 12, 1948, they were married in the Roman Catholic 
church of that city in the province of Oriente, not far from his 
own birthplace. On their honeymoon in Miami Fidel was forced 
to pawn his watch and other valuables; his financial difficulties 
were relieved when he obtained money from home to retrieve his 
property and complete his honeymoon without preoccupation. 

He graduated from the University of Havana in 1950 and be- 
came a member of the law firm of Azpiazu, Castro y Rezende. 
His name on the shingle read Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, and he 
devoted his time to people of the poorer classes, handling most 
of these cases without fees. He found time for politics, and in 
his spare time at home played with his son, Fidel, Jr., who was 
bom September 1, 1949. 

Castro was a devoted follower of Eduardo Chibas and, with 
thousands, if not several millions, of Cubans used to listen to that 
leader's political reform broadcasts every Sunday night, Chibas 
had developed a following far greater than he had anticipated. 
Although his campaign to rid the administration of graft and 
corruption was like butting his head against the Malecon, Chibas 
had managed to rally around him most of the younger generation 
and those older people who yearned for better government and 
improvement of the lot of the common man. 

Chibas ignited flames of hope and passion for the future of 
Cuba in the heart of Fidel Castro and in others of his generation. 
He preached sentiments of nationalism, and his left-of-center 
ideology was absorbed by Castro and his friends. 

Despite warnings from Grau, Prio allowed Batista to return 
home. Batista came back on March 10, 1952, and thus began 
the bloodiest phase of Cuban history since the War of Inde- 
pendence almost a century earlier. 

25 



At 2:43 A.M. on March 10 Batista entered Camp Columbia 
and once again took over the armed forces. When he entered 
the presidential palace the next day, Prio obtained political asy- 
lum in the Mexican Legation. Prio's departure for Mexico with 
his family a few days later eliminated all possibility of an imme- 
diate counterrevolt. 

The author interviewed Batista on March 11, 1952, in the 
palace and talked to dozens on dozens of other Cubans, as well. 
The man in the street was disillusioned, angered and filled with 
shame over what had happened. Batista was filled with euphoria. 
He attributed his coup to what he described as an imperative 
necessity because of reports, that he claimed to have, of a pre- 
ventive coup planned by Prio to keep his Autentico Party in 
office. Five years later in another interview Batista changed his 
story: he engineered the coup, he said, because Dr. Roberto 
Agramonte was almost certain to win the presidential election 
and the triumphant Ortodoxo Party would have "persecuted" 
many people. 

To the average Cuban, the real reason for Batista's maneuver 
was quite apparent. His fortune had been somewhat depleted in 
an out-of-court settlement with his first wife when she divorced 
him. A vain man who could not withstand the resounding defeat 
that was certain to be administered to him in the presidential 
election, the only way he could rebuild his fortune and prevent 
the rout was to take over the government. 

Five days after the coup Fidel Castro, who had been on the 
list of candidates for the Ortodoxo Party for the congress, seethed 
with anger and shame, as did most Cubans. Prio had not 
furnished the leadership needed to stop Batista, even though 
thousands of university students and workers, besides untold thou- 
sands of average citizens, were disposed to rally around him to 
defend constitutional government when they might have been 
political adversaries. And on March 15, 1952, Castro wrote a 
letter to Batista. 

It was a prophetic letter; in it Castro told Batista that his coup 
of March 10 was going to produce for Cuba graft and corrup- 
tion, torture and death for many and a reaction of the people 
which would eventually overthrow him. 

26 



Nine days later Castro filed a brief before the Court of Con- 
stitutional Guarantees in Havana in which he requested that the 
assumption of power by Batista be declared unconstitutional. He 
submitted a slightly varied brief to the Urgency Court in Havana 
in which he advocated prison terms totaling 100 years against 
the dictator for violation of six articles of the Code of Social De- 
fense. 

His brief to the Urgency Court, which handled all criminal 
cases, was the only one which any Cuban dared to submit. It 
said: 

"Fidel Castro Ruz, lawyer, with offices in Tejadillo 57, depo- 
neth the following before this Court of Justice: 

"The deeds that motivate this brief are well known, but never- 
theless I come to make a formal complaint of the same under 
my absolute responsibility, and to demand the application of the 
existing laws, which, although it may appear absurd in the face 
of the reigning conditions, is adjusted to juridical standards not 
abolished by anything nor by anyone, making therefore all the 
more difficult and overwhelming the duty of the Judges, and the 
compliance thereof more meritorious and worthy of the father- 
land. 

"In the early morning of the 10th of March, a senator of the 
Republic, betraying his own rights and attributions, penetrated 
the military camp of Columbia prior to concert with a group of 
officers of the Army. 

"Assisted by the night, by surprise and by treachery, they ar- 
rested the legitimate chiefs, assuming their command posts, they 
took the controls, incited the uprising of all the districts and 
issued a general call to the troops who assembled tumultuously 
at the parade ground of the camp where they harangued them to 
turn their arms against the Constitution and the lawfully consti- 
tuted Government. 

"The citizenry, who were completely unaware of the treachery, 
awoke to the first rumors of what was happening. The violent 
overpowering of all the radio stations by the rebels prevented the 
people from getting news and orders for mobilization and re- 
sistance. 

"Tied by its feet and its hands, the nation contemplated the 

27 



sweep of the military apparatus which crushed the Constitution, 
putting lives and farms at the whims of the bayonets. 

"The chief of the insurrectionists, assuming the absolute gov- 
ernment and arrogating to himself omnipotent powers, ordered 
the immediate suspension of elections which were scheduled for 
the first of June. 

"The most elemental personal guarantees were suppressed with 
one sweep. 

"All the administrative positions of the State were distributed 
among the protagonists of the coup just like loot. 

"When the congress pretended to meet, answering the ordinary 
call, it was dissolved by gunfire. 

"The total transformation of the republican regime is being 
carried out at present, and the substitution of the National Con- 
stitution, a product of the will of the people, is planned through 
a juridical farce engendered in the barracks behind the back of 
popular opinion. 

"All these deeds are foreseen and punished in a definite man- 
ner in the Code of Social Defense." 

Then Castro quoted the articles of the code, which stipulated 
the following: he who changes in full or part the constitution or 
the government by use of force will be imprisoned for from six 
to ten years; he who incites an armed uprising against the con- 
stitutional powers of state will be imprisoned for from three to 
ten years; the penalty will be from five to twenty years if the 
insurrection is carried out; he who prevents the senate, the con- 
gress, the President or the Supreme Court from exercising their 
constitutional functions will be imprisoned for from six to ten 
years; he who prevents the holding of elections will be imprisoned 
for from four to eight years; he who is guilty of sedition will be 
imprisoned for from three to eight years; he who tries to seduce 
troops or any other members of the armed forces to commit the 
crime of sedition will be imprisoned for from two to five years. 

"For all those articles and others that would be too numerous 
to enumerate," Castro continued in the brief, "Senor Fulgencio 
Batista y Zaldivar has incurred crimes whose punishment make 
him liable to more than 100 years in jail. 

"It does not suffice that the rebels say now so gloatingly that 

28 



the revolution is source of right if instead of revolution what there 
is, is 'restoration,' if instead of progress, there is 'retrocession,' 
instead of justice and order, 'barbarity and brute force.' Ask for 
the opinion of the illustrious criminal lawyer Jimenez de Asua. 

"The action of this court before the deeds related will have a 
high significance for the people of Cuba. It will show whether 
it continues functioning with plenitude of powers, whether it is 
not prevented from doing so by force, whether it also has not 
been abolished by the coup. 

"It would be well that the third power of the State would give 
signs of life when the other two have been decapitated, provided 
the judicial power has not been decapitated in the same way. 

"To the Urgency Court a citizen is taken when he is accused of 
sedition or of any other crime of its competence, he is tried and 
if proven he is condemned. This has been done many times. 

"If he refuses to appear he is declared in contempt and the 
pertinent orders are issued." 

After reviewing the competence of the court and citing its 
legal authority to act in Batista's case, Castro continued: 

"If in the face of this series of flagrant crimes and confessions 
of treachery and sedition he is not tried and punished, how will 
this court later try any citizen for sedition or contempt against 
this unlawful regime, product of unpunished treachery? It is 
understood that it would be absurd, inadmissible, monstrous in 
the light of the most elemental principles of justice. 

"I do not prejudge the thought of the court. I only expound 
the reasons that support my determination to make this com- 
plaint. 

"I resort to logic, I pulse the terrible reality, and the logic tells 
me that if there exist courts in Cuba Batista should be punished, 
and if Batista is not punished and continues as master of the 
State, President, Prime Minister, senator. Major General, civil 
and military chief, executive power and legislative power, owner 
of lives and farms, then there do not exist courts, they have been 
suppressed. Terrible reality? 

"If that is so, say so as soon as possible, hang up your robe, 
resign your post: let those who legislate, the very same ones who 
execute, administer justice, let a corporal sit at once with his 

29 



bayonet in the august courtroom of the Magistrates. I do not 
commit any offense upon expounding thus with the greatest sin- 
cerity and respect; to keep it quiet is bad, to resign oneself is a 
tragic, absurd reality, without logic, without norms, without sense 
and without justice." 

The Court of Constitutional Guarantees had already rejected 
Castro's petition against Batista, and the second brief, of March 
24, 1952, was ignored. The Court of Constitutional Guarantees 
ruled that the "revolution is the source of the law" and therefore, 
Batista, being in office as a result of the revolution, could not be 
declared the unconstitutional president of the country. 

That might have been the verdict of the court, but to an over- 
whelming majority of the people of Cuba— and especially to Fidel 
Castro— Batista was not and never could become their constitu- 
tional chief executive. 

From that day the determined young lawyer decided there was 
only one way to settle the issue: revolution. He met with friends 
in an apartment house at Twenty-fifth and O streets in the Vedado 
District of Havana to plan a military operation that would not 
only electrify the people of Cuba but might have an excellent 
chance of successfully sparking a nation-wide revolt against Ba- 
tista. Coupled with the military was a political program which 
Castro and his friends deemed expedient for the island. 

The young men— and none had reached thirty— met regularly 
to discuss the future of Cuba. They contributed their savings or 
what money they could scrape together to purchase weapons and 
ammunition. Always present was the memory of Eddy Chibas 
and the reforms he had advocated. 

Chief organizer of the group was Fidel Castro. Second in com- 
mand was Abel Santamaria. The remainder of the friends gath- 
ered by Castro were fervent followers of Chibas. Revolutionary 
cells were founded in Havana and in Artemisa in the province of 
Pinar del Rio to the west of the nation's capital. The one resident 
of Santiago de Cuba chosen to be briefed on the plan was Re- 
nato Guitart, a native of Cardenas in the province of Matanzas. 
It was Guitart who set up Ernesto Tizol, a Cuban who had a 
prosperous business in Miami, as a chicken farmer at Siboney, 
on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba in April 1953. Consign- 

30 



ments of chicken feed and egg boxes arrived regularly at the farm; 
inside were weapons and ammunition. 

Haydee Santamaria, sister of Abel, joined the residents of the 
chicken farm and set out to purchase two dozen mattresses for 
the friends of Fidel who were soon due to arrive. As she gave 
the order at the store for the mattresses, somebody asked her if 
the farm were being converted into a barracks, and she replied 
they planned to take in boarders for a coming carnival celebra- 
tion. Haydee Santamaria left for Havana to confer with Castro; 
she returned by train with Melba Hernandez and baggage con- 
taining weapons and uniforms. 

Fidel Castro traveled to Santiago de Cuba by automobile and 
stayed at the home of a friend in the center of the city. On 
July 25 more of the revolutionaries began to gather there. Fidel 
advised them all that H-hour was set for the next morning, and 
sent them to the chicken farm at Siboney where Haydee and 
Melba had prepared cots for them to spend the night. At ten 
o'clock that night Fidel Castro joined the 170 young men at the 
farm. Thirty more had halted at Bayamo, ready for action. Castro 
ordered each one to drink a glass of milk. As they drank he ad- 
dressed them. 

"Colleagues," he began, "you will win tomorrow or be beaten, 
but no matter what happens this movement will triumph. If you 
win tomorrow, it will be what Marti aspired to. But if not, the 
gesture will serve as an example to the people of Cuba. The 
politicians will be shown by these two hundred young men with 
such few resources what could have been done with the money 
which they themselves stole. The people will back us in Oriente 
and in the entire island; as in '68 and in '95, here in Oriente we 
give the first cry of liberty or death!" 

Some of the men had questions, and Castro listened and re- 
plied. Then he asked Abel Santamaria, his top lieutenant, to say 
a few words. 

"It is necessary that we all start off tomorrow with confidence." 
Haydee's brother spoke in a soft voice. "The triumph will be 
ours. But if destiny is adverse we must be brave in defeat because 
what happens there will be known some day; history will record 
it and our disposition to die for the fatherland will be imitated by 

31 



all the young men of Cuba. Our example deserves the sacrifice 
and mitigates the sorrow that we may cause our parents and our 
other beloved ones. To die for the fatherland is to live!" 

Among those who remained awake were Fidel and Raul Cas- 
tro, Lester Rodriguez, Pedro Miret, Melba and Haydee— names 
of young people who were to make Cuban history. Under cover of 
darkness the weapons and munitions were removed from the 
deep well on the chicken farm. The well itself was discreetly 
hidden under the boards of an improvised garage. The men as- 
signed the grades of officers to themselves. Those awake softly 
sang the Cuban national anthem. Castro himself took off for 
Santiago de Cuba, returning at three o'clock in the morning. 

He awakened all of his troops and ordered them to put on 
their uniforms, which were almost duplicates of the army uni- 
forms, but to leave their civilian clothing beneath the khaki. 

"You already know the objective," he told them. "The plan 
without any doubt is dangerous, and everyone who goes on with 
me now should do so of his own free will. There is still time to 
decide to remain behind, and anyway some will have to stay be- 
cause of the shortage of arms. Those who are determined to go 
step forward!" 

Everybody stepped forward. Then Castro learned that ranks 
and weapons had been distributed by the men as they saw fit, 
with everybody wanting to be a noncommissioned officer. After 
redistributing the arms and selecting the officers, Castro addressed 
the formation again. 

"I tell you," he said, "not to kill unless it is absolutely neces- 
sary. We should take the sentry post at Moncada by surprise. 
This is a suicide action, and for it we need volunteers." 

Again everybody stepped forward to volunteer. Castro se- 
lected the men to attack the sentry post. They were: Pepe Suarez, 
Renato Guitart and Jesus Montane. He ordered his brother Raul, 
then only twenty-two years old, to take the Palace of Justice, 
which was situated on a hill opposite Moncada and set up a 
machine gun on the roof. Abel Santamaria was ordered to take 
the Saturnino Lora Civil Hospital, which was located in front 
of the main entrance of the fortress. 

"I am not going to the hospital," Santamaria protested. "The 

32 



t 



women and the medico should go to the hospital, but I should 
fight if there is going to be a fight. Others can take care of the 
electrical transcriptions and distribute the proclamations." 

"You have to go to the Civil Hospital," Fidel replied sternly, 
"because I order you to do so. You will go because I am the 
chief and because I have to go at the head of the men. You are 
my second in command, and I possibly may not come back alive." 

"We are not going to do what Marti did," Santamaria replied 
with insistence. "You have chosen to go to the most dangerous 
place, to immolate yourself when you are more needed than any- 
one else." 

Castro placed his hands on Santamaria's shoulders. They were 
big hands. He looked at him with wistful but persuasive eyes. 

"I am going to the fort and you are going to the hospital," 
Castro said, "because you are the soul of this movement and if 
I die you will replace me." 

There was no further argument. Castro ordered the men into 
the automobiles. There were twenty-six cars waiting. They left 
in two groups, one of sixteen cars and one of ten. It was not 
unusual for such caravans to be seen on the road or in the streets 
of Santiago de Cuba at that hour of the morning of July 26, 
1953. The people of the city were ending the annual celebration 
of their patron saint, and many revelers still thronged the streets. 

The Castro caravan crawled up the streets of Santiago de Cuba 
amid the merrymakers. At the intersection of avenues Trocha 
and Garzon the caravan separated into three groups, all heading 
for the sentry gate on the Avenida de las Enfermeras (Avenue 
of the Nurses). Fidel Castro was in the third group. The first 
of the vehicles entered the gate as if the occupants were regular 
passengers to and from the fort. 

Another group was preparing to capture a radio station. Elec- 
trical transcriptions were ready. One was to be the last broad- 
cast by Eddy Chibas before he committed suicide. The other 
was a lengthy proclamation outlining the purposes of "The Cuban 
Revolution." After a review of the political situation of the coun- 
try, it continued in Fidel Castro's unmistakable language: 

"1. Rising from the most genuine sectors of Creole values, the 
Revolution is born in the soul of the Cuban people, with the van- 

33 



guard of a youth hoping for a new Cuba, clean of past errors and 
niggardly ambitions. It is the revolution emanating from new 
men and new procedures, prepared with the patience, bravery 
and decision of those who dedicate their life to an ideal. 

"2. The Revolution declares it is free of all obstacles with for- 
eign nations and free also of influence and of appetites of politi- 
cians and other personages. The men who have organized and 
who represent it pact with the sacred will of the people to conquer 
the future they serve. The revolution is the decisive struggle of 
a people against those who have deceived them. 

"3. The Revolution declares that it respects the integrity of 
the free citizens and of the men in uniform who have not be- 
trayed the national heart nor have they scorned their glorious 
flag nor have they abridged their constitution. It salutes in this 
hour all the Cubans who are filled with shame, wherever they are, 
and publicly embraces the decided ones who sincerely gather 
under its arch of triumph. 

"4. The Revolution declares its firm decision to situate Cuba 
on a plane of welfare and economic prosperity that guarantees 
its rich subsoil, its geographic position, its diversified agriculture, 
and its industrialization, which have been exploited by legitimate 
and spurious governments, by ambitious as well as disinterested 
culpable persons. 

"5. The Revolution declares its love of and confidence in vir- 
tue, in the honor and decorum of our men, and expresses its in- 
tention to use all those who are of true value in the function of 
those forces of the spirit in the regal task of the reconstruction 
of Cuba. Those men exist in all places and institutions of Cuba, 
from the peasant's shack to the headquarters of the armed forces. 
This is not a revolution of caste. 

"6. The Revolution declares its respect for the workers and stu- 
dents and as masses accredited in the defense of the legitimate 
rights of the people, the establishment of a total and definitive 
social justice based on the economic and industrial progress under 
a synchronized and perfect plan, fruit of laborious and measured 
study. 

"7. The Revolution declares that it recognizes and bases itself 
on the ideals of Marti, contained in his speeches, on the platform 

34 



of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano, and on the Manifesto of 
Montecristi; and it adopts as its own the revolutionary programs 
of Young Cuba, A. B. C. Radical and the Partido del Pueblo 
Cubano (Ortodoxo). 

"8. The Revolution declares its respect for the free nations of 
America, sisters who have known how to conquer at the cost of 
great sacrifices the position of economic freedom and social jus- 
tice, which is the index of our centuries. 

"9. The Revolution declares its absolute and reverent respect 
for the Constitution which was given to the people in 1940 and 
restores it as the Official Code. It declares that the only Cuban 
flag is the tricolor of the lone star and carries it as always, glori- 
ous and firm, into the heat of combat and that there is no other 
hymn than the Cuban national anthem, recognized in the entire 
world by the vibrant line: 'That to die for the Fatherland is to 
live!' 

"In name of the martyrs. 

"In name of the sacred rights of the Fatherland. 

"For the honor of the Centenary." 

There was no signature other than "The Cuban Revolution," 
and the proclamation was dated July 26, 1953. The centenary 
was of the birth of Jose Marti, the apostle of liberty of Cuba. 

The group led by Abel Santamaria, which included Dr. Mario 
Munoz, a medico, Julio Trigo, Melba Hernandez and Santa- 
maria's sister Haydee, entered the hospital. They carried small 
arms and a package of leaflets containing the proclamation 
above. Abel Santamaria was in an officer's uniform. 

"This is not the army," he said to the policeman who was on 
duty at the main door. "We are the people who will occupy the 
hospital. We are not going to harm you; we are only going to 
disarm you." 

The policeman stared at the intruders in amazement. 

Santamaria pointed to Munoz. "He is the medico," Santamaria 
explained, "and they—" pointing to the two women— "are his 
nurses. We hope there will be no dead or wounded, but if dead 
and wounded should become inevitable they will attend to them." 

As soon as Santamaria and his party entered the hospital they 
heard the first shots from the fortress. 

35 



Everything seemed to be going according to Fidel Castro's 
carefully worked-out plan except for one automobile. Its driver 
took the wrong turn on the approach to Moncada and crashed 
into a curb. The occupants jumped out and made a dash for the 
sentry post at the nearest gate. Castro stood near the post, shot- 
gun in hand. He covered them as they raced inside, and headed 
for what they thought was the armory. Their objective was a 
cache of rifles supposed to have been deposited there. But plans 
often go awry; the "armory" turned out to be a barbershop. The 
time was exactly 5:15 a.m. 

There was heavy firing, for one of the sentries had alerted the 
fort, and rifle and machine-gun fire met the attackers. Renato 
Guitart was among the first to fall. Realizing they had failed in 
their objective, Castro ordered an immediate withdrawal to Sibo- 
ney. Part of the insurrectionists headed for the Civil Hospital 
while others discarded their uniforms and fled into the heart of 
the city, where they received shelter in the homes of some of the 
residents. 

Two hours after the initial attack firing could still be heard in 
the vicinity of the fortress. The rumor soon spread throughout 
Santiago de Cuba that there had been an uprising within the 
army. This rumor was easily explained by the similarity in the 
uniforms of Castro's commandos and those of the regular soldiers. 

The dozen or more who had fled into the Civil Hospital could 
see no chance to escape from the building. Quickly Dr. Munoz 
suggested that they should pretend to be patients. Dr. Mauricio 
Leon, who was on duty as intern, showed them where the pa- 
tients' gowns were stored. Dr. Munoz, aided by Melba and Hay- 
dee, speedily bandaged legs, arms and eyes to feign injuries. 
Meanwhile, wails of fright emanated from the children's ward, 
and Melba and Haydee, still dressed in slacks, went in to console 
the sick and frightened tots. 

The hospital had been quiet for nearly an hour when soldiers 
rushed inside, carrying their rifles and submachine guns at the 
ready. They went through the wards but saw only patients and 
soon withdrew, their profanity ringing through the halls. The 
soldiers had been gone only a few minutes when a thick-set man 
of medium height halted them. He wore dark trousers, a check- 

36 



ered shirt and eyeglasses. His dark hair was neatly combed. 
Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria saw him talking to the 
officers in command of the troops. 

Long would they remember this man, for at once the soldiers 
raced back into the wards of the hospital, straight to the beds of 
the fake "patients." The informer had scored. 

Abel Santamaria was the first to be caught. His eyes were 
bandaged. Now the bandages were ripped off. "So you have bad 
eyes, have you?" one of the soldiers sneered as he pushed him. 
"Well, we are going to pull them out for you." 

Herded together like cattle, the twenty Castro men were taken 
from the hospital. Now the informer called the attention of the 
soldiers to Melba and Haydee in the children's ward. 

"They are not nurses, nor are they mothers visiting their chil- 
dren," the informer said, pointing to the two women. "They 
came with them, too, together with that man disguised as a doc- 
tor." And the finger pointed to Dr. Munoz. 

The entire group was marched out of the hospital toward the 
Moncada fortress. Dr. Munoz was ordered to go ahead of the 
others. When he was about twelve paces in front of the rest of 
the group, he was shot in the back and died on the spot. 

Castro and the remnants of his commandos made their way 
toward Siboney, on the Caribbean coast to the southeast of Santi- 
ago de Cuba. The army pursued them; but in a reverse maneuver 
the rebels managed to penetrate safely into the foothills of the 
Sierra Maestra. 

The army and police had raided homes in Santiago de Cuba 
and arrested all suspects of the Moncada attack, including some 
who had had nothing at all to do with it. Monsignor Enrique 
Perez Serantes, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, conferred 
with Colonel Alberto del Rio Chaviano, commander of the Regi- 
ment Maceo at Moncada. Chaviano promised to spare the lives 
of the remainder of the survivors of the Moncada attack if they 
surrendered. 

Batista lost no time in reacting to the bold assault on the prin- 
cipal fortress of the province of Oriente. He suspended civil 
rights immediately, summoned his ministers and enacted a Law of 
Public Order which made it an offense to print almost any- 

37 



thing and everything that was displeasing to the government. 

Batista dispatched Major General Martin Diaz Tamayo by 
military transport from Camp Columbia to Santiago de Cuba 
with orders for Chaviano: ten civilians were to be killed in reprisal 
for each soldier who fell in the attack. The order was carried 
out with interest. 

Several of Castro's men who were discovered in the hills by 
Monsignor Perez Serantes surrendered themselves to his custody. 
He saw them safely to the Moncada fortress. Castro was the 
main target sought by the army. Their orders were not to take 
him alive. 

An army patrol commanded by Lieutenant Pedro Sarria 
scoured the hills in search of Castro. The only one in the patrol 
who knew Castro was Sarria, who had been a student at the Uni- 
versity of Havana at the same time as Fidel. 

Castro had gone into hiding in a shack at the foothills of the 
Sierra Maestra near El Caney to the north of Santiago de Cuba. 
He had a small, starved and practically unarmed squad of two 
rebels with him, and they had expended all their ammunition. 
When Sarria's patrol surrounded the thatch-roofed shack, they 
found Castro and the men lying down, weakened from hunger 
and thirst. 

"Don't tell anybody your name," Sarria whispered to Castro as 
he simulated a search of his body, "because your life is in danger, 
and ideas cannot be killed." 

Sarria turned to his men and in a severe voice of command 
ordered them to take the prisoners to the civilian jail, which the 
Cubans call the "vivac." 

"To the Vivac or to Moncada?" one of the soldiers asked in 
surprise. 

"To the Vivac!" Sarria repeated. And Castro, together with 
his loyal friends, was taken to the jail. 

Sarria was severely reprimanded when he returned with his 
patrol to Moncada. 

"Didn't you know what the orders were?" Major Morales de- 
manded. Sarria remained silent and Morales returned to the 
charge. 

"Fidel Castro was not supposed to be brought back alive," 

38 



Morales said, "and if you had to bring him back he should have 
been brought to Moncada and not taken to the jail." 

Not only was Sarria reprimanded but he was retired involun- 
tarily from the army as "unreliable." 

At the Municipal Jail in Santiago de Cuba, Castro lost no time 
in making his position clear to the troops and police who were 
there. 

"I didn't go to Moncada to kill soldiers," he said. "I attacked 
Moncada because it is the second military fortress of the republic, 
and those military fortresses sustain the regime. We revolution- 
aries are not against the army but we are against Batista, who 
does much damage to the army. Batista harms you, and you 
have to convince yourself of that. Batista forces you to fight 
against the people. Batista is the main enemy of the army and of 
the soldiers." 

While Moncada was being attacked, there was a simultaneous 
assault on the military fortress at Bayamo, to the west of Santi- 
ago de Cuba. Thirty men hit the sentry posts at 5:15 a.m., but 
were repelled by the loyal troops. 

Chaviano submitted a certified report of the Moncada attack 
to the Urgency Court in Santiago de Cuba. The court was com- 
posed of three judges and heard all criminal cases. The Mon- 
cada attack was listed as "Cause 37." Chaviano's report read in 
part: 

"Armed groups with very, very modern instruments of war, 
tried to take by assault the Moncada Fort. Within that group of 
rascals were men who were not natives of the country, for by their 
type and presence they could have been Mexicans, Guatemalans 
or Venezuelans. Although many knew that they were coming to 
this province to start a civil war, others were deceived by being 
told they were going to take a ride to the fort, but upon seeing 
that they were going to have to fight against the soldiers of this 
regiment, some fled and the others tried to do so and were 
wounded by their leaders because they refused to fight." 

Chaviano added that almost all the weapons had, according 
to the evidence obtained, come from Montreal, Canada. This 
was an attempt on the part of the government to link Castro's 
attack with former President Prio, who had conferred in Mon- 

39 



treal some months earlier with opposition leaders from Havana; 
they had agreed to try to overthrow Batista. 

The report to the court accused the rebels of having fired at 
will inside the hospital against occupants there, of having knifed 
three patients in the stomach, of having used dum-dum bullets 
and of having hurled hand grenades in the attack on Moncada. 

One hundred and twenty men and two women were to face 
trial. The army had decided that terror should rule. The lives 
of some were snuffed out while they were in prison; among the 
victims were others who were removed from homes where they 
had taken refuge in Santiago de Cuba and summarily executed. 
The slaughter took place for three days. Many of the executed— 
without trials— were innocent youths of the city. 

Castro and the other prisoners were transferred from the 
Vivac to the Provincial Jail at Boniato. This modern peniten- 
tiary is situated in a hollow in the Sierra Maestra and is backed 
up by the rugged mountain. The military supervisor of Boniato 
was a young lieutenant, Jesus Yanes Pelletier. He drove the 
Buick automobile in which Castro and two other prize prisoners, 
Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria, were taken to Boni- 
ato. The guard in the big car included an army captain and his 
two soldier sons. 

Twenty-six defense lawyers were present in the courthouse at 
Santiago de Cuba on September 21, 1953, when the trial of the 
Moncada attackers and others charged with complicity began. 
A court-appointed lawyer defended those who had confessed 
their guilt. Fidel Castro elected to act as his own counsel. The 
judges were Adolfo Nieto Pineiro-Osorio, Juan Francisco Mejias 
Valdivieso and Ricardo Diaz Oliveira. The government had 
filed charges against friends and former friends of President Prio, 
among them Aureliano Sanchez Arango, who was Minister 
of State (equivalent to our Secretary of State) on March 10, 
1952. 

The approaches to the courthouse were heavily guarded. Cas- 
tro's attack on Moncada, although a failure, had served to 
awaken the spirit of resistance among the people of Oriente. The 
terror that followed when the army tortured and killed prisoners 

40 



accelerated the ire against Batista. Only one person in all of 
Santiago de Cuba had known in advance of Castro's plan to try 
to capture Moncada. Afterward, the women of that city— moth- 
ers and daughters who did not even know the prisoners— visited 
the jails to take food, cigarettes and other necessities to the men 
held for trial. They also attended the trial. 

There were fears in the city on the eve of the trial that the 
government might apply the ley de fuga, or fugitive law, to many 
of the prisoners and shoot them before they ever reached the 
court. These fears were dissipated the following morning. The 
precautions taken by the government converted the approaches 
to the courthouse into a virtual battlefield. Armored cars closed 
the access from Avenida Garzon to the central highway where 
the courthouse was located. Another cordon of armored cars 
blocked the access to the highway via the Avenida de las Enfer- 
meras, and a third cordon prevented all traffic from circulating 
from Marti and Sueno streets to the Avenida de los Libertadores. 

One thousand soldiers with automatic weapons were stationed 
along both sides of the road from Boniato prison, a distance of 
six miles. The prisoners, except Castro, were transported to the 
courthouse by busses; they were not allowed to open the win- 
dows very much. 

Castro rode in an army jeep under heavy escort. He wore a 
dark blue serge suit, which produced much perspiration in the 
tropical heat, white shirt, a tie with a background of red and 
black shoes and socks. He had not yet grown even a mustache, 
much less the famous beard. He was handcuffed securely. Spec- 
tators lined the route quietly to watch him ride by. Like the other 
prisoners he was taken to the basement elevator to be conveyed 
to the library. The other prisoners were led into the building in 
twos. They met their lawyers for the first time in the library. 

Chaviano ordered Captain Pedro Rodriguez Miranda and 
Lieutenants Vicente Camps and Luis Figueroa to take personal 
command of the guards and he banned photographs of the pris- 
oners, although the court had authorized pictures to be taken. 

Fidel Castro was the first to be led into the courtroom. His 
entrance was met with silence, except for some murmuring by 

41 



the spectators. "That is Fidel," they whispered. "That is he!" 

Other prisoners followed. Dr. Roberto Garcia Ibanez, former 
congressman of the Ortodoxo Party, was the first to be accused 
in court. He denied the charges that he was the mastermind of 
the Moncada attack. Dr. Ramiro Arango Ansina followed and 
denied the accusation that he had served as the bridge between 
Castro and former President Prio and other signatories of the 
pact of Montreal. 

Then came Castro's turn. He took his oath and swore to tell 
the truth. He listened to the charges that he had been the mate- 
rial author and leader of the insurrection against the constituted 
powers of the state. Then the prosecutor, Dr. Mendieta Heche- 
varria, began his questions. 

"Did you participate in the attacks on the forts of Bayamo 
and Santiago de Cuba the last 26th of July in a physical or intel- 
lectual manner?" the prosecutor asked. 

"Yes," Castro replied with defiance. He pointed to his friends 
who were seated on one of the prisoners' benches. "And those 
young men love as I do the liberty of their Fatherland and fight 
for it." 

The chief justice admonished Castro to limit his answers to 
the prosecutor's questions. And Mendieta Hechevarria returned 
to the attack. He warned Castro not to make a political oration 
in reply to a comprehensive question as to whether he had ex- 
plained to his followers his entire plan, the political connections 
therewith "and the criminal act thereof from a legal standpoint." 

"I am not interested in making any political oration," Castro 
answered. "I only want to open the path to the truth. All my 
companions militate in the Ortodoxo Party, or, better said, al- 
most all my companions. In reality I did not have to convince 
them. They were pleased to take this road, and I took advantage 
of the psychological moment in order to tell them of my plan, 
which they accepted. I am unacquainted with the purpose or 
thinking of the leaders of the party, but I am convinced that 
ninety percent of the young men of Cuba think just like those 
young men who are on the prisoners' benches, and understand 
that the only possible way to overthrow this regime, which the 
people detest, is war. Harmony could not be achieved, although 

42 



that was the wish of all, because the dictator is intransigent." 

"Why didn't you use civil means in order to accomplish your 
purpose?" the prosecutor asked. 

"Simply because there is no freedom in Cuba," Castro shot 
back, "because since the tenth of March nobody can talk. I al- 
ready said that efforts were made but the government, always in- 
transigent, did not want to give ground. I accused Batista before 
the tribunals of justice, but the courts did not resolve the case as 
we expected." 

"Where did you get the money to buy arms and with which to 
organize the uprising?" 

"The money was obtained through the generous donation of 
the men who followed me," Castro said with a note of gratitude 
in his voice. "I have a list of all their names with the amounts 
they contributed. The majority of them have died, but I have the 
facts to prove that they were the persons who put up the money 
for the revolution. The sum collected reached $16,480 and 
every cent of it was spent. Just as Jose Marti did not accept 
money from Manuel Garcia, king of the plantations of Cuba, 
this revolution will not accept the ill-gotten money of anyone." 

Castro then described in detail the weapons that were pur- 
chased with the money collected from among his friends. "We 
had only one machine gun, and we did not have any hand gre- 
nades," he said. "If we had tossed any hand grenades then we 
would have opened an enormous hole in a wall. We had ten 
thousand cartridges of all calibers and different types of weapons, 
among them three Winchesters of the time of Buffalo Bill. They 
were few and mostly deficient weapons. 

"Among those of us who are alive and those who are dead, the 
following persons gave money." Castro read from his list: "Jesus 
Montane, who is present, gave the sum of $4,000 which he col- 
lected as severance pay from General Motors when it liquidated 
its business in Cuba. Ernesto Tizol, owner of a chicken farm, 
placed his property at the disposition of the revolution. Oscar 
Alcade mortgaged his laboratory for the sum of $3,600 and 
liquidated an accounting office which he owned, thus making 
another contribution. Renato Guitart gave $1,000. Pedro Mar- 
rero sold the dining room set of his house, the refrigerator and 

43 



the living room set— he didn't sell the bedroom set because I for- 
bade him to do so. Moreover he borrowed $200 from a money- 
lender to increase his contribution to the cause; and he didn't 
seem to mind losing his job in the Tropical Brewery, where he 
earned $250 a month. 

"Fernando Chenart pawned his personal belongings, including 
his camera. He was the photographer who took the picture for 
the magazine Bohemia of the studio of the sculptor Fidalgo when 
it was raided by the state. His only crime, you remember, was 
having sculptured a statue of Marti that was called: 'For Cuba 
that Suffers.' Chenart gave $1,000. Elpido Sosa sold his job as 
treasurer of an important company. Abel Santamaria mortgaged 
his automobile, but that was not his only contribution. He gave 
much more and, if it seemed little, he gave his life. Thus I could 
go on amplifying the list, but it appears to me that it would be 
better if I deliver it in writing to this court." 

Castro handed over the list. Whereupon the prosecutor asked 
him if Abel Santamaria had stolen checks from the firm where he 
had worked in order to augment the funds of the revolution. 

"That is a calumny!" Castro replied. "Abel Santamaria was 
one of the bravest men I knew, and it is painful that an attempt 
should be made to stain his memory so ignominiously!" 

"Why didn't you attack Camp Columbia?" the prosecutor 
asked. "The bulk of the force of the country was concentrated 
there and not in Moncada." 

"Because we had very poor weapons and munitions," Castro 
answered. "We had hoped to take Moncada without firing a 
shot. I had warned my companions not to shed blood except in 
an emergency. The plan was to attack by surprise. Military 
psychology says that a soldier only fires in response to the order 
to fire, and if he doesn't get such an order he will not react. That 
is why we did not want any shots fired. Moreover, the liberty of 
Cuba was born in Oriente and if necessary we proposed to retrace 
the invasion, rising in the mountains. That is why I told my com- 
panions to return to Siboney and later to intern themselves in the 
Sierra Maestra." 

Castro repudiated Chaviano's charge that knives had been used 
by the rebels in the Civil Hospital or anywhere else. He under- 

44 



scored the fact that none of his men was acquainted with the 
Military Hospital where they were charged with having killed 
soldiers. He expressed surprise that there were so many of his 
men killed when some of them didn't even participate in the at- 
tack. The men under command of his brother Raul, for instance, 
had not even wounded a single guard as they took the Palace of 
Justice, whereas the soldiers had killed revolutionaries in cold 
blood. 

"If you had no contact with political leaders in this movement, 
then what support were you counting on?" the prosecutor asked. 

"If we had been able to make contact with the people," Castro 
said with full confidence, "they would have responded. There is 
our ally: the people. Our plan was to take the radio stations as 
soon as possible and to broadcast simultaneously over all of them 
the last speech delivered by the dead leader Eduardo R. Chibas. 
We felt that all the opposition leaders of the republic would then 
have joined us, and, in that way, we would have overthrown the 
de facto government, the dictatorship of Batista." 

"On what political prestige did you count in order to persuade 
a people so unbelieving and so deceived as the people of Cuba 
to rise?" 

"On what prestige did the little lawyer Carlos Manuel de 
Cespedes and the oxcart driver Antonio Maceo count when they 
rose in the redeeming hinterland?" Castro countered. And he 
pursued the outline of Chibas' last speech, 

"But that leader is dead!" the prosecutor interjected. 

"That doesn't matter," Castro replied. "Men do not follow 
men but ideas, Mr, Prosecutor," 

Defense attorneys began to cross-examine Castro, Finally the 
assistant prosecutor asked if any leader of the Partido Socialista 
Popular (the name of Cuba's Communist Party) had taken part 
in the attack; Castro denied that any had. The same lawyer, 
Luis Perez Rey, asked Castro if his companions had been reading 
any books, 

"They all like books," he answered, 

"Was a book by Lenin found on Santamaria?" Perez Rey in- 
sisted. 

"It is possible," Castro answered, "because we read all types of 

45 



books. Anyone who was never interested in socialist literature is 
an ignoramus." 

One question was put to Castro by Dr. Ramiro Arango Alsina, 
who was acting as his own lawyer. "Have I been the intellectual 
author of this movement?" 

"No, you have not been the intellectual author. The only in- 
tellectual author of this revolution is Jose Marti." 

Several other witnesses were called, among them Andres Gar- 
cia Diaz, who confessed that he had participated in the attack on 
the fort at Bayamo. 

"They arrested me in Manzanillo with my brother," he said. 
"In Veguita they beat us and then they assassinated my brother. 
I ask the court to record my accusation. I saw them hang him, 
and although I was wounded I was able to run away. Monsignor 
Perez Serantes delivered me to the army." 

Fidel Castro, exercising his right as counsel, began to interro- 
gate Garcia Diaz. 

"Those soldiers whom you say committed the crimes," Castro 
asked, "and who beat you, did they act on their own or were 
they obeying orders of the officer on duty?" 

"They obeyed orders," Garcia Diaz answered. 

Castro was about to ask another question when the court or- 
dered a recess. The trial could not be resumed the next day be- 
cause most of the army troops had to be transported to Holguin 
to protect Batista on a visit to that northern city of the province 
of Oriente. This produced a two-day recess. 

When the trial was resumed on September 26, Fidel Castro 
was not in the courtroom. The chief judge, irritated, asked the 
officer of the guard for an explanation, and the captain handed 
him an envelope. He opened it, read it and circulated it among 
the other judges and the prosecutor. 

"The accused, Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz," Judge Nieto announced, 
"will not be able to be present. I have just received a communi- 
cation from the prison in which it is certified that he is sick and 
needs absolute rest." 

After conferring with his two colleagues. Judge Nieto ad- 
dressed the counsel: 

"The court considers that should this trial be suspended in- 

46 



definitely, it would cause inconveniences with the natural damage 
for the right of defense of the accused who have already ap- 
peared. In view of that—" he heaved a sigh and resumed— "in 
view of that the trial is partially annulled in so far as it relates 
to the accused, Dr. Castro Ruz." 

Judge Nieto dropped the letter onto the bench and rang the 
bell to open the session. (In Cuban courts a bell similar to that 
used by schoolteachers, which is rung by the judge, suffices to call 
the court to order. ) 

"Mr. President!" a feminine voice electrified the courtroom. 
"Fidel Castro is not sick!" 

The voice was that of Dr. Melba Hernandez, acting as her own 
defense counsel. 

"Mr. President," she continued rapidly, "here I bring a letter 
from Dr. Fidel Castro, written in his own hand and addressed to 
this respectable and honorable court." 

From her hair she removed an almost minute piece of paper 
that had been rolled up so it could easily be hidden. The officers 
of the guard and the soldiers looked at her with death in their 
eyes. She walked slowly toward the bench, her lithe frame up- 
right. She climbed a step and handed the paper to the chief 
judge. The three judges leaned over and read it. With Melba 
Hernandez's success in smuggling out the handwritten paper, 
Castro had scored another psychological blow. 

"As for this letter which has just been delivered to this court," 
Judge Nieto armounced, "it will be considered at the opportune 
moment." 

Like the proceedings of the trial, the brief handed to the court 
by Melba Hernandez could not be published in the newspapers or 
broadcast because of the ironclad censorship. It was a scathing 
denunciation by Castro of Batista's machinations. The text read: 

"To the Urgency Court: 

"Fidel Castro Ruz, attorney appearing in his own defense in 
Cause 37 of the present year before said Court respectfully ex- 
pounds the following: 

"1. That efforts are made to impede my presence in the trial, 
by which the fantastic falsehoods that have been woven around 
the deeds of the 26th of July would be destroyed, and to prevent 

47 



the revelation of the horrible crimes that were committed that 
day against prisoners, which were, I say, the most frightful slaugh- 
ter ever known in the history of Cuba. Because of that today I 
have been informed that I will not attend the trial because I am 
sick, the truth being that I am in perfect health without any 
physical illness of any kind. Thus they are pretending in that 
way to abuse the Court in the most shameful manner. 

"2. That despite repeated communications from the judicial 
power and the last one that the Court addressed to the authorities 
of the prison, demanding the end to our isolation, because it is 
unlawful and criminal, I am totally incommunicado. During the 
fifty-seven days in which I have been in this prison I have not 
been allowed to see the sun, to talk to anyone nor to see my 
family. 

"3. That I have been able to learn with all certainty that my 
physical elimination is being plotted, under the pretext of escape, 
poisoning me or some other similar thing and for that purpose 
they have been elaborating a series of plans and plots that facili- 
tate the consummation of the deeds. I have repeatedly denounced 
this. The motives are the same as I expounded in number one of 
this brief. 

"Like danger faces the lives of other prisoners, among them 
two of the girls who are exceptional witnesses of the massacre of 
the 26th of July. 

"4. I request the Court to proceed to order immediately my 
examination by a distinguished and competent doctor such as the 
President of the Medical Association of Santiago de Cuba. I 
propose also that a member of that Court, especially appointed, 
accompany the political prisoners on the trips that they make 
from this prison to the Palace of Justice and vice versa. That the 
details of this brief be communicated to the Local and National 
Bar Associations, to the Supreme Court of Justice and to as 
many legal institutions as that Court esteems should know these 
facts. 

"The importance and the category of the trial that is being 
held imposes exceptional obligations. 

"If it is carried out under the conditions which I have de- 

48 



nounced, it will not be more than a ridiculous and immoral farce 
with the full repudiation of the nation. 

"All of Cuba has its eyes focused on this trial. I hope that 
this Court will worthily defend the rights of its hierarchy and its 
honor which is at the same time, in these moments, the honor of 
the entire judicial power before the History of Cuba. 

"The action of the Court up to now and the prestige of its 
magistrates accredit it as one of the most honorable of the Re- 
public which is why I expound these considerations with blind 
faith in its virile action. 

"For my part, if for my life I have to cede an iota of my right 
or of my honor, I prefer to lose it a thousand times: 'A just 
principle from the depth of a cave can do more than an army.' " 

(Signed) Fidel Castro Ruz 
September 26, 1953 
Provincial Jail of Oriente 

"P.S. I appoint Dr. Melba Hernandez to present this brief in 
my name. F.C." 

In the sentence quoted in the last paragraph, Fidel Castro 
revealed that he had studied the life of the liberator of Cuba, 
Jose Marti, and forecast that three years later he was to translate 
into action the counsel of the man he always referred to as the 
Maestro. 

Lieutenant Jesus Yanes Pelletier, the military supervisor of the 
Boniato penitentiary, stated that one of Colonel Chaviano's 
aides had ordered him to poison Castro's food. For his refusal 
Yanes was relieved from duty at the prison, and was forced to 
retire from the army a few weeks later. 

The court reacted to Castro's letter by directing Dr. Juan 
Martorell Garcia, penitentiary physician, to supervise the food 
served to Castro and to examine him regularly. 

Political leaders of the Ortodoxo Party and of Prio's party, 
who were accused of masterminding Castro's attack, were ques- 
tioned. They all denied the charges. 

Next, eight admitted leaders of the Communist Party, also 
among the accused, were called to the witness stand. They were 
Lazaro Pena, Joaquin Ordoqui, Bernardo Hernandez, Jose 

49 



Cabrejas, Juan Maria Llosa, Rolando Hevia Ruiz, Antonio 
Perez and Armando Diaz. They denied the charges, testifying 
that they all happened to be in Santiago de Cuba to celebrate the 
birthday of the party boss, Bias Roca, their secretary general. 

Several other accused, followers of Castro, were called to the 
stand; they denied their direct or indirect participation in the 
Moncada attack although they were very much a part of it. This 
was Castro's strategy so that some of the men could be acquitted 
and thus spared for underground work. The trial was now re- 
cessed again. 

When it was resumed on September 28, Jesus Montane, short, 
strongly built and intellectual-looking, with thick-lensed glasses, 
was the first person called. He was asked if he had taken part in 
the organization of the attack. 

"I participated in the organization of the movement of the 
Generation of the Centenary," he admitted, "because I believe 
that Cuba must be saved from oppression." 

"Did you take part in the action of the sentry gate where the 
soldiers were assassinated by knife?" 

"Nobody was assassinated. When we left, the soldiers were 
alive. If they were killed later, it was because of the great con- 
fusion and the firing among themselves. I was captured with 
three companions at Siboney. When we arrived at the fort, sev- 
eral of the soldiers said: 'This fellow—' and they pointed to me— 
'who has the face of a professor, there is no need to talk about 
him. We are going to kill him but first we are going to squeeze 
him a little.' Immediately they started to cut off my testicles. To 
die for Cuba is a satisfaction for us. Luckily an officer arrived at 
that moment and halted the outrage that was being committed." 

"Can you tell us some more about the movement? Did you 
know it from inside?" 

"The direction of the movement was in charge of a group of 
ten led by Dr. Fidel Castro. They included Abel Santamaria, 
Boris Luis Colomba, Pedro Miret, Jose Luis Tasende, Ernesto 
Tizol and Mario Munoz Monroe— he was the medico but he also 
built the radio transmitter with which we were going to broad- 
cast to all of Cuba once Moncada had surrendered— Raul Mar- 
tinez Araras, Gerardo Perez Poey, Renato Guitart and I. The 

50 



military direction of the movement was comprised of Dr. Fidel 
Castro, Santamaria, Tizol and Martinez Araras." 

Ciro Redondo was called to the witness stand. He confessed 
to all the charges except that any of the attackers had carried 
knives or daggers. He denounced the fact that one of his com- 
panions, Marcos Marti, was killed after he was arrested. 

Raul Castro was the next witness. 

"I came on my own," he said. "I received instructions to take 
the Palace of Justice to prevent the army from taking it and to 
reinforce our position there. We did not encounter any resistance. 
We arrested the guards and disarmed them. We took nine pris- 
oners, eight of them police or soldiers and one civilian. We did 
not carry knives or daggers. That was a trick on Chaviano's part 
in his first statement to arouse the spirit of the soldiers, in order 
to incite to crime. With that he demonstrated his weakness. He 
wanted to pit the soldiers against the people." 

Haydee Santamaria and Dr. Melba Hernandez followed Raul 
Castro on the stand. Haydee denounced a series of tortures that 
she had witnessed in the Moncada jail, denying that either she 
or Melba had prevented a wounded soldier from being treated at 
the Civil Hospital. 

"When I saw that soldier fall wounded near the entrance of 
the hospital," she testified, "I said to a doctor: 'He is not one of 
ours, but he is a man, a human being.' The medico rushed to his 
side, but it was already too late. The soldier had died." 

Melba Hernandez testified that she and Haydee had seen Dr. 
Munoz killed. She also told the court that Abel Santamaria and 
twenty-five others had been killed in prison. 

Captain Edmundo Tamayo, army medico, testified that, con- 
trary to the report by Chaviano, none of the wounded or dead 
soldiers had been stabbed. Ballistics experts testified that no 
grenade impacts had been visible anywhere. Those witnesses 
gave the lie to Chaviano's report. 

It was not until October 6 that Fidel Castro was once again 
brought into court. But this time court was held in the nurses' 
lounge of the Civil Hospital for reasons of secrecy and security. 
Besides the three judges and the heavy armed guard, the only 
other persons permitted inside the lounge were two attorneys 

51 



and six reporters. And because of censorship not a word of the 
trial could appear in the newspapers. 

Castro addressed the court in his own defense for five hours. 
His summation was an indictment against the government. He 
included, too, the revolutionary reforms for the Cuba of the fu- 
ture, which were decidedly left of center. 

"Never has a lawyer had to exercise his profession under such 
difficult conditions," Castro began. "Never, against an accused, 
has there been committed so many overwhelming irregularities. 
Both lawyer and accused are, in this case, the same person. As a 
lawyer I have not even been allowed to see the indictment and, 
as the accused, I have been locked for seventy-six days in a soli- 
tary cell, totally and absolutely incommunicado, above all human 
and lawful prescriptions. 

"He who is speaking abhors puerile vanity with all his soul, 
and it is not in his spirit or in his temperament to affect poses or 
sensationalisms of any kind. If I have had to assume my own 
defense before this court, it is for two reasons. One: because I 
was practically completely deprived of defense otherwise. The 
other: because only one who has been hurt so deeply and who 
has seen the Fatherland so forsaken and justice so vilified can 
speak on an occasion such as this with words that may be blood 
of the heart and entrails of the truth." 

Castro expressed appreciation for the fact that the Havana Bar 
Association had appointed a defense counsel for him. 

"They didn't let him, however, perform his mission," Castro 
went on. "The doors of the prison were closed to him every time 
he tried to see me. Only after a month and a half, through the 
intervention of the court, was he granted ten minutes to interview 
me and then only in the presence of a sergeant of the military 
intelligence service. A lawyer should be able to converse with 
his client privately, a right that is respected everywhere in the 
world except when it deals with a Cuban prisoner of war in the 
hands of an implacable despotism that does not recognize lawful 
or human rules." 

That treatment and distortions by the government, with ap- 
parent intention to prevent the real truth from becoming known, 

52 



were what inspired him, Castro told the court, to assume his own 
defense. 

"You have classified this trial publicly as the most transcen- 
dental of the republican history, and if you have believed it sin- 
cerely," Castro's words rang out in the room, "then you should 
not have permitted your authority to be soiled with a bale of 
scorn. The first session of the trial was held September 21. 
Among a hundred machine guns and bayonets that scandalously 
invaded the hall of justice, more than one hundred persons sat 
on the prisoners' bench. A great majority were foreign to the 
deeds and had been under preventive arrest for many days after 
suffering every kind of outrage and bad treatment in the prisons 
of the repressive forces. But the rest of the accused, who 
were the lesser number, were proudly firm, disposed to confirm 
with pride their participation in the battle for liberty, to give an 
example of abnegation without precedent and to liberate from 
the throes of the jail that group of persons who had with all bad 
faith been included in the trial. Those who had fought once again 
returned to the fight. Once again the just cause was on our side; 
against infamy there was to be fought the terrible combat of the 
truth. And certainly the regime did not expect the moral catas- 
trophe that approached it. 

"How maintain the false accusations? How prevent what 
really had occurred from becoming known, when such a number 
of youths were disposed to run all the risks— jail, torture and 
death, if it were necessary— for denouncing it before this tri- 
bunal?" 

Castro reviewed the first day of the trial when he was interro- 
gated for two hours and then launched into a counterattack, 
accusing the government of preferring to blow up the court 
rather than allow him to exercise his rights as an attorney for his 
own defense. 

"They devised the idea of removing me from the trial," Castro 
went on, "and they proceeded to do so in military fashion. On 
Friday night of September 25, on the eve of the third day of the 
trial, two medicos of the prison came to my cell, visibly ashamed: 
'We have come to examine you,' they told me. 

53 



" 'And who is so worried about my health?' I asked. Really, 
as soon as I saw them I understood the purpose. They could not 
have been better gentlemen, and they told me the truth: That 
afternoon Colonel Chaviano had come to the prison and had 
told them that I was 'doing terrible harm to the government at 
the trial.' Then he had them sign a certificate which stipulated 
that I was sick and hence could not continue to attend the ses- 
sions. The medicos told me, in addition, that they, for their part, 
were disposed to resign their posts and expose themselves to per- 
secutions; that they would put the matter in my hands for me to 
decide. It was hard for me to ask those men to immolate them- 
selves without considerations, but neither could I consent, by any 
concept, to let such plans be carried out. To leave them to their 
own consciences, I replied only: 'You will know what is your 
duty; I know well which is mine.' 

"After they withdrew they signed the certificate; I know they 
did it because they believed that it was the only way to save my 
life, which they saw in great danger. I did not promise to keep 
silent about our conversation; I am obligated only to the truth. 
If to tell it in this instance injures the material interests of those 
good professional men, I leave clean of all doubt their honor, 
which is worth much more. That same night I wrote a letter for 
this court, denouncing the plot and requesting the visit of two 
forensic medicos to certify to my perfect state of health. In that 
letter also I said that if, to save my life, it were necessary to resort 
to such an artifice, I preferred to lose it a thousand times. To 
make it understood that I was resolved to fight alone against such 
smallness, I added to my brief that thought of the master: 'A just 
principle from the depth of a cave can do more than an army.' 
That was the letter which, as the court knows. Dr. Melba Her- 
nandez presented on the third day of the oral trial, September 26. 
I was able to get it to her despite the implacable vigilance which 
weighed over me. Because of that letter, naturally, reprisal 
measures were taken: Dr. Hernandez was placed in solitary con- 
finement, and, as I was already in solitary, they confined me to 
the most distant place of the prison. From that moment on all 
the prisoners were searched carefully from head to foot before 
leaving for the trial. 

54 



"On the twenty-seventh the forensic medicos came and cer- 
tified that, in effect, I was perfectly healthy. Despite reiterated 
orders of the court, however, I was not brought back to any 
session of the trial. Add to this the fact that every day unknown 
persons distributed hundreds of apocryphal pamphlets which 
talked of rescuing me from prison— a stupid trick to eliminate me 
physically under pretexts of evasion. Those plans failed because 
of the opportune denunciation of alert friends and the falsity of 
the medical certificate having been discovered. So there was no 
other recourse than to prevent my attendance at the trial, which 
was open and barefaced contempt. 

"This was an unusual case, Honorable Judges: a regime that 
was afraid to present an accused before the courts; a regime of 
terror and of blood, which was frightened before the moral con- 
viction of a defenseless, unarmed, incommunicado and libeled 
man. Thus, after having deprived me of all, they deprive me 
ultimately of the trial where I was the principal accused. Bear in 
mind that this was done in full exercise of the suspension of 
guarantees and with the Law of Public Order and Censorship of 
the Press and Radio functioning in all its vigor. What crimes so 
horrible had this regime committed that it feared the voice of 
an accused? 

"I must mention the insolent and disrespectful attitude which 
the military chiefs have maintained toward you. How many times 
did this court order the inhuman solitary confinement that 
weighed over me to cease? How many times did you order my 
most elemental rights to be respected? How many times did you 
demand that I be presented at the trial? Never were you obeyed. 
One by one they showed contempt for your orders. Worse yet: in 
the very presence of the court, in the first and second sessions, I 
was put beside a pretorian guard to keep me from talking to 
anybody at all, not even during recess, giving you to understand 
that, not only in prison but even in the court and in your presence 
they didn't pay the slightest attention to your dispositions. I 
planned to present this problem in the following session as a 
question of elemental honor for the court, but ... I didn't return 
any more. And if in exchange for such disrespect they bring us 
here in order that you send us to jail, in name of a legality they 

55 



only and they exclusively are violating since March 10, very sad 
is the role that they wish to impose on you. The Latin maxim, 
Cedant arma togae, has certainly not been fulfilled once in this 
case. I beg you to bear in mind this circumstance. 

"More, all the measures taken were completely useless because 
my brave companions, with civic action without precedent, fully 
complied with their duty. 

" 'We have come to fight for the liberty of Cuba and we do not 
regret having done it,' one by one they said when they were 
called to testify, and immediately, with impressive courage, ad- 
dressing the court, denounced the horrible crimes that had been 
committed on the bodies of our brothers. Although absent I 
was able to follow the trial from my cell in all its details, thanks 
to the inhabitants of the Boniato prison who, despite all the 
threats of severe punishment, took advantage of ingenious meth- 
ods in order to place in my hands all kinds of reports and other 
information. They avenged in that way the abuses and immor- 
alities of Director Taboada and of Lieutenant Rozabel, who 
made them work from sunrise to sunset constructing private 
palaces, and on top of that starved them by embezzling the sub- 
sistence funds. 

"As the trial progressed the roles were reversed: those who 
were going to accuse were accused, and the accused were con- 
verted into accusers. The revolutionaries were not judged there. 
There for all time was judged a man named Batista. Monstrum 
horrendum! It doesn't matter that the valiant and worthy young 
men have been condemned if tomorrow the people will condemn 
the dictator and his thugs. They were sent to the Isle of Pines in 
whose circular cell blocks the specter of Castell still lingers and 
the shout of so many, many of the assassinated has not been 
extinguished. There they have gone to purge, in bitter confine- 
ment, their love for liberty, sequestered from society, torn from 
their homes and exiled from the Fatherland. Don't you believe, 
as I said, that under such circumstances it is unpleasant and diffi- 
cult for this lawyer to fulfill his mission? 

"As a result of so many dirty and unlawful machinations by 
the will of those who rule and the weakness of those who judge, 
I am here in this little room of the Civil Hospital where I have 

56 



been brought to be tried in secrecy so that I cannot be heard, so 
that my voice may be stilled and nobody may know of the things 
that I am going to say. For what do you want that imposing 
Palace of Justice, where the magistrates will find, without doubt, 
many more comforts? It is not convenient, I submit to you, that 
justice be imparted from the room of a hospital surrounded by 
sentinels with pointed bayonets because the citizens might think 
that our justice is sick . . , and jailed. 

"I remind you that our procedural laws establish that a trial 
will be 'oral and public'; however, the people have been com- 
pletely barred from this session. Only two lawyers and six re- 
porters—in whose newspapers the censorship will not allow a 
single word to be published— have been admitted. I see that the 
only public I have in the room and in the halls are nearly one 
hundred officers and men. Thanks for the serious and amiable 
attention which they are rendering me! If only I had the entire 
army in front of me! I know that some day it will burn with desire 
to wash the terrible stain of shame and of blood that the ambi- 
tions of a soulless group has launched over the military uniform. 
Oh, those who today ride comfortably over their noble war- 
riors ... as if the people have not unsaddled them long ago! 

"Finally, I must say that not even a book on penal law was 
allowed in my cell in the prison: I can have this minuscule code 
just lent me by a lawyer, the valiant defender of my companions: 
Dr. Baudilio Castellanos. Likewise they kept the books of Marti 
from reaching my hands: it appears that the prison censorship 
considered them too subversive. Or it is because I said Marti was 
the intellectual author of the 26th of July? 

"It was also forbidden to bring to this trial any work of refer- 
ence about any other subject. That doesn't matter at all! I bring 
in my heart the doctrines of the master and in my thought the 
noble ideas of all the men who have defended the liberty of the 
people. 

"I am only going to ask one thing of the court. I hope you 
will grant me one thing, in compensation for such excess and 
abuse as this accused has had to suffer without any protection of 
the laws: that my right to express myself with full freedom be 
respected. Without it you will not be able to fill the mere appear- 

57 



ances of justice, and this last action would be, more than any 
other, of ignominy and cowardice. 

"I confess that something has deceived me. I thought that the 
prosecutor would come forward with a terrible accusation, dis- 
posed to justify to the end the pretense and the motives for which, 
in the name of Law and Justice— what Law and what Justice?— 
I should be condemned to twenty-six years in prison. But no: 
He has limited himself exclusively to reading Article 148 of the 
Code of Social Defense by which, more aggravating circum- 
stances, he asks for me the respectable quantity of twenty-six 
years of imprisonment. Two minutes appear to be very little time 
to ask and to justify that a man pass to the shadow of more than 
a quarter of a century. Is the prosecutor by chance disgusted 
with the court? Because, as I see it, his laconic attitude in this 
case contrasts with that solemnity with which the magistrates 
declared with such pride that this was a trial of great importance. 
I have seen the prosecutors talk ten times as long in a simple case 
of narcotic drugs to request that a citizen be condemned to six 
months in prison. The prosecutor has not pronounced a single 
word to support his petition. I am fair. I understand that it is 
difficult for a prosecutor who swore to be faithful to the Constitu- 
tion of the Republic to come here in name of an unconstitutional 
de facto statutory government of no legality and of less morality, 
to ask that a young Cuban, lawyer like him, perhaps, as decent as 
he, be sent for twenty-six years to jail. But the prosecutor is a 
man of talent and I have seen persons with less talent than his 
write long treatises in defense of this situation. How, then, be- 
lieve that he may lack reasons to defend it, even for fifteen min- 
utes, for all the repugnance that this inspires in any decent 
person? There is no doubt that at the bottom of this is a great 
conspiracy. 

"Senores Magistrates: Why such pressure that I keep silent? 
Why, inclusive, is every kind of reasoning suspended in order 
not to present any target against which I can direct the attack 
of my arguments? Is it that the juridical, moral and political 
basis for making a serious presentation of the question is entirely 
lacking? Is it that the truth is so feared? Is it that he wishes that 
I also speak only two minutes and not touch here the points 

58 



which have caused certain people to be sleepless since the 26th 
of July? 

"By limiting the prosecution's petition to the simple reading of 
five lines of an article of the Code of Social Defense, he might 
have thought that I would limit myself to the same and give turns 
and more turns around them, like a slave turning a millstone. 
But I will not in any manner accept that muzzle, because in this 
trial something more than the simple liberty of an individual is 
being debated: Fundamental questions of principle are being 
judged; the right of men to be free is being judged; the very 
foundation of our existence as a civilized and democratic nation 
is being debated. When it ends I do not want to have to reprove 
myself for having discarded principle for a defense without speak- 
ing the truth or denouncing crime. 

"The famous little article of the prosecutor does not deserve 
even a minute of reply. I will limit myself, for the moment, to 
fighting a brief juridical skirmish against him, because I want the 
field to be clean of dust when the hour arrives to touch the blade 
against all the lies, falsehoods, hypocrisy, conventionalisms and 
limitless moral cowardice on which is based that bald comedy 
which, since the 10th of March and even before the 10th of 
March, is called in Cuba justice. 

"It is an elemental principle of penal law that the imputed act 
has to be exactly the type of crime proscribed by the law. If 
there is no law exactly applicable to the controverted point, there 
is no crime. 

"The article in question says textually: 'A penalty of from 
three to ten years will be imposed on the author of an act directed 
to promote an uprising of armed men against the constitutional 
powers of the state. The penalty will be from five to twenty years' 
imprisonment if the insurrection is carried into effect.' 

"In what country are we living, Mr. Prosecutor? Who has said 
that we have promoted an uprising against the constitutional 
powers of the state? Two things come to light. In the first place: 
the dictatorship that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional 
power, but is unconstitutional; it was engendered against the 
Constitution, above the Constitution, violating the legitimate 
Constitution of the Republic. Legitimate constitution is that 

59 



which emanates directly from the sovereign people. This point 
I will demonstrate fully further on, in the face of all the stu- 
pidities that the cowards and the traitors have invented in order 
to justify the unjustifiable. In the second place, the article speaks 
of powers, that is to say, plural, not singular, because it is con- 
sidering the case of a republic ruled by a legislative power, an 
executive power and a judicial power that balance and check one 
and another. We have promoted rebellion against a single il- 
legitimate power that has usurped and united into one man the 
legislative and executive powers of the nation, destroying the 
entire system that the article of the Code which we are analyzing 
precisely tried to protect. Of the independence of the judicial 
power after the 10th of March, I will not even speak because I 
am not here to joke. For all the efforts to stretch, to shrink or to 
repair not a single comma of Article 148 is applicable to the acts 
of the 26th of July. Let us leave it undisturbed, awaiting the 
opportunity in which it can be applied to those who promoted an 
uprising against the constitutional powers of the state. Later I 
will return to the Code in order to refresh the memory of the 
prosecutor about certain circumstances that lamentably he has 
forgotten. 

"I warn you that I have just started. If in your souls there re- 
mains one bit of love for the Fatherland, of love for humanity, of 
love for justice, listen to me with attention. I know they will 
compel me to be silent for many years; I know that they will try 
to hide the truth by all the means possible; I know that against 
me there will rise the conspiracy of forgetfulness. But my voice 
will not be drowned because of that. Forces gather in my breast 
the lonelier I feel, and in my heart is the desire to give all the heat 
that the cowardly souls deny me. 

"I listened to the dictator on Monday, July 27, from a shack 
in the mountains when we still had eighteen men under arms. 
Those who have not passed through similar moments will not 
know the bitterness and indignation of life. At the same time that 
our hopes so often cherished for the freedom of our people were 
dashed to the ground, we saw the despot rise more braggart and 
worse than ever. The flow of lies and calumnies that spewed 
from his stubborn, odious and repugnant tongue could only be 

60 



compared with the enormous flow of young, clean blood which 
the night before was being spilled, with his knowledge, consent, 
complicity and applause, by the most soulless band of assassins 
that ever could be conceived. To have believed for one minute 
what he said is sufficient for a man of conscience to live regret- 
fully and ashamed all his life. He did not even have, in those 
moments, the hope of recording on his miserable face the truth 
that stigmatizes him for the remainder of his days and the rest of 
his time, because around us the ring of more than one thousand 
men, with weapons of greater reach and power, whose definite 
order was to return with our corpses, had already closed. Today, 
the truth begins to be known and I end, with these words which 
I am pronouncing, the mission that is imposed upon me, com- 
pleted to the full. I can die calmly and happily. 

"It is necessary that I stop to consider a few of the facts. The 
government said that the attack was carried out with such pre- 
cision and perfection that the presence of military experts in the 
elaboration of the plan was evident. Nothing more absurd! The 
plan was drafted by a group of young men, none of whom had 
military experience; and I am going to reveal their names, minus 
two who are neither dead nor prisoners: Abel Santamaria, Jose 
Luis Tasende, Renato Guitart Rosell, Pedro Miret, Jesus Mon- 
tane and he who addresses you. Half are dead, and in just tribute 
to their memory I can say that they were not military experts, but 
had sufficient patriotism to give, in equality of conditions, a 
sovereign beating to all the generals of the 10th of March affair 
together, who are neither soldiers nor patriots. 

"It was more difficult to organize, to train and to mobilize men 
and arms under a repressive regime that spends millions of dol- 
lars on espionage, bribery and informers— tasks that those young 
men and many others realized with seriousness, discretion and 
truly incredible constancy. More meritorious yet it will always 
be to give to an ideal all that one has and, moreover, one's life. 

"The final mobilization of men who came to this province from 
the most remote towns of the entire island was carried out with 
admirable precision and absolute secrecy. It is likewise true that 
the attack was realized with magnificent co-ordination. It com- 
menced simultaneously at 5:15 a.m., in Bayamo as well as in 

61 



Santiago de Cuba, and, one by one, with exactness of minutes 
and seconds foreseen in advance, the buildings that surrounded 
the camp started to fall. However, in strictest truth, even when 
it minimizes our merit, I am going to reveal for the first time an- 
other fact that was fatal: Half of the bulk of our forces, and the 
best armed, because of a lamentable error became lost at the 
entrance to the city and so was of no use to us at the decisive 
moment. Abel Santamaria, with twenty-one men, had occupied 
the Civil Hospital; with him also, to attend to the wounded, went 
a medico and two ladies. Raul Castro, with ten men, occupied 
the Palace of Justice; and it fell to me to attack the fort with the 
other ninety-five men. I arrived with the first group of forty-five, 
preceded by an advance guard of eight who penetrated gate 
three. It was here precisely where the fighting started that my 
automobile encountered a cruising patrol armed with machine 
guns. The reserve group, which had almost all the long arms, 
for the small arms were with the advance guard, took the wrong 
street and became completely lost within a city which they did 
not know. I must clarify that I do not entertain the least doubt 
about the valor of those men, who, finding themselves lost, suf- 
fered great anguish and desperation. Because of the type of 
action that developed and the identical color of the uniforms of 
both fighting parties it was not easy to re-establish contact. Many 
of them, arrested later, met death with true heroism. 

"Everyone had very precise instructions to be, above all, hu- 
man in the fight. Never was a group of armed men more gen- 
erous with the adversary. Numerous prisoners were taken from 
the first moments. There was an instant, at the beginning, in 
which three of our men, of those who had taken the gate— Ramiro 
Valdes, Jose Suarez and Jesus Montane— were able to penetrate 
inside a barracks and hold for a time almost fifty soldiers. These 
prisoners testified before this court, and all without exception 
have recognized that they were treated with absolute respect 
without having to suffer even one unpleasant word. Concerning 
this aspect I do thank the prosecutor from my heart, for some- 
thing; that in the trial of my companions, upon delivering his 
summation, he had the justice to recognize, as an indubitable 
fact, the very high spirit of gentlemanliness that we maintained 
in the fight. 

62 



"The discipline on the part of the army was bad enough. They 
conquered in the end because of their number, which gave them 
a superiority of fifteen to one, and because of the protection 
which the defenses of the fortress offered them. Our men shot 
much better and they themselves recognized this. The human 
bravery was equally high on both sides. 

"Considering the causes of the tactical failure, apart from the 
lamentable error mentioned, I believe that it was an error on our 
part to divide the unity of commands that we had so carefully 
trained. Of our best men and boldest chiefs, there were twenty- 
seven in Bayamo, twenty-one in the Civil Hospital and ten in the 
Palace of Justice; if another distribution had been made the 
result could have been different. The clash with the patrol (to- 
tally casual, for twenty seconds earlier or twenty seconds later it 
would not have been at this point), gave time for them to alert 
the camp; otherwise, it would have fallen into our hands without 
a shot, for the gate was already in our power. On the other 
hand, except the .22 caliber rifles which were well supplied, the 
ammunition on our side was very scarce. If we had had hand 
grenades, they would not have been able to resist for fifteen 
minutes. 

"When I was convinced that all our efforts to take the fort were 
already useless, I commenced to withdraw our men in groups of 
eight or ten. The withdrawal was protected by six snipers who, 
under command of Pedro Miret and of Fidel Labrador, heroically 
blocked the route of the army. Our losses in the fight had been 
insignificant; ninety-five percent of our dead were the product of 
cruelty and inhumanity when the fighting had ended. The group 
at the Civil Hospital did not have a single casualty; the rest were 
surrounded when the troops covered the only exit from the build- 
ing, and they laid down their arms only when they did not have 
a single bullet left. With them was Abel Santamaria, the most 
generous, beloved and intrepid of our young men, whose glorious 
resistance immortalizes him in the history of Cuba. We will see 
the fate that befell him and how Batista wished to react to the 
rebelliousness and heroism of our youth. 

"Our plans were to continue the fight in the mountains in case 
of failure of the attack on the regiment. I was able to gather 
again, in Siboney, a third of our forces, but we were already for- 

63 



lorn. Some twenty decided to give themselves up; we will see 
also what happened to them. The rest, eighteen men, with the 
arms and ammunition they had left, followed me into the moun- 
tains. The land was totally unknown to us. For one week we 
occupied the high part of the Cordillera of Gran Piedra and the 
army occupied the foothills. We could not descend and they 
could not decide to go up after us. It was not, then, the weapons 
but only hunger and thirst that vanquished the last resistance. 
I had to go on breaking up the men into small groups. Some 
were able to infiltrate through the army lines; others surrendered 
to Monsignor Perez Serantes. When only two companions re- 
mained with me, Jose Suarez and Oscar Alcalde— all three of us 
totally exhausted— at dawn on Saturday the first of August a force 
under command of Lieutenant Sarria surprised us while we were 
sleeping. The slaughter of prisoners had already ceased because 
of the tremendous reaction it had provoked in the citizens, and 
this officer, a man of honor, prevented some killers from assassi- 
nating us there in the field with our hands tied. 

"My purpose is not to entertain the court with epic narrations. 
Everything that I have said is necessary for the most exact un- 
derstanding of what I will say later. 

"I wish to record two important things so that our attitude may 
be serenely judged. First: we could have facilitated the taking 
of the regiment, simply arresting all the high officers in their 
quarters, a possibility that we rejected because of the very human 
consideration of avoiding scenes of tragedy or of fighting in the 
family quarters. Second: it was agreed not to take any radio 
station until such time as the camp was secure. This attitude of 
ours, seldom seen because of its gallantry and grandeur, saved 
the citizens a river of blood. With only ten men, I could have 
occupied a radio station and hurled the people into the fight. It 
was not possible to doubt their spirit: I had the last speech of 
Eduardo Chibas in C.M.Q., transcribed in his own words; prac- 
tical poems and war hymns capable of shaking the most indiffer- 
ent, with more reason when they are listening in the fever of 
combat, and I did not want to make use of it despite our des- 
perate situation. 

"It has been repeated with much emphasis by the government 

64 



that the people did not second the movement. Never have I 
heard such an ingenuous denial and, at the same time, one so full 
of bad faith. They pretend to show it by the submission and cow- 
ardice of the people; therejs little left for them to say but that the 
people support the dictatorship, and they do not know how they 
offend the brave men of Oriente. Santiago de Cuba believed it 
was a fight between soldiers and had no knowledge of what had 
happened until many hours later. Who doubts the bravery, 
civism and limitless courage of the rebel and patriotic people of 
Santiago de Cuba? If Moncada had fallen into our hands, even 
the women of Santiago de Cuba would have taken up arms! 
Many rifles were loaded for our combatants by the nurses of the 
Civil Hospital. They also fought. That we will never forget. 

"It never was our intention to fight agamst the soldiers of the 
regiment, but to take over by surprise the control and the arms, 
to call the people, to assemble the soldiers later and invite them 
to abandon the hated flag of tyranny and to embrace that of 
liberty; to defend the great interests of the nation and not the 
niggardly interests of a little group; to turn and fire against the 
enemies of the people, and not against the people where their 
sons and fathers are; to fight beside them, as brothers that they are, 
and not against them, as the enemies that the dictatorship wants 
them to be; to go united toward the only beautiful ideal, alone 
worth offering your life for, which is the grandeur and happiness 
of the Fatherland. Of those who doubt that many soldiers would 
have joined us, I ask: 'What Cuban does not love glory? What 
soul does not light up in a dawn of liberty?' 

"The navy did not fight against us and would without doubt 
have joined us later. It is known that that sector of the armed 
forces is the least addicted to tyranny and that there exists among 
their members a very high index of civic conscience. But as for 
the rest of the national army, would they have fought agamst the 
rebellious people? I say no. The soldier is a man of flesh and 
bone, who thinks, who observes and who feels. He is susceptible 
to the influence of the opinions, beliefs, sympathies and antipa- 
thies of the people. If he is asked his opinion, he will say that 
he cannot give it; but that does not signify that he lacks opinion. 
He is affected by exactly the same problems which concern the 

65 



other citizens: subsistence, rent, the education of his sons, their 
future, etc. Each family is a point of inevitable contact between 
him and the people and the present and future situation of the so- 
ciety in which he lives. It is foolish to think that because a soldier 
receives a wage from the state, very modest, that this resolves his 
vital preoccupations, his needs, duties and sentiments as a mem- 
ber of a family and of a social group." 

Castro then explained why he found it necessary to refer to 
the soldiery: 

"The 10th of March took place in the moment in which the 
prestige of the civil government had descended to the minimum, 
a circumstance which Batista and his clique took advantage of. 
Why didn't they do it after June 1 ? Simply because, if they had 
waited for the majority of the nation to express its sentiments at 
the polls, no conspiracy would have found echo in the troops." 

Castro referred briefly to the former regimes and then made 
this prophetic statement: 

"A second affirmation can, therefore, be made: the army never 
has rebelled against a regime of popular majority. These are 
historic truths. If Batista is determined to remain in power at all 
cost, against the absolutely majority will of Cuba, his end will be 
more tragic than that of Gerardo Machado." 

Castro had more to say about the army and some of the former 
officers. He told the court that he thought Camp Columbia, the 
military fortress, "should be converted into a school and, instead 
of soldiers, ten thousand orphan children should be installed 
there." 

Then Castro reviewed some heroic features of the War for 
Independence— the bravery of the people of the province of 
Oriente. 

"That is how the people fight," he said, "when they want to 
win their freedom: they throw stones at airplanes and turn tanks 
upside down!" 

And he told the court of his plans after the capture of the 
Oriente capital. 

"Once the city of Santiago de Cuba was in our power, we 
would have placed the people immediately on war footing. 
Bayamo was attacked precisely to situate our advanced forces 

66 



along the Rio Cauto. Do not ever forget that this province, which 
today has a million and a half inhabitants, is without doubt the 
most warlike and patriotic of Cuba. It was she that kept the fight 
for independence burning for thirty years and gave the greatest 
tribute of blood, sacrifice and heroism. In Oriente the air of that 
glorious campaign is still breathed. At dawn when the roosters 
crow like bugles calling reveille and the sun rises radiant over 
the rugged mountains, it appears that once again we are going to 
hear the cry of Yara or of Baire. [The cry of Yara on October 
10, 1868, was the first shout for independence. The cry of Baire 
on February 24, 1895, was the declaration that preceded the 
final drive for liberty from Spain.] 

"I said that the second reason on which the possibility of our 
success was based was one of social order. We had the certainty 
of counting upon the people. When we speak of the people, we 
do not understand as such the accommodated ones and the con- 
servatives of the nation, those to whom any regime of oppression, 
any dictatorship, any despotism comes well; they prostrate them- 
selves before the master of the moment until they smash their 
faces against the ground. We understand by the people, when 
we speak of struggle, the great unredeemed mass, to whom all 
offer and whom all deceive and doublecross; who hope for a better 
and more dignified and more just Fatherland; who are moved by 
the ancestral desires of justice, having suffered injustice and scorn 
generation after generation; who hope for grand and wise trans- 
formations in all the orders and are disposed to give to achieve 
when they believe in something or in someone— above all when 
they believe sufficiently in themselves, even to the last drop of 
blood. The first condition of the sincerity and good faith in a 
plan is to do precisely what nobody does, that is, to speak with 
complete clarity and without fear. The demagogues and the pro- 
fessional politicians who work the miracle of seeming to be in 
everything and on the side of all, are necessarily deceiving all in 
all. The revolutionaries have to proclaim their ideas valiantly, to 
define their principles and to express their intentions so that no- 
body is deceived, neither friends nor enemies." 

Castro now addressed himself to the people of Cuba rather 
than to the court. His defense was the presentation and lament 

67 



for the sorry conditions that confronted many workers. He ap- 
pealed for their support through the enunciation of a platform 
that had to sound good to their ears and stimulate their hopes as 
they read it, even though they were not to have the opportunity 
of reading it for more than a year and a half because of cen- 
sorship. 

"We call on the people," he continued, "the seven hundred 
thousand Cubans who are without work but who desire to earn 
their bread honestly without fear of having to emigrate from their 
country in search of sustenance; the five hundred thousand 
camp workers who dwell in miserable shacks, who work four 
months of the year and are hungry the rest, sharing the mis- 
ery with their sons, who do not have an inch of land to plant 
and whose existence should move more to compassion if there 
were not so many hearts of stone; the four hundred thousand 
industrial workers and stevedores whose retirement funds, all, 
have been embezzled, whose conquests are being taken away, 
whose homes are infernal habitations of the rustlers, whose sal- 
aries pass from the hands of the boss to the usurer, whose future 
is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is perennial work 
and whose rest is the tomb. We call on the one hundred thou- 
sand small farmers who live and die working a land that is not 
theirs, always sadly contemplating it like Moses and the promised 
land, only to die without possessing it; who have to pay for their 
parcels like feudal slaves with a part of their products; who 
cannot love it, nor improve it, nor plant a cedar or an orange tree 
to beautify it because they do not know the day when a 
sheriff or a rural guard will come to tell them that they have to 
go. On the thirty thousand teachers and professors so devoted, 
sacrificed and necessary to the better destiny of future genera- 
tions and who are so badly treated and paid; on the twenty thou- 
sand small businessmen overwhelmed with debts, ruined by the 
crisis and harangued by a plague of filibusters and venal officials; 
on the ten thousand young professionals: medicos, engineers, 
lawyers, veterinarians, pedagogues, dentists, pharmacists, news- 
papermen, painters, sculptors, etc., who leave the classrooms 
with their degrees, desirous of working and full of hope, only 

68 



to find themselves in a dead end street, all the doors closed, deaf 
to clamor and supplication. 

"These are the people who suffer all the unhappiness and are 
therefore capable of fighting with all courage! To the people 
whose roads of anguish are stony with deceit and false promises 
we were not going to say: 'We are going to give you,' but: 'Here 
you have it. Fight now with all your forces so that liberty and 
happiness may be yours!' 

"In the documents of this Cause there must be recorded five 
revolutionary laws that would have been proclaimed immediately 
after the capture of the Moncada fort and broadcast by radio to 
the nation. It is possible that Colonel Chaviano has destroyed 
all of those documents, but if he has destroyed them, I conserve 
them in my memory. 

"The first revolutionary law would have restored sovereignty 
to the people and proclaimed the Constitution of 1940 as the 
true supreme law of the state, until such time as the people should 
decide to modify it or to change it. And to effect its implementa- 
tion and the exemplary punishment of all who had violated it- 
organs of popular election to carry it out not existing— the revolu- 
tionary movement, as momentous incarnation of that sovereignty 
and only source of legitimate power, would have assumed all the 
faculties inherent in it except that of modifying the Constitution: 
power to legislate, power to execute and power to judge. 

"This attitude could not be more correct and devoid of trash 
and sterile charlatanism: a government acclaimed by the mass of 
combatants would receive everything necessary in order to effect 
implementation of the popular will and of true justice. From that 
moment, the judicial power, which has been placed since the 
10th of March against the Constitution and outside the Consti- 
tution, would cease, and an immediate and total purge of such 
power would begin before it would assume anew the powers 
which the supreme law of the Republic grant it. Without those 
prior measures, the return to legality, placing its custody in the 
hands of dishonorable leaders, would be an embezzlement, a 
deceit and one more treachery, 

"The second revolutionary law would grant property, not 

69 



mortgageable and not transferable, to all planters, subplanters, 
lessees, partners and squatters who occupy parcels of five or less 
caballerias of land [a caballeria is 33i/3 acres], the State indem- 
nifying their former owners on the basis of the rental which they 
have received for said parcels on an average of ten years. 

"The third revolutionary law would grant to workers and em- 
ployees the right to share in thirty percent of the profits of all 
the large industrial, commercial and mining companies, includ- 
ing sugar mills. The merely agricultural firms would be excepted 
in consideration of other laws of agrarian order that would be 
implemented. 

"The fourth revolutionary law would grant to all planters the 
right to share in fifty-five percent of the cane crop; a minimum 
quota of forty thousand arrobas [each arroba is twenty-five 
pounds] would be allotted to small planters who have been es- 
tablished for three years or more. 

"The fifth revolutionary law ordered the confiscation of all of 
the property of all the malfeasants of all the governments— and of 
their legatees and heirs to property received by will or intestate 
of ill-gotten origin. To implement this special courts with access 
to all sources would have full powers to investigate the corpora- 
tions registered in the country or which operate in it where mal- 
feasant properties may be hidden, and to request of foreign 
governments the extradition of persons and the attachment of 
property. Half of the property recovered would be given to the 
workers' retirement banks and the other half to hospitals, asylums 
and charitable homes. 

"It was declared, moreover, that the Cuban policy in America 
would be one of close solidarity with the democratic people of 
the Continent, and that those politically persecuted from bloody 
tyrannies that oppress the sister nations would find in the Father- 
land of Marti, not persecution, hunger and treachery as today, 
but generous asylum, brotherhood and bread. Cuba should be 
the bulwark of liberty and not the shameful abode of despotism." 

Castro then told the court those laws would be "proclaimed 
immediately and would be followed, after a minute study, with 
another series of equally fundamental laws and measures such 
as agrarian reform, total reform of education and the nationali- 

70 



zation of the electric trust and the telephone trust; the return to 
the people of the unlawful excess that they have been charged in 
their rates and payment to the public treasury of all amounts 
owing to it." 

Castro said all the above was based on two essential articles 
of the constitution, one of which proscribes land hoarding and 
the other of which obligates the state to use every means within 
its reach to provide employment for the citizen. 

"The first government of popular election that rises immedi- 
ately after," Castro continued, "would have to respect them [the 
laws], not only because they would have a moral obligation to 
the nation, but because when the people achieve the conquests 
which they have been hoping for during several generations there 
is no force in the world capable of taking them away again. 

"The problem of the land," he went on, "of industrialization, 
the problem of housing, the problem of education, the problem of 
unemployment and the problem of the health of the people— here 
are the six problems whose solution our efforts would have reso- 
lutely begun, together with public liberties and political democ- 
racy. 

"Perhaps this exposition appears cold and theoretical if one 
does not know the frightening and tragic situation in which the 
country is living in respect to those six areas, to say nothing of 
the most humiliating political oppression." 

Castro pointed out that the United Fruit Company and the 
West Indian Company jointly owned land from the north to the 
south coasts of Oriente province while 200,000 Cuban families 
residing there do not own a small plot of land. 

And he proceeded to outline his plans for educational reform. 

"Our teaching system perfectly complements all the above: In 
a field where a guajiro [native peasant] is not the owner of the 
land, why do we want agricultural schools? In a city where there 
are no industries, why do we want technical schools? All this 
falls within the same absurd logic: there is neither one thing nor 
the other. In any small country of Europe there exist more than 
two hundred technical and industrial arts schools; in Cuba there 
are no more than six, and the boys graduate with their degrees 
without having a place to work. They attend the small public 

71 



schools of the field, barefoot, half -dressed and undernourished- 
even then, less than half of the children of school age. Many 
times the teacher has to acquire with his own salary the material 
necessary for use in class and for the students. Is that the way to 
build a great country?" 

Castro voiced his scorn for the politicians who lived in comfort 
in mansions on Fifth Avenue in the Miramar residential district 
of Havana, preaching "absolute freedom of enterprise, guarantees 
for investment capital and the law of supply and demand." 

"A revolutionary government with the backing of the people 
and the respect of the nation," he insisted, "after cleaning the 
institutions of venal and corrupt officials, would proceed imme- 
diately to industrialize the country. It would mobilize all the 
inactive capital, which exceeds presently five hundred million 
dollars, through the Banco Nacional and the Industrial, Agricul- 
tural and Development Bank, and submit the large task to study, 
direction, planning and realization by technicians and men of 
absolute competence, completely foreign to the maneuvers of 
politics. 

"A revolutionary government, after placing over their parcels 
as owners the one hundred thousand farmers who today pay 
rent, would proceed to end definitely the land problem. How? 
First it would establish, as the constitution orders, a maximum 
holding for each type of agricultural enterprise, acquiring the 
excess through expropriation, claiming the usurped lands for 
the State, filling in mangrove and other swamplands, planting 
enormous areas and reserving zones for reforestation. Second, 
such a government would distribute the remaining land among 
the farming families with preference to the most numerous; it 
would encourage agricultural co-operatives for the common use 
of costly equipment, cold storage plants and a single professional 
technical direction in cultivation and breeding; and would facili- 
tate, finally, distribution of resources, equipment, protection and 
useful knowledge to the farmers." 

As Castro continued to discuss the housing and the educational 
problems, the judges listened attentively and the prosecutor en- 
tered no objections. All were enraptured by the tall crusader 
who faced them, who addressed them with a missionary zeal, who 

72 



had already accepted the fact that he would be condemned. It 
was a most unusual defense by the accused at any trial, but Cuba 
was living under most unusual circumstances. 

Here was a young man who had just passed his twenty-seventh 
birthday, who, together with most of his companions, had been 
only seven years old when Batista first became the strong man 
of Cuba, defiantly telling a court of justice— sitting in secrecy in 
a nurses' room in a hospital in the city of Santiago de Cuba be- 
cause the government feared the impact of a public trial of the 
accused— what he considered should be the political, social and 
military blueprint for the future of Cuba. 

"Only inspired by such elevated purposes," Castro resumed 
after lashing at the politicians and the system of bribery, cor- 
ruption and graft which they employed, "is it possible to conceive 
the heroism of those who fell in Santiago de Cuba. The scarce 
material means on which we had to count prevented certain 
success. The soldiers were told that Prio had given us a million 
dollars; they tried to thrust aside the most serious fact of all: that 
our movement had no relation whatsoever with the past, that it 
was a new Cuban generation with its own ideas which had risen 
against the tyranny, of young men who were only children when 
Batista committed his first crimes in the year 1934, The lie could 
not be more absurd. If with less than twenty thousand dollars we 
armed a hundred sixty-five men and attacked a regiment and a 
squadron, with a million dollars we could have armed eight thou- 
sand men, attacked fifty regiments and fifty squadrons! Let it 
be known that for every one who came to fight, twenty perfectly 
trained men didn't come because there were no arms. Those men 
paraded through the streets of Havana with the student demon- 
stration on the Centenary of Marti, filling six blocks in compact 
mass. Two hundred more who would have been able to come 
or twenty hand grenades in our possession and perhaps we would 
have saved this honorable court so much bother." 

Castro returned to the subject of the contributions made by 
his friends and companions to the cause and then lashed out at 
Batista once more. 

"The tyrant Batista was never a man of scruples who hesitated 
to tell the people the most fantastic lies," Castro told the court. 

73 



"When he wanted to justify the traitorous coup of March 10, he 
invented a supposed military coup that was to have erupted in 
the month of April which 'he wished to avoid so that the Republic 
would not be bathed in blood,' a ridiculous fable that nobody 
believed. When he himself wanted to bathe the republic in blood 
and to drown in terror, torture and crime the just rebellion of 
young men who did not want to be his slaves, he then invented 
more fantastic lies yet. How little respect he has for a people when 
he tries to deceive it so miserably! The same day I was captured, I 
publicly assumed the responsibility for the armed movement of 
the 26th of July; if only one of the things which the dictator had 
said against our combatants in his speech of July 27 had been 
true, it would have sufficed to wrest from me all moral force in 
this trial. But why were all the laws of proceeding violated and 
contempt scandalously shown for all the orders of the Court? 
Why did they do things never seen in any public trial in order 
to prevent, at all cost, my appearance? I, on the other hand, 
did the unusual by being present, by denouncing the maneuvers 
that were being realized to prevent it. I wanted to confront them, 
person to person and face to face. They did not want such a 
confrontation. Who had the truth and who did not have it?" 

Castro discussed the brutality of the Spanish generals against 
the Cuban patriots during the War of Independence, which 
served to increase the ranks of the insurrectionists. Then he re- 
turned again to Batista. 

"The treachery of December 1933 [when Batista ousted the 
provisional president] was insufficient, as were the crimes of 
March of 1935 [when political prisoners were tortured and killed 
and many Cubans were forced to flee into exile], and the forty 
million dollars of fortune that crowned his first phase. The 
treachery of March of 1952, the crimes of July of 1953 and the 
millions of dollars which Batista will now acquire were also neces- 
sary for him. 

"Dante divided his inferno into nine circles: he placed the 
criminals in the seventh, the thieves in the eighth and the traitors 
in the ninth. The devils will have a hard time finding an adequate 
site to place the soul of this man— if this man should have a soul! 
He who encouraged the atrocious acts of Santiago de Cuba does 
not even have entrails. 

74 



"I know many details of the manner in which those crimes 
were carried out. The details were given to me by some officers 
who, full of shame, told me about the scenes they had witnessed. 

"When the fighting ended, the troops were launched like wild 
animals over the city of Santiago de Cuba to satiate their initial 
anger against the defenseless population. In the street and very 
far from the place where the fighting had taken place they killed 
an innocent child, who was playing near the door of his house, 
with a bullet through his chest. And when his father rushed to 
pick him up, they killed him with a bullet through his head. 

"A child named Cala, who was returning to his house with a 
loaf of bread in his hands, was shot down without a word. It 
would be interminable to refer to the crimes and outrages com- 
mitted against the civilian population. And if they acted in this 
manner against those who had not participated in the action, 
you can imagine the horrible luck that befell the participating 
prisoners or those who they thought had participated. Just as in 
this trial many persons were involved who had nothing to do 
with the deeds, they also killed many of the prisoners who had 
nothing to do with the attack. These are not included in the 
figures of the victims that have been given, which refer exclu- 
sively to our men. Some day the total number of those immo- 
lated will become known. 

"The first prisoner murdered was our medico. Dr. Mario 
Munoz, who carried no arms, wore no uniform and was dressed 
in a doctor's cloak. He was a generous and competent man who 
would have treated a wounded adversary with the same devotion 
as a friend. On the road from the Civil Hospital to the fort they 
shot him in the back and left him lying there face downward in 
a pool of blood. But the mass slaughter of prisoners did not 
begin until after three o'clock in the afternoon. They waited for 
orders until that hour. General Martin Diaz Tamayo arrived 
from Havana then and brought concrete instructions given him 
during a meeting Batista held with the Chief of the Army, 
the Chief of the Military Intelligence Service and other officers. 
Batista told him: 

" Tt was a shame and a dishonor for the army to have had 
three times the casualties of the attackers in battle. Ten prisoners 
must be killed for every dead soldier.' That was the order! 

75 



"In every human group there are men of low instincts, bom 
criminals, beasts, carriers of all the ancestral atavisms superim- 
posed on the human form, monsters more or less restrained by 
discipline and social habit, who if they were given water to drink 
in a river would not stop until they had drunk it dry! All those 
men needed was precisely that order. The best of Cuba died in 
their hands: the bravest, the most honest, the most idealistic. The 
tyrant called them mercenaries, but they died like heroes at the 
hands of men who collected a salary from the republic, and by 
the arms which had been delivered for defense. Defense! Instead 
the soldiers serve the interests of a band and murder the best 
citizens. 

"In the midst of tortures our comrades were told their lives 
would be spared if— betraying their ideological position— they 
would falsely declare that Prio had given the money. When they 
indignantly rejected the proposition, the soldiers continued tor- 
turing them horribly. They shattered their testicles and yanked 
out their eyes, but no one gave in. Nor was a lament or a sup- 
plication heard. Even when they had been deprived of their 
virile organs they continued being a thousand times more men 
than all their executioners together. Photographs do not lie and 
those cadavers appear destroyed. They experimented in other 
ways: they couldn't break the bravery of the men so they probed 
the bravery of the women. 

"With a bleeding human eye in his hands a sergeant went with 
several others to the cell where Melba Hernandez and Haydee 
Santamaria were held. Addressing the latter, showing her the 
eye, he said: 'This was your brother's, and if you do not tell us 
what he refused to tell us we will yank out the other eye.' 

"She, who loved her valiant brother above everything, replied 
full of dignity: 'If you yanked out one eye and he did not tell 
you anything, much less will I tell you.' 

"Later they returned and burned her arms with hot irons, try- 
ing to force her to talk, until finally, full of spite, they told Hay- 
dee: 'You don't have a sweetheart any more because we have 
killed him, too.' 

"And she, imperturbable, replied once again: 'He is not dead, 
for to die for the Fatherland is to live.' 

76 



"Never had there been placed on so high a pedestal of heroism 
and dignity the name of Cuban womanhood. 

"These monsters didn't even respect the wounded in different 
hospitals in the city. They went looking for them like vultures 
following their prey. In the Centro Gallego they broke into the 
operating room at the very instant that two seriously wounded 
men were receiving blood transfusions. They yanked them from 
the tables and dragged them to the lower floor where they left 
their dead bodies, 

"They couldn't do the same in the Colonia Espanola where 
Gustavo Arcos and Jose Ponce were hospitalized because Dr. 
Posada valiantly prevented it, telling them they would have to 
take those two patients over his dead body. 

"Air and camphor were injected into the veins of Pedro Miret, 
Abelardo Crespo and Fidel Labrador to try to kill them in the 
Military Hospital. They owe their lives to Captain Tamayo, 
army medico and a true soldier of honor, who at pistol point took 
them away from the executioners and transferred them to the 
Civil Hospital. Those five young men were the only wounded 
who survived. 

"Before dawn groups of men— already deformed by torture- 
were removed from the camp, their hands tied and their mouths 
taped. They were taken in automobiles to Siboney, La Maya, 
Songo and other places to be killed in solitary fields. Later these 
deeds were recorded as deaths in combat with the army. This 
they did during several days and very few prisoners of all those 
who were arrested survived. Many were forced to dig their own 
graves. One of the young men, when he realized the purpose of 
the operation, wheeled around and hit one of the assassins on 
the face with the pick. Others were buried alive with their hands 
tied behind their backs. Many solitary places serve as the ceme- 
tery for those brave men. On the rifle range alone there are five 
buried. Some day they will be disinterred and carried on the 
shoulders of the people to a monument next to the tomb of Marti 
which the free Fatherland will have to erect to the 'Martyrs of 
the Centenary.' 

"The last young man who was murdered in the zone of San- 
tiago de Cuba was Marcos Marti. He had been arrested in a 

77 



cave near Siboney on Thursday the thirtieth, together with our 
companion Giro Redondo. While they were taking Marti on foot 
up the highway, they shot him in the back and then pumped 
several rounds into him as he lay on the ground to finish him. 
When Giro Redondo was brought to camp and Major Perez 
Ghaumont saw him he exclaimed: 'And this fellow? Why did 
you bring him to me?' 

"The court can hear the narrative of this incident from the 
lips of the young man who survived, thanks to what Perez Ghau- 
mont called: 'a stupidity of the soldiers.' 

"The order was general throughout the province. Ten days 
after the twenty-sixth, a newspaper of this city published the 
news that on the highway from Manzanillo to Bayamo the bodies 
of two young men had been found hanged. Later it was learned 
that these were the cadavers of Hugo Gamejo and Pedro Velez. 
Something extraordinary also occurred there. There were really 
three victims! The soldiers had taken the three out of the fort at 
Manzanillo at two o'clock in the morning. At a certain point on 
the highway they forced them out of the automobiles and beat 
them until they became unconscious, strangling them with a rope. 
But when they had already been left for dead, Andres Garcia 
regained consciousness and sought refuge in the house of a peas- 
ant. Thanks to him, the court could be informed of the crime 
with full details. This young man was the only survivor of all 
the prisoners that were taken in the zone of Bayamo. 

"Near the Rio Gauto at a place known as Barrancas you will 
find at the bottom of a blind well the bodies of Raul de Aguiar, 
Armando del Valle and Andres Valdes, murdered at midnight on 
the Alto Gedro-Palma Soriano road by Sergeant Montes de Oca, 
officer of the guard of the Miranda fort, Gorporal Maceo and the 
lieutenant in chief of Alto Gedro where they were arrested." 

Gastro told the court of an incident in a bus that picked up 
passengers at the Boniato prison to take them to Santiago de 
Guba. A sergeant named Eulalio Gonzalez, stationed at Mon- 
cada, boarded the bus and recognized the mother of Haydee 
Santamaria, dressed in mourning because of the murder of her 
son. Gonzalez boasted in a loud voice that he had yanked out 

78 



both eyes of Abel Santamaria, while the mother wept softly as 
she had to listen to his bragging. 

"Oh, Cuba is not Cuba and those responsible for those deeds 
will have to suffer the terrible reckoning!" Castro exclaimed. 
'They are soulless men who rudely insulted the people when 
they removed their hats as the cadavers of revolutionaries passed 
by en route to the cemetery." 

Castro reiterated to the court his belief that the government 
feared that he would cross-examine the witnesses and bring out 
all of the above facts and so prohibited him from continuing at 
the public trial. 

"Senores Magistrates," he asked, "where are our companions 
who were arrested the twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh, twenty- 
eighth and twenty-ninth of July? It is known there were more 
than sixty in the zone of Santiago de Cuba. Only three of them 
and two girls have appeared. The rest of our prisoners were ar- 
rested later. Where are our wounded companions? Only five 
have appeared. The rest were also murdered. The figures are 
irrefutable. On the other hand, twenty soldiers who were our 
prisoners have appeared as witnesses; according to their own 
testimony they did not even receive a word of offense from us. 
Twenty wounded soldiers paraded by you, many of them 
wounded in street fighting, and none was killed. If the army had 
nineteen dead and thirty wounded, how is it possible that we have 
eighty dead and five wounded? Who ever saw a battle of twenty- 
one dead and not a single man wounded, according to the illus- 
trious Perez Chaumont?" 

To reinforce his argument that the wounded generally out- 
number the dead in battles, Castro cited the figures of the invad- 
ing columns during the War of Independence that marched from 
Oriente province to Havana. He excoriated Batista and his army 
for having killed defenseless prisoners. He reviewed history and 
his own futile efforts to persuade the courts in Havana to declare 
Batista's government unconstitutional and force him out of office 
without firing a shot. He read the laws to support his arguments 
and reiterated that Batista should have been sentenced to 100 
years' imprisonment. 

79 



Castro was nearing the end of his protracted speech. He re- 
minded the court that "the right of rebelHon against despotism 
has been recognized since the most ancient times up to the pres- 
ent by men of all doctrines, of all ideas and all beliefs." And he 
cited authorities from ancient China to ancient India, Greece and 
Republican Rome: John Salisbury; St. Thomas Aquinas; Martin 
Luther; Juan de Mariana, the Spanish Jesuit of the epoch of 
Philip II; the French writer Francois Hotman; the Scotch re- 
formers John Knox and John Poynet; John Altusio, German 
jurist of the seventeenth century: John Milton; John Locke; Jean 
Jacques Rousseau and his Social Contract; Thomas Paine and 
our own Declaration of Independence. 

Castro then made this legal argument: 

"Cuba is suffering a cruel and ignominious despotism, and 
you cannot ignore the principle that resistance against despotism 
is legitimate. It is a universally recognized principle, and our 
Constitution of 1940 consecrated it expressly in the second para- 
graph of Article 40: 'Adequate resistance for the protection of 
the individual rights previously guaranteed is legitimate.' " 

The Cubans so fervently believe in that principle that at the 
Bogota Conference in 1948 they tried tenaciously to have it writ- 
ten into the Charter of the Organization of American States. 
Their delegation, headed by Dr. Guillermo Belt, who was then 
Ambassador in Washington, introduced the article at a meeting 
of the political committee. It was referred to a subcommittee 
and was debated and defeated. The Cubans reintroduced it at 
a meeting of the full committee. Again it was debated, and again 
it was defeated. Finally, the Cubans reintroduced it from the 
floor at the final plenary session of the entire conference, which 
was held in the Elliptical Salon of the Capitolio, and carried on 
a floor fight to urge its adoption. The resolution was defeated by 
a tie vote of 10 to 10 with one abstention. 

"I think I have sufficiently justified my point of view," Castro 
said as he approached the end of his defense. "There are more 
reasons which assist us than the prosecutor showed in order to 
ask that I be condemned to twenty-six years of prison. They all 
concern the men who fight for the liberty and happiness of a peo- 
ple, none which oppress and mercilessly vilify and loot; that is 

80 



why I have had to bring forward many and he could advance 
only one. How can the presence of Batista in power, to which 
position he arrived against the will of the people, violating by 
treachery and by force the laws of the republic, be justified? How 
can a regime of blood, oppression and ignominy be classified as 
legitimate? How can the high treason of a court whose mission 
was to defend our Constitution be considered juridically valid? 
What right does it have to send to prison citizens who came to 
give their blood and their life for the decorum of the country? 
That is monstrous before the eyes of the nation and the principles 
of true justice! 

"But there is another reason that assists us, which is more 
powerful than all the others: we are Cubans. To be Cuban im- 
plies a duty, and not to fulfill it is crime and treason. We live 
proud of the history of our country; we learned it in school and 
we have been raised listening to talk of liberty, justice and rights. 
We were taught to venerate from an early day the glorious ex- 
ample of our heroes and of our martyrs. Cespedes, Agramonte, 
Maceo, Gomez and Marti were the first names that were en- 
graved in our brain. We were taught that Titan had said that you 
cannot beg for liberty but that it is conquered at the point of a 
machete. 

"We were taught that for the education of the citizens in the 
free country, the Apostle [Marti] wrote in his Book of Gold: 'A 
man who conforms to obey unjust laws and allows the country 
where he was bom to be stepped on, where the men mistreat 
him, is not an honest man. ... In the world there has to be a 
certain amount of decorum as there has to be a certain amount 
of light. When there are many men without decorum, there are 
always others who have inside of them the decorum of many 
men. Those are the ones who rebel with terrible force against 
those who steal the liberty from the people, which is to steal 
from them the men of decorum. They are joined by thousands 
of men, by an entire people, by human dignity.' 

"We were taught that the 10th of October and the 24th of 
February are glorious holidays of national rejoicing because they 
mark the days on which Cubans rebelled against the yoke of 
infamous tyranny [Spain]. We were taught to love and to de- 

81 



fend the beautiful flag of the lone star and to sing every after- 
noon a hymn whose verses say that to live in chains is to live in 
opprobrium, subjected to affronts, and that to die for one's country 
is to live. All that we learned, and we have not forgotten it al- 
though today in our country the leaders are assassinating and 
imprisoning men for practicing the ideas which they were taught 
from the cradle. We were born in a free country willed to us by 
our fathers. The island will first sink into the sea before we will 
consent to be slaves of anyone! 

"It appears that the Apostle was going to die in the year of his 
centenary, that his memory would have been extinguished for- 
ever, such was the affront! But he lives, he has not died, his 
people are rebellious, his people are worthy, his people are loyal 
to his memory. There are Cubans who have fallen defending his 
doctrines; there are young men who in magnificent retribution 
came to die next to his tomb, to give their blood and their life so 
that he can go on living in the soul of the country. Cuba, what 
would happen to you if you had let your Apostle die! 

"I end my defense, but I will not do it as the lawyers always do, 
asking for the liberty of the defendant; I cannot ask that when 
my companions are already suffering ignominious imprisonment 
on the Isle of Pines. Send me to join them to share their fate. 
It is inconceivable that honest men are dead or jailed in a Re- 
public where the President is not a criminal and a thief. 

"To the Sefiores Magistrates, my sincere gratitude for having 
permitted me to express myself freely, without niggardly coer- 
cions; I do not hold you any rancor. I recognize that in certain 
aspects you have been human and I know that the President of 
this court, a man of clean life, could not dissimulate his repug- 
nance for the reigning state of things that compels him to dictate 
an unjust sentence. There remains one more serious problem yet 
for the court: there are the accusations initiated for seventy mur- 
ders, that is to say, the greatest massacre which we have known. 
The guilty continue at liberty with a weapon in hand that is a 
perennial threat to the life of the citizens. If over them there 
does not fall the weight of the law, because of cowardice or be- 
cause of prohibition, and all the judges do not resign in full, I 

82 



pity your honors and I regret the unprecedented blotch that will 
fall upon the judicial power. 

"As for me, I know that the jail will be hard, as it never has 
been for anyone, pregnant with threats, with ugly and cowardly 
ferociousness, but I do not fear it as I do not fear the fury of the 
miserable tyrant who tore away the life of seventy of my brothers. 

"CONDEMN ME! IT DOESN'T MATTER! HISTORY 
WILL ABSOLVE ME!" 

The judges convicted him and sentenced him to fifteen years' 
confinement in the penitentiary on the Isle of Pines. 

Fidel Castro had failed in the attack on Moncada. The 26th 
of July, 1953, not only proved to be a heroic failure but gave 
birth to the name of a movement that was to make history. 



83 



CHAPTER 




Fidel Castro was escorted from the hospital "court- 
room" to the Boniato prison under heavy guard. Then he was 
flown to the Isle of Pines with the other prisoners who had al- 
ready been sentenced, including his brother Raul, who was given 
thirteen years, two less than the leader. The military aircraft 
took off from the airport at Santiago de Cuba and landed at 
Nuevo Gerona on the island shaped like a blown-up boomerang 
and swept by the breezes of the Caribbean Sea. 

So in the month of October 1953 he began his confinement in 
the island's most modem military prison. Never one to remain 
idle and never discarding his plans, Castro inspired a fervent 
loyalty in his friends. Throughout their incarceration at Boniato 
they had maintained closely knit discipline. They sang revolu- 
tionary songs and talked and planned for the future. The same 
esprit de corps continued on the Isle of Pines. 

Fidel Castro organized a school there. He named it the Abel 
Santamaria Academy in honor of his comrade who was tortured 
and killed in the Moncada prison. He taught his fellow prisoners 
history and philosophy. Later he was isolated from the group 
because he was considered, by the government, a dangerous in- 
fluence. The Cuban Bar Association objected to this treatment 
but to no avail. 

Castro spent his time reading assiduously; his favorite books 

84 



were the works and life of Jose Marti and every volume he could 
possibly get on the War of Independence, Even in the confines 
of the prison, Fidel's influence on the Cuban political scene be- 
came felt. 

Meanwhile, in Mexico City, the Inter American Press Associa- 
tion held its annual convention and adopted a resolution that 
authorized its president to cable Batista, requesting the abolition 
of censorship. The report of the Committee on Freedom of the 
Press, which I had to present in my capacity as its chairman, de- 
nounced the persecution and torture of Mario Kuchilan, col- 
umnist for the newspaper Prensa Libre, and the arbitrary applica- 
tion of censorship in Cuba. Kuchilan, a critic of the Batista 
regime, was arrested one night, mercilessly beaten, and his feet 
burned with cigarette butts. He was left half-dead on the shoul- 
der of a lane of a little-traveled road. 

Two weeks after that meeting in Mexico City Batista lifted 
censorship and before the end of January he abolished the 
ominous Law of Public Order. The pressure of continental 
public opinion was responsible for this. 

For the first time newspapers and magazines of Cuba were 
able to print some of the details of the Moncada attack, together 
with photographs. But not many of the Cuban newspapers enter- 
tained a disposition to criticize the atrocities committed, largely 
because most of them depended on oflfiicial subsidies, which they 
considered normal recompense for giving more prominence to 
news about the government. 

Batista began to prepare the way for his "election" as consti- 
tutional president, with balloting scheduled for November 1, 
1954. Former President Ramon Grau San Martin decided to 
oppose him and toured the provinces, reaching Santiago de Cuba 
at the start of the campaign early in 1954. A large crowd turned 
out for his rally but instead of cheering him the crowd shouted 
"Viva Fidel Castro! Viva Fidel Castro!" They clamored for 
his freedom. 

The young lawyer had become a hero, for the people had lost 
faith in the old-line politicians like Grau and Prio. The latter 
was announcing from Miami that Batista would be overthrown. 
Arms cache after arms cache would be discovered by the police 

85 



in Havana, thanks to the dictator's espionage system in the 
Florida city. The spies had penetrated Prio's household. 

The first anniversary of the Moncada attack produced a crisis 
in Batista's cabinet. Minister of the Interior Ramon Hermida 
made a secret trip to the Isle of Pines and visited the prison, 
where he held a secret conference with Castro. Hermida's under- 
secretary, Rafael Diaz Balart, who was Castro's brother-in-law 
but an ardent Batistiano— as the dictator's followers were called— 
wrote an open letter to his chief (Hermida), widely published in 
the newspapers, in which he censured him for conferring with the 
"promoter of the criminal attack against the army" at Moncada. 
The letter produced the resignation of both Hermida and Diaz 
Balart. 

As the presidential campaign progressed there was pressure 
for the granting of a general amnesty by Batista. Such an am- 
nesty was almost set for October 1954 when Batista reneged. On 
the eve of the "election" Grau withdrew from the race with a 
denunciation that it was rigged. Batista went to the polls unop- 
posed and was formally inaugurated on February 24, 1955, for a 
four-year term. 

The talk urging amnesty continued after Batista's inauguration. 
In his cell Castro wrote a letter to a friend, Luis Conte Aguero, a 
newspaper columnist, in the middle of March, 1955. He rejected 
amnesty based on any condition that required promises by him 
to Batista. Castro wrote: 
"My very dear friend: 

"To be imprisoned is to be condemned to compulsory silence: 
to listen to and to read what is talked and written about, without 
being able to give an opinion; to suffer the attacks of the cowards 
who take advantage of the circumstances to attack the helpless 
and to make demands which, if we were not helpless, would re- 
ceive our immediate reply. 

"We know that we must suffer all this stoically, serenely and 
courageously, as part of the bitter sacrifices that all idealism de- 
mands. But there are times when all obstacles must be overcome, 
because the wounds to our dignity make it impossible to keep 
silent. 

"I am not writing these lines in search of applause, which so 

86 



frequently is given to the superficial appearance of merit or to a 
theatrical gesture, while it is denied to those who do their duty 
simply and naturally. I write with a clear conscience in the 
light of the consideration, loyalty and respect I owe to the people. 
And when I address the people of Cuba regarding my opinion 
(which I should not silence for any reason of convenience) on a 
problem that affects us and that occupies a great deal of public 
attention— namely, the political amnesty— I want to do it through 
you as a brother, rather than a friend, and through your civic 
Tribima Libre, requesting you at the same time to make my words 
available to all equally worthy organs of the radio and printed 
press. 

"The interest that an enormous part of the citizens have shown 
in favor of our freedom originates in an innate sense of justice in 
the masses and in a deep human feeling emanating from the peo- 
ple, to which one is not and cannot be indifferent. 

"Regarding this feeling, which already has become unavoid- 
able, an orgy of demagoguery, hypocrisy, opportunism and bad 
faith has arisen. What we political prisoners think of all this is 
probably the question that thousands of citizens and probably not 
a few members of the regime are asking. The interest in this 
question increases when, as in this case, prisoners from Moncada 
are involved. Since they are excluded from the benefit of any 
amnesty, they are the object of all kinds of persecution and the 
key to the whole problem. I wonder if we are the most hated or 
the most feared! 

"Some spokesmen have already said that even the Moncada 
prisoners will be included. We cannot be mentioned without 
the qualification of 'even,' or 'included' or 'excluded.' They 
doubt, they hesitate, they know for sure that if a survey were 
made, 99 percent of the people would request it, because it is 
not easy to deceive the people nor to hide the truth from them; 
but they are not sure of what the one percent wearing a uniform 
think, because they fear displeasing them and they are right when 
they fear it. Because they have been selfishly poisoning the hearts 
of the military against us, by denying facts, by clamping censor- 
ship during 90 days and a law of public order to prevent the truth 
of what happened from coming out! Because they do not want 

87 



known whose conduct was human and who tried to prevent the 
acts which will be related someday by a horror-stricken historian! 

"How strange has been the conduct of the regime toward us! 
They call us assassins in public and gentlemen in private. They 
fight us rancorously in public and come to meet us and know us 
in private. One day an army colonel with his full staff gives us a 
cigar, offers me a book and everybody is very courteous. An- 
other day three cabinet ministers, smiling, affable and respectful, 
appear. One of them says: "Don't worry, this will pass over; I 
planted many bombs and I used to organize ambushes in the 
Country Club against Machado. I, too, was once a political 
prisoner." 

"The usurper holds a press conference in Santiago de Cuba 
and declares public opinion is not in our favor, A few days later 
an unheard-of act takes place, namely, the people of Oriente, act- 
ing as one man at the meeting of a party to which we do not 
belong— which according to reporters was the biggest mobiliza- 
tion of the campaign— incessantly shout our name and demand 
our freedom. What a formidable answer from a bizarre and loyal 
people, who were well aware of the history of Moncada! 

"It is now proper that we too answer civically the moral de- 
mand made upon us by the regime in declaring that there will 
be an amnesty if the prisoners and the exiled will show the right 
attitude and make a tacit or express agreement to respect the 
government. 

"Once upon a time the Pharisees asked Christ whether or not 
they should pay tribute to Caesar. Their idea was that his answer 
should be displeasing either to Caesar or to the people. The 
Pharisees of every epoch know that trick. And so today an at- 
tempt is made to discredit us before the people or to find the 
pretext for leaving us in prison. 

"I am not in the least interested in making the regime think 
that they should grant us this amnesty, for I am not worrying 
about it at all. What I am interested in is showing up the falsity 
of their demands, the insincerity of their words, the despicable 
and cowardly maneuver being carried out against the men who 
are in prison because they combated the regime. 

"They have said that they are generous because they are 

88 



strong, but I say that they are vengeful because they are weak. 
They have said that they harbor no hate and yet they have talked 
more hate toward us than ever has been done against any group 
of Cubans. 

" 'There will be an amnesty when there is peace.' With what 
moral backing can men make such a statement, when during the 
last three years they have been proclaiming that they made a 
military coup in order to bring peace to the Republic? Then, 
there is no peace; ergo, the coup did not bring peace; therefore, 
the government acknowledges its lie after three years of dictator- 
ship; and it at last confesses that Cuba has had no peace from 
the very day they seized power. 

" 'The best proof that there is no dictatorship is that there 
are no political prisoners.' This is what they said for many 
months, but today the prisons are full, and 'exile' is a common 
word. Therefore, they cannot say that we are living in a demo- 
cratic and constitutional regime. Their own words condemn 
them. 

"If an amnesty is to be granted, the adversaries of the regime 
must change their attitude. That is to say, a crime is committed 
against the rights of the people: we are converted into hostages, 
we are treated just as the people of the occupied countries were 
treated by the Nazis. This is why we are hostages of the dictator- 
ship rather than political prisoners. 

"In order to gain an amnesty, a prior agreement must be made 
to respect the regime. The cynics who suggest such a thing as- 
sume that after twenty months of imprisonment and exile the 
people of this island have lost their integrity under the excessive 
rigor imposed upon us. 

"Comfortably entrenched in their juicy official positions, where 
they would like to live forever, they are so base as to talk in those 
terms to those who, a thousand times more honorable than they, 
are buried in the cells of the penitentiary. The writer has now 
been sixteen months isolated in a cell, but feels exceptionally 
strong, strong enough to reply with dignity. 

"Our imprisonment is unjust; I do not see why those who as- 
sault army headquarters to depose the legal Constitution which 
was given by the people can be considered to be in the right, 

89 



while those who would Hke to hold it up to respect are not. Nor 
why those who deprived the people of their sovereignty and 
freedom can be in the right, while those who have struggled to 
return it to the people are not; nor why the regime should have 
the right to govern the Republic against the will of the people, 
while we, through loyalty to its principles, languish in prison. 

"Let the lives of those in power be examined, and it will be 
found that they are filled with shady activities, fraud and ill- 
gotten fortunes. Let them be compared with those who have died 
in Santiago de Cuba or are here in prison, unstained by dishonor. 
Our personal freedom is an inalienable right as citizens born in a 
country which does not acknowledge lords of any kind. 

"We can be deprived of those rights and of everything else by 
force, but nobody will ever succeed in getting us to accept enjoy- 
ment of those rights through an unworthy agreement. Thus, we 
shall not yield one atom of our honor in exchange for our 
freedom. 

"They are the ones who should undertake to respect the laws 
of the Republic, for they shamefully violated them on March 10; 
they are the ones who should respect the sovereignty and the 
will of the people, for they scandalously made a mock of them 
on November 1 ; they are the ones who should propitiate an at- 
mosphere of calm and peaceful coexistence in the country, for 
they have maintained unrest and anxiety in it for the last three 
years. The responsibility falls upon them. Without a tenth of 
March, a twenty-sixth of July would not have been necessary, and 
there would be no Cuban suffering political imprisonment. 

"We are not professional agitators nor blind supporters of 
violence— if the better land which we hope for can be attained 
with the weapons of reason and intelligence. No people would 
follow a group of adventurers trying to sink the country in a civil 
war if injustice did not predominate there or if peaceful and legal 
means were open to the citizens to settle a civic conflict of ideas. 

"We believe like Marti that 'He who starts a war that can be 
avoided is a criminal, and so is he who fails to start a war that is 
inevitable.' 

"The Cuban nation will never see us starting a civil war that 
can be avoided, but I also repeat that whenever the shameful 

90 



circumstances following the cowardly coup of the tenth of March 
arise in Cuba, it would be a crime to fail to start an unavoidable 
rebellion. 

"If we are to believe that a change of circumstances and at- 
mosphere, comprising positive constitutional guarantees, were to 
demand a change of attitude in our struggle, we would make that 
change exclusively as a sign of respect to the interests and wishes 
of the nation, but never as a cowardly and shameful agreement 
with the government. And if that agreement is demanded of us 
in order to gain our freedom, we say point-blank: no. 

"No, we are not tired. After twenty months we are as firm and 
unmoved as on the first day. We do not want an amnesty at the 
price of dishonor. We will not undergo the 'Caudinus gallows' 
of ignoble oppressors. We will suffer a thousand years of im- 
prisonment rather than humiliation! A thousand years of im- 
prisonment rather than sacrificing our dignity! We proclaim it 
without fear or hate. 

"If what Cuba needs now are Cubans willing to sacrifice them- 
selves to save the country from shame, we offer ourselves with 
pleasure. We are young and we have no illegitimate ambitions. 
Let the politicians fear us then, politicians who in different 
ways, more or less disguised, rush toward the carnival of personal 
appetites, forgetful of the great injustices which harm the nation. 

"And far less than amnesty, we will not even demand that the 
prison system, through which the regime has shown us all its hate 
and fury, be improved. As Antonio Maceo said once: The only 
thing we would accept willingly from our enemies is the bloody 
scaffold that our other comrades in arms, more fortunate than 
we, have faced with their heads high and the peace of mind of 
those who died on the altar of the just and holy cause of free- 
dom.' 

"In the face of today's shameful tolerance, seventy-seven years 
after his heroic protest, the Bronze Titan will see in us his 
spiritual children." 

Political and civic leaders were not satisfied with the situation, 
for Batista's "election" had not settled anything except his de- 
sire to remain in office. Under pressure for a peaceful solution 

91 



to a latent crisis, Batista agreed to what was called a "Civic Dia- 
logue." Selected by all quarters to head a group of representative 
citizens who would strive for political peace was Colonel Cosme 
de la Torriente, veteran of the War of Independence and former 
president of the League of Nations. 

Formula after peace formula was presented to Batista; each 
one narrowed down to the need for him to agree to call new and 
free elections. And each time he found ways and means to reject 
the formula. Pressure built up, however, for the granting of 
amnesty and on May 2, 1955, the house of representatives passed 
an amnesty bill. The senate passed it the next day but Batista 
did not sign it until noon of Friday the thirteenth. Again Fidel 
Castro's life was revolving around the figure 13. He had been 
born on the thirteenth, he attacked Moncada on a day of double 
13 and the amnesty was signed on the thirteenth. 

It was expected that he and the other prisoners would be re- 
leased immediately but they were confronted with judicial red 
tape. Meanwhile, the Hotel Isla de Pinos was filled with relatives 
and friends of the prisoners, as well as newsmen. Other relatives 
who could not obtain hotel rooms were kindly taken in by resi- 
dents of Nuevo Gerona, the capital of the island. 

Castro was notified of the amnesty by officers of the prison 
guard and by his confessor, the Reverend Father Hilario Chau- 
rondo. He prepared for his return to freedom. On the morning 
of May 15 there was much activity at the prison. Bags were 
packed, and unwanted books and magazines were left behind for 
other prisoners. The reporters, who had been waiting for more 
than a week, were tipped oflf at their hotel by an opposition con- 
gressman, Conrado Rodriguez, who had visited the prison; the 
story of the release, he said, would break at any moment. They 
sped to the prison to await it on the spot. 

At the prison Major Juan M. Capote, the commander, ordered 
them to remain at a distance from the gate. Among the first 
group of relatives to arrive was Lidia Castro, sister of Fidel and 
Raul. At 1 1 :30 a.m., the ten first liberated came down the stairs 
of the commander's headquarters. They were all veterans of 
the attack on Moncada— Eduardo Rodriguez Aleman, Jesus 
Suarez Blanco, Jesus Montane, Ernesto Tizol, Gustavo Arcos, 

92 



Pedro Miret, Oscar Alcalde, Fidel Labrador, Giro Redondo and 
Abelardo Arias. 

The crowd was generally restrained by the troops of the prison 
guard, but one six-year-old boy broke through the lines. He 
rushed into the arms of his father, Jesus Montane, leaving his 
paternal grandmother horrified that some ill fate might befall 
him at the hands of the soldiers, but he was not molested. There 
was no sign of Mirtha Diaz Balart de Castro and Fidel, Jr. She 
had not come to welcome her husband as he left the prison gates. 

Soon Fidel Castro walked down the steps, followed by his 
brother Raul. Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria, who 
had been freed some time before, were there with Castro's sister. 
Lidia burst into tears as she saw Fidel and Raul. 

As Fidel walked toward them and stopped, he looked at Hay- 
dee. She lowered her head with emotion and burst into tears. 
Not a word was spoken. The tears expressed with salty elo- 
quence the feeling of a heroine who had lost her brother and 
her sweetheart for a cause. 

Reporters and photographers surrounded Castro. There were 
motion picture, television and still cameramen. Near by stood 
Lieutenant Roger Perez Diaz, one of the prison-guard officers. 

"I want you all to listen to me," Castro said, addressing the 
reporters. "I want you to know that we men of the Moncada 
attack are very grateful to Lieutenant Perez Diaz. He is a fine 
and gentlemanly officer. We have had the best of treatment 
from him." 

He turned to Perez Diaz. "I want you. Lieutenant," he said, 
"and all the members of the army to know that we are not ene- 
mies of the armed forces but only adversaries. Because of the 
circumstances that exist in the country we were guided when we 
went to Moncada only by the objective to fight against the 
regime." 

Castro and Perez Diaz locked themselves in an embrace of 
friendship. 

"I don't want to harm you by this demonstration," Castro 
said, "which is an honor to both of us. I would like the news- 
papermen to report this objectively." 

"I accept any responsibility," Perez Diaz replied. "That is 

93 



why I am here. I hope these things bring better days to Cuba." 

Castro and the others rode away toward Nuevo Gerona and 
entered the Hotel Isla del Pinos. The entire population of Nueva 
Gerona turned out to welcome him, and crowds milled in the 
vicinity of the hotel for the rest of the day. 

At eight o'clock that night he boarded the ferry El Pinero for 
the voyage down the Rio Las Casas to the sea. Nobody aboard 
tried to sleep. Tears of joy were still flowing from the eyes of 
beloved ones who had made the journey to the island to return 
home with the liberated prisoners. The ferry reached the port of 
Batabano in the gulf of the same name just before dawn. The 
passengers disembarked to board the northward-bound train for 
Havana. The train left Batabano at 7:45 a.m. Fidel was dressed 
in a guayabera, the comfortable Cuban shirt which hangs outside 
of the trousers. 

A crowd gathered early at the station in Havana the next 
morning. The entire national committee of the Ortodoxo Party 
was there, headed by its president, Raul Chibas, brother of the 
late Eddy Chibas. All the officers and most of the members of 
the University of Havana Students' Federation were there. The 
crowd was noisy and militant but the noise subsided reverentially 
when the mother of Abel Santamaria walked onto the platform 
dressed in her mourning black. 

The train arrived at 7:45 a.m., but Castro was not allowed to 
disembark. Instead the crowd broke into the coach. His big 
frame was pushed through a window, and he was grabbed by 
eager hands and carried on the shoulders of his admirers. A 
group of mothers, who had lost their sons after the Moncada at- 
tack, stood on the platform dressed in their mourning, holding a 
Cuban flag. They sang the Cuban national anthem as Castro 
emerged from the window. 

The hero was carried on the shoulders of the university stu- 
dents to his sisters' apartment on 23rd Street in the Vedado Dis- 
trict. With him went Haydee and Melba and Tizol, Miret, Be- 
nitez and Montane. The house was mobbed with newspapermen, 
photographers, relatives, friends and well-wishers. The apart- 
ment was too small for so many, and the crowd overflowed onto 
the sidewalk below. Fidel's guayabera was smudged with lip- 

94 



stick. His shoelaces were untied. His sister Lidia wiped the 
sweat from his face while his sister Emma brought him a glass of 
water. 

An old lady dressed in black reached Castro. She had lost a 
son at Moncada. 

"I don't know where they buried my son," she said. "I would 
like to find him, if only his bones are left. Help me, Fidel." 

He hugged the lady tightly and both he and the bereaved 
mother cried. He was unashamed of his tears. 

"We will look for him, viejita," he said. "We will look for him 
together." The viejita (little old lady), still crying, walked away 
after thanking Castro. 

Castro had already become a legend in Cuba, and his views 
were sought by those who saw in him some hope for regeneration 
in the country. 

"I do not have any intention of creating a new political party," 
he told Enrique Delahoza, editor of the section "In Cuba" of the 
popular weekly magazine Bohemia. "We are not abandoning our 
plans of co-operating for unity in the Partido Ortodoxo. We 
consider the designation of Dr. Raul Chibas as leader a wise 
choice even though it cannot be said that he has had long political 
experience. We are of the opinion that all the moral and healthy 
forces of the country should unite under the same flag and under 
the same slogan." 

Castro was told that a petard had exploded the night before 
in Havana. He had a ready comment on that and for the first 
time, though indirectly, referred to Senator Rolando Masferrer, 
chairman of the armed services committee, who was to figure 
largely in the drama of Cuba in the near future. 

"These bombs that explode every now and then," Fidel said, 
"are very suspicious when nobody arrests the authors of the ex- 
plosions. I seriously think that they are placed by tanquista 
[army tank groups] and gangster elements desirous of maintain- 
ing a state of unrest that allows them to commit excesses. Ter- 
roristic tactics are negative and counterproductive. Nobody who 
is halfway sensible can think that because they place a petard in 
front of the door of any building the government is going to fall." 

A few days after his return to Havana, which he had not seen 

95 



since July of 1953, Castro appraised the political situation that 
confronted the country. 

"I see," he said, "that there is almost unanimous sentiment for 
general elections and the demand is such that everyone agrees 
with this political equation: Political amnesty, plus a regime of 
positive guarantees plus immediate general elections, is equal to 
the peace which the Cuban people hope for so much." 

But Fulgencio Batista had no intention of accepting such a 
logical equation, and the first person to realize that was Castro. 
Minister of Communications Ramon Vasconcelos barred him 
from the air waves. Although radio stations would invite him to 
speak, the government would ban him. Wherever he went he was 
followed by crowds of admirers, but Batista saw to it that he was 
also harassed by some of his own trusted hirelings. 

Castro had left prison determined to overthrow Batista unless 
the dictator gracefully exited through honest general elections. 
During the months on the Isle of Pines he outlined in his own 
mind preliminary plans to invade Cuba from Mexico and arouse 
the youth of the country to take up arms to oust the dictator. He 
never doubted that he would succeed. 

Batista's obvious persecution of Castro clipped the wings of 
the young man who had so eloquently denounced his enemy in 
the hospital room in Santiago de Cuba before three judges of the 
republic. Early in July 1955 he decided to leave Cuba for 
Mexico to prepare for his invasion. 

There had been no reconciliation with his wife, but he was 
allowed to see his son Fidel, Jr. His sisters and some friends saw 
him off at the airport as he boarded the plane to Mexico City. 
Already waiting for him there was his brother Raul. 

Raul Castro was the first to reach Mexico in exile after the 
release of the prisoners from the Isle of Pines. He was met by 
other exiles of the 26th of July Movement who had moved to 
Mexico from Guatemala. They introduced him to a young Ar- 
gentine doctor, Ernesto Guevara. The Argentine was immedi- 
ately nicknamed "Che," a form of familar prefix used in that 
country when addressing a man. 

Guevara was the son of an architect and builder in Buenos 
Aires, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, whose forebears emigrated to 

96 



California from Argentina before the gold rush to escape the 
dictatorship of Juan Manuel Rosas. After the overthrow of 
Rosas they returned to Argentina and lived in Rosario. The son, 
Ernesto, Jr., was afflicted with asthma at an early age, and the 
family moved to Buenos Aires. I came to know the father of 
Che very well in the Argentine capital. He told me the story of 
his son's escapades and participation in two conspiracies against 
dictator Juan Peron. He insisted his son was a leftist but not a 
Communist. He had left Argentina during the Peron dictator- 
ship to conduct research in tropical disease allergies. He prac- 
tically hitchhiked his way to Guatemala which he reached in 
1954 at the height of revolutionary activity against the pro- 
Communist government of Jacobo Arbenz. 

Guevara was offered a job in the Arbenz government provided 
he became a member of the Communist Party. He refused, al- 
though he was in need of an income. Four days before the over- 
throw of Arbenz in June 1954 he offered his services to the gov- 
ernment and was assigned to the army. Guevara claims that he 
offered to fight for the Arbenz government because he did not 
believe it was a tool of Moscow; he also was of the opinion that 
our State Department had been intervening against Arbenz and 
in behalf of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, the leader of the 
Army of Liberation. 

Guevara obtained refuge in the Argentine embassy after the 
fall of the pro-Communist government. From there he made his 
way to Mexico where he was to meet Fidel Castro. 

Mirtha Diaz Balart divorced Fidel Castro shortly after his 
arrival in Mexico. By the time Fidel had reached the 7,500-foot- 
high Aztec capital a bond of friendship had been established be- 
tween Raul Castro and Guevara. They were joined by Jesus 
Montane, the third of the Moncada attackers to reach Mexico. 
Fidel discussed plans to return to Cuba with an invasion force, 
and Guevara promptly volunteered to go along as a fighter, not 
as a medico. More exiles began to arrive to join Fidel, among 
them Rafael del Pino, who had been with Castro in the Bogotazo. 
At the same time the number of Batista's spies in Mexico City 
increased. 

But in the presence of Cubans Castro made no secret of his 

97 



plans. On the contrary, he was boldly outspoken about them. 
The Mexican authorities, pressured by the Cuban government, 
also kept close watch on Castro and his friends. Fidel began to 
plan to mobilize men and to purchase arms. His men would need 
intensive training. After much investigation he learned ot the 
presence in Mexico City of a former colonel of the Spanish army 
and air force, who had had considerable experience in guerrilla 
warfare and had written textbooks on the subject. The man. 
Colonel Alberto Bayo, was an anti-Communist, anti-Franco 
fighter for freedom who preferred to live in exile rather than un- 
der dictatorship in his homeland. 

Bayo was born in Camaguey of Spanish parents in 1892, his 
mother having also been born in Cuba. After Cuba gained its 
independence from Spain, his parents took him to the mother 
country and in 1912 he entered the Infantry Academy of Madrid, 
graduating as a second lieutenant. In 1916 he entered the Mili- 
tary Aviation School and was graduated as a military aviator. 
After that he studied aerial gunnery, bombardment and ob- 
servation in the Alcazares Flying School. He was assigned to 
Africa as a captain of the Spanish Foreign Legion and organizer 
of guerrilla warfare operations. When the Spanish Civil War 
erupted, Bayo was aide-de-camp to General Batet, military com- 
mander of Barcelona, who later was executed by the Franco 
forces. From there Bayo was transferred to the War Ministry as 
aide to the minister. In July 1937 he commanded the republi- 
can troops in an amphibious expedition to secure the Balearic 
Islands. After that operation he spent the remainder of the civil 
war in southern Spain as commander of an air combat wing. He 
lost his right eye during the war. In 1939 he crossed the frontier 
into France and into exile. He returned to Cuba where he lived 
until 1 942 and then proceeded to Mexico to become an instructor 
in the Military Air Academy at Guadalajara. Then he opened 
a furniture factory in Mexico City. 

Fidel Castro first met Bayo at the end of 1955 when a friend 
brought him to the colonel's home at Avenida Country Club 67, 
Colonia Churubusco. What Castro saw was a stocky man with 
a square-jawed face. He wore a neatly trimmed Van Dyke beard. 

They sat and talked casually for some time. Then Castro 
asked, "Could you please get me a glass of water?" 

98 



On his way back to the room with the glass, Bayo was inter- 
cepted by Castro who had taken pains to make certain the friend 
would not be listening. 

"Tomorrow at four o'clock I will come to see you alone," 
Castro told Bayo. At the time Bayo did not know the purpose of 
Castro's intended visit. The next day Castro returned to Bayo's 
home. 

"I am a Cuban lawyer," he told Bayo without wasting any 
time. "I want to fight with weapons in my hands against Batista. 
Though I am only twenty-nine years old, I know that you were 
in Africa and fought in guerrilla warfare against the Moors for 
eleven years and that you have written several textbooks on the 
subject. I also know you were the chief in the organization of 
the guerrillas in the Spanish Civil War. And you were born in 
Cuba. Please help me train my men." 

"How many men do you have?" Bayo asked. 

"Nobody yet," Castro replied with perfect frankness. "But I 
am going to the United States to get men and money, and I 
would like to know if you could be the instructor for my men." 

"I will do it," Bayo replied, "but I'm afraid I don't have much 
faith in your possible success in such an undertaking. A young 
man only twenty-nine?" 

"I will be successful," Castro insisted. 

Castro obtained a visa from the American Embassy in Mexico 
City and flew to Miami in October 1955. There he conferred 
with exiles and with Juan Manuel Marquez, former city council- 
man of Marianao, a borough of Havana, who resided now in 
Miami. He appointed Marquez to head the underground or- 
ganization of the 26th of July Movement in Miami, conferred 
with other exiles, collected money and proceeded to Key West 
and to Tampa for the same purpose. He also went on to New 
York. 

When he returned to Mexico City and conferred again with 
Colonel Bayo, his pockets bulged with voluntary contributions 
obtained from Cuban exiles in the cities he had visited in the 
United States. 

"I now have the money and the men," Castro told Colonel 
Bayo. "When can you start to train my recruits?" 

"How many hours daily of training do you want?" Bayo asked. 

99 



"I want you to devote the entire day, every day of the week," 
Castro replied, "and I want you to come to Cuba with me." 

"But what about my furniture factory in Calle Canaria 73, 
Colonia Portales?" Bayo protested. "I can't give that up." 

"What do you want a furniture factory for?" Castro asked. 
"We will go to Cuba, you will come with us and we will win in 
three or four months." 

Bayo looked at the determined young man. He said to 
himself something like: "This boy is so simpatico, so attrac- 
tive, so intelligent, so convincing and so determined that I will 
help him." 

"All right," Bayo assured Castro. "I will sell my factory and 
help you and I will not collect one penny of salary." 

Bayo sold the factory to his manager who agreed to pay for it 
at the rate of 1,000 pesos [$80.00] per month. Incidentally, the 
manager soon sold it to someone else and Bayo never got paid. 

Castro's money-raising campaign in the United States invited 
the enmity not only of Batista but of certain politicians, and 
sniping articles began to appear in newspapers and magazines. 
The clippings which he received from Havana irritated him and 
he lost little time in replying. On Christmas Day of 1955 he 
wrote an article which he entitled: "Against Everybody!" It was 
lengthy, frank and vitriolic. 

"The wolf pack has come upon me," he began. "It is not 
Batista who is being attacked; it is I, absent abroad. That is the 
result of the money-grabbing political opposition, scared by the 
increasing strength of the revolutionary movement that threatens 
to oust them ail from public life. 

" 'Fidel, do not serve Batista!' 

" 'Reply to Fidel!' 

" 'Fidel is not the owner of the Country!' etc. 

"A few paragraphs pointed toward the embezzlers who met 
in the Flagler Theater [in Miami] made the worms turn. 

"The members of the regime also attack me in packs. Their 
daily libelous insults against me take up tons of paper. On the 
other hand, they shut down the only daily paper in which I used 
to write because they could not resist the well-reasoned and 
proved truth coming from those who collaborated there. 

100 



"Four years ago nobody bothered me. I passed unnoticed by 
the all-powerful lords who discussed the fate of the country. To- 
day, strangely, everybody is plotting against me. Why? the peo- 
ple will ask, What wrong has he done? Did he give up? Did he 
abandon his ideals? Did he change his line? Did he sell out for 
a position or for money? Did he betray his principles? No, far 
from that! 

"The astonishing thing is that the mean, cowardly plot of the 
embezzlers and the spokesmen of the regime against a fighter 
who has stood up for four years without rest against the tyranny 
(sixteen months of silent and arduous work prior to that 26th of 
July, two years in prison and six months in exile) is due 
precisely to the contrary, namely: it is due to my having kept 
a firm line of conduct since March 10, when so many have 
changed their attitude, just as one changes one's shirt; it is due 
to everybody's knowing that my rebellious attitude cannot be 
bought for any money or position and to awareness of my loyalty 
to an ideal, free from all duplicity and hesitation— loyalty to the 
truth which I preach and practice and to a task which, although 
hard and thorny, I am performing successfully over and above 
a multitude of obstacles and powerful interests. 

"The spokesmen of the Dictatorship, who insult me with so 
much hate and fury, would not even mention my name if I were 
one more of that timid kind who can look with indifference upon 
the crime that is being committed against Cuba. If I were a 
mercenary or a bootlicker, the libelous headlines they publish 
against me would be devoted to praising me. 

"If upon leaving prison I had chosen to run for any electoral 
position, using my imprisonment and sacrifices as a political 
banner, the timid politicians who work at their profession for 
bread-and-water fees would have said that I was an excellent citi- 
zen, a great patriot, a sensible and civic man. That is because 
shamelessness is the fashion. 

"If upon undertaking once more the road of sacrifice and risk, 
by leaving the country where the Dictatorship stupidly closed all 
the doors to a civic protest, I had knocked at the doors of the 
embezzlers to scrounge a part of the gold that they stole from 
the Republic to use it for the revolution, I would have instantly 

101 



had at my disposal hundreds of thousands of pesos, and no em- 
bezzler would have made common cause with the spokesman of 
the tyranny against me. 

"But I did everything to the contrary. 

"I gave up immediately any electoral ambition; I gave up the 
presidency of the Municipal Assembly of Havana, which the 
Ortodoxo Party offered me, which was indeed a high stepping- 
stone to a nomination for the second position in the Republic. 
I also gave up an appointment in the Executive Council that they 
offered me simultaneously in the same party. I gave up a salary 
of five hundred dollars a month that an insurance company of- 
fered me, because I do not trade on my prestige, because it is 
not mine but that of a cause. I gave up the salary that an im- 
portant newspaper in the Capital offered me to become a co- 
worker of theirs, and I engaged in writing for Luis Orlando's 
newspaper, which could not pay anybody a single cent. I gave up 
everything that could mean personal calm and safety. I gave up 
silence, which is a comfortable refuge against defamation or dan- 
ger for the timid. I denounced crimes, unmasked assassins and 
put the dots on the /'s over everything that happened in Mon- 
cada. 

"I left Cuba without a cent, determined to do what others had 
not been able to do with millions of pesos. And far from knock- 
ing on the doors of those who had enriched themselves, I ap- 
pealed to the people, visited emigrants, issued a manifesto to the 
country asking for help. I engaged in begging for the Fatherland, 
to scrape together cent by cent the necessary funds for conquer- 
ing freedom. 

"How comfortable and how simple, how free from sacrifice 
and sweat, from hard work and fatigue, it would have been to 
follow the easy way! The way that others, less convinced of the 
purity of the cause and the greatness of its people, would have 
adopted: to request help from those who have a lot of money 
because they have stolen it, to ask for a small part of their fortune 
in exchange for a promise of protection and respect. It would 
have been easy to get in good with the big shots having the 
money; I could have used political finagling! But no, I did all 

102 



to the contrary! How strange this mania to do just the opposite 
of what everybody has always done up to now! 

"At Palm Garden, New York, I said publicly: The Cuban 
people want something more than a mere change of command. 
Cuba earnestly desires a radical change in every field of its public 
and social life. The people must be given something more than 
liberty and democracy in abstract terms. Decent living must be 
made available to every Cuban; the state cannot ignore the fate 
of any of its citizens who were born and grew up in the country. 
There is no greater tragedy than that of the man capable and 
willing to work, suffering hunger together with his family for 
lack of work. The state is unavoidably bound to provide him 
with it or to support him until he finds it. None of the armchair 
formulas being discussed today include a consideration of this 
situation, as though the grave problem of Cuba comprised only 
how to satisfy the ambition of a few politicians who have been 
ousted from power or who long to get there.' 

"I said publicly in the Flagler: 'We will join our co-nationals 
bound together behind an ideal of complete dignity for the people 
of Cuba, of justice for the hungry and forgotten men, and of 
punishment for those many responsible. . . . Money stolen from 
the Republic is of no use to the Revolution. Revolutions are 
carried out on a basis of morals. A movement having to assault 
banks or take money from thieves is not a revolution. Belliger- 
ence cannot be granted to thieves who pretend to ingratiate 
themselves with the people by giving 10 percent of what they 
steal. We will knock at their doors after the revolution is won. . . . 
The embezzlers have no public opinion behind them. The em- 
bezzlers cannot be enemies of the Dictatorship because the Dic- 
tatorship is protecting their ill-gotten gains. The embezzlers pre- 
fer the tyranny to the Revolution. That is why the embezzlers 
want the Society of Friends of the Republic to make an agree- 
ment with the regime as the sole means of their political survival.' 

"These words become truer than ever, because right now the 
embezzlers and the tyranny are about to make, not a gentlemen's 
agreement as they would like to call it in this era of shameless- 
ness, but a bandits' agreement, the first clause of which will be 

103 



to forget all of the crimes and all of the thefts and to respect all 
of the privileges and confirm all of the injustices. 

"I was impugned in a recent article in Bohemia entitled 'Fidel 
Is Not the Whole Country' as follows: 'Nobody can really say 
that Fidel has taken public funds. It is also fair to state that 
there has been no opportunity to test his probity, because he 
never was a minister and never had a chance to grab at an appe- 
tizing and provoking heap of taxes, nor the impunity of taking 
money without leaving fingerprints. Possibly the only big money 
Fidel has ever had the chance to handle in his life is the money 
that the Cuban emigrants are now placing in his hands . . .' 

"To that I can simply reply that I have handled money pre- 
viously. It was not so much as what, maybe, Justo Luis del Pozo 
handed over to the Organizing Committee of the Autentico 
Party to carry out the reorganization in connection with the 
electoral farce of November 1 , thanks to which Batista now says 
that his government is constitutional and legitimate. But I han- 
dled nearly twenty thousand pesos that modest young fellows like 
Fernando Chenard saved by dint of a thousand sacrifices, in- 
cluding his selling all of his photographic equipment, with which 
he earned his living, or Pedro Marrero, who mortgaged his salary 
for several months and whom we had to forbid selling the furni- 
ture from his home, or Elpidio Sosa, who sold his job for three 
hundred dollars. 

"How different from those fellows who on November 1 , as the 
article in question says, as a token of civic example 'gambled 
their economic future in order to go to the polls by mortgaging 
up to their bones'! Those whose names I mention are now dead: 
those who 'mortgaged up to their bones' are now collecting from 
the Republic five thousand pesos per month in the senate. 

"I handled nearly twenty thousand pesos. Yet how many times 
were we lacking in milk for my son! How many times did the 
hard-hearted electric company cut off my electricity! I still keep 
the miserable court papers by which the landowners dispossess 
tenants from the houses. I had no personal income, but prac- 
tically lived on the charity of my friends. I know what it is to 
see a son suffering from hunger while having, in my pockets, 
money belonging to the cause. 

104 



"I never have believed that the country belongs to me. Marti 
said: 'The country belongs to no one, and if it did, it would be 
to who serves it most unselfishly, and then only in spirit.' Those 
who evidently have believed that the country was theirs are the 
embezzlers, who exploited it when they were in power as if it 
were private property. 

"It is as unfair to say that one can be honest only when one 
does not handle public funds— as though our unfortunate people 
were incapable of producing a single honest man!— as it is to 
make the absurd and inconceivable statement that those who 
surrounded me 'were not humble emigrants, but rather happy 
owners of Miami real estate.' I would like to know which of 
those suffering Cubans who were present at our meetings and 
form part of the Revolutionary Clubs of Bridgeport, Union City, 
New York, Miami, Tampa and Key West, which of these humble 
co-nationals of ours— who are earning a hard living away from 
their homes— is a happy owner of real estate. If anyone owns a 
private home it would be an exception, and certainly the product 
of the money of honest work and not of stealing from the Re- 
public. I saw how they lived in cramped apartments where no 
children are allowed, where women who are working ten hours 
in a factory have to wash and cook; where life is hard, tiresome 
and sad, and yet one hears only the exclamation: 'I would prefer 
to work in Cuba with only half of what I am earning here!' 

"Previously there were little more than one hundred exiles. 
Many were well off; their children appeared in the papers often; 
they longed for their friends and their homes in the native land. 
But nobody remembered the poor children of the emigrants, who 
in the northern United States had to live in a climate often many 
degrees below zero, who had no school where they could learn 
their mother tongue, nor doctors who could understand the lan- 
guage of their fathers. To say that they are happy real estate 
owners shows the resentment of the politicians against the Cuban 
emigrants, because those tens of thousands of families away 
from Cuba constitute a live and grievous accusation against the 
bad governments that the Republic has had to tolerate. The poli- 
ticians used to say that the Cuban problem will be solved when 
the exiles can return to Cuba. 

105 



"We say that the problem of Cuba will be solved when the 
emigrants can go back. 

"Likewise, when it is said capriciously in that same article in 
Bohemia that 'I recommended that my friends vote for Grau be- 
cause I was thinking of the prompt freedom by means of his 
justice,' an evident lack of seriousness and capacity is shown 
which could disqualify anybody saying so from entering into dis- 
cussions of public affairs or from rendering public service. I 
never made such a recommendation, because I do not become 
involved in such contradictions of principles. I would give up 
public life if they would show me the copy of Bohemia in which 
that statement appears. 

"I could hardly have been aspiring to freedom by way of that 
undignified cause when, at the time of the most heated public 
discussion of whether amnesty should or should not include the 
men who attacked the Moncada— and they were speaking of the 
prerequisites of its granting— I wrote a letter in Bohemia say- 
ing: 'If an agreement is demanded of us in order to gain our 
freedom, we say point-blank: no. No, we are not tired. After 
twenty months, we are firm and unmoved as on the first day. We 
do not want an amnesty at the price of dishonor. We will not 
undergo the "Caudinus gallows" of ignoble oppressors. We will 
suffer a thousand years of imprisonment rather than humiliation! 
A thousand years of imprisonment rather than sacrificing our 
dignity!' 

"Only a lowdown person, lacking themes for an argument, or a 
coward convinced that I am engaged in a cause, above personal 
grievances, which prevents me from calling him to account, 
would dare to say so irresponsibly that I had attacked 'colleagues 
and men who were also pure idealists in their own way.' I would 
have no need to resort to lies in order to combat an adversary, 
because I have a reservoir more than enough from which to 
draw facts and reasons. 

"It is possible that if the writer of that article believes what 
he says, he would not have the courage to say it, because I never 
saw him writing an article against the gangsterism that was in 
full swing at the time. 

"My enemies are so unfounded in their attacks upon me, that 
they resort to digging up the old calumnies from the govern- 

106 



mental sewers, as good allies of the tyranny against the revolution. 

"Every time that my opponents tried the vile trick of involving 
me in acts of the kind, I stood up resolutely against their slander, 
I appealed to the courts, and well-reputed judges like Hevia or 
Riera Medina (there are few like them) can attest to my inno- 
cence. Thousands of students who are today professional men 
saw my actions in the university for five years. I have always 
counted on their support (because I have always fought with 
the weapon of public denouncement by resorting to the masses); 
it was with their co-operation that I organized great meetings and 
protests against the existing corruption. These men can be wit- 
nesses to my conduct. There they saw me, from the beginning, 
without experience but full of youthful rebellion, take a stand 
against the power of Mario Salabarria (I refrain from personal 
attacks, because he is in prison and it is not right to judge a per- 
son who cannot defend himself). It would be proper to ask a 
prior question, namely, why is Mario Salabarria in prison and 
not those who assassinated eighty prisoners in Moncada? I will 
only say by way of information that at that time, in the first years 
of Grau's government, Salabarria was in charge of all the police 
forces of repression, no less than those of today, and he was the 
master of Havana. 

"In an era of unprecedented corruption, when many youthful 
leaders had access to dozens of government positions and so 
many were corrupted, to have led student protests against that 
regime for several years, without ever having appeared on a gov- 
ernment payroll, is worthy of some merit. 

"It is unheard-of, cynical and shameless that the sponsors, pro- 
tectors and subsidizers of that gangsterism should now use this 
kind of argument to combat me. Could they be any more bare- 
faced? To mention gangsterism in the humble home of the Great 
Pretender is like talking about the rope in the home of the person 
hanged. The members of the regime are in the same situation. 
They shipped Policarpo Soler off to Spain loaded with money 
and, on the other hand, murdered 'El Colorado' on Durege Street. 
It should be mentioned with respect for the latter, that by dying 
in active opposition to the tyranny, he vindicated himself after 
his errors. 

"Strange things took place before the tenth of March! Very 

107 



strange things, if it is remembered that those who bombed the 
'Ingelmo' shoe store and the killers of Cossio del Pino have never 
appeared. 

"Since they are forcing me to do so, will it be necessary for me 
to again publish the statement I filed with the Court of Accounts 
on March 4, 1952, which was published in Alerta on the follow- 
ing day, naming and denouncing one by one the persons occupy- 
ing the 2,120 positions that the groups had in the Ministries? 
Who ever dared to file such a statement? It certainly was not 
Batista, who lived at his Kuquine farm thoroughly protected by 
Carlos Prio and who had permission to go around armed and 
with a personal guard. I walked the streets of Havana alone and 
unarmed. 

"Suffice it now to quote a paragraph with which I opened the 
statement which was a premonition: 'I appeal to the Court of 
Accounts patriotically to ask the miracle that may save the nation 
from the constitutional disaster that threatens it.' The miracle did 
not occur, and one week later the disaster of March 10 was a 
reality. Gangsterism was a pretext, but the man who invoked it 
had been one of the mainsprings of it when he encouraged the 
organization of the University goons through Jaime Marine. 

"The evil that germinated in the Autentico Party had its roots 
in the resentment and hate that Batista sowed during eleven years 
of abuse and injustice. Those who witnessed the murder of their 
colleagues wanted to avenge it, and the regime that was not 
capable of doing justice allowed such vengeances. The blame 
cannot be placed upon the young men who, influenced by natural 
anxiety and the legend of the heroic era, longed for a revolution 
that at that time could not have been carried out. Many of those 
who, victims of deceit, died as gangsters might have been heroes 
today. 

"The revolution that has not been achieved at the time when 
it can be achieved will be carried out so that the mistake is not 
repeated, and there will be justice instead of vengeance. When 
justice is done, nobody will have the right to pretend to be a 
wandering avenger and the full weight of the law will fall upon 
him. Only the people, constituting sovereign power, has a right 
to punish or pardon. There never has been justice in Cuba; to 

108 



send a poor person to jail for stealing a chicken, while the big- 
time embezzlers in power enjoy immunity, is simply an unjusti- 
fiable crime. When did we ever hear of our judges of correction 
courts sentencing a powerful person? When did an owner of a 
sugar mill ever go to jail? When has a rural guard ever been 
arrested? Can it be that they are pure? Can they be saints, or 
is it that in our social order justice is a vile lie applied when it 
suits certain interests? 

"The fear of justice is what has put the embezzlers and the 
tyranny into agreement. 

"The embezzlers, bewildered at the shouts of Revolution! that 
thunder with increasing force, like bells calling the evil to final 
judgment, have listened to the prudent words of Ichaso in his 
column of Bohemia dated December 4, 1955: 'Fidel Castro be- 
comes a competitor too dangerous for certain heads of the op- 
position, who during three and a half years have not succeeded 
in taking the right attitude toward the Cuban situation. They 
know it only too well. They now feel that they have been dis- 
placed by the volume of the 26th of July Revolutionary Move- 
ment in the battle against the 10th of March. The logical reac- 
tion of the politicians in the light of this evident fact should be 
to take a resolute stand of political action in the face of the 
revolutionary action of Fidelismo.' 

"The embezzlers have hearkened to the cordial appeal made to 
them by the Batistiano Havana alderman Pedro Aloma Kessel in 
a government paper dated December 14: 'All of us without ex- 
ception are deeply interested in stopping Fidel Castro's insur- 
rectional plans. If we sleep at the rudder and continue stubbornly, 
closing all political solutions, we shall be opening the revolution- 
ary road to Fidel Castro. I would like to see who, either from 
opposition or from the government, are going to save us if 
Fidelismo wins out in Cuba.' 

"They know that I left Cuba without a cent; they know that 
I have not knocked at the doors of the embezzlers and yet they 
fear that we shall start a revolution. In other words, they ac- 
knowledge that we can get the backing of the people. 

"The nation is at the point of witnessing the great betrayal of 
the politicians. We know that for us, who maintain a dignified 

109 



position, the struggle will be hard. But we are not frightened by 
the number of enemies before us. We shall defend our ideals 
in the face of all. To be young is to feel within oneself the 
strength of one's own destiny, to be able to think of it against 
outside resistance and to sustain it against the interests. 

"The political business of opposition is fully discredited and 
decadent. First they demanded a neutral government and im- 
mediate general elections. Then they stopped at demanding only 
general elections in 1956. They are no longer talking about a 
particular year. They will end up by taking off their last fig leaf 
and accepting any arrangement with the Dictatorship. They 
will not discuss a question of principles, but only details of time 
so as to plunder the budget of the unfortunate Republic. 

"But the real piece of business will not be so easy as they think! 
The people are alert! The peasants are tired of speeches and 
promises of land reform. They know that they cannot expect 
anything from the politicians. A million and a half Cubans who 
are unemployed because of the incapacity, avarice and lack of 
foresight on the part of all the bad governments we have had 
know that nothing can be expected of the politicians. 

"Thousands of sick persons without beds or medicines know 
that they cannot expect anything from the politicians, who seek 
their votes in exchange for a little favor and whose business 
thrives on the always large number of needy people whose 
sanction can be bought for little. 

"The hundreds of thousands of families living in huts, open 
sheds, empty lots and tenements, or paying exorbitant rentals; 
laborers who earn wages of hunger, whose children have neither 
clothes nor shoes for school; citizens who pay for electric current 
at a price higher than in any other country in the world, or who 
requested telephone service ten years ago still to no avail; and 
finally, all those who have had to suffer or do suffer those horrors 
of a miserable existence know that they have nothing to expect 
from the politicians. 

"The people know that with hundreds of millions exported by 
the foreign trusts, plus the hundreds of millions that the embez- 
zlers have stolen, plus the graft that thousands of parasites have 
taken without rendering service or producing anything for the 

110 



community, plus the losses of all kinds caused by gambling, vice, 
black market, etc., Cuba would be one of the most prosperous 
and richest countries of America, without emigrants, without 
unemployed, without starving people, without unbedded sick 
people, without illiterate people and without beggars. . . . 

"From political parties or from organizations headed by pro- 
tected friends (male and female) for the purpose of appointing 
congressmen, senators and mayors, the people can expect noth- 
ing. From the revolution, which is an organization of com- 
batants, united in a great patriotic ideal, they expect everything 
and they will get it!" 

As in his eloquent argument before the court at Santiago de 
Cuba, Castro reiterated his plan for the new Cuba, free from 
graft and corruption and replete with social reforms. He was 
bitter against the large American corporations who ship most of 
their profits abroad. What he probably did not recall, though, 
was the fact that the Prio regime had enacted a law which re- 
quired all companies to pay dividends that fluctuated anywhere 
from 35 to 100 percent and therefore left no reserves for rein- 
vestment. Some of the companies might have been pleased with 
such a law, but others, like Sears, Roebuck and Company, would 
have preferred to see it stricken from the statute books to enable 
them to reinvest their profits in Cuba, help finance factories to 
manufacture some of the products they sell and to build more 
stores. 

Castro found an outlet for his written thoughts in the maga- 
zine Bohemia, whose editor and publisher, Miguel Angel Que- 
vedo, defied possible reprisals by the government. After Batista's 
coup of March 10, 1952, Quevedo published an editorial in 
which he censured the overthrow of constitutional government 
and warned Batista that his regime would produce only persecu- 
tion, death and sorrow for the people of Cuba. 

Back in Mexico City, Bayo began a search for a suitable place 
to train Castro's men. Preliminary instruction was to take place 
in the Aztec capital. Castro rented ten houses and billeted eighty 
"students" in them. Bayo went from house to house in different 
sectors of the city under the guise of an English teacher (he 

111 



speaks the language very well), and began to cram into the men 
selected for the expeditionary force all the instruction they would 
receive in a three-year course at a military academy— within the 
short space of three months. It was grueling work for the young 
men and more grueling for the sixty-four-year-old soldier- 
professor. 

Bayo's instruction included operations in light campaign, forti- 
fications, armament, mortars, organization of aviation, use of 
aviation against guerrillas, the way to fight airplanes from the 
ground, observation against aircraft, vulnerability of formations, 
manufacture of chemical bombs, dynamite bombs, combination 
of time bombs with explosives, grenades, anti-tank mines, anti- 
personnel mines, topography, map and sketch work— preparing 
maps and sketches on scales of from 1:500,000 down to 
1:10,000— campaign sketches, general staff organization, cover 
for air attacks, trenches and foxholes against air attacks, infantry 
tactics, closed ranks exercises, the tactics of "minuet"— to retreat 
when the enemy advances and to advance when the enemy re- 
treats, to attack at night from all sides and withdraw before day- 
break but not to lose contact with the enemy and not to fire 
at him at all during daylight. 

This instruction got under way early in 1956. To find a place 
for field training, Bayo undertook to reconnoiter the not too 
proximate vicinity of Mexico City with Ciro Redondo, who also 
had rejoined Fidel. Bayo found a large rancho owned by a 
Mexican named Rivera at a place called Chalco in the state of 
Mexico, twenty-five miles away on the Popocatepetl-Sleeping 
Lady volcano road that leads to Cuautla. Rivera had been a 
fighter with Pancho Villa, and General Pershing's troops had, 
presumably, executed him in the Chihuahua cemetery. But he 
rose as if from the dead and crawled his way to a native shack 
where he was given help and lived to own a rancho grande. 

Bayo liked the looks of Chalco. It was six miles long by ten 
miles wide and buried itself inside the mountains. It was pro- 
tected by towers and a ten-foot-high wall. Fidel Castro had given 
him a ceiling of 3,000 pesos ($240.00) a month for rental for a 
training ground. That was too low a rent for Rivera, so Bayo 
proposed its purchase. Rivera asked 300,000 pesos for it, but 

112 



there was not that much money available. Bayo countered with 
an offer to buy it at that price, provided Rivera would let hun 
have the property on a six-month trial basis. Rivera agreed and 
accepted 100 pesos a month rental on the trial basis. After the 
provisional deal was closed, Bayo told Rivera that he was going 
to put eighty men to work on the property for cattle-ranching 
purposes. Rivera made no objection. 

Bayo moved Castro and his students to Chalco and started 
them on their field training. They were given target practice 
with rifle, machine gun and pistol, exercises in medical aid to the 
wounded, administering first aid and the carrying of litter pa- 
tients. They were taken on forced marches with Bayo and Castro 
at the head of the column— five hours the first day, then seven 
hours, then nine hours, then eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen 
and fifteen hours a day, marching into the mountains and up the 
hills, cutting trails, taking cover, simulating ambush attacks and 
withdrawals. They marched with full packs, crawling along the 
ground with rifle and machine-gun fire overhead, and they 
camped in the mountains for several days at a time. 



113 



CHAPTER 




Castro had now been out of Cuba for six months. 
The progress he had made in the planning and organization of his 
invasion-revolution was already truly remarkable. In the midst of 
all that activity he never took his eye off political developments 
within Cuba. And he had become thoroughly disillusioned with 
the vacillations and compromising attitude of the leaders of his 
own Ortodoxo Party. 

On March 19, 1956, he decided that the moment had arrived 
to divorce himself entirely from the veteran politicians and to 
pursue his revolutionary plans without the apparent support of the 
party to which he had belonged. At the same time he decided he 
would not obligate himself either to the Ortodoxo Party or to any 
other political party. 

Castro wrote of his disillusionment and made absolutely no 
effort to hide the fact that he was embittered by the lack of forth- 
rightness within the Ortodoxo Party, whose national executive 
committee had virtually pulled the supporting rug from under his 
feet. He announced the formal and definitive organization of the 
26th of July Movement as an independent revolutionary or- 
ganization that would fight to overthrow Batista, punish grafters, 
embezzlers and murderers and reform Cuba. Never once did 
he doubt he would be triumphant. He emphasized this con- 
fidence at all times in every one of his written communications 
as well as in his oral conversations. 

114 



"The names of those who impede the task of liberating their 
country should be recorded in the same place of infamy and shame 
as the names of those who oppress it," he wrote. "In Cuba there 
are, unfortunately, a great number who have up till now done 
absolutely nothing to redeem it from tyranny while, at the same 
time, they have interfered as much as possible. 

"Those of us who have not rested one minute in doing our 
rough and hard task for years know it quite well. 

"When we left the prison ten months ago, we understood quite 
clearly that the rights of the people would never be restored if a 
decision were not reached to conquer those rights with their very 
blood. So we engaged in creating a strong revolutionary organi- 
zation and preparing it with the necessary elements to fight the 
final battle with the regime. That was not the hardest part for us 
who have made this our lifework. 

"The struggle that has become more arduous and fatiguing has 
been against the bad faith of the politicians, the intrigues of in- 
capable persons, the envy of the mediocre, the cowardice of the 
interests and that kind of low and cowardly plotting which always 
arises against any group of men who attempt to do something 
great and worthy where they live. 

"The military coup that plunged the country into despair and 
chaos was an easy task. It took the people and the government by 
surprise. It was conceived secretly by a handful of amoral persons, 
who moved around freely and perpetrated their criminal plans 
while the nation, confident and innocent, slept. In a few hours 
Cuba, normally a democratic country, became, in the eyes of the 
world, one more link in the group of Latin-American nations en- 
chained by tyranny. The task of restoring its international pres- 
tige, of recovering the liberty which had been snatched from its 
people and of returning to a new era of true justice and redemption 
for those suffering most from hunger and exploitation is, on the 
other hand, by a bitter paradox, incomparably harder and more 
exacting. 

"We have been fighting for four years to rebuild what was de- 
stroyed in a single night. We are fighting against a regime that 
is alert and fearful of the inevitable attack. We are fighting 
against political gangs that apparently— contrary to the situation- 
US 



are not interested in a radical change in the life of the country; 
rather they want to push it further back to the deadly and sterile 
policy whereby legislative offices are fabulously remunerated and 
high political offices, with the fortunes attached thereto, can be 
assured for a lifetime and, if possible, be made hereditary. We are 
fighting against the intrigues and maneuvering of men who speak 
in the name of the people but do not have their backing; and 
against the false prophets who preach wickedly against the revo- 
lution in the name of peace, while forgetting that in the homes 
hunger, fear and mourning stalk and there has been no peace in 
the last four years. We are fighting those who shout anathema 
against our uncompromising stand, offer the poison of their elec- 
toral compromise as a cure-all and, at the same time, take good 
care to hide their complex maneuvering and mediations, which 
during the fifty-four years of our republican life have not only 
failed to cure the evils at their roots, but have produced the hor- 
rifying misery of the peasantry and the industrial poverty of our 
cities. The result of their machinations has been that hundreds 
of thousands of our families, descendants of our liberators, are 
without a piece of land and more than a million persons are with- 
out employment. To our disgrace some forty-five percent of our 
population are illiterate. Compare all this with the fortunes, the 
properties, the palaces and the personal progress attained by hun- 
dreds of politicians throughout our republican existence. Money 
stolen, invested in Cuba, in the United States and all over the 
world. And all of this has become so natural— by putting aside 
the most elemental justice— and moral concepts have become so 
contradictory and paradoxical that the Society of Friends of the 
Republic, for example, recently made dramatic declarations 
against the common amnesty, based on the danger to the commu- 
nity if crimes were allowed with impunity! At the same time, 
they sat in solemn discussions with Anselmo Alliegro, Santiago 
Rey, Justo Luis del Pozo and other government figures on whose 
shoulders, as representatives of the present and past situations, 
involving blood and thefts, there rests more blame than all that 
could be put upon all the occupants of the prisons of the Isle of 
Pines together. 

"But I do not conform to the political fatalism under which we 

116 



have lived up to the present; I want my country to have a better 
destiny, a more decent public life. I wish a higher moral level for 
all, because I believe that the nation does not exist for the ex- 
clusive benefit and privilege of a few, but belongs to all. I say 
that each and every one of its present six million inhabitants, and 
of the millions that will populate it in the future, is entitled to a 
decorous life, to justice, work and well-being. With incomparable 
disinterest hundreds of men of our generation are now fighting for 
that ideal, without shrinking from any risk or sacrifice, without 
hesitating to give up the best years of life and youth. Yet our op- 
ponents attempt to show us, in the eyes of the public, as being 
little more than outcasts of society, or capricious advocates of a 
line of action not considered as honorable, loyal and patriotic. 

"This article, therefore, is not exclusively a reply to the last one 
published against us in the magazine Bohemia by one who, for- 
getting the many ties of comradeship in the struggle— as though it 
were convenient to deny them in moments of adversity— described 
the opinion of the official leaders of the mediators' group of the 
Ortodoxo Party. It is also a reply to all those who attack us in 
either good or bad faith; it is a reply to the politicians who dis- 
own us either because it suits them or through cowardice; it is 
the reply on behalf of our entire Movement, to many merely blind 
and to all those puny coxcombs who have no faith in their country. 

"First, to clear up concepts and to put things in their place, I 
repeat here what I said in the message to the congress of militant 
Ortodoxo members, on August 16, 1955: 'The 26th of July Revo- 
lutionary Movement does not constitute a tendency within the 
party: it is the revolutionary apparatus of Chibasism [the followers 
of Eduardo R. Chibas] which is rooted in the masses and from 
which it arose to fight against the dictatorship when the Ortodoxo 
Party lay impotent and divided into a thousand pieces. We have 
never given up those ideas of ours and we have remained faithful 
to the purest principles of the Great Combatant, whose fall we 
commemorate today.' 

"That message proclaiming the revolutionary line was unani- 
mously approved by five hundred representatives of the Ortodoxo 
Party from all parts of the island, who stood up to applaud it for 
a full minute. Many of the official leaders were present and none 

117 



of them spoke up against it. From that moment the revolutionary 
thesis was the thesis of the members of the party, who had ex- 
pressed their sentiments unequivocally, but from that minute the 
members and the leaders started to follow different directions. 

"When did the militants of the party annul that agreement? 
It could not have been at the provincial mass meetings where the 
unanimous shout was 'Revolution! Revolution! Revolution!' And 
who but us sustained the revolutionary thesis? And what group 
could carry it into effect but the revolutionary apparatus, that 
group of followers of Eduardo Chibas— that is to say, the 26th 
of July Movement? 

"Seven months have elapsed since then. What have the official 
leaders done from that day but defend the thesis of dialogue and 
mediation? What have we done? Defended the revolutionary 
thesis and given ourselves to the task of carrying it out effectively. 
What was the result of the former? Seven months hopelessly lost. 
What was the result of the latter? Seven months bf fruitful efforts 
and a powerful revolutionary organization that will soon be ready 
to go into combat. 

"I am speaking about facts, not about fancies; in words well 
founded and proved, not on sophisms. We could prove that the 
enormous majority of the members of the party— the best of them— 
follow the line, and yet we do not go about proclaiming it every 
day, nor talking in the name of the Ortodoxo Party as others do, 
whose backing is, at this juncture, very questionable. 

"A lot of water has run under the bridge since the last reorgani- 
zation of the party five years ago, and who says that leaders are 
eternal, or that situations do not change, and even more in a con- 
vulsion which changes everything with dazzling speed? Things 
change so much that somebody like Guillermo de Zendegui, a 
product of that reorganization, is now comfortably installed in 
the government! 

"On the other hand, it is not yet known in what part of Oriente 
Raul de Aguiar and Victor Escalona, delegates from the glorious 
municipal assembly of Havana, are buried, after their assassination 
by the regime. It would have been well to inquire about that 
among the governmental commissioners present at the affable 

118 



meetings of the Civic Dialogue, where electoral offices were re- 
membered—but not the dead. 

"It is timely to point out that an examination of my record in 
the past, where I was seen by all fighting incessantly, does not 
show me to be appearing in any office nor as taking part either 
before or after March 10 in those disgraceful discussions that did 
such harm to the faith of the party masses. Newspapers are full 
of those quarrels, and yet my name appears in none. I devoted my 
time and my energies entirely to organizing the struggle against 
the dictatorship, without any backing from the exalted leaders. 
The unpardonable thing is that history repeats itself and that at a 
moment when the Civic Dialogue breaks up and the facts show 
how right we were— when it was to be expected that the party ma- 
chinery would back the Movement— we have received from it the 
most unjustifiable aggression, using as a low-down pretext an in- 
cident for which we are not in the least responsible. 

"They have chosen to quote that ridiculous episode as a heroic 
triumph— but not against Batista, rather against the Movement that 
is in the vanguard of the struggle against the regime. Besides being 
false, a plain lie, the supposed victory will be a Pyrrhic one! It is 
the height of infamy that now they are trying to absolve me from 
all blame and to put the full weight of the intrigue on the shoulders 
of my self-denying colleagues who are the national leaders of our 
Movement. They do this to our Movement, which in Cuba is 
waging the stiffest and most risk-laden fight, without ever appear- 
ing in any newspaper, because they know how to suffer in silence, 
have no longing for publicity and do not practice the disgraceful 
exhibitionism indulged in by those who under the hood of patriot- 
ism are even now campaigning for aldermen, congressmen and 
senators. The names of those leaders of our Movement do not 
appear publicly today, but later they will appear in history. The 
envious detract from them now, but if any of them fall in battle, 
those same ones who slander them would not hesitate to invoke 
their names in political speeches as martyrs even while asking for 
the vote of the audience. 

"I do not want to sharpen my pen so as to permit my calm in- 
dictment to be called a merciless attack, as was done to my pre- 

119 



vious article. But I will not stop before clearing up the points of 
principle, in order to demonstrate who have interpreted best the 
ideals of the founder of the Ortodoxo Party. 

"Let us make a brief journey into the history of the Party sub- 
sequent to March 10. As the result of the Montreal meeting, it 
was divided into three groups. The interminable clashes between 
Agramonte and Ochoa became a schism at the time when Pardo 
Llada made a motion at the 'Artistica Gallega' assembly in favor 
of reaching an understanding with the other parties for the insur- 
rection against the regime. The group in favor of maintaining a 
line of political independence declared, through. a dramatic speech 
by Professor Bisbe, that there was no reason for a discussion be- 
cause the question of principle was involved; therefore, they left 
the meeting completely. From there on three tendencies arose: 
the Montrealists, the inde-pendents, and the electoralists. The in- 
dependent group threw Pardo Llada out because he sat down in 
Montreal with Tony Varona, Hevia and other autenticos, and 
because they alleged that he had violated the line of independence. 
The Montrealist group, in turn, qualified the position of the inde- 
pendent group as static and inoperative. Both of them threw the 
electoralist group out, alleging that it had chosen to follow the 
election legislation of the dictatorship. The party members fell 
into a state of complete despair and disorder. Many sincere 
Ortodoxo members signed up with Aureliano Sanchez Arango's 
Triple A,' considering that any road was good for ousting the 
regime; others could not overcome the scruples of their conscience, 
which had been awakened by the denouncements of the line of 
Chibas independence; and still others, although certainly the few- 
est, drifted into the electionist group. 

"The Ortodoxo members who sympathized with the Montreal 
group were not satisfied, owing to their doubts about its ideological 
position; the followers of the independent group, in turn, were 
irked by the lack of action. It was then, in the midst of that chaos, 
that there arose in the ranks of the party a Movement that was 
capable of satisfying the true aspirations of the people, owing to 
its projection; a Movement which, without violating the Chibas 
line of independence, resolutely assumed revolutionary action 
against the regime; a Movement which could not create qualms 

120 



of conscience in anyone wishing to do his duty in a totally clean 
way: that was the 26th of July Movement. 

"The question to be asked is not whether we were successful 
that first time; neither was Chibas successful in 1948, albeit it 
was a moral victory. The question to be asked is what could be 
done with a group without a party name, without resources of 
any kind, but possessed with everything that could be expected of 
decent and dignified men. The question to be asked is whether 
success would not have been possible if we could have counted on 
the backing of the party. 

"I am one of those who firmly believe that Batista would not 
be in power today if in the moment of the military coup the 
Ortodoxo Party— with its fine moral principles and the immense 
influence of Chibas among the people, its fine reputation even 
among the Armed Forces, since the propaganda spread against 
the party that was thrown out of power could not be directed 
against them— had stood up resolutely against the regime through 
revolutionary action. 

"As a means of calculating the possibilities of collecting funds 
for the struggle, it is enough to remember the public collection of 
one cent per person to free Millo Ochoa, which in twenty-four 
hours amounted to seven thousand pesos! Men and women on the 
street would say: 'If it were for the Revolution, I would give ten 
dollars instead of one cent.' 

"Three years have passed since then and only the Movement 
has maintained its posture and its principles. The independent 
group which excommunicated those who attended the Montreal 
meeting because they sat down there with the representatives of 
other parties, we now see on the Pier of Light, seated with the 
leaders of the parties they had previously rejected. It is curious 
that those who rejected an understanding with the other parties 
for a revolutionary action join, now, with the same parties to beg 
for general elections; and more curious yet that all those who 
excommunicated the registration group because they accepted a 
law of the regime, meet now with the delegates of the dictatorship 
to implore an electoral agreement. 

"And what infamy! There, in that same meeting, in the pres- 
ence of the adulators of the dictator, the delegate of the Ortodoxo 

121 



mediation faction declared that 'the line of Fidel Castro does not 
have the support of the Executive Committee.' Our line was, how- 
ever, the line unanimously approved in the Congress of Ortodoxo 
Militants on August 16, 1955. Today they renege and disavow my 
name. They did not renege, though, when, on my leaving the two 
years of honorable imprisonment which I suffered, they needed a 
statement of my adhesion to strengthen the weakened prestige of 
the official leadership. Then my modest apartment was constantly 
honored with the visits of those same leaders. Today, when to 
support the worthy line of him who has honestly fulfilled his duty 
may be dangerous, it is logical that they intone a mea culpa before 
the demanding delegates of the tyranny. 

"It is true that later that delegate defended us; he defended us 
in his way. He said our attitude was justified because the regime 
had shut off every opportunity for us to act in Cuba. And I ask 
the group in whose name the delegate spoke: if our line was 
justified because the regime closed to us every possibility of acting 
in Cuba, is not the adoption of that line by a party from which 
victory was snatched eighty days before elections and which for 
four years has been unable to act in Cuba more than justified? 

"The mediation has turned out to be a complete failure. We 
were resolutely opposed to it because we discovered from the first 
instance a maneuver of the regime whose only purpose since the 
10th of March has been to perpetuate itself indefinitely in power. 
Behind the formula of the Constitutional Assembly is the intention 
to re-elect Batista until the end of his term. But in the first place 
the dictatorship proposed to gain time, and that it has fully 
achieved, thanks to the prodigious ingenuity of Don Cosme de la 
Torriente, whom first they insulted, later praised and now insult 
again. Batista received him in the palace in the most critical days 
of his government when the country was in convulsion because of 
the heroic student rebellion and the formidable movement of the 
sugar workers in demand of the differential which had not been 
given to them. Batista needed a pause: he summoned Don Cosme 
again fifteen days later. In the first interview he gave the impres- 
sion that he would grant everything; in the second, he showed 
more reserve, and gained in this way almost three months until 
the 10th of March, when from Camp Columbia, in the midst of 

122 



the full Civic Dialogue, he effected another coup against the ex- 
pectant opposition delegates. 

"If they did not believe in the results of the dialogue what did 
they expect to accomplish by attending the talks? Was it neces- 
sary to show up the regime before the people? Do the people need 
to be shown that this regime is an atrocity and a shame for Cuba? 
For that was it worth while to lose so many months that could 
have been dedicated to another type of struggle? Or did somebody 
by chance sincerely believe in finding a solution through that 
course? Can one be so ingenuous? Is it not sufficient to observe 
how the principal chiefs and officials of the regime openly enrich 
themselves and buy farms, residential districts and businesses of 
every kind in the country, in view of the nation, showing the in- 
tention to remain in power for many years? Do not the statue of 
Batista at Camp Columbia and the modern arms of all types that 
he is constantly acquiring say anything? 

"It is really dishonest to go and sit down there with the dele- 
gates of the government when it is not yet known where many 
men whom the regime has assassinated have been buried; when 
not one of those who have killed more than a hundred compatriots 
has been punished. And the dead: will they be forgotten? And 
the ill-gotten fortunes: will they be reclaimed? And the treachery 
of March 10: will it remain without punishment so that it can 
be repeated? And the ruin of the Republic, the frightful hunger 
of hundreds of families: will that remain without hope of real 
and true solution? It is not our fault if the country has been con- 
ducted toward an abyss from which there is no other saving for- 
mula than revolution. We do not love force. We do not love 
violence. Because we detest violence we are not disposed to go on 
supporting the violence which for four years has been exercised 
on the nation. 

"Now the fight is of the people. And in order to help the people 
in its heroic fight to regain the freedoms and rights that were 
snatched from them, the 26th of July Movement has been or- 
ganized and strengthened. 

"The 26th of July against the 10th of March! 

"For the Chibas masses the 26th of July Movement is not dif- 
ferent from the Ortodoxo Party: it is the Ortodoxo without a 

123 



leadership of landholders of the type of Fico Fernandez Casas, 
without sugar barons of the type of Gerardo Vazquez; with- 
out stock-market speculators, without magnates of industry and 
commerce, without lawyers for big interests, without provincial 
caciques, without small-time politicians of any kind. The best of 
the Ortodoxo is fighting this beautiful fight together with us. To 
Eduardo Chibas we offer thus the only homage worthy of his life 
and his holocaust: the liberty of his people, which those who never 
have done anything other than shed crocodile tears over his grave 
will never be able to offer. 

"The 26th of July Movement is the revolutionary organization 
of the humble, for the humble and by the humble. 

"The 26th of July Movement is the hope of redemption for the 
Cuban working class, who will never get anything from the politi- 
cal cliques; it is the hope of land for the peasants who live like 
pariahs in the country that their grandfathers liberated; it is the 
hope of return for the emigrants who had to leave because they 
could not live or work in it; it is the hope of bread for the hungry 
and justice for the forgotten. 

"The 26th of July Movement makes its own the cause of all 
those who have fallen in this hard fight since March 10, 1952, 
and calmly proclaims before the nation, before their wives, their 
sons, their fathers and their brothers that the Revolution will never 
compromise with their killers. 

"The 26th of July Movement is the warm invitation to close 
ranks, extended with open arms to all revolutionaries of Cuba, 
without niggardly partisan differences, whatever may have been 
the previous differences. 

"The 26th of July Movement is the sound and just future of the 
country, the honor pawned before the people, the promise that 
will be fulfilled." 

There were other dramatic events that were to have a bearing 
on Castro's plans and future operations. On April 4, 1956, a 
military conspiracy to overthrow Batista was discovered. Behind 
the conspiracy was a civilian group known as "Montecristi," and 
the military leaders were two young army officers, Colonel Ramon 
Barquin, Cuba's representative on the Inter American Defense 

124 



Board, and Lieutenant Colonel Enrique C. Borbonnet, the tank 
commander at Camp Columbia. When it was decided to postpone 
H-hour for three days, somebody talked inadvertently and Bar- 
quin, Borbonnet and other officers were arrested, tried, convicted 
and sentenced to six years and more in the military prison on 
the Isle of Pines. Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, dean of the Havana 
Bar Association, defended Barquin at the court-martial. 

The Barquin conspiracy was planned to end Batista's rule and 
prevent the blood bath that was certain to follow in Cuba. If it 
had succeeded, Justo Carrillo, who had been President of the In- 
dustrial, Agricultural and Development Bank (Banfaic) under 
Prio, and whose honesty and integrity were universally recognized, 
would have become president of a provisional government. The 
conspiracy had absolutely no link with Prio. 

Twenty-five days later a group of men trying to emulate Castro 
at Moncada attempted to capture the Goicuria army fort at Ma- 
tanzas. It was a Sunday afternoon, April 29, 1956. Ten of the 
men were captured and killed inside the fort following their suc- 
cessful penetration of the gate by truck. An eleventh body was 
mysteriously added to the list of casualties. 

I interviewed Batista at the palace a few days later, and he 
blamed everything that had happened at Goicuria on Prio. He also 
made some unkind remarks about Trujillo. He revealed that 
Trujillo's ambassador in Havana had made an offer to Senator 
Rolando Masferrer, attempting to enlist the senator's aid in a plot 
to oust Batista. Masferrer recorded the conversation on a portable 
tape recorder and then called on Batista. He played back the 
conversation for his chief. Not many days passed before the am- 
bassador, Fernando Llaverias, was removed from his post in 
Havana. 

After the general amnesty of May 1955, Prio had been allowed 
to return to Cuba and was living on his La Chata estate when the 
Goicuria attack took place. In my interview Batista had given me 
no indication of his plans, but the following day Prio was sum- 
marily exiled to the United States. He landed in Miami without 
baggage and wearing a giiayabera. Prio lived in exile for the re- 
mainder of Batista's tenure. 

The Cuban embassy in Mexico City and the Batista govern- 

125 



ment in Havana denounced Castro's conspiratorial activities to 
the Mexican police. As a result the first of a series of detentions 
was made by the federal authorities, who arrested Castro for 
questioning. 

One of the detentions occurred in June 1956. A police car 
was pursuing some thieves on a highway outside Mexico City. 
Castro, Calixto Morales and Captain Alberto Bayo, Jr.— aviator 
son of the instructor— were traveling on a lateral road, returning 
to Chalco. The thieves' car reached the lateral road at a place 
known as Tepito. Castro's car was halted by the police, who 
thought it to be the thieves'. The police opened fire; Castro and 
his companions, not knowing the reason for the attack, found 
themselves caught in a virtual ambush. They were surrounded 
by police and arrested. The police searched Castro's car and 
found it full of weapons. After the police had questioned Castro 
and his party, they proceeded to Chalco and raided the place, 
arresting Castro's men who were there and confiscating all the 
arms and ammunition that had been stored at that rancho grande. 
Castro and twenty-three of his companions spent twenty-three 
days in the Mexican immigration jail for that incident. 

Before they were released, the authorities told Castro that he 
and his men would have to disperse or seek refuge in Latin-Amer- 
ican embassies, or they would be shipped back to Cuba. 

"That is wonderful!" Castro exclaimed. "Ship us back to Cuba. 
That is exactly where we want to go!" 

The Mexican authorities then reversed themselves and ordered 
Castro and his men to report daily to the immigration office. 
Castro told them it would be impossible for him to report daily 
and they modified the order, directing him to report once a week. 

One of the immigration officers ventured the news that they 
would be shipped back to Cuba anyway. 

"Viva Cuba!" Castro led his men in shouting. 

"Ship us back!" Castro challenged. "Let Batista execute us. 
It doesn't matter!" 

The authorities released Castro and his men. Some of them 
left for Tampico and others for the vicinity of Tuxpan in the state 
of Vera Cruz. 

Their training had been completed. Colonel Bayo had rated 

126 



them and at the head of the class was Ernesto Guevara, the 
Argentine medico. Castro was not rated, Bayo explained, be- 
cause he was not present for the entire course of field training, 
having had to spend much of his time commuting between Chalco 
and Mexico City. 

"Why did you rate Guevara No. 1 in the class?" Castro asked 
Bayo. 

"Because he was the best student," the Spanish veteran an- 
swered. "He is the best." 

"I would have so rated him, too," Castro commented. 

Batista's feud with Trujillo was anything but silent by this time, 
having been aggravated after an exiled Dominican labor leader 
was murdered in Havana. It was theorized that Trujillo agents had 
committed the crime. Batista's police and writers flailed Fidel 
Castro in print and accused him of accepting aid from Trujillo for 
his planned expedition. 

Castro was quick to react to those charges. He denounced any 
alliance with Trujillo while voicing his intention to support any 
future movement to overthrow the Dominican dictator. On Au- 
gust 26, 1956, he wrote to Miguel Angel Quevedo, editor of 
Bohemia: 
"Dear friend: 

"I must write you this letter. Neither my heart pierced with 
bitterness nor my hands weary with so much strife, so much writ- 
ing against the infamy and evil and even the repugnance which 
causes me sometimes to take up my pen against the lowest and 
most vulgar traps set against me— all this, I say, will not stop me 
from doing my duty with the same faith as on the first day four and 
a half years ago, and I will never end until I fulfill my promise 
or die. 

"The barrage of slander hurled against us by the dictatorship is 
now beyond all limits. Hardly five weeks ago I had to send your 
magazine an article, because of the report of Senor Luis Dam. 
As a result of our arrest in Mexico, his report reflects, among 
other things, the accusation that I was a member of the Mexican- 
Soviet Institute and an active member of the Communist Party. 
Weeks later, in spite of the unassailable conduct of all my co- 
workers in Mexico— who have never been seen in a bar or a 

127 



cabaret and whose high standard of morality and discipline is 
known by all, including the Mexican police themselves— a writer 
paid by the embassy was low enough to state that on several occa- 
sions he had had to defend Cubans against charges of 'having 
created public scandal by excessive drinking,' and so on. 

"I open Bohemia magazine of August 19, at the section 'En 
Cuba,' and read a summary of the denouncements made by Salas 
Canizares, where he is barefaced enough to cynically and shame- 
lessly link my name— which is the name of a tireless fighter 
against the tyranny that is oppressing our people— with that of the 
despicable tyrant who has been oppressing the people of Santo 
Domingo during the last twenty-five years. 

"Since the chief of police takes it upon himself to pass political 
judgment and write whatever he wants about the reputation of 
the opponents of the dictatorship— in reports to the courts which 
are published everywhere in the national and foreign press— and 
since these evil, criminal and cowardly denouncements are taken 
as a basis by the spokesmen of the regime for repeating with 
Goebbels-like emphasis the guttersniping attacks of the govern- 
ment, I consider it my duty to defend my prestige and also pass 
judgment upon my opponents as I see fit. And this in spite of the 
fact that I do not have at my disposal all of the means of publicity 
of the Republic that they do, which they use to combat ceaselessly 
any exiled adversary, who is persecuted with unequal fury even 
beyond the borders of his own country. 

"I have the right to defend myself, because one does not devote 
one's life to a cause, sacrificing everything which others cherish 
and care for— namely, peaceful living, a career, a home, the family, 
youth and existence itself— just so that a handful of evildoers, who 
enjoy power through blood and fire against the people, for the 
exclusive benefit of their personal fortunes, can with impunity 
throw mud, slander and shame against such sacrifice, self-denial 
and disinterest, a thousand times proven to be at the service of a 
holy ideal. 

"It becomes repugnant to have to reply to such an accusation, 
but if the feeling is not stifled, the spokesmen of the dictatorship 
will get away with their infamy. Somebody must step up and tell 
them a few truths. 

128 



"There can be no understanding between Trujillo and ourselves, 
just as there can never be any between Batista and us. The moral 
and ideological abyss separating us from Batista also separates us 
from Trujillo. What difference is there between the two dictators? 
Trujillo has been oppressing the Dominicans for twenty-five years; 
Batista, in two stages, has been going now for more than fifteen 
years and is on the way to copying his Dominican colleague. 
There is a dictator in Cuba just as there is in Santo Domingo; a 
regime sustained by force in Cuba as in Santo Domingo. Elections 
are filthy farces, without any guarantees for the adversaries of the 
regime, in Cuba as in Santo Domingo. There is a rapacious, am- 
bitious and vile gang enjoying all the offices of the state, provinces 
and municipalities, nourishing themselves to the full in Cuba as 
in Santo Domingo. 

"The overlord hires and fires officers and governs from his pri- 
vate farm and seats a servant of his own in the presidential chair 
in Cuba as in Santo Domingo. Terror and repression prevail, 
homes are broken into at midnight, men are arrested, tortured and 
disappear without leaving any traces in Cuba as in Santo Do- 
mingo. Moncada and Goicuria massacres are perpetrated in Cuba 
as in Santo Domingo. Civic parades are prohibited, the press is 
censored, newspapermen are beaten up and newspapers are closed 
down in Cuba as in Santo Domingo. Poor and defenseless peas- 
ants are lashed with machete blows, laborers are terrified and 
beaten with rifle butts and the most elemental rights are denied to 
the humble in Cuba as in Santo Domingo. Trujillo's bloodhounds 
kidnap and murder the opponents in exile— Jesus Galindez, 
Mauricio Baez, Andres Requena. Batista's bloodhounds persecute 
and also prepare the assassination of his opponents who are in 
exile. On this very day the Mexican paper Ultimas Noticias pub- 
lishes on page 5, column 1, the following: 

" The Chief of the Cuban Bureau of Investigations, Colonel 
Orlando Piedra, and the Chief of the Bureau of Subversive Ac- 
tivities, Captain Juan Castellanos, have just arrived in Mexico to 
investigate privately the activities of Cuban refugees who are in- 
volved in the plot against General Batista. 

" 'The presence of these Antillcan policemen has sown alarm 
among the Cuban residents in our country, who fear that they 

129 



will be the object of retaliation on the part of the traveling agents 
of General Batista's government. 

" 'Colonel Piedra and Captain Castellanos have come to our 
country accompanied by various agents who, as simple "tourists," 
will investigate the activities of the Cubans who are against the 
present policies of the Cuban government now in power.' 

"What difference is there between these two tyrannies? Both 
the Cuban and the Dominican peoples want to rid themselves of 
Batista and Trujillo. Cuba and Santo Domingo will be happy the 
day each of these tyrants is deposed. 

"Trujillo's government was the first one to recognize with de- 
light the coup of the 10th of March. When Batista was in the 
opposition, he repeatedly criticized the Autentico governments for 
the generous help offered to Dominican revolutionaries. Neither 
Batista nor Trujillo can wish to see a democratic regime in their 
respective countries. The most that Trujillo can hope to see is 
the installation of a military dictatorship or a maffia of gangsters. 

"The revolution directed by the 26th of July Movement would 
give its backing to a democratic Dominican movement. Now that 
our Movement is the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle, the 
only thing that can suit the tyrant Trujillo is that Batista remain 
in power. 

"No matter how great may be his personal grudge, no dictator 
can afford to act against his own interests. Are not Batista's rela- 
tions with Perez Jimenez— a dictator just like Trujillo— magnifi- 
cent? Was it not in Venezuela that Santiago Rey proposed the 
re-election of Batista? Why did not Batista denounce Trujillo at 
Panama? Or did he not embrace cordially the brother of the 
jackal? On the other hand, why did the democratic President 
Jose Figueres refuse even to speak to the Cuban dictator? What 
explanation can the regime give for these contradictions? 

"If Batista's dictatorship felt itself strong against us, if it were 
not sure that the clash is inevitable and decisive, it would not 
have used the low-down trick of suggesting an agreement between 
Trujillo and us. The use of such methods implies the kind of 
irresponsibility which has no limits. 

"What is intended is to create a state of confusion so that when 
the fighting breaks out we can be accused of heading a Trujillist 

130 



revolution, and so Batista can bridle the people and throw his 
soldiers against us under the guise of defending the national 
sovereignty rather than fighting against the revolution which ac- 
tually has the support of many military men. This maneuver must 
be brought clearly into the light. 

"If it was true that an insurrectional agreement exists between 
Trujillo, Prio and us, that would imply an open and barefaced 
intervention of a foreign tyrant in the internal politics of our 
country. Then what is Cuba waiting for to reply in a worthy 
manner to such an aggression? The government cannot make an 
official charge like that and at the same time remain indifferent. 
Therefore, the time has come to unmask this infamous maneuver. 
Either the government must deny the existence of an insurrectional 
pact between the 26th of July Movement and Trujillo, or the 
government must declare war on Trujillo in defense of the na- 
tional honor and sovereignty. The regime is bound to support or 
deny the charge. 

"If at any time the sovereignty and dignity of our country are 
attacked, the men of the 26th of July Movement would fight as 
comrades of the soldiers of our army. What cannot be allowed is 
this kind of game with the international prestige and honor of the 
country, by sticking the term 'Trujillist' on anyone opposing a 
regime no more enviable than Trujillo's. 

"If certain gangsters such as Policarpo Soler, who left Cuba 
through Rancho Boyeros airport with Batista's help, are now in 
cahoots with the Dominican despot, it is not fair to involve in this 
game men who have given more than enough proof of their 
idealism, honesty and love of Cuba. 

"It is a positive fact that ambitious officers of the 10th of 
March coup have been in contact with Trujillo. Pelayo Cuervo 
denounced it courageously and ended up in the Castillo del Prin- 
cipe. The regime has not said a word regarding this, but has only 
accused all of its opponents of being Trujillists, whereas the truth 
is that Trujillism was born in the ranks of the regime. I am sure 
that the charge is also false and slanderous insofar as Prio is con- 
cerned. 

"If I have defended the thesis of uniting all revolutionary 
forces— a concept which does not include gangsters— it is precisely 

131 



because I believe that we Cubans can attain our freedom alone 
without the need of any help that could stain our cause. And this 
attitude has been mortal for the tyranny and has upset its leaders. 
I declared it in the face of the criticisms of our detractors, because 
I am a revolutionary who thinks only of what suits our country; 
I am not a candidate for electoral office, calculating with dema- 
goguery the number of votes I can get in an election. 

"The four and a half years that I have been engaged in this 
struggle, for which I have sacrificed all in spite of constant perse- 
cutions and slander, half of which time I have been imprisoned at 
home and abroad, in solitary confinement for long months, con- 
stantly exposed to the murderous bullets of my opponents, without 
a moment of rest or a moment of hesitation, without any more 
riches than the clothes I wear— these are the evident proofs of my 
disinterest and loyalty to Cuba. I have the honor of having been 
the target of the roughest, most continuous and most infamous 
attacks of the tyrant. I have withstood and will continue to with- 
stand them to the end. 

"Mr. Salas Canizares cannot assail the honesty of my firm demo- 
cratic convictions, nor my unbending loyalty to the cause of the 
Dominican people. Juan Rodriguez, Juan Bosch and all the 
Dominican leaders in exile can attest to my struggle in the univer- 
sity in favor of Dominican democracy, to the three months I 
lived under disguise on a sandy islet, waiting for the signal to 
move and to the times I declared myself to be ready to go into 
the fight against Trujillo. They can speak for me. Therefore, 
they have to know who their real friends are and they have reasons 
to be better informed than anyone else regarding the carryings-on 
of the dictator who oppresses their country. 

"The stand I took when I was a student is the stand I take today 
and it will always be my stand regarding Trujillo. 

"I am one of those who believe that in a revolution principles 
are more important than guns. We went into the fight at Moncada 
with .22 caliber rifles. We have never had the number of arms 
that the enemy has; what counts, as Marti said, is the number of 
stars on your forehead. 

"We would not exchange a single principle of ours for the arms 
of all the dictators in the world. This attitude of the men willing 

132 



to fight and die against forces having incomparably superior re- 
sources, without accepting outside help, is the most worthy reply 
we can give to the spokesmen of the tyranny. 

"On the other hand, Batista will not give up the tanks, guns and 
airplanes that the United States is sending him, all of which will 
not serve to defend democracy, but will be used only to massacre 
our helpless people. 

"In Cuba the habit of speaking the truth is being lost. The 
campaign of slander will earn its reply on a day not far off, in the 
fulfilment of the promises we have made that in 1956 we will be 
free or will be martyrs. 

"I hereby calmly ratify this statement with full understanding of 
what it implies four and a half months from December 31. No 
reverses will stop us from fulfilling our undertaking. No other 
terms can be used in speaking to a people who have become 
skeptical from so much deceit and betrayal. When that hour 
comes, Cuba will know that those of us who are giving our blood 
and our lives are her most loyal sons and that the weapons we will 
use to gain our freedom were not paid for by Trujillo, but by the 
people, cent by cent and dollar by dollar. If we fall, as Marti 
told that illustrious Dominican Federico Hernandez Carvajal, we 
will fall also for the liberty of the Dominican people. 

"Requesting you to publish these lines in your impartial and 
fair-minded magazine, I remain, 

"Yours very truly, 
"Fidel Castro" 

Castro was very anxious to talk with Prio, who was in Miami, 
and a meeting was arranged by Teresa Cassuso, who had been 
fired from her job in the Cuban embassy in Mexico because of her 
friendship for the rebel cause. Prio could not leave the United 
States because of pending indictments, and Castro could not ob- 
tain a visa to enter. Mexican friends suggested that they try to 
meet at McAllen, Texas, across the frontier from Reynoso, 
Mexico, with only the Rio Grande separating both cities. Prio 
agreed to make the journey from Miami and Castro from Mexico 
City. It was the month of September 1956. 

With Juan Manuel Marquez, whom he had chosen to be his 

133 



second in command, Montane and Montane's second wife, Dr. 
Melba Hernandez, Castro traveled from Mexico City to Reynoso 
by automobile. The chauffeur was Rafael del Pino, also Castro's 
bodyguard. At Reynoso, Castro was taken in hand by some 
laborers, who gave him clothing similar to theirs; he mingled with 
the workers as one of them. The plan for the wetback crossing of 
the river had been meticulously prepared. With the other laborers, 
Castro went for a swim under the hot noon sun. On ihe United 
States side friendly Mexican laborers were waiting for him, with 
a change of clothing and an automobile. He was quickly driven 
to the Hotel Casa de Palmas in McAllen where Frio had already 
checked in. 

The conference with Prio lasted until nightfall when Mexican 
oil-worker friends guided Castro across the bridge where their 
friends were waiting for him. He rejoined Marquez and Jesus 
Montane and his wife. 

It was the first time that Castro and Prio had met each other. 
Castro needed financial help for the purchase of the yacht, arms, 
ammunition and equipment. Prio promised to help him. Castro 
returned to Mexico City and began to speed up his plans to return 
to Cuba. Prio's friends claim the former president made a finan- 
cial contribution to the cause that enabled Castro to purchase the 
invasion yacht, while some of Castro's friends credit the money 
for the expenses of the yacht Gramma to a Cuban named Rafael 
Bilbao of Mayari, province of Oriente. 

Trujillo lost little time in reacting to Castro's letter after it was 
published by Quevedo in the month of September. He ordered his 
diplomatic corps to contact several exiles friendly to Prio and to 
offer to train an expeditionary force of Cubans in the Dominican 
Republic. The arrangements for this training were made by 
Eufemio Fernandez, among others, and recruitment of volunteers 
began in Havana, Miami and Tampa. Castro had not yet learned 
of this latest maneuver, which was used to justify the accusations 
by Batista— which Castro had challenged in his letter— that Tru- 
jillo was sponsoring a revolution against him. 

Upon Teresa Cassuso's offer of help, Castro told her he would 
like to store a few things in her house in the Lomas de Chapul- 
tepec in Mexico City. The few things turned out to be an arsenal. 

134 



Rafael del Pino helped to store the arms in closets and other avail- 
able space. Some weapons were stored in Pedro Miret's house 
next door. The weapons were a new consignment, recent pur- 
chases to replace those lost in the raid at Chalco. 

During the month of November 1956 the Mexican police 
raided Teresa Cassuso's home to capture the entire arsenal. The 
tip to the police— an investigation by the 26th of July Movement 
showed— was furnished by an informer who furnished the Cuban 
embassy in Mexico City with a blueprint of the home and the 
storage of the arms. 

"I don't want a penny in advance," the informer told the em- 
bassy attache with whom he spoke. "But when the arms are cap- 
tured I want $15,000." 

The deal was made and the information was transmitted by the 
embassy to Havana and by Colonel Orlando Piedra, chief of the 
Cuban detective bureau, to the Mexican police. The Movement 
had its own spies in the embassy in Mexico City. The finger of 
accusation pointed to Rafael del Pino as the informer, although 
there was no definitive proof. Del Pino had hurriedly left the camp 
early in November with some money and a gun which did not 
belong to him. Raul Castro and Faustino Perez had chased him 
for twenty-five miles, but his one-hour head start had been too 
much. At a meeting of the members of the expeditionary force 
called by Castro, it was agreed that an investigation should be 
undertaken of Del Pino's loyalty and activity. It was fifteen days 
after Del Pino's escape that Teresa Cassuso's home was raided. 
For storing the arms in her house, Teresa spent more than twenty 
days in jail. 

The raid was another serious blow to Castro. Once again work 
began to replace the lost weapons, while preparations to buy the 
invasion yacht continued. 

Meanwhile, more dramatic events had been happening in Ha- 
vana. At 4:30 A.M. of October 27, 1956, the day before the Inter 
American Press Association was to convene in Havana for its 
annual convention, Colonel Antonio Blanco Rico, Batista's mili- 
tary intelligence chief, was killed by submachine-gun fire as he 
was about to leave the Montmartre night club with some friends. 

Two days later Colonel Rafael Salas Canizares, who was 

135 



Batista's chief of police, broke into the embassy of Haiti with the 
purpose of arresting some poUtical refugees who were there and 
who, according to official reports, were suspected of complicity 
in the Blanco Rico shooting. His violation of the sanctity of 
political asylum was met with gunfire, and Salas died before he 
could reach the hospital. A brother, who had accompanied him 
on the raid, broke into the embassy with a squad of police and 
machine-gunned to death ten young Cubans. 

The attack on Blanco Rico undoubtedly was perpetrated in 
order to call the attention of the editors, who had gathered in 
Havana from all over the continent, to the situation existing in 
the country. The attack on the Haitian embassy compounded the 
gravity of events. 

A Cuban editor asked to appear before the Committee on 
Freedom of the Press of the Inter American Press Association, 
which was holding hearings to prepare its annual report to submit 
to the convention. He was Luis Orlando Rodriguez, whose politi- 
cal newspaper. La Calle, had been closed by Batista as "incendi- 
ary" in the month of June 1955. Fidel Castro had been a con- 
tributor to the paper. All efforts by Rodriguez to obtain the re- 
turn, at least, of his printing plant, so that he could lease it to 
someone else, had failed. Batista promised the Inter American 
Press Association he would return the plant but that never hap- 
pened. Rodriguez thus decided to join Castro's cause. 

Castro's first plan was to buy a surplus United States Navy crash 
boat. A down payment of $5,000 was made for one by a Cuban, 
but the deal fell through when the Cuban embassy in Washington 
was consulted for approval of the sale. It was then that Batista 
received confirmation of invasion plans. 

Castro made a trip to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and 
spotted the Gramma undergoing repairs in the Tuxpan River. 
That, he decided, was the yacht he wanted. He contacted Mexican 
friends again and told them about this boat on the banks of the 
Rio Tuxpan. Tracing its ownership, they found it was registered 
in the name of Erickson, an American who lived in Mexico City. 
Erickson had already offered the yacht to a Mexican physician, 
Dr. Mario del Rio, who planned to pay $15,000 for it in install- 
ments. Castro's friends offered the entire sum in cash. 

136 



The Ericksons owned a house on the Rio Tuxpan at Santiago 
de la Pena, which they also wanted to sell, because they wished to 
return to the United States to live. A Mexican friend, Antonio 
del Conde, whose livelihood was the sale of arms, acted as the 
buyer. He bought the yacht in his name, paying $15,000 cash, 
and made a down payment of $3,000 on the house, obtaining a 
mortgage for the balance of the $23,000 purchase price. 

The Gramma had two Gray marine engines and a fuel capacity 
of nearly 1,000 gallons. But the yacht needed repairs which 
there was not enough time to make because of increasing pressure 
from the Mexican authorities. Castro and others of the men were 
arrested on several occasions and held for questioning. Influential 
Mexicans managed to obtain their release, but all of them were 
required to report daily to the Ministry of Interior and sign a 
register there. 

Though the Gramma could comfortably hold eight men, Castro 
planned to carry eighty-two beside the captain and the crew. The 
clutch of the engines was bad. Leaks in the hull were repaired, 
but there was no time to fix the clutch. Batista's spies were closing 
in on them, Castro sent his men ahead by automobile to the 
Erickson house on the banks of the Rio Tuxpan, where they as- 
sembled in small groups. The weapons and ammunition had been 
stored in the house for loading aboard the yacht. 

Castro was concerned about the Gramma and its ability to 
reach the coast of Oriente, the part of Cuba farthest from Mexico, 
The yacht normally cruised at 1,800 revolutions; now as soon as 
the engines reached 1,500 revolutions the clutch would slip. This 
lost valuable time. Instead of the usual 1,000 gallons of fuel, 
Castro loaded the vessel with another 2,000 gallons for the 
voyage. 

Castro's men carried out secret loading operations near the river 
town of Tuxpan. Under cover of darkness arms, ammunition and 
men went on board the 5 8 -foot yacht in that river in the state of 
Vera Cruz. 

En route to Tuxpan by car, Castro had some unfinished busi- 
ness. He took a small pad from his pocket and wrote his last will 
and testament. He was concerned about his son, Fidel, Jr. He 
willed the custody of Fidelito to Mrs. Orquidea Pino, a Cuban 

137 



who was childless and in whose home he had lived. He gave this 
piece of paper to one of his escorts who was returning to the 
capital to deliver to Senora Pino. 

At 11 P.M. of November 24 they crossed the other bank of 
the river, with nine men being ferried across in each rowboat. 

Castro had not attempted to keep his invasion plans a secret. 
On November 15, 1956, he had boldly announced that he would 
land soon in Cuba to overthrow Batista before the end of that 
year or die as a martyr in the effort. 

Colonel Bayo had remonstrated with him for making the an- 
nouncement. "Don't you know," he asked Castro, "that a cardinal 
military principle is to keep your intentions secret from your 
enemy?" 

"You taught me that," Castro assured his instructor, "but in 
this case I want everyone in Cuba to know I am coming. I want 
them to have faith in the 26th of July Movement. It is a pecu- 
liarity all my own although I know that militarily it might be 
harmful. It is psychological warfare." 

On November 25 Castro's expedition sailed down the Rio 
Tuxpan into the Gulf of Mexico and headed eastward for Oriente 
province and his war against Batista. Aboard the yacht were his 
brother Raul and the Argentine medico, Ernesto Guevara, both 
of whom were to become controversial figures during and after 
the civil war. 

The yacht was crowded with well-trained young men under an 
inspired and zealous leader. Now as it sailed out into the gulf 
between Vera Cruz and Tuxpan, and the weak lights of Tuxpan 
faded into oblivion, the 82 expeditionaries broke into song. The 
song was the Cuban national anthem. 

The next day and for days to come many were seasick as the 
yacht bucked a norther with winds close to forty knots an hour. 
The yacht began to ship water, and the pump failed to work. The 
men had to bail out the water. Hunger and thirst set in, but the 
captain. Lieutenant Eloy Troque, a cashiered naval officer, 
cheered them with assurances that they were headed straight for 
Cuba. Fidel Castro became impatient. His plans were going 
awry because of delay caused by the rough seas. It was November 
30, and there was to be an uprising in Santiago de Cuba to cover 
his landing at Niquero to the west. 

138 



Crescencio Perez was a man respected and beloved by the farm- 
ers of the Sierra Maestra. Perez, who knew every trail and every 
hiding place in the region, was supposed to meet the expedition 
with trucks and more than 100 men, Castro planned to proceed 
to Manzanillo to attack simultaneously with the uprising in 
Santiago. 

By radio Castro heard that the attack had taken place in San- 
tiago. The maritime police headquarters had been stormed and 
burned; 10 political prisoners and 57 common criminals had 
broken out of the Boniato prison. There was fighting in the streets 
of Santiago. On the promenade of the cathedral troops fired on 
rebel snipers and pursued others down the streets. A dynamite 
warehouse in Holguin was broken open. The reports emphasized 
the fact that the attackers wore black and red 26th of July arm- 
bands. 

"I wish I could fly!" Castro complained, but he took the dis- 
appointment with a stoicism and confidence that inspired his men. 

The radio soon reported that there were 4 dead and 1 4 wounded 
in Santiago and Holguin, according to an official announcement. 
An unofficial figure for Santiago alone gave 20 dead and more 
than 200 wounded. Batista promptly suspended civil rights in 
four provinces, excluding Havana and Matanzas. This indicated 
that he feared uprisings in Pinar del Rio, Oriente, Camaguey and 
Las Villas. Batista sent Colonel Pedro Barreras, tank commander 
at Camp Columbia, to Oriente to command field operations. 

Before dawn of December 2, Lieutenant Troque fell overboard. 

"He must be saved!" Castro ordered. At first Troque could 
not be found in the darkness. Someone found a lantern and held 
it out over the water. 

"Here! Here! Here!" Troque's voice shouted from out of the 
dark. He was located and pulled aboard, but more than an hour 
was lost in the rescue operation. 

The Gramma neared the shore between Niquero and Cabo 
Cruz. Now the rowboat was lowered but sank under the excessive 
weight. The men were bogged down in the loam but finally man- 
aged to make their way into the mangrove swamp. When they 
emerged from the swamp onto firm ground, some of the men 
knelt down to kiss the soil of Cuba. 

Because the yacht had grounded on a loamy cay, the expedition 

139 



had to leave radio transmitters, ammunition, food and medicines 
on board. The 82 men landed safely, without a single casualty. 
Word of the successful landing, however, soon reached the army 
because by dusk of that day, December 2, 1956, high government 
sources leaked out the news that Fidel Castro had landed. They 
added quickly that he and 42 of his men, including Juan Manuel 
Marquez, his second in command, had been killed when they 
were bombed and strafed on the beach by aircraft! 

The exact location of the landing was at Belie, a small fishing 
village east of Niquero. One news service reported that Castro 
had been killed but credited only "reliable sources." By midnight 
it became apparent that the report was incorrect although no re- 
sponsible official in the government would deny it. On the con- 
trary, they were anxious to establish preliminary confusion and 
doubt as to Castro's success. 

The next day there was some hedging on the part of the gov- 
ernment, but the confusion was not dissipated until Herbert L. 
Matthews of the New York Times interviewed Castro in the Si- 
erra Maestra on February 17, 1957, and published his story ten 
days later. 

When Castro and his men reached some native huts, a peasant 
stared at them in fright. 

"I am Fidel Castro,"' said the leader, placing his big hand on 
the man's shoulder. "My companions and I have come to liberate 
Cuba. Nobody has anything to fear from us because we have 
come to help the farmer. We are going to give you land on which 
to work, markets for your products, schools for your sons, sanitary 
housing for your family. We need something to eat, but we are 
going to pay you for it." 

"Come this way, but be careful with that shotgun," the aston- 
ished farmer said. "A shot might go off by mistake. Let us go 
and kill a pig. I have some boniato already on the fire." 

As they rested and fancied devouring the roast pig, their com- 
fort was interrupted by a burst of machine-gun fire in the jungle 
behind them. Castro ordered a hurried withdrawal from the 
scene. They fled to a presumably safe area but found eight of 
their men missing, whereupon Castro sent a rescue patrol out 
after them. 

140 



Fidel Castro was an unhappy man, for all his plans had mis- 
fired. With the planned co-ordinated attack by his invaders on 
Manzanillo and the uprising in Santiago, an island-wide campaign 
of agitation and sabotage was supposed to begin, to be followed 
by a revolutionary general strike that would topple Batista. In- 
stead, here he was on the night of December 2, two days behind 
his planned schedule, far from Manzanillo, encamped in a jungle 
without food and with a shortage of water. 

He ate his first breakfast since his return to Cuba during the 
next morning when, marching eastward toward the Sierra Maestra, 
his force came to a native shack. They were served yucca with 
honey; to hungry, disappointed, fervent idealists with a mission 
to liberate Cuba it was like a banquet. Loyal aircraft approached 
on reconnaissance and the men hid under trees until they passed, 
but the day was a gloomy one. They saw no sign of any natives, 
they had no guides, they had no food and they had no water; 
only a good sense of direction guided them eastward. 

On the afternoon of the third as they approached a shack, the 
occupants fled in fright into the jungle at sight of the uniformed 
and armed men. Castro sent one of his men to trail them. They 
found some food and water, ate and drank and left a five-peso 
Cuban bill. [The Cuban peso is on a par with the dollar.] That 
night they slept in the woods near a trail. 

Suddenly the scout who had gone after the fleeing natives re- 
turned with a shout. "I found the eight men we lost in the man- 
grove swamp on the day we landed!" 

He went on to explain. "I lost the trail last night when I fol- 
lowed the natives. I walked awhile until I found a light in a house 
and I asked the farmers there to orient me. They invited me to 
stay there overnight, but when I saw the man leave, I didn't know 
what to think. Soon he returned with one of our men, and then 
all eight of them were there." 

The reunion was joyful but not uproarious because of the situ- 
ation which confronted the expedition. Castro ordered marches 
during the night and rest during the day, for government aircraft 
were almost always overhead. On several occasions they observed 
the aircraft strafing the jungle area and mangrove swamps a con- 
siderable distance away. These were a new type of rebels, the 

141 



natives soon learned. When they asked the natives for food and 
received some, they paid for it. The farmers, all peasants, were 
astounded at such treatment, Castro had landed with Cuban pesos 
in his pocket and intentions of paying for everything he would 
need until he could get more money. 

On December 5— Castro was still dead, according to some, 
though Batista in Havana gave an interview in which he said he 
did not believe Castro had even landed in Cuba but was still in 
Mexico— the rebels camped in an abandoned cane field flanked 
by jungle. They did not have a radio set with them and therefore 
were unable to keep abreast of news that might be broadcast about 
them; neither Castro nor the others were aware that he was be- 
lieved dead. But the confusion over the story of his death, the 
failure to attack Manzanillo, the routing of the attackers at San- 
tiago all served to put the brakes on the members of the 26th of 
July Movement elsewhere in the country who were to have gone 
into action. 

Then Castro's scouts returned with a report on the enemy. 

"On the highway to Pilon," they informed him, "a few miles 
away, there is an army detachment and we are surrounded. We 
are going to have to break through that encirclement to reach 
the mountains." 

Castro rationed out some of the food that had been purchased 
from the natives. The ration was half a sausage and a cracker for 
each man. Here in Alegria del Pio, Castro was to suffer his first 
military reverse and lose some of his best men and closest friends. 

With his tired and hungry men, Castro was seated in the woods. 
Most of the men had their boots off easing their sore feet. Che 
Guevara was applying first aid to the worst cases. Castro had 
ordered the men to be ready to march at four o'clock in the after- 
noon, but suddenly rifle fire began to come from all directions, 
and bullets whistled over their heads. Batista's air force made its 
appearance to bomb and strafe the very area where they were. 
Castro ordered a strategic retreat back to the cane field. But 
fragmentation bombs dropped by the aircraft set fire to the cane 
field, and Castro ordered the men to split up into groups to facili- 
tate their withdrawal and make their way east to the Sierra 
Maestra. 

Raul Castro took off with a patrol that included Ciro Redondo, 

142 



Efigenio Almejeiras, Rene Rodriguez and several others. Juan 
Manuel Marquez left with 13 men, but they became lost and ven- 
tured too close to the coast. They were surrounded by the army. 
Exhausted, starved and their throats parched from thirst, Marquez 
and his men agreed to surrender. The army commander had as- 
sured them they would not be killed. As soon as their weapons 
were handed over, they were shot. 

Fidel Castro with another group hid in a cane field while air- 
craft strafed the vicinity. None of the men with him was hit. 
Again without food and water, on the sixth of December and for 
five successive days, Castro and his men lived on sugar cane. 
They nourished themselves each morning by sucking the raw 
cane dry. 

'The day when the revolution is triumphant," Castro said to 
Faustino Perez and Universo Sanchez, the only two survivors of 
his group, "we will have to erect a monument to our savior sugar 
cane." 

Following Castro's rout at Alegria del Pio, a move was started 
in Havana to effect a truce in the fighting and stay the army from 
pursuing the rebels. It was initiated by Ernesto Stock, a member 
of the Ortodoxo Party who now owns the small Hotel Siboney on 
the Prado. Stock tried assiduously to involve me in the truce. 
He asked me to attend a meeting Sunday, December 9, at the 
office of Miguel Angel Quevedo, editor and publisher of Bohemia, 
together with himself and Manuel Brana, editor of the newspaper 
Excelsior. The talk narrowed down to Stock's proposal that I offer 
my good offices as Latin-American correspondent of the Chicago 
Tribune and Chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press 
of the Inter American Press Association to the government to 
bring about a truce between the army and the rebels, to prevent 
the possible annihilation of the remainder of Castro's force. I re- 
jected the request, pointing out that I could in no way become 
associated with such a move because I was a foreigner and could 
not involve either my newspaper or the Inter American Press 
Association. Quevedo and Brana understood my position. Stock 
insisted, but I remained firm in my refusal. I suggested that the 
Cubans act on their own to stop the annihilation of Castro, if that 
were the objective. Such an effort was made through pressure of 
public opinion. 

143 



For eight days Raul Castro, Giro Redondo, Efigenio Alme- 
jeiras, Rene Rodriguez, also the only survivors of their group, 
were without food and water. They, too, lived off sugar cane, 
sucking the juice of the raw cane every morning. Every night 
they heard the drone of the army aircraft engines and knew they 
were surrounded by troops. On the eighth day they headed east 
in obedience to Fidel's orders. When they reached a cave in the 
foothills of the Sierra Maestra, a campesino fed them yucca, rice 
and beans and gave them water. Later they were fed codfish and 
sugar cane. 

Then for four days they marched through sugar cane fields. 
They reached a dairy, where Rene Rodriguez just had to have his 
milk and coffee. The milk gave him the colic because he had not 
had food for days. The campesinos were friendly. Raul Castro 
told them he was a Mexican newspaperman and showed them a 
card with another name. 

The next day in one of the sugar cane fields Raul Castro's party 
stumbled into Fidel, Perez and Sanchez. Despite the disastrous 
defeat, the fatigue, hunger and disillusionment, Castro never lost 
his optimism or his qualities of leadership. 

"The days of the dictatorship are numbered!" he assured the 
six men with him. Rene Rodriguez looked at him with astonish- 
ment. 

"This man is crazy," Rodriguez said to himself. 

"I was very mad at Fidel," Rodriguez relates, "because after all 
we had just been through, with many of our men lost, Fidel stands 
there telling us with complete confidence that the days of the 
dictatorship are numbered, and we were only eight men!" 

In all, 22 men had survived but only 12 were to remain in the 
mountains. The other 10 were captured in the cities and impris- 
oned on the Isle of Pines. Camilo Cienfuegos, Che Guevara, 
Galixto Morales and Calixto Garcia caught up with Fidel and 
Raul Castro, Faustino Perez, Universo Sanchez, Efigenio Alma- 
jeiras. Giro Redondo, Juan Almeida and Rene Rodriguez. When 
they reached the foothills before their ascent to the peaks, Castro 
had to feign that he was a regular army colonel to escape detec- 
tion. His ruse was successful. 

When Castro reached the Pico Turquino, the 7,000-foot sum- 
mit of Cuba in the Sierra Maestra, neither he nor any of his men 

144 



had more than eight or ten cartridges left for their weapons. 

The ascent was made possible by a chain of native guides or- 
ganized by Crescendo Perez. By Christmas Eve Castro reached 
his destination. There he holed up with his men to plan for the 
acceleration of the organization of the underground throughout 
the country and the tactics of agitation and sabotage. On the 
way up hundreds of friendly natives had offered to enlist in his 
cause, but he had to turn them down because he had no weapons, 
much less any ammunition for them. 

"When we arrived at the Sierra Maestra," Castro relates, "we 
executed a ranch foreman who had accused tenant farmers and 
peasants of being pro-rebel, and who had increased the holdings 
of his landlord from 10 acres to 400 acres by taking the land of 
those he denounced. So we tried him and executed him and won 
the affection of the peasants." 

Thus Castro was to become the Robin Hood of the Sierra 
Maestra and was to pursue later the same policy of taking from 
the rich to give to the poor. 

Early in January he sent Faustino Perez— who resembles an 
inoffensive bookworm although he had finished a medical course 
at the University of Havana in 1952 (where he refused to accept 
his degree because Batista had wrecked constitutional govern- 
ment)— to Santiago de Cuba with instructions to arrange for an 
American newspaperman to climb the Sierra Maestra to interview 
him. Perez went on to Havana, arranged for Herbert Matthews to 
get the interview and personally escorted him to Castro's hide-out. 

While Castro was holed up in the Pico Turquino and while 
many people in Cuba and elsewhere ridiculed his brazen effort to 
overthrow Batista, one man in Havana was predicting he would 
succeed. This was Father Armando Llorente, who had been 
Castro's Spanish and public-speaking teacher at the Colegio Belen 
and also his spiritual adviser. Today Father Llorente is director 
of the Catholic University Group, an organization of university 
students. 

"Fidel Castro is a man of destiny," Father Llorente would tell 
anyone who cared to listen to him. "Behind him is the hand of 
God. He has a mission to fulfill and he will fulfill it against all 
obstacles." 

He recalled that Fidel was the head of the explorers' club at 

145 



the Colegio Belen. "He demonstrated then that he can rise to 
greatness in the face of adversity," Father Llorente would say. 
"One day we were on a hike in the Sierra de los Organos in the 
province of Pinar del Rio. A heavy rainstorm had swollen the 
rivers there while we were hiking, among them the Taco-Taco 
which we had to cross. Fidel reconnoitered the inundated area. 
When he returned he told us that three hundred feet away where 
the water had risen several feet, we might be able to cross. He 
took the rope that we had brought along and gripped it in his 
teeth. He jumped into the swirling water, which was filled with 
boulders and timber. As the current dragged him more than sixty 
feet, we held on to the other end of the rope. He got across to 
the other bank with the rope in his teeth, and using it as an 
anchor he helped all of us across." 

Father Llorente also recalled another hiking trip, much more 
important. It was into the Sierra Maestra, which experience was 
to serve Castro in good stead. 

"Fidel is going to do a lot of good for the poor people and the 
humble," Father Llorente preached to all who would listen to 
him, and many did. "He was always a man who preferred to cul- 
tivate friendships among the humble. His special friends at school 
were the porters, cooks and workmen there." 

To his brother Ramon, who was taking care of the family sugar 
plantation, which his father had developed long before his death 
in 1956, Castro gave the mission to funnel supplies to him in the 
Sierra Maestra. Ramon, perhaps half an inch taller than Fidel, 
devoutly religious and in love with the farm, developed into a 
masterful organizer and quartermaster. He mobilized a rebel 
pipeline from the cities to the mountaintops to get arms, ammu- 
nition, medicines, supplies and men to his brothers. He kept an 
inventory of everything that went up; what could not be bought 
or obtained through donations by friends of the cause he devised 
ways and means to manufacture, either the identical product or 
a synthetic one that would serve the same purpose. 

Fidel Castro was safely protected in the Sierra Maestra. Each 
day that passed in which Batista failed to rout him not only meant 
a day of defeat for the dictator but signified his certain and ulti- 
mate downfall. 

146 



But in the Dominican Republic an expeditionary force of 120 
Cubans was being trained by officers of Trujillo's army and air 
force. Some of the Cubans had been recruited in Havana by 
friends of Prio. Others recruited in Miami had only to go to the 
Miami International Airport and claim their tickets for the flight 
to Ciudad Trujillo. At the Dominican capital they were met and 
transported to a camp outside of the city where they were given 
intensive military training. 

Trujillo's powerful radio stations of the La Voz Dominicana 
network, owned by his brother Lieutenant General J. Arismendi 
Trujillo, had been beaming their harangues against President Paul 
Magloire of Haiti across the frontier. Magloire decreed himself 
dictator and was overthrown by a general strike coupled with a 
military conspiracy. With Magloire out of the way the Trujillo 
radio began to beam its signals to Cuba with blistering attacks on 
Batista. This was in December 1956. In its commentaries La 
Voz Dominicana demanded that the people of Cuba rise in a 
general strike just as the people of Haiti had and overthrow Ba- 
tista. I heard the broadcasts while in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

The Cuban people as a whole entertain a profound hatred for 
Trujillo and would never respond to any appeal on his part, or 
on the part of those who may act for him, to launch a general 
strike to overthrow anybody. Thus his campaign furnished an 
inadvertent assist to Batista, but it also served to alert Batista 
against possible air attack and invasion from Santo Domingo. 

It was reported— although definitive confirmation of this could 
never be obtained— that Trujillo wanted Gerald Lester Murphy, 
an American pilot from Eugene, Oregon, to bomb Havana; when 
Murphy refused he was fed to the sharks in the Caribbean Sea. 
Murphy was said also to have been the pilot who had flown Dr. 
Jesus de Galindez, the Basque instructor at Columbia University 
in New York, to the Dominican Republic on the night of March 
12, 1956. Galindez has never been heard from since and his 
Doctorate of Philosophy thesis. The Era of Trujillo, has never 
been published in the English language. It was published in 
Spanish in Santiago, Chile. 

The Trujillo plan, according to trainees of the expeditionary 

147 



force, called for the support of the 120 Cubans with a battalion 
of 700 Dominicans who would be used to consolidate the capture 
of Camp Columbia, the army headquarters and stronghold in 
Havana. They would be dressed in uniforms of the Cuban Army 
and appear to be Cubans. Once assured of consolidation, they 
would immediately be evacuated home. 

Why would Trujillo undertake such a dangerous operation? 
He was afraid of Fidel Castro, who had been a member of the ill- 
fated Cayo Confites expedition of 1947 and who had minced no 
words in his recent letter. Once victorious over Batista, Castro, 
he knew, would turn his eyes toward Santo Domingo and strive to 
help rid that nation of the Trujillo dynasty. Batista had refused 
the olive branch of friendship several times from Trujillo. The 
Dominican dictator has a long memory, which is always reinforced 
by plans for revenge with a capital R. 

Trujillo now sent emissaries to confer with Prio in Miami. 
They carried an invitation from the Dominican dictator for Prio 
to confer with him aboard his yacht in New York harbor. Tru- 
jillo at that time had ordered the Dominican press and radio to 
conduct a vitriolic campaign against Batista and the attacks ap- 
peared almost daily. Prio accepted the invitation and flew from 
Miami to New York for the meeting. 

Among those present during the interview was Eufemio Fer- 
nandez. Trujillo offered Prio everything he needed, men, arms, 
ammunition, supplies and subsequent support in exchange for 
certain conditions. But these conditions were such that Prio felt 
he could in no circumstances accept and the conversations came 
to an end. 

Early in January 1957 Trujillo effected a double-cross of con- 
venience and, through emissaries, indicated to Batista he was 
ready to make peace. La Voz Dominicana ceased its fiery broad- 
casts against Batista. The training of the 120 men came to a halt, 
and they were ejected from the camp. Some of the Cubans were 
imprisoned in the Ozama Fortress in Ciudad Trujillo. Others 
were allowed to live in the capital until they were returned to 
Miami. On January 12, 1957, Batista sent a special mission to 
the Dominican Republic to represent him at a cattle show. Three 
days later he suspended all civil rights throughout the country 

148 



and imposed press and radio censorship. The sugar crop, said 
Batista, had to be protected, and the only way it could be done 
was through a suspension of civil rights and, especially, the 
establishment of censorship for a period of forty-five days. 

One of his strictest orders to the censors was to ban any criti- 
cism of Trujillo or of other dictators. But when the dictator of 
Venezuela, General Marcos Perez Jimenez, was overthrown on 
January 23, 1957, several radio news announcers could not re- 
frain from emphasizing the word "dictator" every time they read 
reports from Caracas. 

Batista had secured his eastern air and sea flank through his 
peace pact with Trujillo. And Trujillo had secured his western air 
and sea flank through the consequent period of instability that 
followed the overthrow of Magloire in Haiti and the settlement 
of his quarrel with Batista. 

But Batista had by no means secured the stability of his own 
government within the confines of the island of Cuba, for below 
the Pico Turquino in the Sierra Maestra was Fidel Castro, hidden 
in the jungle with 1 1 other men who had survived from the group 
of 82 who had sailed from Mexico in the last days of November 
of the previous year. 

The government had posted notices all over Oriente offering a 
reward for the head of Fidel Castro and for lesser services by in- 
formers. The notices read: 

"To All Who May Be Concerned 

"By this means it is announced that any person who furnishes 
information leading to the success of an operation against any 
rebel nucleus commanded by Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Crescen- 
do Perez, Guillermo Gonzalez or any other leader will be re- 
warded in accordance with the importance of the information, 
with the understanding that it never will be less than $5,000. 

"This reward will vary from $5,000 to $100,000, the highest 
amount, that is, $100,000, being payable for the head of Fidel 
Castro. 

"Note: The name of the informer will never be revealed." 



149 



CHAPTER 




Terror struck again in Oriente soon afterward. 
Young men were forcibly removed from their homes and from the 
arms of their mothers by police officers and army officers; their 
mutilated and bullet-riddled bodies were found the following day 
in fields, with their vital parts severed and stuffed into their mouths 
or in their shirt pockets. In this condition the body of William 
Soler, a fifteen-year-old student, was returned to his home. Two 
nights earlier a soldier had forced him from the arms of his tear- 
fully pleading mother. His offense: he was sympathetic to the 
Castro cause. 

The terror in the Holguin sector was worse. On Christmas Eve 
26 young men were forcibly removed from their homes by troops 
under the command of Colonel Fermin Cowley. The next day 
their corpses, bullet-riddled or strangled, were found on the out- 
skirts of the city. That macabre Christmas present from the Ba- 
tista forces so horrified the people— for word of the massacre 
leaked out despite the censorship in Oriente— that even the Cuban 
Press Bloc, whose president was a close friend and associate of 
Batista, met to adopt a resolution and urge the end of terror and 
civil strife. No attention was paid to this appeal or to others that 
were to follow by all civic, religious and professional institutions 
for months to come. 

Early in 1957 Castro's sister Lidia, carrying written authoriza- 

150 



tion from Mirtha Diaz Balart, who was remarried to the son of 
Emilio Nunez Portuondo, Cuba's ambassador to the United Na- 
tions, took Fidelito to Mexico City to reside with Seiiora Pino 
away from the vortex of the civil war that his father was leading. 

One day as Fidelito was being taken for a ride near the Chapul- 
tepec woods, the automobile in which he was riding with his Aunt 
Lidia had to halt at a stop sign which, coincidentally, was at the 
intersection of Marti and Revolucion in Tacubaya. Two pistoleros 
alighted from an automobile next to them and at gun point de- 
manded Fidelito. They sped off to the Cuban embassy, which was 
not very far away, and deposited the boy there. 

The kidnaping of Fidel, Jr., became a scandal in Mexico and 
Cuba. Lidia denounced the deed to the Mexican police and the 
federal authorities began an investigation. While the probe was 
on, Fidelito was surreptitiously whisked out of Mexico aboard an 
airplane to Miami, where he was reclaimed by his mother and 
flown back to Havana. 

On March 6, 1957, 1 interviewed Batista at the palace. I went 
there to try to obtain assurances from him that he would not 
reimpose censorship, for, responding to pressure by the Inter 
American Press Association, he had lifted it in Havana, although 
the civil rights were suspended for another forty-five days. 

At that interview Batista said to me, "Fidel Castro is a Com- 
munist." 

"Is that so? Do you have proof?" I asked. 

"Yes," Batista replied. "We have proof that he killed six priests 
in Bogota during the Bogotazo." 

"Pardon me, Mr. President," I interjected. "I was in Bogota at 
that time and no priest was killed." 

"Oh, but we have proof," Batista insisted. "We have a report 
from our ambassador there at that time." 

"Perhaps you do," I countered, "but I can assure you the report 
is not correct. However, if you think you have proof and you care 
to furnish it to me, I shall be glad to publish it." 

Batista promised to send it to me at my hotel. He sent an aide 
over that night with a folder, which contained a spurious mani- 
festo attributed to Castro and an equally spurious varitype publi- 
cation also attributed to him. There was no proof furnished to 

151 



substantiate the statement that Castro had killed six priests. 

Batista also insisted that Herbert Matthews never saw Castro. 
As soon as Matthews' series was published, the Batista government 
rushed into print to deny that the newspaperman had ever seen 
Castro. I assured Batista that I knew Matthews well and that he 
does not invent interviews. Even the publication of a photo of 
Matthews interviewing Castro failed to convince Batista, for he 
wanted his wish to be the father to his thought. 

Four days later, on March 10, in a speech at Camp Columbia, 
Batista publicly lashed out at Castro, denouncing him as a Com- 
munist and as a tool of Moscow. He might have persuaded Ameri- 
can Ambassador Arthur Gardner to believe this but not an over- 
whelming majority of the Cuban people, including the Roman 
Catholic Church. 

On March 13, just a few minutes before three o'clock, a truck 
painted with the sign fast delivery came to a halt at the Calle 
Colon entrance of the presidential palace. An army telegraph 
operator on the second floor saw some armed men emerge from it. 
He ran to give the alarm, but the men had already penetrated 
the palace, where, their guns blazing away, they rushed to the 
second-floor office of Batista. Suffering from a headache, he had 
left the office by a secret exit for his third-floor apartment. 

Simultaneous with the attack on the palace Jose Antonio Eche- 
varria, president of the Students' Federation, broke into the CMQ 
radio station on 23rd Street and broadcast a harangue urging the 
people to rise. 

"The tyrant is dead!" he shouted into the microphone. Batista 
was supposed to be dead at that moment, but he had escaped. 
The palace attackers had missed him although not by much. But 
in this case the old adage that a miss is as good as a mile proved 
true. Reinforcements were rushed to the palace and loyal troops 
inside reacted after the initial shock. Before the firing ceased 
there were 25 attackers dead and several wounded. 

Echevarria raced out of the CMQ building and headed for the 
university near by in his automobile. The police cornered him, 
ordered him out of his car and shot him on the corner as he 
alighted. 

The palace attack was organized and led by members of the 

152 



Directorio Revolucionario, the militant rebel organization of uni- 
versity alumni and students. The group disowned any connection 
with Prio; Echevarria was fulfilling a secret pact that he had 
signed with Castro on behalf of the University Students' Federa- 
tion when he visited him in Mexico. 

Batista's police raided the university— which had been closed 
since November 30, 1956, when the students went on a strike in 
sympathy for Castro— and confiscated a stock of arms that had 
been stored there. 

Batista did not reimpose censorship in Havana, and the news 
of the palace attack was reported with an abundance of gory 
photographs of dead and wounded. Downtown Havana had been 
a battlefield for two hours. I had watched the operation from 
behind a thick column on a street corner that furnished an excel- 
lent view of the palace. 

The palace attack had not been co-ordinated with the Castro 
underground movement, for the rebel chief was opposed to Ba- 
tista's assassination. Castro preferred to get his hands on him 
and try him. He criticized the palace attack from the Sierra 
Maestra. 

When the police searched the pockets of Jose Antonio Echevar- 
ria after they took his body away, they found, besides the inflam- 
matory manifesto which he had read over the radio, a piece of 
paper on which was written: "Pelayo Cuervo— President." 

Pelayo Cuervo was president of the Ortodoxo Party. He was a 
distinguished former opposition senator. He was an honest, re- 
spected and courageous lawyer. Using his rights as a citizen, he 
had single-handedly filed a brief against former President Grau, 
accusing him of having stolen $172,000,000 from the national 
treasury while he was in office. This case became known as the 
famous Cause 82 and was still awaiting a decision by the courts. 
Pelayo Cuervo did not permit it to die or be shelved by the courts. 
Cuervo lived in a modest second-story apartment in the Miramar 
district of Havana. I was to visit it two days later under tragic 
circumstances. 

Recovering from the shock of the attack and from the realiza- 
tion that his security at the palace had been shattered, Batista 
ordered troops and police throughout the country to unleash an- 

153 



other wave of terror against members of the opposition. No in- 
vestigation of the attack had as yet been conducted. Conclusions 
were drawn in official quarters that Prio was behind it because 
several of the participants had once belonged to his party but this 
was contradicted by the government's attempt to blame Pelayo 
Cuervo. 

Members of the palace staff reported that Sefiora Batista was 
furious when she was told of the paper found in Echevarria's 
pocket. "Pelayo Cuervo is to blame! Pelayo Cuervo is to blame!" 
she was reported to have shouted. 

Batista summoned Colonel Mariano Paget, then deputy chief 
of detectives, who showed him the paper removed from Echevar- 
ria's pocket with the penciled name "Pelayo Cuervo" and the 
penciled word "President." Colonel Orlando Piedra, chief of 
detectives, followed on the heels of Paget. Both interviews were 
short. The two detective chiefs returned to their headquarters at 
the east side of the bridge over the Almendares River, conferred 
together and issued orders. 

Two automobiles left the detective headquarters. In one, a 
black Cadillac, there were Santiago Linares Rosales at the wheel 
and four detectives as passengers. In another, a green Studebaker, 
there were Toribio Arocha Boizan at the wheel and three detec- 
tives. Their first stop was at the home of Pelayo Cuervo. His 
wife, agitated over their visit, informed them that he was not at 
home and that she did not know where he might be. She became 
even more alarmed when the detectives left hurriedly and did not 
search the house. The police spies had since submitted a report: 
Pelayo Cuervo had been seen entering the home of a friend, 
Ignacio Aguirre Oteiza, at 3206 Avenida 47 in the La Sierra 
district. He had sought refuge there reluctantly but at the in- 
sistence of friends because no one who dissented from Batista 
was safe. 

At ten o'clock at night the two automobiles came to a halt in 
front of the Aguirre Oteiza residence. Pive of the detectives sur- 
rounded the block with submachine guns in their hands. The 
others knocked on the door and asked for Pelayo Cuervo. They 
were told he was not there but they did not accept the answer and 
entered the house. Two of them found the bedroom where Pelayo 

154 



Cuervo sat reading, ordered him to accompany them and left the 
house with him. He was placed in one of the automobiles. 

"To the beach at Marianao!" The drivers were ordered to step 
on it. They sped away but as they neared the Coney Island play- 
ground in Marianao the orders were countermanded. 

"To the lagoon!" The cars sped toward the Country Club. 
Sergeant Rafael Gutierrez ordered Linares to halt the automobile 
near the lagoon. 

Gutierrez ordered Cuervo to alight. Cuervo stood by the side- 
walk near a tree. The night was dark. Sergeant Gutierrez was 
face to face with him, in his hand a machine pistol. 

"Now are you going to tell me where the weapons are stored?" 
he asked Pelayo Cuervo. 

"I don't know anything about any weapons," the distinguished 
lawyer replied. 

Sergeant Gutierrez did not wait for another word, but fired at 
Cuervo, who fell to the ground in a pool of blood. Gutierrez 
continued to pump lead into the mortally wounded man. 

Gutierrez ordered one of his men to bend the license plates of 
the cars and daub them with mud so their numbers could not be 
recognized. He issued a warning to the other eight men in the 
party. "I will shoot anyone who says anything about this outside 
of our headquarters!" 

Though residents of the exclusive Country Club area had heard 
some bursts that sounded like machine-gun fire, it was not until 
two thirty in the morning that someone ventured to investigate. 
Pelayo Cuervo's bullet-riddled, lifeless body was found not far 
from the lagoon where it had been left. 

The murder of Cuervo shocked the people of Havana. There 
was no statement from the palace or from any government official 
condemning it. Sergio Carbo, courageous editor and publisher of 
the newspaper Prensa Libre, published a page-one editorial under 
his signature in which, while criticizing the assault on the palace 
and the attempt to kill Batista, he expressed horror over the wave 
of terror that the government had launched in reprisal, and con- 
demned the murder of such a highly respected national figure as 
Pelayo Cuervo. 

On the morning of March 14, hours after the attack on the 

155 



palace and the reprisal murder of Pelayo Cuervo, American Am- 
bassador Arthur Gardner entered the still bullet-marked palace 
with officers of the economic staff of the embassy, to be present at 
Batista's signing of a new contract with the Cuban Telephone 
Company. The effort of Gardner to help Batista convey an im- 
pression both at home and abroad that things were normal in 
Cuba at that moment neither ingratiated him and the State 
Department with the people of the country nor enhanced the 
popularity of the Cuban Telephone Company, a subsidiary of 
International Telephone and Telegraph Company. 

Meanwhile, Armando Hart, leader of the Castro underground 
in Havana, made an electrifying escape from custody while await- 
ing trial in the Urgency Court in the capital. The underground 
had paved the way for the dramatic get-away. Now from various 
hideouts he masterminded sabotage and other subversive opera- 
tions. Batista's police and army filled the jails of the country 
beyond capacity. The torture and killing of prisoners continued 
without surcease. Fingernails were extracted, vital organs were 
shattered, faces were disfigured, ribs and bones were broken, backs 
were left with welts and many were the prisoners who never 
emerged from the jails alive. 

I had asked Batista in my interview of March 6: "Why don't 
you expedite a general election, coupled with a general amnesty, 
so that you can leave quickly and peace can be restored in Cuba?" 

"I have my pride," he replied. "I will not leave a minute before 
February 24, 1959, when my term is to expire!" 

The one dream Batista always entertained was to enjoy popu- 
larity with the people of Cuba. The one person the people of 
Cuba never could stomach was Batista. He has dotted the en- 
virons of Havana with public works which will be visible evidence 
of his late administration for years to come— and enriched himself 
and his cronies in the process— and he improved roads and high- 
ways in the immediate vicinity of the capital and pushed through 
the building of the tunnel under the harbor of Havana. But he 
could in no way endear himself to a people who detested him for 
his brutality and for the corruption and graft of which he, his 
relatives and friends were part and parcel. 

The gambling casinos were thriving, tourists were pouring into 

156 



Havana and Varadero and the Isle of Pines, but Cuba was bathed 
in blood, blood that Batista had caused to flow when he destroyed 
constitutional government on March 10, 1952. Seiiora Batista 
was receiving fifty percent of the profits of the slot machines in the 
gambling casinos that Batista had allowed to be opened through- 
out the country. Army and police officers and some naval officers 
were also profiting from this system of official corruption. Batista 
was receiving his take through intermediaries, and some of the 
money was being used to buy off army officers and politicians. 

The army of Cuba was under command of one family, whose 
head was the man closest to Batista, General Francisco Tabernilla 
Dolz. One son, Carlos, was commander of the air force. An- 
other son, Francisco, Jr., was commander of the tank group. 
His brother-in-law, at this time Brigadier General Alberto del Rio 
Chaviano, was commander of Moncada and the Theater of Opera- 
tions in the province of Oriente. Through a Cuban commercial 
cargo airline that was allowed to operate into the military air base 
at Camp Columbia, durable consumer goods such as refrigerators, 
washing machines, television sets and other large household ap- 
pliances were flown in from Miami, cleared without payment of 
customs duty and carted away to the warehouses and stores of a 
man reputed to be in partnership with the Tabernilla family. 

All those operations were only too well known by the people 
of the island, all the graft and corruption and the system of buying 
off— or at least attempting to buy off— disaffected armed forces 
officers, newspaper editors and publishers of Cuba and others. 
They were sick of it, and they were aroused because their fathers, 
their sons, their brothers, their uncles and aunts, their sisters, their 
cousins and their friends were being arrested, tortured and killed 
daily— because they did not like Batista, or they wished to take 
up arms to overthrow him, or they carried a 26th of July bond 
which showed that they had contributed perhaps a dollar to the 
cause, or they wore ties or dresses containing the colors red 
and black. 

The police broke into an apartment at Humboldt 37 in the Ve- 
dado district of Havana, where four members of the Directorio 
Revolucionario were hiding, and shot and killed them. They were 
Fructuoso Rodriguez, who had succeeded Jose Antonio Echevar- 

157 



ria as president of the University Students' Federation, Joe West- 
brook, Jose Machado and Juan Pedro Carbo. Westbrook's mother 
took up the fight after her son fell. She went into exile in the 
United States, where she pounded on doors and wrote letters and 
made speeches on behalf of the revolutionary cause. 

Daily more names were added to the list of thousands of Cuban 
women, unsung heroines in the fight against tyranny. On the night 
of March 13, for example, Senora Enrique Menocal, despite an 
eight-month pregnancy, accompanied by Senora Aurorita Botifoll 
Powell, transported Fructuoso Rodriguez and Juan Nuiry, who 
were still bleeding from wounds suffered in the day's fighting, in 
her automobile to a home where they could receive medical atten- 
tion. Nuiry had accompanied Jose Antonio Echevarria to the 
CMQ radio station and escaped after being wounded by the police. 
Nuiry was another student leader. After his recovery he went into 
exile in the United States. 

The same night Senora Felipe Pazos, wife of the former presi- 
dent of the Banco Nacional, also picked up wounded from hide- 
outs and transported them in her automobile to a place where 
they could receive medical attention. 

Both Senora Menocal and Senora Pazos would frequently drive 
from Havana along the central highway as far eastward as Holguin 
to deliver a precious cargo of bullets for relay to Castro. This 
was a cause in which Castro inspired faith and confidence in the 
women. It was in response to the pact which he had signed with 
Jose Antonio Echevarria in Mexico City, for the rebellious Direc- 
torio Revolucionario to act at a given time, that the women once 
again showed their valor as they risked their own lives to save 
others. 

Almost at the same time every possible bullet and weapon that 
could be obtained was caressingly collected by women under- 
ground workers. In Santiago de Cuba, society women would call 
at homes of friends, ostensibly to pay a social call, and leave a 
gift of a large can of crackers. The can would be filled with .45 
caliber bullets and, if luck were at hand, also with a .45 caliber 
pistol. That same day or the next the cargo of crackers would 
make its way to the Sierra Maestra, but this time they would be- 
come firecrackers. 

Besides Matthews' rediscovery of and interview with Castro, 

158 



Fidel received another psychological boost when shortly there- 
after three young sons of American personnel at the Guantanamo 
Bay naval base climbed the Sierra Maestra to join the tiny forces 
of the rebel chief. When Matthews interviewed him, Castro had 
only eleven other men there. 

The three youths were Charles Ryan, 20, of Monson, Massa- 
chusetts; Victor J. Buehlman, 17, of Coronado, California; and 
Michael L. Garvey, of Watertown, Massachusetts. They spent 
several months in the rugged mountains and participated in some 
action before Castro ordered Buehlman and Garvey to return to 
Guantanamo. They were taken from the Sierra Maestra by Bob 
Taber and Wendell Hoffman of the Columbia Broadcasting Sys- 
tem, who had been filming the Castro campaign. Ryan remained 
for a few more months and was promoted to the rank of lieu- 
tenant. Castro then sent him back, too, suggesting that he could 
do more for the rebel cause in the United States in propaganda 
work. 

The news that three youths from the Guantanamo Bay naval 
base in Cuba had joined Castro awakened the imagination and 
desire for adventure of many another young American throughout 
the United States. Volunteer after volunteer tried to establish 
contact with the rebels. Many wrote letters to me, and I always 
replied that Castro did not need manpower since there were sev- 
eral million Cubans ready to fight under him if they could get 
their hands on the guns and the bullets that he needed. 

Before the three young men from Guantanamo Bay joined 
Castro, some arms and ammunition had disappeared from the 
naval base. Among the stolen weapons were two 81 -millimeter 
mortars. These were taken, apparently, by members of the 26th 
of July Movement cells on the base and were transported west- 
ward for use by the Castro forces, desperately in need of guns of 
any kind. 

Special investigators were flown down from Washington by the 
Navy Department to probe the case. 

And in the meantime another expedition was being trained in 
the vicinity of Miami and again the instructor was Colonel Al- 
berto Bayo. But this time the expedition was being financed and 
outfitted by Prio. 

"I was not tied down to one group or to one party in this fight 

159 



for Cuban liberation from dictatorship," Bayo explained to me. 
"I was friendly with Castro, friendly with Prio and friendly with 
Aureliano Sanchez Arango's Triple A group that had become 
antagonistic to Prio. I was also friendly with the Directorio Revo- 
lucionario. I maintained contacts with all." 

Bayo moved to New York after Castro's landing in Cuba, to 
help in the propaganda work in his behalf. Batista began to label 
him as a Communist and linked Raul Castro and Che Guevara 
also with Moscow— all of this branding being designed to in- 
gratiate himself with the State Department and American public 
opinion. Batista's tirade against Castro on March 10, in which he 
denounced the rebel chief as a Kremlin agent, had boomeranged, 
so for a time he carefully avoided repeating those charges against 
him. 

Prio asked Bayo to move to Miami to train an expedition to be 
led by Calixto Sanchez White, who had been the leader of the 
Airport Workers' Union. Sanchez had been forced into exile 
when it was discovered he was smuggling weapons into Cuba by 
air freight, especially in the interior of refrigerators. As he con- 
trolled the cargo at the Jose Marti airport at Rancho Boyeros, 
Sanchez had managed to get away with this smuggling for a long 
time before the intelligence service caught up with him. 

It was reported that Sanchez had planned to take over the air- 
port simultaneously with the attack on the palace on March 13, 
and that his failure to do so had preyed on his mind. He wished 
to revindicate himself, and this expedition which was to sail on 
the yacht Corinthia from the Miami River was the way he hoped 
to clear his name. 

Bayo was furnished a bodyguard in Miami by his rebel friends, 
but to proceed with the training of the new expedition he had to 
give the guard the slip. 

"One day I told them," he relates, "that I would have to move 
elsewhere because I had a mission to perform which I could not 
tell them about. My bodyguard told me that I could not do it 
because they were responsible for protecting my life and I had to 
tell them where I was going. I refused, and I eluded them." 

Bayo trained Calixto Sanchez, and a cadre he had asked the 
latter to select, in the art of guerrilla warfare. He impressed on 

160 



them the fact that they should accept the surrender of prisoners 
one by one, searching each prisoner, never accepting them as a 
group and trusting no one. 

In mid-May of 1957 the Corinthia sailed out of the Miami 
River, Twenty-seven men and a heavy cargo of arms and ammu- 
nition were aboard to land in the northeastern sector of the prov- 
ince of Oriente to try to open a second front against Batista in 
the Sierra Cristal. Most of the men with Sanchez had been trained 
in the Dominican Republic the previous year. The landing was 
made successfully, and the force led by Sanchez marched into 
the hills toward the planned bivouac area, 

"They didn't pay attention to my recommendations," Bayo 
narrates, "And while they were marching some of Batista's sol- 
diers, dressed as guajiros, arrived by truck at the place where the 
members of the expedition were resting and bathing in a river. 
The supposed guajiros approached them, shouting: 'Viva Fidel 
Castro! Viva Fidel Castro!' Then more than a dozen of them 
surrounded Calixto Sanchez and his men. Whereupon they an- 
nounced: 

" 'You are surrounded by 3,500 soldiers. There is no possible 
escape for you. Surrender and we will guarantee you will not be 
killed,' Our men were so foolish that, ignoring my recommenda- 
tions, they surrendered. Seventeen of them were vilely assassi- 
nated by Colonel Fermin Cowley's men." 

Ten of the expeditionaries successfully escaped and made their 
way into the hills from where they entered the cities to work in 
the Organizacion Autentico underground. 

None of the members of the ill-fated Corinthia force carried any 
identification papers. Bayo had made certain that the security 
would be perfect, and it was so perfect that they were able to set 
sail from Miami without detection. Nevertheless, Batista's spies 
in Miami were quick to obtain a list of their names; concurrently 
with the announcement that the men had been killed in combat, 
the names were released to the press in Havana. 

Bayo was invited by Marisol Alba to move into her luxurious 
house on an island on Venetian causeway at Miami Beach, where 
he lived until the time when he, too, began to suspect her. 

Several months later, in the lobby of the Hotel Mayflower in 

161 



Washington, Jose Lopez Vilaboy, who was president of the Cu- 
bana Airline, which owned the Havana airport, and a business 
associate of Batista's, told me with tears streaming down his face 
that— when news reached Havana that Sanchez had been captured 
with the members of his expedition— he had begged Batista to issue 
an order to save Sanchez' life. 

"Batista finally agreed," Lopez Vilaboy told me, "and he tele- 
phoned to Holguin to issue the order. But when he hung up the 
phone, he told me that it was too late. Sanchez White had already 
been killed." 

Lopez Vilaboy had made the point in an attempt to illustrate 
that Batista had a soft spot in his heart. 

Volunteers trekked to the Sierra Maestra early in the month of 
March, and soon Castro had a force of several hundred men. He 
led them down the mountain to attack an army post at Ubero 
where 60 soldiers were stationed. He left eight men as a rear 
guard and attacked with 120 men. The soldiers were caught by 
surprise, 15 were killed, 15 were taken prisoners and the re- 
mainder escaped. 

That attack, made May 28, 1957, let the people of Cuba know 
that Castro's guerrillas could come out of their hide-outs at night, 
hit the enemy and get away successfully. More volunteers began 
to make their way up the mountains to join his army. Parents 
would find their sons missing from home and learn days or weeks 
later that they were with Castro. [See last paragraph, p. 181.] 

When Batista's loyal troops repelled the attack on the palace 
he had won a battle, but when his detectives killed Pelayo Cuervo 
he had lost the war. His downfall, sooner or later, was inevitable. 
And the murder of Pelayo Cuervo was not to be the last act to 
arouse the indignation of the people against Batista. 

Cuervo's son, Pelayo, Jr., petitioned the courts to investigate 
the murder of his father. But he made absolutely no progress in 
this way and, irritated over the impossibility of obtaining justice, 
he began the trek from Havana to the Sierra Maestra to join Fidel 
Castro. Behind him went Raul Chibas and Roberto Agramonte, 
Jr. The police had raided the Agramonte home and, fearing for 
the life of the senior Agramonte, the Ortodoxo Party leaders 
recommended he go into exile. Agramonte left for Miami to live 

162 



out the remainder of the war abroad. Another man who journeyed 
to the Sierra Maestra was Felipe Pazos, whose oldest son Javier 
had already joined the rebel forces and whose youngest son, 
Felipe, Jr., had been cast for the role of the boy in the motion 
picture production of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and 
the Sea. 

In the month of May the heart of Havana was paralyzed and 
blacked out for fifty-four hours by a dynamite explosion that blew 
up a gas and electric main in the old sector of the city. The 
saboteurs had dug a tunnel from a tenement building under the 
street to the conduit. All business, telephone communications and 
other transactions were at a standstill until the repair work could 
be completed. It was the biggest psychological blow by the Castro 
forces yet scored in Havana. 

I interviewed Armando Hart in one of his hide-outs to which 
I was escorted by a member of the Havana underground, Jose 
Llanusa. My rendezvous with Llanusa was at the Vedado Tennis 
Club, of which he was a member; he was also a popular youth 
leader as a star on the club's basketball team. Llanusa drove me 
by a circuitous route to a house in one of the outlying districts. 
Hart told me that the sabotage operation in the heart of Havana 
had cost the rebels only $600. Hart's wife, Haydee Santamaria, 
who had only recently left the Sierra Maestra where she had been 
fighting with Castro, came to fetch him to transfer to another 
hiding place for both of them for that night. He was the most 
hunted man in Havana at the time. 

In June 1957 I flew to Santiago de Cuba. Among those who 
met me at the airport was an old friend, Jose M. ("Pepin") Bosch, 
president and general manager of the famous Bacardi company. 

"It is fortunate you came tonight," Pepin said, "because this 
morning a couple of the Fidelistas killed a soldier who was riding 
in a bus. Your arrival might prevent the police and army frorri 
snatching four boys from their homes and killing them in reprisal." 

Pepin proved to be right; no boys were killed that night and the 
only victim was the proprietor of a tavern on the outskirts of the 
city, who was a follower of Prio. 

The following night a representative group of citizens of San- 
tiago honored me with a banquet at the Country Club. Besides 

163 



Pepin Bosch there were Dr. Manuel Urrutia, who was still a 
judge; Daniel Bacardi, the president of the Chamber of Com- 
merce; the president of the University of Oriente; the Reverend 
Father Chabebe, head of the Catholic Youth Movement; Fer- 
nando Ojeda, a leading coffee exporter; the presidents of the Ro- 
tary Club, Lions Club, medical association, bar association, civic 
institutions and other groups. We were the only persons in the 
club. Santiago had not held any fiestas or celebrations, except 
those imposed by officialdom, since July 26, 1953. The table was 
oblong; at the end was an empty chair with a full place setting and 
a placard that had been carefully and intentionally placed there 
for my benefit. It read: "Reserved." The toastmaster, Fernando 
Ojeda, arose and addressed me. 

"One of our compatriots had planned to attend this dinner in 
your honor tonight," he said, "but he sent his regrets that he could 
not make it. We can understand that and we accept his excuses 
because he is engaged in an important mission for Cuba. His 
name is Fidel Castro." 

I asked Father Chabebe if he considered Fidel Castro a Com- 
munist, and he replied with a definite negative. 

"Castro requested chaplains for his rebel army," Father Cha- 
bebe told me. "The first chaplain. Father Guillermo Sardinas, 
reached Castro's headquarters last Thursday, and I sent forty boys 
up into the hills to join Castro the same day. Last week I sent a 
gross of blessed medals up there." 

It was Saturday night and couriers had already reported back 
from the Sierra Maestra that Father Sardinas had reached Castro. 
Father Sardinas had turned over his parish in Nueva Gerona on 
the Isle of Pines to an assistant and had obtained permission of 
the Archbishop's Palace in Havana to join the rebel forces. This 
was in contrast to the army of Batista, which had no chaplain 
corps and no chaplains. 

I found the greatest respect and affection in Santiago de Cuba 
on the part of all the people to whom I talked (and this includes 
the members of the Rotary Club at whose weekly luncheon I was 
guest of honor) for American Consul General Oscar H. Guerra 
and Vice Consul William Patterson. 

Both were heroes to the people, for they had virtually saved the 

164 



lives of several youths of the city when they happened to appear 
on the scene while the police were beating up the boys prior to 
confinement in jail or worse. 

The State Department had decided to end the diplomatic career 
of Arthur Gardner, which he began in 1953 as a political ap- 
pointee. Batista dispatched his American public relations adviser, 
Edmund Chester, to Washington to visit the State Department and 
petition for the continuation of his close friend Gardner as envoy. 
But Gardner's successor, Earl E. T. Smith, a New York and West 
Palm Beach broker, was already chosen. 

In the last weeks of his service in Havana, Gardner was fur- 
nished a special bodyguard by Batista because of the fabricated 
report that the rebel underground planned to kill him because of 
his friendship with Batista. Gardner's last act almost on the eve of 
his departure was to lay the cornerstone for an annex to the 
American embassy chancery at the rear of the present building 
on the Malecon; there were neither architectural plans nor a con- 
gressional appropriation for such an addition. 

The ceremony, held with all due pomp, was attended by Minis- 
ter of State Gonzalo Guell and other members of Batista's cabinet. 
A speaker's stand was erected between the Eighth Precinct Police 
Station on the Malecon and the rear of the embassy chancery. 
The stand was adorned with flags and the flags were flanked by 
a Cuban soldier and a United States marine. Speeches were made 
by Gardner and Guell. 

Gardner announced that an eight-story annex would be built 
there for offices and apartments of embassy personnel, with the 
first two floors assigned to offices and the rest for residences. 

The Cuban government had made available a parcel of land for 
the purpose but the remainder of the property required was under 
private litigation with little chance that the case would be settled 
for years. Taking new facts into consideration, certainly most of 
those present, including the foreign minister and other cabinet 
ministers, well knew there would be no construction. But the 
entire farce was devised to convey the impression to the Cuban 
people and the army that Batista's government enjoyed the full 
support of the United States. 

The magazine Bohemia said farewell to Gardner in a critical 

165 



editorial on June 14, 1957. It commented that he acted "more 
like a businessman than an ambassador and that he has made 
notorious mistakes," The editorial expressed the hope that his 
successor would not make the same mistakes, but the hope proved 
to be a vain one. 

Castro conferred lengthily with Chibas and Pazos. The pres- 
ence of these two men was a stimulus for his political mind. It 
gave him an opportunity to discuss with older men the problems 
of Cuba and to plan for the future, although his plans were made 
long ago. 

In the month of June the civic institutions comprising forty-five 
representative organizations of the country issued a strong state- 
ment on the situation, which indicated a yearning to reach a 
compromise to end the civil war, 

"We will know how to fulfill our duty if the situation should 
become worse," the statement read, "If the government demon- 
strates good faith by deeds, then the insurrectionists should accept 
a truce." 

Castro conferred with Chibas and Pazos and drafted a mani- 
festo from the Sierra. The document emphasized Castro's rever- 
ence for civilian, constitutional government. Signed on July 12, 
1957, it was the first comprehensive political pronouncement 
made by Castro to the Cuban people since he climbed the moun- 
tain. Also, it will be noted, it contained a request that the 
United States cease shipping arms to Batista. The manifesto read: 

"From the Sierra Maestra, where a sense of duty has united us, 
we issue this call to our compatriots. 

"The hour has arrived in which the nation can save itself from 
tyranny, through the intelligence, the bravery and the civic action 
of its sons, through the efforts of all those who have begun to 
feel deeply the destiny of this land where we have the right to live 
in peace and in freedom. 

"Is the Cuban nation incapable of fulfilling its high destiny or 
does the blame for impotence and lack of vision fall on its public 
leaders? Is it that the Fatherland cannot be offered in its most 
difficult hour the sacrifice of all personal aspirations, just though 
they may be, of all the subaltern passions, the personal or group 
rivalries, in spite of whatever niggardly or small sentiment that 

166 



has prevented placing on the alert as one man this formidable, 
awakened and heroic people that the Cubans are? Or is it that 
the vain wish of a public aspirant is worth more than all the blood 
it has cost this republic? 

"Our greatest weakness has been disunity, and the tyranny, 
conscious of it, has promoted it by all means and in all its aspects. 
Offering half solutions, tempting ambitions at some times, and at 
others the good faith or ingenuity of their adversaries, the tyranni- 
cal leaders divided all the parties into antagonistic fractions, di- 
vided the political opposition along dissimilar lines and, when the 
revolutionary current was stronger and more threatening, they 
attempted to pit the politicians against the revolutionaries, with 
the idea of beating the revolution first and laughing at the parties 
later. 

"It is a secret to nobody that if the dictatorship managed to 
defeat the rebel bulwark of the Sierra Maestra and to crush the 
clandestine movement, once free of the revolutionary danger, 
there would be not even the remotest possibilities of honest elec- 
tions in the midst of the general bitterness and skepticism. 

"Their intentions were evident, perhaps too soon, when by using 
the senatorial minority, which had been approved with scorn for 
the Constitution and laughter at the obligations contracted with 
the very delegates from the opposition, they tried anew to effect 
a split and prepared the road for the electoral race. 

"That the Interparliamentary Commission failed is recognized 
by the party that proposed it in the Congress. The seven opposi- 
tion organizations that participated in it and today denounce it 
as a bloody joke affirm that categorically. All the civic institutions 
affirm it. And, above all, the facts affirm it. It was doomed to 
fail because they wanted to ignore the drive acquired by two 
forces that have made their appearance in Cuban public life: the 
new revolutionary generation and the civic institutions, much 
more powerful than many think. The interparliamentary maneu- 
ver thus could only prosper on the basis of the extermination of 
the rebels. The fighters of the Sierra were not offered anything 
in that niggardly solution other than jail, exile or death. Never 
would they agree to discuss those conditions. 

"To unite is the only patriotic thing in this hour. To unite in 

167 



what they have in common all political, revolutionary and social 
sectors that combat the dictatorship. And what do all the op- 
position political parties, the revolutionary sectors and the civic 
institutions have in common? The desire to put an end to the 
regime of force, the violations of individual rights, the infamous 
crimes, and to seek the peace that we desire by the only road 
possible, which is the democratic and constitutional transition of 
the country. 

"Is it that we rebels of the Sierra Maestra do not want free 
elections, a democratic regime, a constitutional government? 

"It is because they deprived us of those rights that we have 
fought since the 10th of March. It is because we want them 
more than anyone else that we are here. To prove it, there are our 
fighters dead in the Sierra and our companions assassinated on the 
streets or locked up in the dungeons of the prisons: fighting for 
the beautiful ideal of a Free Cuba, democratic and just. What we 
do not do is to commune with the lie, the farce and the com- 
promise. 

"We want elections; but with one condition: truly free, demo- 
cratic, impartial elections. 

"But can there be free, democratic, impartial elections with all 
the repressive apparatus of the state hanging like a sword over 
the heads of the oppositionists? Is it that the present government 
machine after so many jokes on the people can offer confidence 
to anyone in free, democratic, impartial elections? 

"Is it not an anomaly, a deceit, to the people who see what is 
happening here every day to state that there can be free, demo- 
cratic, impartial elections under the tyranny, the anti-democracy 
and the partiality? 

"Of what value is the direct and free vote, the immediate count 
and other fictitious concessions if on the day of the elections no- 
body is allowed to vote and the ballot boxes are stuffed at bayonet 
point? Did the Committee on Suffrage and Public Liberties do 
any good in preventing the closing of radio stations and the 
mysterious deaths that continue to occur? 

"Have the demands of public opinion, the exhortations to peace, 
the cries of the mothers done any good up to now? 

168 



"They want to put an end to the rebellion with more blood, 
to the terrorism with more terror, to the desire for liberty with 
more oppression. 

"The elections should be presided over by a provisional, neutral 
government with the support of all, which replaces the dictator- 
ship in order to propitiate peace and to lead the country to demo- 
cratic and constitutional normality. 

"This should be the slogan of a great civilian revolutionary 
front that comprises all the political parties of the opposition, all 
the civic institutions and all the revolutionary forces. 

"In consequence, we propose to all the opposition political 
parties, all the civic institutions and all the revolutionary sectors 
the following: 

"1. Formation of a Civilian Revolutionary Front with a com- 
mon strategy of struggle. 

"2. To select as of now a figure to preside over the provisional 
government, whose election will be made by the civic institutions 
to ensure the disinterest and impartiality of opposition leaders. 

"3. To declare to the country that owing to the gravity of 
events there is no possible solution other than the resignation of 
the dictator and the delivery of the power to the figure who 
counts on the confidence and the majority support of the nation, 
expressed through its representative organizations. 

"4. To declare that the Civilian Revolutionary Front does 
not invoke nor does it accept mediation or intervention of any 
kind from another nation in the internal affairs of Cuba. That, 
on the other hand, it supports the denunciations of the violation 
of human rights that Cuban emigrants have made before the in- 
ternational organizations and asks the government of the United 
States, as long as the present regime of terror and dictatorship 
exists, to suspend all shipments of arms to Cuba. 

"5. To declare that the Civilian Revolutionary Front, by re- 
publican and independent tradition, will not accept any type of 
military junta provisionally to govern the republic. 

"6. To declare that the Civilian Revolutionary Front plans to 
divorce the army from politics and to guarantee the nonpolitical 
status, exempt from reprisal, of the armed forces. That the army 

169 



has nothing to fear from the Cuban people, but it is the corrupt 
cHque who should fear the people it sends to death in a fratricidal 
struggle. 

"7. To declare under formal promise that the provisional 
government will hold general elections for all offices of the state, 
the provinces and the municipalities at the end of one year under 
the norms of the Constitution of 1940 and the Electoral Code 
of 1943 and will deliver the power immediately to the candidates 
elected. 

"8. To declare that the provisional government will have to 
adjust its mission to the following program: 

"A. Immediate freedom for all political, civil and military 
prisoners. 

"B. Absolute guarantee of freedom of information, of the 
spoken and written press and of all the individual and political 
rights guaranteed by the Constitution. 

"C. Designation of provisional mayors in all the municipalities 
prior to consultation with the civic institutions of the locality. 

"D. Suppression of peculation in all its forms and adoption 
of measures that tend to increase the efficiency of all organisms 
of the state. 

"E. Establishment of Civil Service. 

"F. Democratization of labor policy, promoting free elections 
in all unions and federations of industries. 

"G. Immediate start of an intensive campaign against illit- 
eracy and for civic education, exalting the duties and rights which 
the citizen has in relation to society and the Fatherland. 

"H. Establishment of the foundations for an agrarian reform 
that tends to the distribution of barren lands and to convert into 
proprietors all the lessee-planters, partners and squatters who 
possess small parcels of land, be it property of the state or of 
private persons, with prior indemnification to the former owners. 

"I. Adoption of a sound financial policy that safeguards the 
stability of our money and tends to use the credit of the nation 
in productive works, 

"J. Acceleration of the process of industrialization and the 
creation of new jobs. 

170 



"In two points of this document there must be made special 
insistence: 

"First: The need that the person called to preside over the 
provisional government of the republic be named now in order 
to demonstrate before the world that the Cuban people are 
capable of uniting behind a password of liberty and to support 
the person who, meeting conditions of impartiality, integrity, 
capacity and decency, can incarnate that password. There is an 
abundance of men in Cuba capable of presiding over the re- 
public! 

"Second: That that person be designated by the joint body 
of civic institutions because those organizations are nonpolitical. 
Such support would free the provisional president of every parti- 
san compromise, would allow and lead to absolutely free and 
impartial elections. 

"To integrate this front it is not necessary that the political 
parties and the civic institutions declare themselves insurrectional 
and come to the Sierra Maestra. It is enough that they deny all 
support to the electoral compromise of the regime and declare 
before the country, before the armed forces and before inter- 
national public opinion that, after five years of useless effort, of 
continuous deceits and of rivers of blood, in Cuba there is no 
other escape than the resignation of Batista, who already has 
ruled the destinies of the country in two stages for sixteen years, 
and Cuba is not disposed to fall into the situation of Nicaragua 
or of Santo Domingo. 

"It is not necessary to come to the Sierra to talk. We can be 
represented in Havana, in Mexico or wherever it may be neces- 
sary. 

"It is not necessary to decree the revolution: organize the 
front that we propose and the downfall of the regime will come 
by itself, perhaps without the shedding of another drop of blood. 
One must be blind not to see that the dictatorship is in its last 
days, and that this is the minute in which all Cubans should put 
forth the best of their intelligence and their effort. 

"Can there be another solution in the midst of civil war with 
a government that is incapable of guaranteeing human life, which 

171 



does not control even the action of its own repressive forces and 
whose continued tricks and games have made the slightest public 
confidence impossible? 

"Nobody is deceived about the government propaganda con- 
cerning the situation in the Sierra. The Sierra Maestra is already 
an indestructible bulwark of liberty that has lighted a fire in the 
hearts of our compatriots, and here we will know how to honor 
the faith and the confidence of our people. 

"Our call could be ignored, but the fight will not halt because 
of it and nobody will be able to prevent the victory of the people 
although it will be much more costly and bloody. We hope, 
however, that our appeal will be heard and that a true solution 
halts the flow of Cuban blood and brings us an era of peace 
and liberty." 

Slightly more than a week after that manifesto was issued, 
American Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith arrived to assume his 
post. He was well received and made a good impression among 
the Cubans, because of his cautious and moderate statements at 
his first press conference in the embassy. His initial mission was 
to remove the stigma of Gardner's excessive partisanship toward 
Batista. He succeeded forthwith because of a combination of 
circumstances that played into his hands and made him a hero 
to the Cuban people overnight. 

With Batista's consent, he flew to Santiago de Cuba to get 
the feel of the situation there. The day before, July 30, Frank 
Pais, national leader of the Castro underground and a brilliant 
school teacher, had been shot down in cold blood by Colonel 
Salas Canizares, police chief, as he was about to change his hide- 
out from one house to another. 

The previous month I was unable to see Pais because he was 
changing hide-outs so frequently that it was dangerous both to 
him and to me to insist on it. Instead I was able to see his deputy, 
"Deborah," organizer of the women's underground. "Deborah" 
was the code name for Vilma Espin, daughter of the attorney 
for the Bacardi Company in Santiago. She, too, was hunted by 
the police but her hide-out that day was much safer than that 
of Pais. 

172 



On June 30 Pais' younger brother, Josue, had been killed 
when his car, filled with 26th of July resistance members, was 
intercepted by a police car. The killing of Pais and of the owner 
of the house where he had been hiding added to the indignation 
of the people of Santiago. Castro learned of the killing in a 
radio news broadcast and sent orders to Santiago that Pais should 
be buried with full honors as a colonel of the rebel army, a rank 
higher than Castro's. 

Smith reached Santiago at noon July 31. Pais' funeral was 
scheduled for three o'clock. A group of women, dressed in 
mourning, gathered for a demonstration for Smith's benefit as 
he rode to call on the mayor. The women carried a banner which 
read: Stop killing our sons! The police turned fire hoses on 
the women to disperse them, and Salas Canizares pushed a few 
around roughly. Smith was horrified by the brutality and it 
shocked his wife, who was also in the automobile. 

When Smith returned to the Rancho Club, he consulted two 
members of his staff, John Topping, political officer, and Richard 
Cushing, public affairs officer, about a statement that they 
recommended he issue. The statement was drafted and redrafted 
and issued to waiting newspapermen. In it Smith criticized the 
employment of police brutality in any form. 

Smith's statement hit the headlines in Havana and was broad- 
cast over the radio. The population of Santiago de Cuba closed 
up shop for the funeral of Frank Pais. A spontaneous general 
strike had begun. Smith returned to Havana that night just as 
Batista again established censorship of the press and radio and 
suspended all civil rights. 

The general strike began to mushroom throughout the country. 
There had been neither prior planning nor prior organization 
for it. It was a spontaneous expression of repudiation of daily 
brutality, tortures, killings and a protest against corrupt govern- 
ment and equally corrupt labor leaders who had become multi- 
millionaires within a few years, notably Eusebio Mujal, secretary 
general of the CTC. 

The general strike was doomed to fail because of Batista's 
ironclad censorship, which for four days hid from the workers 

173 



of Havana the news that Santiago was closed up tight, and that 
the same thing had happened in other cities of Oriente, as well as 
in other provinces. 

Official reaction against Smith was whipped up. There was a 
resolution introduced into the senate to declare him persona non 
grata, and Batista senators made strong speeches on the floor. 
The pro-Batista newspapers lambasted Smith in page-one edi- 
torials and told him to go home. There were official and semi- 
official protests that Smith was intervening in the internal affairs 
of Cuba. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, asked for a 
comment at his news conference, backed up Smith for having 
made a "humane" statement. The Dulles statement was never 
published in the Cuban press and of course Batista did not allow 
it to be broadcast. The statement was such a bombshell that if 
it had been published or broadcast some of Batista's own sup- 
posedly loyal friends might have asked the army chiefs to depose 
him. 

Though the general strike was doomed to fail, it was unfor- 
tunate for the rebel cause that it had been launched just at that 
time. For a conspiracy was under way which had wide ramifica- 
tions in the armed forces, especially in the navy. The blow was 
to have been struck August 20 but was postponed because of the 
need to forge other links in the chain. 

I was back in Havana again ten days later to interview Raul 
Chibas, who had come down from the Sierra Maestra with Ro- 
berto Agramonte, Jr., and Pelayo Cuervo, Jr., on special mis- 
sions for Fidel Castro. Up to then they had been successful in 
escaping Batista's dragnet, having made the trip from the Sierra 
Maestra to the capital overland in the remarkable time of forty- 
one hours. By circuitous routes to avoid detection I was taken 
to the home of Chibas' brother-in-law in a new residential devel- 
opment and was ushered into an air-conditioned bedroom where 
Chibas and young Agramonte sat. My interview with them con- 
firmed my estimate that Castro would ultimately rout Batista. 
The conversation with Chibas could be summed up as follows: 

1 . Castro wanted them to get to the United States to tell the 
Castro story to the American people, and Chibas had been com- 
missioned to supervise the collection of money for the cause. 

174 



2. Castro was in need of arms to equip volunteers who wished 
to join his force. 

3. Castro had ordered a government spy executed. The spy 
had infihrated into his force and then disappeared to act as an 
observer-guide for Batista's air force. When he returned the 
spy was tried by a summary court and shot. 

4. Cuban air force planes had been carrying on indiscriminate 
bombing of the Sierra Maestra but had yet to hit a rebel target. 

5. The morale of the Castro force was superb. 

6. Castro enjoyed the voluntary support of natives in the Si- 
erra Maestra. 

7. Whenever Batista's troops reached the trails leading up to 
the mountains toward Castro's hide-outs and encountered natives, 
the soldiers begged them not to reveal to their officers the location 
of the rebels. This created the belief that most of Batista's troops 
did not want to fight. 

8. Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, had never been wounded in 
any battle as the government communiques claimed. 

9. Castro had a television set in his headquarters. There was 
a trap door in the roof which permitted the antenna to be lowered 
when the set was not in use or whenever there was danger of air 
attack. 

10. Two clergymen were at Castro's headquarters, both of 
them Cubans. One was a Roman Catholic priest and the other 
a Baptist minister. 

1 1 . Castro insists that an interim government must replace 
Batista and preside over free and honest presidential elections. 
He does not want the presidency for himself. He insists the pro- 
visional president should be chosen by the leaders of the civil and 
political groups of the opposition. 

12. Castro will not lay down his arms if Batista holds an elec- 
tion. He contends that no election under Batista can be honest 
and free. 

On the night of September 2, 1957, I again interviewed Ba- 
tista; I was accompanied by Guillermo Martinez Marquez, editor 
of the newspaper El Pais, and president of the Inter American 
Press Association. Batista objected to a reference I had made to 
a previous interview in which he had given his word of honor he 

175 



would never reimpose censorship. He claimed that what he had 
meant at the time was that he would not reimpose censorship as 
long as that particular period of suspension of guarantees was in 
effect. After an hour and a half there was absolutely no reason 
for optimism: Batista had made it clear that he was not going 
to abolish censorship. 

The palace reporters interviewed us after we left Batista's office. 
Martinez Marquez told them he was optimistic that Batista would 
lift censorship, while I expressed pessimism. Martinez Marquez 
told the reporters not to use my dissenting statement. 

Two days later Batista celebrated the twenty-fourth anniver- 
sary of his meteoric rise from sergeant to colonel and to ruler of 
Cuba. That night there was a fete at navy headquarters overlook- 
ing the Malecon. At dawn of September 5, 1957, the naval sta- 
tion at Cayo Loco (Crazy Key) in Cienfuegos was captured by 
a group of cashiered naval officers, 26th of July Movement mili- 
tia and Carlos Prio's Organization Autentico. There was sup- 
posed to have been a simultaneous uprising in Havana where two 
naval frigates which were in the harbor were to stand out to sea 
and bombard Camp Columbia out of the reach of the artillery at 
the military headquarters. Batista's air force was to have been 
immobilized and there was to have been defection at the San 
Antonio de los Banos air base to the west. 

The two frigate captains changed their minds at the eleventh 
hour, notifying Lieutenant Juan M. Castineiras, who had been 
cashiered from the navy by Batista for sympathy to Castro, of 
the need to postpone H-hour. Castineiras was the naval liaison 
contact man in the underground; he had planned the revolt along 
with Lieutenant Jose San Roman Toledo, another cashiered 
naval officer. San Roman had already left for Cienfuegos and 
the order countermanding H-hour failed to reach him. 

The rebels took over Cienfuegos with little difficulty. They 
distributed weapons to civilians, who swarmed to Cayo Loco to 
get them. Again Batista's ironclad censorship saved him. When 
I returned to Havana at five o'clock that afternoon, hardly any- 
body knew that there was a revolt in Cienfuegos. Batista dis- 
patched the Third Mobile Force from Santa Clara, capital of 
Las Villas province, to Cienfuegos to counterattack. At the same 

176 



time he ordered the air force to strafe the city. Colonel Carlos 
Tabernilla dispatched the aircraft and for four hours Cienfuegos 
was strafed with .50 caliber fire from the loyal aircraft. One 
naval PBY in the hands of the rebels was shot down in the bay 
oif Cienfuegos. 

Almost all of the 60,000 inhabitants of the city were sympa- 
thetic toward the revolt. The forces that rose against Batista were 
mainly sergeants of the navy (equivalent to our petty officers) 
and sergeants of the police force. There were some junior of- 
ficers of the navy in the grades of lieutenant and lieutenant junior 
grade involved and a lieutenant commander. 

The rebels held Cienfuegos throughout Thursday, September 
5, despite government announcements to the contrary. Central 
Park was the scene of the heaviest fighting within the city. Rebels 
occupied the municipal palace, the police headquarters and the 
Colegio San Lorenzo School of Arts and Crafts. The school, 
which was the latest redoubt, was reduced by a frontal attack by 
tanks and infantry of the reinforcements that arrived from Santa 
Clara. At two o'clock in the morning of September 6 all re- 
sistance had ceased there, and at eight o'clock in the morning the 
last four rebels holding out in police headquarters were killed. 
The Colegio San Lorenzo was pockmarked with shell holes. The 
city hall was peppered with evidence of shell fire. 

I tried to ascertain in Cienfuegos the exact number of casual- 
ties but it was impossible. There was no official record because 
many rebels fled seaward aboard two boats when San Roman 
realized that Havana had not responded to the rising and the 
cause was lost. But San Roman remained at Cayo Loco, ready 
to return the station to the government in order to try to save the 
men who had rallied to the Castro cause. 

To command the maritime police of Cienfuegos Batista as- 
signed a man who had earned the reputation of being one of his 
most trusted men and a killer. He was Captain Alejandro Garcia 
Olayon. He had been indicted the previous year for having mur- 
dered a naval officer, but when Batista suspended civil rights 
shortly thereafter the case was transferred from the civilian 
courts to military justice and quashed. 

A common grave was dug by a bulldozer in the cemetery, and 

177 



I saw fifty-two bodies dumped into it. Officials said they were 
bodies of men killed in battle; among them were sailors. 

Nineteen prisoners, including Lieutenant San Roman, who 
had surrendered Cayo Loco, were taken to the Cienfuegos air- 
port for flight by military aircraft to Havana and imprisonment 
in La Cabana Fortress. The prisoners were severely beaten by 
their soldier escorts. They were repeatedly struck with rifle butts 
and knocked down as often as they tried to rise. The same treat- 
ment was accorded the captured officers. 

Cienfuegos was under martial law. Nobody ventured out at 
night. Troops conducted searches from house to house in an 
effort to recover some 2,000 weapons which the rebels had dis- 
tributed to the civilian population. 

Although the revolt was crushed, the flame of insurrection con- 
tinued to burn in Cienfuegos and elsewhere. The men who had 
fled seaward by boats reached the Sierra del Escambray, a moun- 
tain range to the east of Cienfuegos. There they began to organ- 
ize themselves for what was ultimately to become an active and 
effective Second National Front of Escambray, in which William 
Alexander Morgan, a twenty-nine-year old former paratrooper 
from Toledo, Ohio, was later to play an important role. 

In Havana San Roman was mercilessly beaten; he was taken 
to the home of a high-ranking naval officer in the swank Biltmore 
residential district for questioning. While being questioned, ac- 
cording to testimony rendered before Judge Francisco Alabau 
Trelles in the criminal court of Havana, San Roman was shot in 
the back and killed by Lieutenant Julio Laurent, chief of the 
Naval Intelligence Service. The news of the death of San Roman 
was not published at that time because of censorship, and the 
government made no announcement of it. 

Manuel Antonio de Varona, head of Prio's Organizacion 
Autentico, was arrested and accused of complicity in the naval 
revolt. He was confronted by the two frigate captains now under 
arrest, who testified that Varona had conferred with them in the 
apartment of an American friend about the feasibility of revolt- 
ing against Batista. Members of the diplomatic corps interceded 
in behalf of Varona, and he was first granted asylum in the 
Chilean embassy and then given a safe conduct to leave the 

178 



country. Within days he was in Miami to set up headquarters to 
continue conspiratorial operations against Batista. 

Varona tallied very freely in Miami, especially in the presence 
of Marisol Alba, a former Cuban television star, who was very 
friendly with Prio. Soon Batista had all the details of the ramifi- 
cations of the Cienfuegos naval uprising and there was a complete 
shake-up in the motorized division of the police force in Havana 
which, Varona had reported, was involved in the conspiracy. 
Varona and Prio were suspicious of the leaks that were torpedo- 
ing almost every plan of theirs and the former president arranged 
for the theft of the brief case of Eduardo Hernandez, Consul 
General of Cuba in Miami. 

Three Cubans accosted Hernandez at the Miami International 
Airport as he was about to depart for Havana. One of them 
tripped him as he walked toward the gate. The brief case fell from 
his hands, and two of the men fled from the terminal with it and 
made their getaway. The contents of the brief case included re- 
ports from Marisol Alba and other Cubans resident in Miami 
who were in Batista's pay as spies operating under the direction 
of Consul Hernandez. There were copies of letters written to 
Prio, Varona and others which were handed by courier from 
Havana ostensibly to reliable sympathizers of the anti-Batista 
cause in Miami for final delivery. There was also a notebook 
listing the names of the spies and their code names. 

After the contents of the case were duly absorbed and recorded 
and photocopies were made of all pertinent documents, the brief 
case was left in the office of Ralph Renick, news director of Sta- 
tion WTVJ, Miami, for return to its owner. 

Marisol Alba and others were tried before rebel drumhead 
courts-martial in Miami, convicted and sentenced to death upon 
return to Cuba, on the grounds that their espionage work for 
Batista caused the death of many of their countrymen. Some of 
the other suspects were brutally beaten by irate Cubans. 

The day of the Cienfuegos naval revolt I finished writing a 
comprehensive special report for the Executive Committee on 
Censorship of the Inter American Press Association in Cuba. I 
dispatched it to the headquarters of the association in New York 
where that committee met on September 12. I reviewed in the 

179 



report the entire political and military background of Cuba from 
March 10, 1952, to September 5, 1957, to enable the committee 
members better to appreciate the situation and to debate my 
recommendation. 

The conclusions in my report were that Batista never again 
could govern Cuba with freedom of the press as virtually the en- 
tire country was opposed to him and considered his government 
unconstitutional, I did not review the subsidies which most of 
the newspapers and some of the editors were receiving from the 
Batista government because I did not have in hand at the time 
the required documentary proof to substantiate such statements. 
There was only one recommendation: "that the government of 
Fulgencio Batista be declared not democratic because, in accord- 
ance with the Charter of the Inter American Press, it does not 
respect or cause to be respected freedom of the press." 

The Executive Committee met, debated my report and modi- 
fied the recommendation to refer it to the membership at the 
annual convention to be held in Washington the next month. 
The body of the report, however, was circulated to the members 
for their background and information. This gratuitous service 
on my part and on the part of the I. A. P. A. furnished the editors 
and publishers of the United States and Latin America with the 
background of the Cuban tragedy. Those who may have read 
the report, and the annual and semiannual reports that followed, 
need not have been surprised at recent events in that country. 

The resolution was unanimously adopted as part of a general 
denunciation recommended by the Committee on Freedom of 
the Press, that included the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, 
Paraguay and Bolivia. (The situation of the press in Bolivia 
improved in 1958, and that country was removed from the list, 
together with Venezuela, which had recovered its freedom.) 
Several Cuban editors tried to pressure me behind the scenes to 
exclude their government from the denunciation. I put a quick 
halt to that lobbying by threatening to read a list of subsidies 
which each of them was getting from Batista if they insisted. 

Two incidents in the month of November 1957 failed to en- 
hance the popularity of the United States government— much less 
the Pentagon— in the minds of the Cuban people who were suf- 

180 



fering from the Batista brutality. Early that month Major Gen- 
eral Truman H. Landon flew into Havana from his air command 
in the Panama Canal Zone to bestow the Legion of Merit on 
Colonel Carlos Tabernilla, head of Batista's air force. Tabernilla 
had earned the hatred of many Cubans for directing the air attack 
on Cienfuegos two months earlier. This award by our air force 
apparently was not previously co-ordinated with the State De- 
partment. 

On the night of November 21 Batista received the members 
of the Inter American Defense Board. Havana was the last port 
of call on a flight to Peru and Panama. General Lemuel C. 
Shepherd, chairman, spoke for himself and the officers of the 
other American republics who accompanied him. But he was 
speaking in the uniform of a four-star general of the United 
States Marine Corps. He replied to Batista's champagne toast, 
assuring co-operation in continental defense, with these words: 

"I wish to thank you on behalf of my colleagues because those 
words come not only from a great general but also from a great 
president." 

Batista was swift to take advantage of those words of praise. 
He ordered his press office to send the text verbatim, with photo- 
graphs, to the newspapers with instructions to play the story 
prominently. They did just that on page one, with the full bless- 
ing of the censors. The violent public reaction was clandestine 
because of the censorship. 



(Follows 1. 25, p. 162) : At this time the Urgency Court at Santiago de 
Cuba sentenced the survivors of the Gramma expedition, who had been 
arrested in the cities of Oriente, to imprisonment. There was one dissent- 
ing opinion. It was that of Judge Manuel Urrutia. He declared that the 
Gramma expedition was perfectly justified under the Constitution of 1940 
because the objective was an insurrection against a man who had violated 
the Constitution. This decision made Urrutia popular in rebel circles and 
especially with Castro. 

181 



CHAPTER 




The rebel underground stepped up its sabotage and 
terroristic activities throughout the country, including Havana. 
Homemade bombs, such as Colonel Bayo had taught them to 
manufacture, would explode intermittently at different points in 
the capital and people would be driven from motion picture the- 
aters and other places of amusement. Fire bombs also were em- 
ployed, and show windows of stores suffered from the impact of 
petards. Rebel bands in the Sierra Maestra harassed army out- 
posts and even ventured into towns to capture arms. 

Busses both in cities and on the highways, trucks carrying 
freight and merchandise, passenger and freight trains, railroad 
and highway bridges, public buildings and homes and businesses 
of Batistianos were blown up or burned as part of the agitation 
and terror designed to maintain a constant state of alarm. A 
sixteen-year-old girl who had gone to the Tropicana Night Club 
for a New Year's party with her parents had her arm shattered 
when a bomb exploded near their table. 

Rebel terror was answered by the government with tenfold 
reprisals. Bodies of boys and men were found hanging from 
trees or lampposts or lying lifeless in automobiles with grenades 
on their persons, to convey the impression that they had been 
caught in terrorist acts. 

The jails were filled with sympathizers of the 26th of July 

182 



Movement, but hardly a Communist was included among those 
detained. The Communists, however, did not intend to be denied 
a place on the victory bandwagon. 

The incessant atrocities and brutality by Batista's repressive 
forces had got so far out of hand that the Cuban Medical Asso- 
ciation found it necessary to register a most energetic protest. 
The action was precipitated by a letter from the president of the 
Medical Association of Sancti Spiritus, province of Las Villas, 
who on October 25, 1957, wrote: 



Dr. Raul de Velasco Guzman 

President of the National Medical Association 

Havana 

"Distinguished fellow practitioner: 

"Complying with the resolution of the governing body of the 
Medical Association adopted at a special meeting held last night, 
I have the honor to enclose a certified copy of the minutes of said 
meeting. 

"To further explain said minutes, I will mention the facts as 
they occurred: 

"A young man wounded in the back by firearms, showing pa- 
ralysis and symptoms of traumatic shock, was carried to the office 
of Dr. Jorge Ruiz Ramirez at noon. Dr. Ruiz Ramirez at the 
time was in the town of Taguasco and, owing to the extreme 
urgency of the case, decided to take the young man by taxicab 
to a clinic in Sancti Spiritus; but before arriving there, they were 
intercepted by forces of the army, who took them to the rural 
guard headquarters of this city. 

"Several witnesses saw them at said rural guard headquarters 
at 12:30 p.m. At 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon the relatives who 
visited the clinics and the hospitals of the city were alarmed at 
not finding the young man nor Dr. Ruiz Ramirez, and for this 
reason members of this Medical Association investigated where 
they could be found, going to different hospitals, police and the 
rural guard headquarters, but did not find them there. Army 
and police officers denied having them in their custody. 

"In those hours of uncertainty we were visited by Dr. Julio 

183 



Oyarzabal Girbau, who informed us that Lieutenant Mirabal, 
chief of the army headquarters in Cabaiguan, had ordered him, 
at 5:00 o'clock that afternoon, to examine three corpses that 
were lying in the cemetery of Zaza del Medio, and that after 
great difficulties, owing to the amount of blood covering the 
corpses and rough treatment of same, he had been able to identify 
one as being that of Dr. Jorge Ruiz Ramirez. 

"Dr. Oyarzabal Girbau claimed the corpse of his dead com- 
panion so as to give it proper attention, and same was delivered 
to him by Lieutenant Mirabal after expressing himself in an in- 
sulting way with regard to the corpses. 

"Dr. Gregorio Martin Leal, who was allowed to read the re- 
ports in the army headquarters at Zaza del Medio, tells us that in 
said reports it was recorded that Dr. Ruiz Ramirez, the chauffeur 
and the wounded man were killed in combat in the zone of 
Jiquima de Pelaez, in the municipality of Cabaiguan, all of which 
is absolutely false in the light of what has been set forth above, 
and even more so by the fact that the doctor, who was vilely 
murdered, was politically affiliated with the government. 

"Since it is impossible for me to relate the details by telephone, 
I am sending this report to the National Medical College by 
messenger. 

"Yours very truly 

"Dr. Francisco O. Delgado B. 

"President" 

NATIONAL MEDICAL COLLEGE 

Member of the Pan-American Medical Confederation and 

of the World Medical Association 

Executive Committee 

Havana, October 28, 1957 

To the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 
City 

"Mr. Chief Justice: 

"In compliance with the resolutions of the Executive Com- 
mittee of the National Medical College, we have the honor to ad- 

184 



dress you in order to denounce before the honorable court, with 
all proper intents and purposes, certain deeds of the gravest and 
most criminal nature that have been occurring in the national 
territory with alarming continuity in relation to the exercise of 
the medical profession. 

"These deeds culminated on the 24th inst. in the death of Dr. 
Jorge Ruiz Ramirez, who, according to information which de- 
serves our entire credit, was requested in his office in the town of 
Taguasco to attend a young man named Palermo who had been 
shot in the spine. 

"Because of the critical condition of the man, Dr. Ruiz Ram- 
irez decided to take him to a clinic in Sancti Spiritus, advising 
the young man's relatives of his decision. 

"The vehicle was intercepted by members of the army, who 
took them to Jiquima de Pelaez, killing the doctor, the wounded 
man and the chauffeur of the taxicab. 

"Our unfortunate fellow practitioner, who was killed by army 
forces while doing his duty, which he considered obligatory for 
reasons of morality, mercy and the provisions of the penal laws, 
showed bruises caused by the butt of a rifle on his forehead and 
several gunshot wounds spread over the thorax and abdomen. 

"The triple murder that we are denouncing before the high 
court, Mr. Justice, has deeply moved the population of Sancti 
Spiritus; and to the grief of the medical class of Cuba caused by 
the death of a fellow professional there must be added the justi- 
fiable alarm due to the threat involved for all medical men, and 
especially for those who practice in the cities of the interior of 
the Republic, in the face of the outrages committed by the public 
forces. 

"The penal law protects human life without distinction of race, 
sex, age, social standing or political affiliation. Article 164 pro- 
vides sanction for 'those who do not respect the inviolability of 
the ambulances, hospitals, concentration camps for the wounded, 
the sick or prisoner' and for 'those who deny the necessary help 
to the wounded, the sick, the hospitalized or prisoner' and for 
'those who in any way attack ships, railways or airplanes engaged 
in the service of hospitalizing or transporting the wounded, the 
shipwrecked person or prisoner' as well as 'those who prevent 

185 



charitable institutions from exercising the duties of their office.' 

"The Code of Medical Ethics in Time of War provides that a 
medical doctor must do his duty at all times and under any cir- 
cumstances in which his services are requested, without making 
any distinctions among his patients, save those which are required 
under the emergency of a case. 

"These high moral principles, which are complied with volun- 
tarily by the medical men of Cuba at all times, have been con- 
verted by legislation into a penal obligation which under Article 
407(A) of the Code of Social Defense provides sanctions for: 
'any medical doctor not serving as a paid employee or public 
officer who may be required by any private party to render any 
help connected with his profession in a case of emergency and 
of grave danger for the health or life of a citizen and who should 
abstain from so serving without justified cause.' 

"Upon referring to the principles of ethics and the provisions 
of the Code of Social Defense relating to the medical profession, 
we are trying to establish what the duties of a doctor are, while 
asseverating before you that on more than one occasion doctors 
have suffered violent interference in the exercise of their profes- 
sion, hospital premises have been assaulted and the wounded have 
been removed and subsequently have been found dead. 

"These acts have given rise to public protests from municipal 
medical colleges and from this Executive Committee. What 
could have been isolated and independent incidents at any par- 
ticular moment have become an inhuman system with the medical 
class, and now the medical class contemplates with terror and 
indignation the indescribable acts we now denounce before you. 
which show to what extent barbarity has taken hold of our 
country. 

"On this very day we have confronted a new and tragic act, 
for Dr. Antonio Pulido Humaran was taken from his home in 
the early morning hours of the twenty-sixth by persons armed 
with machine guns, and his relatives received no other news of 
him except the discovery on the next day in the Havana Morgue 
of his corpse, showing signs of having been brutally beaten to 
death, as can be proved by the results of the autopsy. 

"On the face of this danger, doctors find themselves unpro- 

186 



tected in the exercise of their profession, to the extent that they 
must either deny their professional services or risk losing their 
lives in giving them, a fact whose seriousness cannot escape you, 
Mr. Chief Justice. 

"The facts which we put before you, in your high authority, 
have caused the resolution of the Executive Committee of the 
National Medical College, with which we are complying by pre- 
senting the situation to you for proper action, to which effect we 
attach the following documents: 

"1 . Certification of minutes number 2 of the Board of Govern- 
ment of the Municipal Medical College of Sancti Spiritus, dated 
October 24, 1957. 

"2. Certification of particulars in minutes number 12 of the 
Board of Directors of the Municipal Medical College of Santiago 
de Cuba, dated April 25, 1956. 

"3. Photostat copy of the statements of the Board of Directors 
of the Municipal Medical College of Santiago de Cuba, regarding 
acts recorded in minutes number 12, of April 25, 1956. 

"4. Official copy of public statement of the Executive Com- 
mittee of the National Medical College, of April 25, 1956, sup- 
porting the protest of the Medical College of Santiago de Cuba 
and calling for guarantees protecting the exercise of the medical 
profession. 

"Yours very truly, 

"Executive Committee of the National Medical Association" 

The above letter was signed by Dr. Raul de Velasco and 26 
other doctors representing the national and provincial associa- 
tions. 

The denunciation had no effect. No action was taken to at- 
tempt to arrest or punish the culprits. 

A move to unite all political and revolutionary groups in the 
fight against Batista was undertaken in Miami in the month of 
October 1957. Cuban exiles flocked to Washington to be pres- 
ent when the Inter American Press Association held its annual 
convention there that month. They distributed inflammatory 
leaflets against Batista and picketed in front of the Mayflower 
Hotel with placards to invite attention to conditions in Cuba. 

187 



The editors and publishers unanimously adopted a resolution 
submitted by the Committee on Freedom of the Press which la- 
beled the Batista government, together with the governments of 
the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Venezuela and Bolivia as not 
democratic because they did not respect or cause to be respected 
freedom of the press. Not a single Cuban editor— not even the 
editor of Batista's own newspaper Pueblo— dared rise to vote 
against the resolution although the latter spoke passionately 
against it. 

Cuban exiles drafted a "Document of Unity of Cuban Opposi- 
tion to the Batista Dictatorship," which was signed November 1 
in Miami Beach at the home of Dr. Lincoln Rodon, former 
speaker of the house of representatives, by representatives of 
seven groups. Among them were former Presidents Carlos Prio 
and Carlos Hevia, together with Dr. Manuel Antonio de Varona, 
former president of the senate. Dr. Roberto Agramonte, former 
presidential candidate, and three signatories of the 26th of July 
Movement. I witnessed the ceremony at Dr. Rodon's invitation. 

The document reviewed the situation of Cuba and then went 
on to say: 

"In view of the above, the political parties, the revolutionary 
organizations and the Federation of University Students, united 
on free soil belonging to this great democracy that is the United 
States of America, agree to the following: 

"First: Increase the fight against the regime of terror of Batista 
until a democratic form of government is restored to the island. 

"Second: Constitute the Council of Cuban Liberation to unite 
the civic and material forces of the Cuban people and organize 
the transition between the dictatorship and a constitutional and 
democratic government. 

"Third: Underline that a constitutional, legal and democratic 
government is sought in which the people of Cuba will be able 
to express their wishes and declare that the existing tyranny has 
not been able and will never be able to offer anything but an- 
archy, repression, terror and plunder. 

"Fourth: Declare that owing to the dangerous situation exist- 
ing in the nation, there is no other solution but to bring about 
the end of the present government and to constitute a provisional 

188 



government which will preside over the process of reconstruction 
and summon a general election which will be celebrated as soon 
as possible, so that the Cuban people can freely elect its candi- 
dates, and offer this democratic government a solid backing so 
that its stability and impartiality will be assured. This provisional 
government shall in no case exceed the term of eighteen months, 
at the end of which the new government elected by the people 
shall take over. 

"Fifth: Agree that the provisional president shall not be per- 
mitted to become a candidate for any position to be filled by the 
elections presided over by the provisional government. Agree 
also, that the ministers, governors and mayors must give up 
their offices six months before the elections to be able to partici- 
pate as candidates for the presidency or for any other elective 
position. 

"Sixth: Agree to the minimum program to be undertaken by 
the provisional government in its work to restore order and de- 
mocracy under the compliance of the 1940 Constitution. This 
program should be inspired by the following objectives: 

"A. Immediate liberty of all political prisoners, civilians and 
military. 

"B. Restoration of civil liberties. 

"C. Establishment of systems of control and punishment to 
end graft. 

"D. Enactment of a Civil Service Act. 

"E. Creation of a higher standard of education, scientific re- 
search, technical education and the conservation of our natural 
resources. 

"F. Betterment of governmental agencies and institutions vio- 
lated and plundered by the dictatorship. 

"G. Preservation of the monetary stability and work to chan- 
nel credit in a manner productive to the country. 

"H. Establishment of regulations covering agrarian reform. 

"I. The organization of free elections in the trade unions, in 
whose operation the dictatorship has intervened. 

"J. Creation of new sources of employment and higher stan- 
dard of living for farmers and workers through the establishment 
of new industries and the development of agriculture and mining. 

189 



"Seventh: Declare that the Council of Cuban Liberation backs 
up all the charges of violation of human rights committed by 
Batista made by Cubans to the United Nations and other inter- 
national organizations; request that, until peace is obtained in 
Cuba, all the shipments of arms given to the Cuban government 
for hemispheric defense be suspended by the government of the 
United States, as the dictatorship is using such equipment against 
the Cuban people and not for continental defense. And request 
from the United States and the Organization of American States 
the recognition of this Council of Cuban Liberation, in view of 
the civil war existing on the island. 

"Eighth: Invite all the Cuban civic, professional, religious and 
cultural institutions and the trade unions and financial institutions 
and organizations to back up these ideals integrating this move- 
ment against Batista. 

"Ninth: Reiterate our firm decision to separate the armed 
forces from the political battles and guarantee the proper organ- 
ization of same, and we appeal to them requesting that they also 
unite with us and support the common objective of obtaining 
freedom from the tyranny which has caused Cuba so much blood- 
shed, so that the present climate of hate and death strangling the 
Republic ceases, never to return. 

"Tenth: Maintain after the success of the revolutionary goal 
the necessary integration to bring about the task of furnishing 
our country with the freedom it needs and consolidate a demo- 
cratic regime for our nation." 

There were apparently some secret agreements added. 

It took eighteen days for a copy of the document, listing all 
signatories, to reach Castro's mountain headquarters in the 
Sierra Maestra from Miami. Castro was busy in battle at the 
time. A courier left Miami the night of November 1 with a copy 
of the document. A draft had already been sent to the national 
committee of the 26th of July Movement, and, aware of the 
delicacy of the unity question and the attitude of that group, I 
asked Dr. Felipe Pazos, former president of the Banco Nacional, 
Dr. Lucas Moran, an attorney of Santiago de Cuba, and Lester 
Rodriguez, one of the Movement leaders, if they had received 
authority to sign. They replied in the affirmative. Perhaps the 

190 



authority had come from the national committee in Havana, but 
it apparently did not originate with Castro. 

He made that clear in a lengthy letter which he addressed to 
all the signatories except the members of his own party. He re- 
jected the unity pact in blunt and unmistakable language. He did 
not intend to obligate himself to anyone or to consider himself 
or his movement so obligated. The letter was brought to Miami 
from the Sierra Maestra by Dr. Antonio Buch, medico of Santi- 
ago de Cuba. With it Buch brought an invitation to me from 
Castro, hand-written by Armando Hart, husband of Haydee San- 
tamaria, to visit his headquarters. 

Word of Castro's denunciation of the Council of Liberation 
leaked out in Miami, and sponsors of the unity movement pleaded 
with Castro's representatives in the city at the time, who included 
Raul Chibas, Luis Buch, Angel Maria Santos Buch and Mario 
Llerena not to publicize the letter. They were ready and willing 
to cede every point made by Castro and felt publication of the 
news would be harmful to the campaign against Batista. 

On December 31, 1957, Raul Chibas, who had escorted Dr. 
Manuel Urrutia Lleo to my office, personally handed to me the 
following text of Castro's letter in the Spanish language: 

To the Directors of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano 

Partido del Pueblo Cubano 
Organizacion Autentico 
Federacion Estudiantil Universitaria 
Directorio Revolucionario 
Directorio Obrero Revolucionario 

"My moral patriotic and even historical duty obliges me to 
address to you this letter, based on facts and circumstances that 
have moved us profoundly during these last weeks, which, by the 
way, have been the most strenuous and busy ones since we arrived 
in Cuba. It was precisely on Wednesday, November 20, the day 
on which our forces sustained three battles in the space of only 
six hours (and this will give an idea of the sacrifices and efforts 
made by our men here without the slightest aid from other organ- 
izations), when the surprising news was received in our opera- 
tions zone, together with the document containing the public 

191 



and private bases of the unity agreement, which is said to have 
been subscribed in Miami by the 26th of July Movement and 
those organizations to which I now address myself. 

"The arrival of those papers, as though it were another stroke 
of the irony of fate, at the time when what we need is arms, 
coincided with the heaviest offensive that the tyranny has 
launched against us. 

"Communications are difficult in the conditions under which 
we are fighting. In spite of everything, it has been necessary to 
get the leaders of our organization together in the midst of a 
campaign, so as to attend to this matter, in which not only the 
prestige of but also the historical reason for the 26th of July 
Movement is at stake. 

"For those who are fighting against an army incomparable in 
number and in arms, without any support during a whole year 
other than the dignity with which we are fighting for a cause 
which we love sincerely and the conviction that it is worth while 
to die for it, bitterly forgotten by fellow countrymen who, 
in spite of having all the ways and means, have systematically 
(not to say criminally) denied us their help; and for those who 
have seen so closely the daily sacrifices in their highest form and 
have so often felt the grief of seeing their closest comrades fall 
in battle— when nobody knows which of those who fight beside us 
will fall in new and inevitable disasters without even seeing the 
day of victory which he is fighting for so earnestly and without 
any other ambition or consolation than the hope that his sacrifice 
will not be in vain: for all those, it must be understood that the 
news of a broad and intentionally publicized agreement, which 
binds the future conduct of the Movement without even having 
had the consideration— not to say the elementary obligation— of 
consulting the opinion of the directors and the fighters, must be 
felt by us to be extremely wounding and the cause of indignation. 

"Improper procedure always has the very worst consequences, 
and this is something that should be taken into account by those 
who consider themselves capable of such an arduous undertaking 
as the ousting of a tyranny and, what is even more difficult, to 
gain the recognition of the country after a revolutionary process. 

"The 26th of July Movement did not designate or authorize 

192 



any delegation to discuss these negotiations. However, there 
would not be any objection to designating one after the matter 
had been previously discussed and if care had been taken to give 
very concrete instructions to the representatives— in view of the 
fact that something so serious in relation to the present and future 
activities of our organization is involved. 

"On the contrary the news that we had regarding the contacts 
with certain of those sectors were limited to a report from Sefior 
Lester Rodriguez, delegate for War Affairs abroad, with powers 
limited to these matters exclusively, to the following effect: 

" 'With respect to Prio and the Directorio, I held several inter- 
views with them so as to co-ordinate military plans exclusively, 
until a provisional government could be formed, which would be 
guaranteed and respected by the three sectors. Logically, my pro- 
posal was that the letter from the Sierra, the letter in which it was 
explained that that government should be formed in accordance 
with the will of the civic forces of the country, be accepted. This 
brought the first difficulty. When the commotion of the general 
strike was produced, we held an emergency meeting. I proposed 
that all resources immediately at hand be used and that we 
attempt to decide the problem of Cuba once and for all. 

" Trio replied that he did not have sufficient resources to attain 
victory and that it would be madness to accept my demand. I 
replied that when he should consider that he had everything ready 
for sailing, he should notify me, so that then we could talk about 
any possible agreements, but that in the meantime he should do 
me the favor of letting me and what I represent within the 26th 
of July Movement work with entire independence. 

" 'In other words, no obligations exist with those people and I 
do not believe that in the future it is recommendable to have any, 
since just at the time when Cuba most needed it, they denied 
having the material, which has recently been captured from 
them, and which amounts to so much that it causes indigna- 
tion. . . .' 

"This report, which is self-explanatory, confirms our suspicion 
that we rebels could not expect any help from outside. 

"If the organizations which you represent had deemed it proper 

193 



to discuss the bases for joint action with some members of our 
Movement, such bases (so much more so, because they altered 
fundamentally the demands made by us in the Sierra Maestra 
manifesto) could not be published under any circumstances as 
an agreement reached without the knowledge and approval of 
the national leaders of the Movement. Acting in any other way 
is making agreements for publicity and invoking fraudulently the 
name of our organization. 

"The astounding fact is clear that when the national leaders 
operating from here in Cuba, had received the news, and were 
ready to refuse the public and private points proposed as a basis 
for the agreement, they learned from clandestine sources and 
from the foreign press that the points had been published as an 
agreement which had been reached. Thus they found themselves 
confronted by an accomplished fact, in the opinion of the country 
and the people abroad, with the alternative of having either to 
deny it— with the corresponding consequence of harmfulness that 
such denial would imply— or of accepting it without having even 
expressed their opinions. And, as it is logical to suppose, when 
the points reached us in the Sierra Maestra, the document had 
already been published several days previously. 

"In this juncture, the national leaders, before proceeding to 
deny said agreements publicly, placed before you the necessity 
of having the junta discuss a series of points which would cover 
the demands of the Sierra Maestra manifesto, while at the same 
time a meeting was called in rebel territory to weigh the thought 
of all of its members and adopt a unanimous agreement thereon, 
as set forth in this document. 

"Naturally, any agreement for joint action would have to be 
favorably accepted by national and foreign public opinion; 
among other reasons, because the real situation of the political 
and revolutionary forces opposing Batista is not known abroad, 
and also because in Cuba the word 'unity' became very important 
at the time when the correlation of forces was very different from 
what it is today; and finally, because it is always positive to join 
the efforts of the most enthusiastic as well as of the most timid 
persons. . . . 

"But the important thing for the revolution is not unity it- 

194 



self, but rather the bases of such unity, the form in which it is 
carried out and the patriotic intentions which inspire it. 

"To agree upon such unity without even having discussed the 
bases, to undersign it with persons who are not empowered to 
do so, and to give it publicity without any more ado from a com- 
fortable city abroad— thereby placing the Movement in the situa- 
tion of having to confront the deception of public opinion through 
a fraudulent agreement— is a trap of the worst sort, in which an 
organization which is truly revolutionary cannot be caught, since 
it would be deceiving the country and the world. 

"And that is possible only because while the directors of the 
other organizations signing that agreement are abroad, carrying 
out an imaginary revolution, the directors of the 26th of July 
Movement are in Cuba, doing the real thing. 

"These lines, however, would be unnecessary; they would not 
have been written no matter how bitter and humiliating the pro- 
cedure whereby the Movement would be bound to such agree- 
ment, since discrepancies in matter of form should never prevail 
over essentials in view of the positive value of unity, we would 
have accepted it in spite of everything, because of the usefulness 
of certain projects conceived by the junta and because of the help 
which we really need being offered to us— if we were not simply 
in disagreement with certain essential points of the bases. 

"No matter how desperate our situation may be, no matter 
how many thousands of soldiers the dictatorship may mobilize 
against us in its effort to annihilate us, we would never accept 
the sacrifice of certain cardinal points of our way of conceiving 
the Cuban revolution, and even more so because a burden never 
humiliates more than when the circumstances are pressing. 

"These principles are included in the Sierra Maestra mani- 
festo. 

"To leave out, in a document covering joint action, the express 
point of refusing any kind of foreign interference in the interna- 
tional affairs of Cuba is evidence of a lack of patriotic feelings 
and a self-evident act of cowardice. 

"To declare that we are against intervention is asking not only 
that the revolution be allowed as a favor since it would be against 
the interest of our national sovereignty— more, against the princi- 

195 



pie that affects all the peoples of America— but it is also asking 
that no intervention be made in favor of the dictatorship by send- 
ing them the planes, bombs, tanks and modern arms with which 
it is sustained in power. No one has suffered in his own flesh 
as we and, above all, the peasantry of the Sierra. Finally, be- 
cause successfully avoiding intervention is in itself the ousting 
of the tyranny, are we going to be so cowardly as not even to 
demand that no intervention favorable to Batista be made? Or 
so insincere as to ask in an underhand fashion that others solve 
our problems? Or so mediocre as not to dare to speak out clearly 
in this respect? How, then, can we call ourselves revolutionaries 
and sign a document of unity which pretends to be of historic 
value? 

"In the document of unity our declaration of refusing any 
kind of military junta to govern the Republic provisionally has 
been eliminated. 

"The most disastrous thing that could happen to our nation at 
this time is the replacement of Batista by a military junta, be- 
cause it would be accompanied by the illusion that Cuba's prob- 
lem would be solved merely by the absence of the dictator. Some 
civilians of the worst species, including accomplices of the 10th 
of March movement, today estranged from them, possibly be- 
cause of their greater ambitions, are thinking of those solutions 
which could be looked upon favorably only by the enemies of 
the progress of the country. 

"If experience has shown in America that all military juntas 
drift once more toward autocracy; if the worst of the evils which 
have lashed this continent is the spreading of the roots of military 
castes in countries which have fought fewer wars than Switzer- 
land and have more generals than Prussia; if one of the most 
legitimate aspirations of our people in this crucial hour, in which 
its democratic and republican fate will be saved or will be lost 
for many years, is to keep— as the most precious legacy of its 
liberators— the civil tradition which was initiated in the same wars 
of emancipation and would be broken on the very day that a 
military junta should preside over the Republic (something that 
was never attempted by the most glorious generals of our inde- 
pendence in war or in peace), how can we renounce everything 

196 



by eliminating such an important declaration of principles for 
fear of wounding susceptibilities, more imaginary than real, 
among the honest military men who could support us? Can it 
be that the people do not understand that a timely definition 
could prevent the danger of a military junta which would serve 
no other purpose than to perpetuate the civil war? Then, let us 
not hesitate to declare that if a military junta substitutes for 
Batista, the 26th of July Movement will continue its campaign 
of liberation. It is preferable to fight more today than to fall into 
new and unfathomable abysses tomorrow. No military junta, no 
puppet government serving as a toy for the military! Civilians 
must govern decently and honestly! The soldiers to their bar- 
racks and everyone to do his duty! 

"Or is it that we are waiting for the generals of the 10th of 
March, to whom Batista would relinquish power with great pleas- 
ure when he considers it no longer sustainable, as the most prac- 
tical means of guaranteeing his exit with the least harm to his 
interests and those of his gang? How long will the lack of fore- 
sight, the absence of elevated ideas, or the lack of a true will to 
fight continue to blind Cuban politicians? 

"If you have no faith in the people nor in their great reserves 
of energy and will to fight, then you have no right to touch their 
fate or to twist it, or to change its course in the most heroic and 
promising moments of their republican life. Neither the pro- 
cedure of evil politics, nor childish ambitions, nor the desire for 
personal aggrandizement, nor prior plans for dividing the spoils 
can be allowed to contaminate the revolutionary process, be- 
cause in Cuba men are dying for something better. Let the pol- 
iticians become revolutionaries if they want, but let them not try 
to convert the revolution into bastard politics, because the blood- 
shed and the sacrifices of our people are too great at this time to 
permit such disastrous future frustration. 

"Aside from these two fundamental principles which have been 
omitted in the document of unity, we are in total disagreement 
with other aspects of same. 

"Even if we are to accept paragraph (B) of secret point num- 
ber 2, relative to the power of the Liberation Committee, which 
reads as follows: 'To appoint the President of the Republic who 

197 



shall take office as such in the provisional government,' we can- 
not accept paragraph (C) of said point, which includes among 
other powers the following: 'To approve or disapprove as a whole 
the Cabinet appointed by the President of the Republic, as well 
as the changes therein in cases of partial or total crisis.' 

"How can it be conceived that the power of the President to 
appoint and substitute his collaborators be subject to the approval 
or disapproval of a body foreign to the powers of the state? Is it 
not clear that once said committee has been formed by different 
party representatives and therefore of different interests, the ap- 
pointment of the members of the Cabinet could be converted into 
a distribution of positions as sole means of reaching an agreement 
in each case? Is it possible to accept a basis which implies the 
establishment of two executives within the state? The only guar- 
antee which all sectors of the country should demand from the 
provisional government is that its mission be adjusted to a given 
minimum program and absolute impartiality as a moderate power 
in the transitional stage toward the complete constitutional nor- 
mality of the country. 

"To pretend to interfere in the appointment of each member 
implies the ambition to control the public administration as a 
means of putting it at the service of political interests. This is 
explicable only in parties or organizations bereft of public back- 
ing. It can survive only under the provisions of traditional pol- 
itics, and it is opposed to the high revolutionary and political 
goals which the 26th of July Movement pursues for the Republic. 

"The mere presence of secret agreements which do not involve 
questions of organizing for a fight, or plans of action, but rather 
questions of interest to the nation regarding the structure of the 
future government, and which, therefore, should be publicly pro- 
claimed, is in itself unacceptable. Marti said that in the revolu- 
tion the methods are secret, but the objectives must always be 
public. 

"Another point which is equally unacceptable to the 26th of 
July Movement is the secret agreement number 8, which reads 
textually: 'The revolutionary forces will be incorporated into the 
regular armed forces of the Republic, with their arms.' 

"In the first place, what is understood by 'revolutionary forces'? 

198 



Can a police, navy or army badge be given to anyone coming in 
at the last moment with a weapon in his hands? Can uniforms 
be given and authority be granted as agents of the government to 
those who have their weapons hidden while they wait to bring 
them out on the day of victory, and remain with their arms 
crossed while a handful of compatriots fight against all the forces 
of the tyranny? Are we going to allow the very germs of gangster- 
ism and anarchy which were the shame of the Republic not so 
long ago to enter into a revolutionary document? 

"Experience in the territory held by our forces has shown us 
that the maintenance of public order is a vital question to the 
country. There are facts to prove that as soon as the existing 
order is abolished, a series of difficulties will be unloosed and 
that delinquency will prevail if it is not checked in time. The 
timely application of severe measures, with the full backing of the 
public, put an end to the outbreak of banditry. Neighbors, pre- 
viously accustomed to seeing the authorities act as enemies of 
the people, hospitably protected prosecuted citizens or those flee- 
ing from justice. Today, when they see our soldiers acting as 
defenders of their interests, there is complete order, and their 
best protectors are the citizens themselves, 

"Anarchy is the worst enemy of the revolutionary process. It 
is a fundamental requirement that it be combated from now. If 
there are any who do not understand this, it is because they are 
not worried about the destiny of the revolution; and it is logical 
that those who have not suffered sacrifices for it should not be 
interested in it. The country should know that justice will be 
done, but within the strictest order, and that crime will be pun- 
ished wherever it be committed. 

"The 26th of July Movement claims the function of keeping 
the public order, and reorganizing the armed forces of the Re- 
public for the following reasons: 

"1. Because it is the only organization which has organized 
and disciplined militias in the whole country, and has an army in 
active service with twenty victories over the enemy. 

"2. Because our combatants have shown a chivalrous spirit, 
free from all hate of the military, invariably respect the 
lives of prisoners, cure their wounded in combat, never torture 

199 



an adversary even knowing that he possesses important informa- 
tion, and have maintained this attitude in war with unprece- 
dented equanimity. 

"3. Because the armed forces must be inculcated with the 
spirit of justice and chivalry which the 26th of July Movement 
has sown in their own soldiers. 

"4. Because the calmness with which we have acted in this 
struggle is the best guarantee that the honorable military have 
nothing to fear from the revolution nor will they have to pay a 
price for the faults of those who with their crimes and their acts 
have covered the military uniform with opprobrium. 

"There are still some aspects which are difficult to understand 
in the document of unity. How can an agreement be reached 
without first having defined the strategy of battle? Are the 'auten- 
ticos' thinking about a 'putsch' in the capital? Will they continue 
storing arms and more arms, which sooner or later will fall into 
the hands of the police before they can be delivered to those who 
are fighting? Have they finally accepted the project of a general 
strike sustained by the 26th of July Movement? 

"Moreover, to our way of thinking, there has been an unfor- 
tunate underestimation of the importance of the fighting in Ori- 
ente from a military viewpoint. At this time the war in the Sierra 
Maestra is not guerrilla warfare, but a war of fighting by columns. 
Our forces, inferior in number and equipment, take advantage of 
the terrain to the maximum, as well as maintaining a permanent 
watch over the enemy and great speed in our movements. It is 
hardly necessary to mention that a question of morale is of singu- 
lar importance in this struggle. The results have been astounding 
and some day will be known in full detail, 

"The entire population is in rebellion. If we had arms, our 
detachments would not have to patrol any zone. The peasantry 
would not allow a single enemy to pass through. The defeats of 
the tyranny, which insists obstinately on sending numerous forces, 
would be disastrous. Too much cannot be said about how valor 
has been awakened in these people. The dictatorship carries out 
barbarous reprisals. The mass assassinations of the peasantry are 
no less than the killings made by the Nazis in any European coun- 
try. Any defeat the enemy suffers is avenged on the helpless pop- 

200 



ulace. The reports from army headquarters announcing casual- 
ties among the rebels are always preceded by some massacre. This 
has led the people to a state of total rebellion. The most grievous 
thing, which makes one's heart bleed, is to think that no one has 
sent to these people a single rifle, and that while the peasantry 
here see their houses burned and their families assassinated and 
beg desperately for rifles, there are arms hidden in Cuba which 
are not being used and are waiting for the police to pick them up 
or for the tyranny to fall, or for the rebels to be exterminated. . . . 

"The attitude of many compatriots could not be any more ig- 
noble. But there is still time to rectify it and to help those who 
are fighting. From our own personal point of view, this matters 
very little to us. Let no one think that personal interest or pride 
prompts these words. Our fate is sealed and no uncertainty as- 
sails us: we either die here to the last rebel and an entire young 
generation will perish in the cities, or we will try all the most in- 
credible hardships. 

"For us there is no longer any defeat possible. The year of 
sacrifices and heroisms which our men have survived can never 
be obliterated; our victories stand and cannot be easily over- 
looked either. Our men, firmer than ever, will fight to the last 
drop of blood. 

"The defeat will be for those who have denied us their help; 
for those who, having obligated themselves to us at the beginning, 
left us alone; for those who, lacking faith in dignity and idealism, 
wasted their time and their prestige in shameful dealings with the 
despotism of Trujillo; for those who, having arms, hid them in 
cowardice at the time of battle. They are the deceived, not we. 

"There is one thing that we can say in all certainty: if we had 
seen other Cubans fighting for liberty, pursued and almost exter- 
minated; if we had seen them resisting from day to day without 
giving up or diminishing their faith in the struggle, we would not 
have hesitated one minute in joining them and, if it were neces- 
sary, dying with them. Because we are Cubans, and Cubans do 
not stand by passively even when there is fighting for liberation 
in any other country of America. Is it said that Dominicans join 
together on an island to liberate their people? For each Domini- 
can ten Cubans arrive. Do Somoza's bloodhounds invade Costa 

201 



Rica? There rush the Cubans to fight. How, then, is it that when 
the heaviest battle for liberty is being fought in their own country, 
there are Cubans in exile, expelled by the tyranny, who deny their 
help to the Cubans who are fighting? 

"Or is it that in offering help they demand the lion's share of 
the rewards? Must we offer the Republic as the spoils of war to 
gain their aid? Must we forgo our ideals and convert this war 
into a new art of killing fellow men to gain their help, or shed 
blood uselessly without offering to the Fatherland the benefit of so 
much sacrifice? 

"The leadership of the struggle against the tyranny is and will 
continue to be in Cuba, in the hands of the revolutionary com- 
batants. Those who wish now or in the future to be considered 
as revolutionary leaders should be in this country, confronting 
directly the responsibilities, risks and sacrifices that Cuba now 
demands. 

"Exiles should co-operate in the struggle, but it is absurd for 
them to try to tell us from abroad what peak we should take, 
what sugar cane field we should burn, what sabotage we should 
perform, or at what moment and in what circumstance and 
form we should unloose the general strike. In addition to being 
absurd, it is ridiculous. Help us from abroad, by collecting 
money among the exiles and Cuban emigrants, by campaigning 
for the cause of Cuba in the press and in the public opinion. De- 
nounce the crimes that we are suffering here, but do not pretend 
to direct from Miami the revolution that is being waged in all 
of the cities and country places of the island through fighting, 
agitating, sabotaging and striking and thousands of other forms 
of revolutionary action, which have been the war strategy of the 
26th of July Movement. 

"The national heads of the Movement are disposed, and have 
made it clear several times, to talk in Cuba with the directors of 
any oppositionist organization so as to co-ordinate specific plans 
and produce concrete deeds which may be considered useful for 
deposing the tyranny. 

"The general strike will be carried out through the effective 
co-ordination of the efforts of the Civic Resistance Movement, the 
National Labor Front and any other group outside partisan poli- 

202 



tics and in close contact with the 26th of July Movement, which, 
up to the present, is the only opposition organization fighting in 
this country. 

"The 26th of July Movement's Labor Section is organizing 
strike committees in every work and industrial center, in con- 
junction with the oppositionist elements of all action groups 
which are willing to strike and offer moral guarantees that they 
will do so. 

"The organization of those strike committees will be carried 
out by the National Labor Front, which is the only representative 
of the proletariat that the 26th of July Movement recognizes as 
legitimate. 

"The deposing of the dictator means implicitly the suppression 
of the spurious Congress and the removal of the management of 
the Cuban Confederation of Labor and of all mayors, governors 
and other officers who directly or indirectly have supported him 
in order to attain public office in the so called elections of No- 
vember 1, 1954, or in the military coup of March 10, 1952. It 
also implies the immediate freedom of political, civil and military 
prisoners, as well as the indictment of all having complicity in 
crime, abuse and tyranny itself. 

"The new government will be guided by the Constitution of 
1940 and will guarantee all rights recognized therein, and will 
be completely impartial to partisan politics. 

"The Executive Board will assume the legislative powers that 
the Constitution confers upon the Congress of the Republic and 
its prime duty will be to lead the country to general elections 
under the Electoral Code of 1943 and the Constitution of 1940, 
as well as to develop the minimum ten-point program set forth 
in the manifesto of the Sierra Maestra. 

"The present Supreme Court will be dissolved because it has 
shown itself powerless to solve the lawless situation created by 
the coup d'etat, but some of its present members shall be sub- 
sequently eligible for appointment, provided that they have de- 
fended the principles of the Constitution or have maintained a 
firm attitude against the crime, the arbitrary action and the abuse 
of the tyrannical government of these last years. 

"The President of the Republic will decide how the new Su- 

203 



preme Court will be established, which will, in turn, pro- 
ceed to reorganize all the courts and autonomous institutions, 
and will relieve of their functions all persons who it may consider 
to have acted in evident complicity with the tyranny, and may 
also indict them when proper. 

"The appointment of the new officers will be made according 
to the provisions of the law in each case. 

"Political parties will have one and one right only during the 
provisional government, namely: freedom to defend their pro- 
gram before the people, to mobilize and organize the citizens 
within the broad framework of our Constitution and to partici- 
pate in the general elections to be held. 

"In the manifesto of the Sierra Maestra it was pointed out that 
the person to be appointed to preside over the Republic should 
be selected by the joint committees of civic institutions. 

"In view of the fact that five months have passed without this 
requirement having been fulfilled, and that it is more urgent now 
than ever to let the country know the answer to the question as 
to who will succeed the dictator as President, and that it is not 
possible to wait one day more without satisfying the national 
curiosity, the 26th of July Movement now answers it by propos- 
ing to the people— as the only formula which will guarantee the 
legality and the institution of the aforementioned bases of unity 
and of the provisional government itself— the name of the dis- 
tinguished magistrate of the Court of Appeals of Oriente, Dr. 
Manuel Urrutia Lleo. It is not we who propose him, but his own 
conduct, and we hope that he will not refuse to render this 
service to the Republic. 

"The self-evident reasons which pointed out Dr. Urrutia as the 
future provisional President are the following: 

"1. He is the member of the judiciary who exalted the name 
of the Constitution when he declared on the bench of the court 
that tried the Gramma expeditionaries that it was not a crime to 
organize armed forces against the regime, but rather something 
perfectly legal under the spirit and the letter of the Constitution 
and the laws. This is something, coming from a magistrate, 
which is unprecedented in the history of our struggles for free- 
dom. 

204 



"2. His life, dedicated to the strict administration of justice, 
is proof that he has sufficient knowledge and character to serve 
fairly all legitimate interests when the tyranny has been deposed 
by the action of the people. 

"3. No one could be more impartial to party politics than Dr. 
Manuel Urrutia Lleo, because he does not belong to any political 
group, precisely owing to his judiciary functions, and there is no 
other citizen of his prestige who, independent of any military 
activity, has identified himself so much with the revolutionary 
cause. 

"Moreover, by virtue of his being a magistrate, that is the 
formula closest to the Constitution. 

"If our conditions are denied, conditions which are free from 
party interest and coming from an organization second to none 
in sacrifices, which was not even consulted when its name was 
included in a manifesto of unity which it did not underwrite, we 
will continue the fight alone as at present, without any more 
arms than those we can take from the enemy in each combat, 
without any more help than that of the people who suffer, and 
without any other support than that of our own ideals. 

"Finally, it has been the 26th of July Movement that has been, 
and still is, carrying out combat actions in the entire country; it 
is only the 26th of July Movement's men of action who are 
doing the sabotage, meting out justice to the criminals, burning 
cane fields and performing other revolutionary acts; it is only the 
26th of July Movement that has been able to organize the 
workers in the entire nation toward a revolution; it is only the 
26th of July Movement that can undertake today the strategy of 
the strike committees; and the 26th of July Movement is the only 
group that has co-operated in the organization of the Civic Re- 
sistance Movement now holding together the civic groups of 
practically every locality in Cuba. 

"It is possible that some may consider this pronouncement 
arrogant; but the fact is that only the 26th of July Movement has 
declared that it does not desire to participate in the provisional 
government and that it places its entire moral and material sup- 
port at the disposal of the citizen most suitable to preside over 
the necessary provisional government. 

205 



"Let it be understood that we have renounced the taking of 
any office in the government; but let it also be known that the 
26th of July Movement will never fail to guide and direct the 
people from the underground, from the Sierra Maestra or from 
the very graves of our dead. And we will not fail in that duty 
because it is not we, but an entire generation that is morally 
bound before the people of Cuba to provide substantial solutions 
to its grave problems. 

"And we will know how to conquer and to die. The struggle 
will never be harder than when we were only twelve men, when 
we did not have behind us a people organized and with experi- 
ence in war in the Sierra Maestra, when we did not have, as we 
have today, a powerful and disciplined organization all over the 
country, or when we did not have the formidable support of the 
masses, as evidenced in the burial of our unforgettable Frank 
Pais. 

"To die with dignity does not require company." 
For the National Leadership of the 26th of July Movement, 

Fidel Castro 
Sierra Maestra, December 14, 1957. 

Castro thus had delivered to Batista on a silver platter the 
best New Year's gift any person in the dictator's position could 
ever hope for. Batista was so elated over the news that for the 
first time in months the name of Castro was permitted by censors 
to be used in newspaper headlines and to be broadcast over the 
radio as excerpts of the letter were reported. 

Castro's letter contained some good points, but taken in its 
full context it was to prolong the blood bath even as it was to 
ensure his eventual total victory. It also contained some contra- 
dictions when compared with the manifesto of the Sierra Maestra 
five months earlier. It demonstrated an impatience on Castro's 
part over the reluctance of the civic institutions to name a pro- 
visional president as he had requested in the July manifesto. 

The Council of Liberation had decided on its choice for pro- 
visional president and the man selected was Felipe Pazos, but 
the 26th of July Movement insisted on the election of Urrutia. 
The council held out for Pazos and a stalemate had resulted. 

206 



Castro's letter did not go unanswered. He was politely re- 
minded by Dr. Manuel Antonio de Varona and Dr. Enrique 
Cotubanaba Henriquez, Prio's brother-in-law, that he had over- 
looked the fact that the yacht in which his expedition had sailed 
from Mexico was furnished by the former President. 

Castro was right in his forecast in the July manifesto when he 
said that if the civic institutions did not rally around his call and 
choose a provisional president, the struggle would be prolonged 
and cost more blood. The cream of the youth of Cuba continued 
to die in their heroic struggle to recover the freedom which they 
were taught to revere. 

Castro issued an order to burn the sugar cane fields in order 
to hurt the country's rich income which was helping to prolong 
Batista's tenure. One of the first fields to be burned was the 
plantation owned by his family— at his orders. His scorched- 
earth policy was destined to produce only one effect: to an- 
tagonize many Cubans against him and to cripple the economy 
in such a manner that it would take years to recover and would 
present for any provisional government a most serious and dan- 
gerous problem. After several plantations were burned, Castro 
revoked the order. 



207 



CHAPTER 




Cuban exiles in the United States, Mexico, Costa 
Rica and other countries of Latin America worked feverishly to 
buy arms and ammunition for Castro and other rebel groups. 
Every conceivable law of neutrality was violated by them. At 
times as fast as they bought arms in the United States they were 
captured by customs officials, who trailed them from New York 
and other cities to a hoped-for embarkation port in Florida. 

The Cubans knew they were violating the laws of the United 
States, but many hotheads felt that our federal authorities should 
have winked at those infractions because the arms and ammuni- 
tion and the expeditionary forces were destined to liberate their 
country from dictatorship, which the American people abhorred. 
It took them considerable time to understand that our country is 
a nation of laws, but once they did, they accepted their risks, 
and their jail terms when caught, with better grace. 

Despite the vigilance by the Cuban navy and air force and by 
the federal authorities of the United States and Mexico, arms 
shipments had been reaching Cuba since 1953 when Candido 
de la Torre, who was a member of Prio's party, sailed from Vera 
Cruz with eight tons of arms and ammunition for the "Triple A" 
revolutionary organization headed by Aureliano Sanchez Arango. 
That cargo was landed at Cayo Sal (Salt Key) off the north coast 
of Las Villas province. It was delivered to a rebel group directed 

208 



Wistful-eyed Fidel Castro at the age 
of three, photographed in his home at 
Biran, Mayari, Province of Oriente. 





Fidel Castro recovering from headwound received dur- 
ing student riots in Havana in 1948. 




Fidel Castro addressing a student meeting on the campus of the Univer- 
sity of Havana in 1946. 




Fidel Castro after his capture following his unsuccessful attack on the 
Moncada Fortress on July 26, 1953. He is shown being questioned by 
Colonel Alberto del Rio Chaviano, commander of Moncada, in San- 
tiago de Cuba. 




Fidel Castro leaving the Isle of Pines Military Prison May 15, 1955, 
having grown a mustache while there. Behind him, at his imrnediate 
left, is younger brother Raul, smiling. 




Fidel Castro and other freed political prisoners aboard the ferry for the 
trip from the Isle of Pines to the mainland. 




Fidel Castro being carried out of the railroad train that returned him to 
Havana after his imprisonment in the Isle of Pines. He is holding one end of 
a Cuban flag in his right hand. 




Fidel Castro at a meeting in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge 
Hall in Miami in 1955 with money contributed by Cubans resident there for 
his revolution. Picture in background is of Jose Marti, Father of Cuba's 
independence. 




Fidel Castro in Palm Garden, New York City, receiving contributions of 
Cubans in October 1955 for his revolution against Batista. 




Fidel Castro strolling through Central Park in New York City in 1955. 




The Rancho Santa Rosa in Chalco, Mexico, where Castro and his men 
trained for the revolution in Cuba, as it was being raided by the Mexican 
pohce in June, 1956. 




Fidel Castro (marked with x) and other Cuban exiles, after their arrest in 
Mexico raid in June, 1956. This photo was taken by the Federal Security 
Police of Mexico. The lady is Mrs. Hilda Gedea Guevara, Peruvian wife of 
the Argentine hero of the Cuban revolution, Ernesto ("Che") Guevara. 




American Ambassador Arthur Gardner, left, hugging General Francisco 
Tabernilla, Chief of Staff of Batista's army with Rear-Admiral Julio Rod- 
riguez Calderon, Chief of Staff of the Cuban Navy, looking on. 



General Alberto Bayo shown with 
one of his students Major Pedro 
Miret, trained by him in Mexico 
together with Castro. 




Fidel Castro shown in the Sierra Maestra, from left to right, with Armando 
Hart, Celia Sanchez, his faithful secretary and the first of the woman fighters, 
Raul Castro and Javier Pazos. A day after this photo was taken at Castro's 
headquarters Hart and Pazos were captured by the army near Santiago de 
Cuba. 





Fidel Castro's mother lights a candle for him and her son Raul and their 
troops while her daughter looks on. 



Fidel Castro marching on a 
hilltop in the Sierra Maestra. 
He is wearing a 26th of July 
shoulder patch and a 26th of 
July armband. In his hand is 
the telescopic rifle which he 
had all through the civil war. 






1K^ 



A todo e?! que p ueda int eresar 

Poi «^«tt» m»>:liO &e h^ce i-^abt^r que toda pmsork* Cp3t' 
tacuite una intoi ctiacion que oonclv:zc4 ill oxito <ie n: 
>peT*Tlfm contxa cufllquier nucif»o ret»t»ldi» oo^iantlado 
p<n Fidfti CasUo, Raul Crtb-tro, C«e«ciuncjo P6ro?, GuiUer 
rao GonxAlez o cuAlquiex otto cab^ciJU ftwri <jr«ftiic»do 




i,-^ <, 



bien 



niw «tni«rdo eon U tinpoItfin^'T'rdftlA frforma 
enkiulido que mmoa s«ri nifrior do $5,OO0 
K«U gi»htlCHCiAn CMKilAra d« $5,000 hast* SlOO.OOO 
conespondiendo ©strt ultirpo cantidAtJ o so* $100,000 
por la Cdbo?A dr- Fidf 1 Cusho 

Not*: El iiomrirc di»l inform<uito no aeid nvmca lovv 
lado 



Reward offered for the capture of Fidel Castro and Raul Castro together with 
Crescendo Perez and Guillermo Gonzalez, their chief guides. The sum offered 
for all but Fidel is $5,000 and his head, the poster says, is worth $100,000. 




Above: Fidel Castro in conference with Raul Chibas, left, and Felipe Pazos in 
the Sierra Maestra. Crouching behind them is Dr. Julio Martinez Paez, who 
was chief surgeon at Castro's headquarters. 



Below: A moment of relaxation for Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra, 
reading Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte. His comment on the book: "It is 
too eflFectivist." 









Above: Women of Santiago de Cuba demonstrating for the benefit of Ameri- 
can Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith. The poster reads: "Stop the Assassina- 
tions OF Our Sons. Cuban Mothers." 



Below: Pohce dispersing defiant women with hose in demonstration in 
Santiago de Cuba. 





Above: Women of Santiago de Cuba embrace and cheer American Ambassa- 
dor Earl E. T. Smith during his visit to that city. At the extreme left is John 
Topping, Political Officer of the embassy. With his back to the camera is 
Oscar H. Guerra, then Consul General in Santiago. 



Below: Fidel Castro meets his son Fidelito for the first time since 1954 on the 
highway at El Cotorro, on the outskirts of Havana on January 9, 1959, as he 
neared the capital on his victory march. Standing beside him with a campaign 
hat and beard is Major Camilo Cienfuegos, now Chief of the Rebel Army. 





Above: Fidel Castro addressing the nation from a speaker's stand at Camp 
Columbia (now Liberty City) on the night of his triumphal entry into Havana. 
Note the dove on his shoulder. Major Camilo Cienfuegos looks intently 
at him. 



Below: The author interviewing Batista, March 6, 1957. 





\ V 



\ % 




Victory smiles of Fidel Castro and Miguel Angel Quevedo, when the rebel 
chief visited the office of the Editor and Publisher of Bohemia. 



Castro with Provisional Presi- 
dent Manuel Urrutia. 





Above: Fidel Castro, conqueror of Cuba, riding in his victory parade into 
Havana. 

Below: Rebel sabotage of a Guantanamo railroad train. 





A freight train burned by rebels in Oriente province. 




A sugar cane freight train derailed by rebels in Oriente province. 



by Menelao Mora Morales at Caibarien, a port of Las Villas, 
transported to Havana in coke sacks and stored in the home of 
Francisco Cairol, where some of the weapons later were found 
by Batista's police. 

De la Torre returned to Mexico and deposited another cargo 
of 200 rifles, some machine guns and 100,000 rounds of ammu- 
nition at the port of La Colonna in the province of Pinar del Rio. 
He sailed back to Mexico again and in 1954 landed an expedition 
of fourteen men in Pinar del Rio with a cargo of arms and am- 
munition. Among the men were rebels from the 26th of July 
Movement and the "Triple A" organization. 

Three more successful expeditions followed from Mexico in 
1955. The first made a rendezvous with a yacht from Costa Rica 
at Boca Iglesias in the Yucatan Channel. Aureliano Sanchez 
Arango was on the yacht from Mexico and Eufemio Fernandez 
had come from Costa Rica. They were taken to Cuba by De la 
Torre and landed with their cargo. At the end of that year De la 
Torre carried men of the 26th of July Movement, headed by 
Lester Rodriguez, from Mexico to Pinar del Rio with another 
shipment of arms. 

Rodriguez returned with De la Torre to Mexico and sailed 
anew with him, this time to Oriente province. Aboard the yacht 
was Frank Pais. They landed their cargo of arms and ammuni- 
tion and stored them safely. Part of this shipment of arms was 
used by the attackers on the Goicuria fort at Matanzas, the up- 
rising in Santiago and the attack on the palace. 

De la Torre prepared another expedition for August 1957. 
He was living at Marisol Alba's house in Miami Beach with 
Colonel Bayo and the latter's aviator son, Alberto, Jr. Prio 
bought the ninety-eight-foot yacht Blue Chip, and De la Torre 
sailed from Florida with both Bayos aboard. To escape detec- 
tion, the husky colonel hid inside a refrigerator until they were 
well at sea. 

Bayo was wanted by the federal authorities in Mexico for his 
part in training and dispatching Castro's expedition. He spent 
twenty-three days on the key at Boca de Iglesias awaiting an 
opportunity to slip back into Mexico without being caught. 
Finally, entry was made at Tuxpan, the same place from which 

209 



Castro had sailed. De la Torre's Blue Chip expedition was 
caught by the Mexican authorities, most probably, according to 
De la Torre himself and Bayo, because of the reports furnished 
to Batista by Marisol Alba, the Mata Hari of the Cuban revo- 
lution. 

Castro's rebels were hitting the army hard at night and with- 
drawing before dawn to the safety of cover in the jungles and 
hills of the Sierra Maestra, The rebels were short of arms and 
ammunition, and Castro would accept no volunteers unless they 
brought along their own weapons. Some enthusiasts broke into 
homes in cities and towns to demand that the owners hand over 
weapons to them so they could go into the hills to join Castro. 
One group even took the weapons in the Mexican embassy while 
the ambassador was at a reception, 

Ramon Castro kept funneling supplies to Fidel. He also per- 
formed another worth-while service for his brother. It was not 
easy to obtain needed fuel for jeeps and trucks captured or com- 
mandeered by the rebels. The vehicles were duly inventoried, 
and lOU's were left with the owners to ensure payment at a 
later date. Ramon Castro had studied engineering at the Uni- 
versity of Havana while Fidel was a student there, and now he 
devised a formula to supply his brother with fuel. He manufac- 
tured it by using one and a half gallons of 95-proof alcohol, 
made from sugar cane, with three-quarters of a gallon of gasoline, 
half a gallon of kerosene and one camphor ball. A second for- 
mula was twenty gallons of 95-proof alcohol with one bottle of 
castor oil. He sent instructions for drivers to reduce the air 
in the carburetor pipe, tightening it with a ring, or to close the 
choke tightly. 

"With the carburetor procedure," Ramon's instructions read, 
"the vehicle runs much better. With the choke procedure it 
works but misses at times." 

Fidel lost Ramon's valuable services for several months. The 
rebels had decided to avenge a series of killings by Colonel Fer- 
min Cowley in Holguin. Cowley had been marked for death ever 
since the Christmas Eve holocaust of 1956. He was shot and 
killed by rebel militia as he was about to leave a store in Holguin 
after purchasing some parts for his airplane. Things became hot 

210 



for Ramon and he decided to travel to the United States and 
Spain. He was going to visit his late father's relatives in Spain. 

"I had to get a good conduct certificate from the police," Ra- 
mon related, "in order to get a visa at the American embassy. 
Colonel Lavastida, Batista's police chief, told me he would give 
me the good conduct certificate if I paid him one hundred dollars. 
I paid the bribe and got the certificate. When I presented it at 
the American embassy I told the consular officer that the cer- 
tificate cost me a one-hundred-dollar bribe. He replied that I 
would not have needed it because I was well known to the 
embassy." 

Ramon Castro made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of 
Lourdes, where he prayed for his brother's victory. He vowed 
that after Fidel's triumph he would make a pilgrimage on foot 
from his home to Cuba's best-loved shrine, the Shrine of Our 
Lady of Charity of Cobre, a round trip of 125 miles. 

Upon his return to Cuba, Ramon resumed his duties as quar- 
termaster general of the now increasing rebel army, while Fidel 
devised plans for a nation-wide revolutionary general strike to 
precede an offensive that would, he hoped, topple Batista. 

While all this was going on, the State Department through 
Ambassador Smith in Havana pressured Batista to restore civil 
rights as a prelude to the holding of general elections June 1. 
The failure of the Cienfuegos naval revolt and the apparent con- 
tinued impotence of Castro to win a decision must have con- 
tributed to this policy, which was in total defiance of the wishes 
and plans of the majority of the Cuban people. 

Ambassador Smith received a visit from a prominent Havana 
businessman, Jose Ferrer, owner of the Concretera Nacional. 
A member of the exclusive Brook Club in New York, Ferrer 
called on Smith to pay his respects when he noted the ambas- 
sador's name on the membership list. 

"I had had two lunches with Smith here in Havana," Ferrer 
reports. "At the second one, some time after the Cienfuegos re- 
volt, he told me that Batista had promised to give full guarantees 
to the people, restore freedom of the press and hold honest elec- 
tions. I offered to introduce him to leaders of the Civic Resist- 
ance Movement to get the other side of the picture. 

211 



" 'I don't need any more intelligence,' " Ferrer reports Smith 
as replying. 'I have 250 or 280 men in the embassy who are 
constantly informing me.' " 

Ferrer left the luncheon in a furious state of mind. He was 
closely associated with the Civic Resistance Movement and was 
one of its top men in Havana. His wife, Millie, his brother-in- 
law Ignacio Mendoza, a mortgage banker, and Mendoza's wife 
Beba were very active in the movement. Leaders of the 26th of 
July Movement and the Civic Resistance Movement used Ignacio 
Mendoza's house on the ocean front in the Miramar residential 
district for their secret meetings. 

"I never heard from Ambassador Smith again and never talked 
to him again until several months later, at the request of a mem- 
ber of his staff." This later conversation is another story. 

Smith succeeded in persuading Batista to restore freedom of 
the press and issue a call for presidential elections for June 1, 
but bloodshed increased throughout the island. Civil rights were 
restored on January 27, 1958, in all provinces except embattled 
Oriente. The rebels made the most of that opportunity and 
Castro let his words be heard directly from the Sierra Maestra for 
the first time. 

On the night of February 24, 1958, the sixty-third anniversary 
of the War Cry of Independence made at the city of Baire in 
Oriente, the people of Cuba were electrified when over their 
shortwave radio on the forty-meter band they heard a voice say: 

"Aqui Radio Rebelde! Transmitiendo desde la Sierra Maestra 
en Territorio Libre de Cuba!" [Here, Rebel Radio! Transmit- 
ting from the Sierra Maestra in Free Territory of Cuba!] 

With only brief interludes for reasons of security when the 
transmitter had to be moved or remain off the air, the people of 
Cuba tuned in nightly to Radio Rebelde. Under the censorship 
their only news source had been Radio Bemba, a Cuban idio- 
matic expression for the grapevine telegraph. Bemba is a col- 
loquialism for "big lips" or "big mouth." Soon Radio Rebelde 
had the highest rating of any of Cuba's stations, and Batista was 
jamming its broadcasts, especially in Havana. 

The 26th of July Movement had established sixty-two branches 
of the organization throughout the Americas, including Puerto 

212 



Rico. The members of those branches, including exiles and 
resident Cubans, worked actively in the field of propaganda and 
fund raising. One of those active in Miami was Father Juan 
Ramon O'Farriil, who had been forced into exile after being 
beaten by Batista's police in 1956. They ruptured his eardrum. 
He was accused of having stored arms for rebels in his church. 

One of the greatest psychological blows struck by the rebels 
was their kidnaping of Juan Manuel Fangio, the world champion- 
ship Argentine racing driver. Fangio was politely snatched from 
the lobby of the Lincoln Hotel in downtown Havana the day 
before he was scheduled to drive in the II Gran Premio that had 
been organized by Batista's brother-in-law, General Roberto 
Fernandez Miranda, to commemorate the anniversary of the 
War Cry of Baire. Appeals were made by radio and television 
to the 26th of July Movement to return Fangio safely. The race 
went on without Fangio and ended in tragedy on the Malecon 
when cars skidded into the crowd of spectators and killed several. 
Fangio was delivered to the Argentine ambassador that night, 
unharmed, with a letter of regret signed by Faustino Perez, chief 
of the 26th of July underground in Havana. 

Another of their feats was the fire in the clearinghouse of 
Havana when half a million dollars in checks were burned. 

The Civic Resistance Movement had increased its strength in 
Havana and elsewhere under the organization of Dr. Angel 
Maria Santos Buch and Dr. Luis Buch of Santiago. Luis Buch 
co-ordinated activities in Havana with Manuel Ray, engineer in 
charge of the construction of the Havana-Hilton Hotel. 

The Civic Resistance Movement was organized into cells of 
three sections. There were a propaganda section, a fund-raising 
section and a supply section. Each cell was comprised of ten 
persons and each person in a cell was urged to enlist another ten 
persons to organize another cell. The components of this move- 
ment were largely from the middle and upper classes, including 
businessmen, manufacturers, college professors, teachers, white- 
collar workers and housewives. 

Maria Teresa Taquechel was sent to Havana from Santiago 
and operated under the code name of "Millie Taurel." With 
Millie Ferrer, the wife of Jose Ferrer, she would transport Manuel 

213 



Ray from meeting place to meeting place and from hiding place 
to hiding place. The office of Ferrer's secretary, Mercedes San- 
chez, known as "Cuca," was the message center where those who 
had to see Ray would arrive and sit in the waiting room with their 
countersign, a piece of paper protruding from between two fingers. 
Cuca would acknowledge the password and give the visitor the 
address where Ray could be located at that particular moment, 

Castro's guerrillas came down from the Sierra Maestra regu- 
larly now to set fire to trains, disrupt communications between 
Santiago and Manzanillo, between Santiago and Holguin; and 
only the extreme eastern end was still free from harassment. 

In Havana petitions for writs of habeas corpus were filed before 
the criminal courts to obtain the release of political prisoners. 
Other lawyers filed briefs requesting the courts to order that miss- 
ing persons, like Lieutenant Jose San Roman Toledo, be pro- 
duced or criminal investigation be initiated and charges filed 
against those believed responsible for their deaths should they 
have been killed. 

Senora Esther Milanes Datin, a fifty-year-old schoolteacher and 
Roman Catholic, was arrested. As soon as she entered the police 
station the captain of the precinct struck her on the ear. Ordered 
to reveal where some rebel arms were hidden, she professed igno- 
rance. She was then subjected to one of the most horrible tor- 
tures ever inflicted on any woman who could survive to tell 
the tale. 

Her story became known quite by accident when the Colom- 
bian ambassador found her at the police station where he had 
gone to obtain the release of a citizen of his country. She was 
released in the care of a physician shortly afterward and confined 
to a private hospital for treatment. The physician who treated 
her. Dr. J. A. Presno Albaran, was so horrified and so disgusted 
with the abuses committed on his patient that he wrote a letter 
of denunciation which was published in the newspapers. This 
was followed by a letter from Senora Milanes in which she re- 
quested the United Nations, the Organization of the American 
States and the Inter American Press Association to take cog- 
nizance of the atrocity. Following that she had to go into exile 
in the United States. 

214 



Back in the Sierra Maestra Fidel Castro signed a law which 
he had ordered his Judge Advocate General, Dr. Humberto Sori 
Marin, to write. It was patterned after the law which the patriots 
enacted during the War for Independence. The law authorized 
summary courts-martial and penahies including execution before 
a firing squad for such crimes as murder, arson, theft and looting 
committed by any person, especially members of the armed forces 
or persons at the service of the Batista regime. The law was 
signed on February 11, 1958. 

With terror and counterterror increasing, with the rebels ma- 
rauding in Oriente and other provinces, another expedition 
landed on the coast of Las Villas province. It was led by Faure 
Chomon, Secretary General of the Directorio Revolucionario, 
who had been in exile in Miami since the attack on the palace, 
in which he had taken part. With a band of men, Chomon now 
made his way, with arms and ammunition, into the Sierra de la 
Trinidad east of Cienfuegos. 

One group was already there, that which had formed the nu- 
cleus of the Second National Front of Escambray. William 
Alexander Morgan had joined the band and begun to train those 
men and also fresh recruits. Morgan was to rise from private to 
major in that army. Chomon and his men operated in a difi[erent 
sector and completely independent of the Escambray force. The 
26th of July had a force of 72 men in the same mountains under 
Captain Victor Bordon. Hence, there were three unco-ordinated 
small forces operating in those mountains of Las Villas province. 

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church met in Havana 
the last days of February to review the holocaust that was sweep- 
ing over the country. The debates were long and grave as re- 
ports were made to Manuel Cardinal Arteaga, Archbishop of 
Havana, by Monsignor Enrique Perez Serantes, Archbishop of 
Santiago de Cuba; Monsignor Evelio Diaz Cia, Bishop of Pinar 
del Rio; Monsignor Carlos Riu Angle, Bishop of Camaguey; 
Monsignor Eduardo Martinez Dalmau, Bishop of Cienfuegos; 
Monsignor Alberto Martin Villaverde, Bishop of Matanzas; and 
Monsignor Alfredo Muller San Martin, Auxiliary Bishop of 
Havana. 

Bishop Martin Villaverde was all for stomping to the pres^- 

215 



dential palace to ask Batista to resign forthwith to stop further 
bloodshed. The zealous separation of powers of the church and 
the state prevented any such personal action, but the bishops 
agreed to issue a carefully worded statement which practically 
amounted to such a request. The statement was issued on 
February 28. 

"The Cuban Episcopate," it read, "contemplates with pro- 
found sorrow the lamentable state to which we have arrived 
throughout the republic, and in particular in the Oriente region. 
Hatreds increase, charity diminishes, tears and sorrow penetrate 
into our homes, the blood of brothers is spilled in our fields and 
in our cities. 

"Burdened with grave responsibilities, before God and men 
because of our condition as spiritual chiefs of our people, we 
feel obligated to try through all the means within our reach to 
see that charity reigns anew and that the sad state of our Father- 
land ends. 

"Guided by these motives, we exhort all who today carry on 
war in antagonistic camps to cease the use of violence, and, look- 
ing only and exclusively for the common good, to find as soon 
as possible efficacious solutions that can bring back to our Father- 
land the material and moral peace that is so lacking. To that 
end, we do not doubt that those who truly love Cuba will know 
how to accredit themselves before God and before history, not 
refusing any sacrifice in order to achieve the establishment of a 
government of national unity which might prepare the return of 
our Fatherland to a peaceful and normal political life. 

"The government as well as the other Cubans called upon to 
decide this important matter can count on our most ardent 
prayers and, in the measure in which it may fall outside of the 
ground of partisan politics, with our moral support." 

At eight thirty that night I filed a story on the above declara- 
tion. This was an interlude when there was no censorship, but 
at eleven o'clock that night I learned that the Ministry of Com- 
munications had a duplicate of my text and there was panic at 
the palace. I had reported that the Episcopate of the Roman 
Catholic Church had virtually asked Batista to resign. 

Pressure from the palace was applied on every newspaper in 

216 



Havana not to publish the Episcopate statement. The pressure 
was so intense that Cristobal Diaz, vice president of the news- 
papers El Pais and Excelsior and president of the Cuban Press 
Bloc, was called at the Hotel Astor in New York from the palace 
to ask him to telephone Havana editors and request they with- 
hold the story. Diaz made the calls. 

I toured the newspaper offices shortly after one o'clock in the 
morning and made Diario la Marina my first call. Carlos Cas- 
taneda, a television commentator and writer for Bohemia, had 
informed me that one of the newspapers had reported it was 
going to wait and see what Diario la Marina, considered the 
semiofficial organ of the Roman Catholic Church, was going to 
do with the story before its editors would attempt to stick their 
necks out over and above the government pressure. 

When I arrived at Diario la Marina, a delegation from the 
Catholic Youth Labor Movement was waiting to see the news 
editor. I asked the news editor if it were true that the palace 
was applying pressure to withhold the publication of the story. 

"No," he replied. "What the palace has asked is that we defer 
its publication until a clarification can be made by the Episco- 
pate." 

"Do you think," I asked, "that the Episcopate will meet at 
one twenty in the morning to furnish a clarification because 
Batista has asked for it?" 

He allowed that such a thing was inconceivable. I assured him 
that should a decision be made to publish the story, the news- 
paper could rely on the backing of the Inter American Press 
Association against any attempted reprisal by Batista. 

Just then the impatient men of the Catholic Youth Labor 
Movement broke out of the anteroom into the editorial office. 

"We expect Diario la Marina to do its duty and publish the 
declaration of the Episcopate!" they shouted. 

"This newspaper has performed its duty for one hundred and 
twenty-six years," the news editor replied, "and it will continue 
to do so." 

The intruders departed, talking to one another and to me as 
I "left with them, threatening to picket the newspaper with 500 
men if it did not print the story. 

217 



The situation was the same at almost every newspaper. Manuel 
Brana was ready to resign as editor of Excelsior if he were not 
allowed to print the story. The pressure produced some results 
on behalf of Batista. A story which would have ordinarily merited 
an eight-column banner line on page one was given a two-column 
headline in some newspapers and a one-column headline in 
others and played either below the fold or on an inside page. 
Some papers went to press with the story not included in their 
provincial editions. 

Diario la Marina commented with a page-one editorial on 
March 2 in which- it gave its interpretation of the statement, 
pointing out that what the church meant was that the Cabinet 
should be reorganized and not that the President should quit. 
The palace worked quickly to subvert the move by the bishops 
and created a conciliation commission to confer with Batista and 
with Castro, if possible, to put an end to the civil war. But Castro 
was calling the signals up in the hills at that time because he 
felt himself getting stronger and was flexing his rebel muscles. 

The Episcopate statement caught him in the midst of a high 
policy and planning meeting with members of the national di- 
rectorate of the 26th of July Movement. He missed the services 
of Armando Hart, who with Javier Pazos had been captured 
when they left the Sierra and reached the outskirts of Santiago 
some time earlier. Both were in the Boniato prison in Santiago. 
Preliminary talks were held in Havana by the conciliation com- 
mission, but on March 9 Castro made it known that he would 
not have any part of such a compromise. He wrote a letter as 
follows: 



Free Territory of Cuba 

Sierra Maestra, March 9, 1958 

10:45 A.M. 



Mr. News Editor of CMKC 
Santiago de Cuba. 



"Distinguished newspaperman: 

"By means of that worthy and patriotic broadcasting station 
we wish to declare to the people of Cuba: 

"1. That the Cuban Episcopate should define what it under- 
stands by 'Government of National Unity.' 

218 



"2. That the ecclesiastical hierarchy should clarify to the 
country whether it considers it possible that any dignified and 
self-respecting Cuban is disposed to sit down in a Council of 
Ministers presided over by Fulgencio Batista. 

"3. That this lack of definition on the part of the Episcopate 
is enabling the Dictatorship to accomplish a move toward a col- 
laborationist and counterrevolutionary negotiation. 

"4. That consequently the 26th of July Movement flatly re- 
jects every contact with the Conciliation Commission. 

"5. That the 26th of July Movement is interested only in ex- 
pounding its thought to the people of Cuba and therefore reit- 
erates its desire to do so before a commission of representatives 
of the National Press. 

"6. That a week having passed since our public challenge to 
the dictatorship— to which, once again trampling the rights of the 
Cuban Press, it has failed to reply— we set Tuesday, the eleventh, 
as the last day for the tyrant to say, without any further delay or 
play, whether he will or will not permit the transit of newspaper- 
men to territory dominated by our troops. 

"7. That upon the termination of this limit the 26th of July 
Movement will make a definitive pronouncement to the country, 
launching the final slogans of struggle. 

"8. That from this instant the entire people should be alert 
and put on the alert all their forces. 

"9. That after six years of shameful, repugnant and criminal 
oppression, with intimate rejoicing of fighters who have fulfilled 
their duty without resting a minute in such a long task, we can 
announce to the country that because of the victories of our 
arms and the heroic sacrifice of our unbending and invincible 
people who have left on the road hundreds of their best sons, the 
chains are about to be broken; already visible on the horizon is 
the anxiouslv awaited dawn which in these hours nothing and no 
one can prevent. 

"10. I beg you very fraternally to furnish this statement to all 
the newspapers." 

Fidel Castro 

The radio station broadcast Castro's letter on March 1 1, and 
that night Prime Minister Emilio Nunez Portuondo repeatedly 

219 



assured reporters that civil rights would not be suspended and 
that press censorship would not be reimposed. 

The restoration of civil rights had given the rebels more liberty 
to renew their sabotage operations throughout the country. They 
took full advantage of it and set fire to busses, trucks, railroad 
trains, government depots and warehouses, and did everything 
possible to harass the government. It was unsafe to ride the 
busses in Havana because one did not know when rebel terrorists 
would board and set fire to them. There was fear that bombs 
would be dropped in some stores in the busy shopping street of 
Galiano and people remained at home. They also stayed out of 
motion picture theaters for the same reason. Only the night 
clubs adjacent to casinos in the large hotels were operating 
safely and almost to capacity. Some judges in Havana could no 
longer tolerate the state of terror and force that existed in the 
country. They sent the following letter to the Chamber of Ad- 
ministration of the Court of Appeals of Havana: 

"The undersigned, officers of the judiciary, have the honor to 
state respectfully as follows: 

"The administration of justice in Cuba has never been so 
mocked, ridiculed and abused as it has been recently. Upon re- 
viewing our hazardous past history, we cannot find any record 
of two sons of a judge having been killed by a soldier, or the 
homes of two magistrates having been subjected to machine-gun 
fire, or the home of another judge having been bombed, or of a 
magistrate acting as an electoral inspector having been arrested 
by a member of the armed forces, and his having been kept in- 
communicado and deprived of food. Nor can we find any 
record of judicial procedure having been prevented by national 
police patrol cars, or the traditional institution of habeas corpus 
mocked and ignored after the criminal division of the Supreme 
Court ordered prisoners to be freed, prisoners who were later 
on found shot to death, or after the Court of Appeals of this dis- 
trict had ordered that they be presented before the court under 
the appeals procedure. 

"On the other hand, it is notorious that vices like gambling 
and prostitution are exploited by those called upon to prosecute 
them and that the list of deaths and murders among prisoners 

220 



grows daily, even including young people and women, without 
the authors of such crimes being discovered, owing to the lack 
of police co-operation. 

"There hardly remains any Court of Appeals where, for lack 
of proper vigilance, a fire has not broken out or a bomb has not 
exploded. A few steps from the Supreme Court building a man 
has been found shot to death, and the police have neither been 
able to prevent it nor to trace the assassins. 

"A judge, appointed as special prosecutor to investigate the 
facts, is publicly subjected to threats and insults with complete 
impunity. 

"Finally, in the municipalities of Santiago de Cuba, Guanta- 
namo, Palma Soriano, Bayamo, El Cobre, Manzanillo and Ni- 
quero, it is a notorious fact that cases of violent death (by gun- 
shot, torture and hanging) are daily events, while the judges are 
prevented by officers of the armed forces from doing their duty 
and are deprived of the indispensable means to do it. 

"This state of affairs makes the judiciary of the Republic ap- 
pear as a weak and oppressed body in the eyes of the nation. 

"The Chamber of Administration of the Supreme Court, in a 
resolution dated June 25, 1926, warned all judges that 'every 
officer represents totally, within the limits of his respective in- 
cumbency, the authority of the judiciary, with all of its attributes 
and also with all of its responsibilities, and that each of them, by 
virtue of his office, is charged with the defense of the prestige 
of the courts.' 

"In similar circumstances, but not so grave as at present, the 
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said that 'from the point of 
view of national stability, it is indispensable to make an effort to 
keep inviolate the administration of justice and to maintain the 
strength and autonomy of the bodies which serve it, as a con- 
sequence of which it is unlawful to suppress any effort which 
may be conducive to the maintenance of the constitutional con- 
dition of the courts and that when all the efforts to attain that 
end have been exhausted, it is neither dignified nor edifying for 
the judiciary to remain silent.' 

"In view whereof, and without trying to make any suggestions 
that could be interpreted as insubordination, but in the firm 
belief that the above mentioned resolution imposes upon us the 

221 



obligation to comply with it insofar as we are concerned, we 
hereby beg this Chamber of Administration to pass such resolu- 
tions as it may deem proper. 
"Havana, March 6, 1958. 

(Signed) "Alfredo E. Herrera Estrada and Fernando Alvarez 
Tabio, Presidents of Divisions of the Court of Appeals of Ha- 
vana; Jorge A. Cowley, Fernandez Saavedra, Pedro Lucas Lo- 
zano Urquiola, Manuel Gomez Calvo, Juan Bautista More Beni- 
tez, Miguel F. Marquez de la Cerra, Eloy G. Merino Brito, 
Enrique Hart Ramirez, Jose Montoro Cespedes, Magistrates of 
the Court of Appeals of Havana; Felipe L. Luaces Sebrango, 
Juan F. Rodriguez Soriano, Judges of Havana." 

At the same time, Dr. Jose Francisco Alabau Trelles had 
been appointed as magistrate and special judge to investigate 
four cases of homicide within the jurisdiction of San Jose de las 
Lajas, a city on the road between Havana and Matanzas, and 
two cases of murder and other crimes in Havana. Accused in 
the Havana cases were Lieutenant Colonel Esteban Ventura, 
who had earned the distinction of being the Himmler of Havana 
as chief of the Division of Subversive Activities of the police 
department, and Lieutenant Julio Laurent, head of Naval In- 
telligence. 

Dr. Alabau announced the indictment of Ventura and Lau- 
rent for murder and ordered them imprisoned in the La Cabana 
fortress without bail on March 11. On March 12, with- 
out consulting his prime minister, Batista suspended civil rights, 
reimposed press and radio censorship and removed the indict- 
ments of Ventura and Laurent from the civilian courts, turning 
them over to the military tribunals where they were quashed. 

Throughout the intervening periods there were several con- 
spiracies within the armed forces which, because of Batista's 
rigorous counterespionage system, were always nipped in the 
bud. The latest one involved some officers from Oriente and 
Camaguey and some noncommissioned officers from Camp Co- 
lumbia. 

Judge Alabau had to go into hiding and then into exile 
because his life was in danger for having indicted Ventura and 
Laurent. As soon as Batista announced the suspension of civil 

222 



rights on the afternoon of March 12, Ventura appeared at the 
courthouse with two police sergeants in search of Alabau, with 
his pistol drawn. In a loud voice for everyone to hear, and 
spewing forth epithets, he threatened to kill the judge if he set 
eyes on him. 

That afternoon Fidel Castro completed the final draft of an- 
other manifesto from the Sierra, this time calling on the people 
to rise in "total war" against Batista. Perez started back from 
Castro's headquarters the next morning and en route passed the 
first Cuban newspapermen to climb the mountain to see Castro. 
They were Augustin Ailes, writer, and Eduardo (Guayo) Her- 
nandez, cameraman. They were on assignment for Bohemia. 

Other leaders of the 26th of July Movement and the Civic 
Resistance Movement were active in Havana, trying to apply 
pressure in all quarters to force Batista to resign. Saboteurs had 
placed dynamite under power lines and gas mains, ready to blow 
them when the signal was given to start a general strike. The 
rebels were prepared to cause much damage in the city but 
sought to avoid it if possible. 

On the night of March 14 Ambassador Smith telephoned Dr. 
Raul de Velasco, president of the Medical Association and 
president of the Joint Body of Civic Institutions, and asked him 
to call at his residence the next day, a Saturday morning. 

"Ambassador Smith said he wanted to have a conversation 
with me," Dr. Velasco relates, "because he understood from 
his contacts that the Batista government was disposed to furnish 
all kinds of guarantees for the elections June 1 to be carried out 
with full liberty and he was certain that that was Batista's think- 
ing. He said that as the civic institutions were a nonpolitical 
organization, if we insisted Batista do that he was sure Batista 
would accept and even agree to invite international organiza- 
tions to monitor the elections. 

"I told Ambassador Smith that I thought he was wrong and 
asked him if he did not realize that Batista suspended civil rights 
because Ventura and Laurent were indicted; that he wanted to 
remove the indictments from the civil courts and quash them in 
the military courts; that Ventura had gone to the court himself 
and threatened to kill the judge; that moreover we did not un- 
derstand how elections could possibly be held June 1 when we 

223 



were already in the month of March and there was no time to 
prepare a democratic electoral process; that anyone who opposes 
Batista is beaten, tortured and killed and has no rights. 

"Smith replied that the elections would not be held June 1 but 
would be postponed to the month of October or November. 

" 'Mr. Ambassador,' I said, 'the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is 
quoted in the newspaper today as rejecting a petition to postpone 
the elections.' 

" 'I'll bet you ten dollars you are wrong,' Ambassador Smith 
replied and took a ten-dollar bill from his pocket. 

"I told him I would not bet him because my father had taught 
me that, if I take a bet when I know I am going to win, it is un- 
fair, and when I make a bet on my own volition it is stupidity. 
Smith then said he would bet me thirty dollars that the elections 
would be postponed. I suggested he read the newspaper. He 
sent for a copy, read the story and saw I was right. Then he went 
into another room to telephone Assistant Secretary of State for 
Inter American Affairs, Roy R. Rubottom. 

"After his phone call to Washington he returned to the room. 

" 'I guarantee that the elections will be postponed until Oc- 
tober or November,' Smith said, 'and that Batista will ask for 
international organizations to supervise them.' 

" 'Mr. Ambassador,' I said, 'the civic institutions are disposed 
to accept any solution that is good and that has the support of 
the revolutionary sectors. The elections will be no problem if this 
administration delivers the governing power to a completely 
neutral government.' 

" 'What will the strong man of the Sierra Maestra think of 
that?' Smith asked me and flexed his muscle. I told him I was 
sure the revolutionaries would accept a government without 
Batista, a neutral, nonpolitical government. 

" 'We have got to prevent chaos,' Smith said. 'I have to defend 
the life and interests of United States business and the United 
States subjects here.' 

" 'The life and interests of the Cuban subjects are also at 
stake,' I told him. 'Nobody's life is worth while in Cuba today. 
There is no way in which you can convince the Cuban people 
that any offer by Batista will be carried out.' 

" 'I would consult with Washington and within twenty-four 

224 



hours the United States government could get a guarantee,' 
Smith said. 

"I told Smith that the only solution was for Batista to leave, 
that there was no solution with Batista in office. 

"Smith then changed the course of the conversation and I 
gathered that this was the main reason why he had sum- 
moned me. 

" 'I have heard by Radio Bemba,' Smith said, 'that the civic 
institutions have asked Batista to resign. That would be serious 
because it would be a final break.' 

" 'Mr. Ambassador,' I said, 'the institutions have not yet taken 
a decision and we are still discussing it.' 

"Smith asked me to hold it up at least for forty-eight hours, 
but I told him I would have to report to the members of the 
institutions." 

Dr. Raul de Velasco left the embassy and summoned a meet- 
ing of the heads of the civic institutions in Havana and the 
representatives of the local committees from the entire country, 
who were in Havana for the occasion. He gave them a detailed 
report of his conversation with Smith. They decided to complete 
the drafting of the document in which they would ask Batista 
to resign and obtained all the signatures required. The original 
was signed by each person above the name of the organization 
over which he or she presided. 

The following Monday morning Dr. Raul Fernandez Ze- 
ballos, head of the Cuban Council of Evangelical Churches, per- 
sonally delivered a copy of the document to John Topping, 
political officer at the American embassy, for delivery to Am- 
bassador Smith. The copy which the civic institutions circulated 
did not contain the names of the signatories but only their associ- 
ations. Dr. Fernandez was directed by the signatories to make 
the delivery of the document to the embassy. The statement read: 

"To THE People of Cuba: 

"Once again the Joint Body of Cuban Institutions, comprising 
religious, fraternal, professional, civic and cultural associations, 
express their opinion publicly on the possibilities of solving 
peacefully the grave crisis affecting the nation, this time by de- 
manding from the government the decision which the moment 

225 



calls for if, in a final and desperate effort, the imminent crumbling 
of the fundamental institutions of the state is to be avoided, 

"This committee has always raised its voice responsibly as a 
belligerent for peace, and in an anguished appeal stated that a 
solution of the grave national crisis should be found; and fearful 
of the risk that an outburst of violence would sink the country 
in anarchy, announced that the Cuban institutions would do 
their duty under said emergency. 

"The moment has arrived: The government, deaf to all ap- 
peals and depending upon force, provoked through its attitude 
the uprising of young Cuban men and women, who exchanged 
their textbooks for the weapons of insurrection in a youth move- 
ment which by dint of heroisms and sacrifices now dictates its 
policy to the country and adds to their undertakings the support 
of all the social classes by sheer force of admiration. 

"Through six long years of agony, the forces of repression of 
the regime have been mobilized against them, acting systemati- 
cally with unsurpassed cruelty. 

"Mainly upon defenseless women and helpless young people 
the action of the armed forces is concentrated continuously and 
mercilessly, in a way that has no parallels in the history of civil 
wars. 

"The regime has not wished to know what motivates the Cuban 
youth, and after violating the juridical order of the state through 
an act of force while invoking the principles of public order, now 
announces— together with a new suspension of constitutional pro- 
tection—a new conscription of 7,000 soldiers to crush all protests 
in a war of extermination. 

"It all will be useless: the number of victims will increase, but 
the rebel movement will be intensified, because together with 
the young people, the entire nation is stirring, in plain view and 
in an underground movement. 

"The people, in consternation at the continuous shedding of 
the blood of their best citizens, fail to understand this fratricidal 
war, or why the military units supporting the regime fight so 
earnestly to defend the government repudiated by the people. 

"The spectacle which the martyrdom of Cuba presents to the 
world does not move the sentiments of those who seized the 
power, which they intend to keep against the will of all, 

226 



"The anguished appeal of mothers is not listened to, nor the 
voices of institutions independent of all partisan interests; and 
the grief-laden words of the venerable Episcopate are answered 
with twisted double talk to impose in a rough tone an obstinate 
will of rule. 

"Until now, the Joint Committee of Cuban Institutions has 
proposed formulas of compromise and civilized understanding. 
Conscious that the nation is faced with the danger of perishing, 
it now calmly demands that the present regime shall cease to 
hold power, because it has been incapable of fulfilling the normal 
functions of government and the highest ends of the state. 

"In requesting the termination of the regime and the abdi- 
cation of those in the executive power and the dissolution of 
Congress, it has based its determined demands fundamentally on 
the instinct of social preservation, with the intention of contribut- 
ing to the re-establishment of peace by removing the only cause 
which makes civilized understanding impossible. 

"This request involves the forming— through elections to be 
held with full democratic guarantees— of a provisional govern- 
ment, comprising citizens of outstanding prestige, which will 
function in national unity and be appointed with the assent of 
all the vital forces of the nation, and enable the restoration of 
peace to the country by adopting such measures and principles 
as may be conducive, in a brief period of time, to the decision of 
the historic destiny of Cuba. 

"In order to meet those objectives, the provisional govern- 
ment shall follow a course directed by a minimum program con- 
taining the following fundamental guiding principles: 

"A. Said government shall respect private property and binds 
itself to fulfill all bilateral or multilateral agreements emanating 
from agreements under the United Nations, as well as all under- 
takings and obligations assumed by the Republic, leaving to the 
Congress, which shall be duly elected, the power to determine if 
such obligations comply with the Constitution and the laws, 

"B. It shall annul all sentences pronounced by the Court of 
Urgency of the Republic of Cuba and by the courts-martial held 
subsequent to March 10, 1952, based on political crimes com- 
mitted with a view to deposing the regime set up on said date. 

"C. The provisional government, insofar as its peculiar nature 

227 



may permit, will be subject to the Constitution of 1940, which 
will prevail fundamentally insofar as individual rights are con- 
cerned. 

"D. The legislative arm will be represented by the govern- 
ment, which shall limit itself to the promulgation of the laws 
strictly necessary for its normal action in order to implement a 
return to constitutional regime through elections by the people. 

"E. Among the laws that it may pass, preference shall be 
given to those which tend to the commencing and developing of 
the electoral process, which will culminate in the designation of 
the constitutional representatives. 

"The Committee of Cuban Institutions believes that this is the 
only solution which offers Cuba a triumphal escape from chaos at 
this dramatic juncture. And, conscious of its lack of strength to 
depose the regime by means of violence, hereby appeals to the 
entire nation to join in united resistance against the oppression, 
by exercising the rights granted by the Constitution to free men. 

"Havana, March 15, 1958 
"For the Committee of Cuban Institutions: 

"National Confederation of Universities Professionals, Na- 
tional Bar Association, Havana Bar Association, National As- 
sociation of Architects, National Association of Surveyors and 
Land Appraisers of Cuba, Association of Public Accountants of 
Cuba, National Dentists Association, Havana Association of 
Dentists, National Association of Doctors of Science, Philosophy 
and Letters, National Association of Doctors of Social Science 
and Public Law, National Association of Pharmacists, Federa- 
tion of Associations of Engineers of Cuba, National Association 
of Civil Engineers of Cuba, National Association of Electrical 
Engineers, Provincial Association of Civil Engineers of Havana, 
Association of Electrical Engineers of Havana, National Medical 
Association, Havana Municipal Medical Association, National 
Association of Chemists, Agronomists and Sugar Chemists, Na- 
tional Association of Social Workers, Association of Veterina- 
rians of the Province of Havana, Association of Journalists of the 
Province of Havana, National Association of Private Schools 
Teachers, National Association of English Professors and 
Teachers, Association of English Professors and Teachers of 
Havana, National Association of Industrial Mechanics, Associa- 

228 



tion of Industrial Mechanics of the Municipality of Havana, 
Federation of Young Men of Cuban Catholic Action, Catholic 
Group of University Students, Cuban Council of Evangelical 
Churches, Lions Club District C, Council of Governors of Lions 
Clubs, Lyceum Lawn Tennis Club, Cultural Society 'Nuestro 
Tiempo,' National Group of Juvenile Organizations of Cuba, 
Supreme Council 33 Degree Masons, National Federation of Cu- 
ban Private Schools, 'Sol de Cuba' Lodge, 'Pureza' Lodge, 
National Association of Chemical Engineers, Sugar and Indus- 
trial Chemists of Cuba, Association of Mechanical Engineers of 
Cuba, National Association of Veterinarians, and all local com- 
mittees pertaining to the Committee of Cuban Institutions in all 
cities and municipalities of the Republic." 

Smith ridiculed the above as an anonymous and unofficial 
statement because it contained no personal signatures. 

The police and military intelligence immediately began a 
search for Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, president of the Havana Bar 
Association, who was considered one of the masterminds of the 
drafting of that document. The other signatories had to be care- 
ful of their movements or go into hiding. Miro was forced to dis- 
guise himself as a priest and take refuge in the Church of the 
Holy Spirit. There he almost aroused suspicion because he was 
dressed in a priest's garb but had failed to shave off his mustache. 

From his sanctuary he addressed a report to the Board of 
Directors of the Havana Bar Association which read: 

"To THE Board of Directors of the Havana Bar 

Association: 

"1. Yesterday I delivered to the assistant president. Dr. Silvio 
S. Sanabria, a copy of the document entitled 'To the Cuban 
People,' issued by the Joint Committee of Cuban Institutions, of 
which this bar association forms part by virtue of repeated resolu- 
tions of its Board of Directors. Said board, in turn, granted me a 
vote of confidence to state publicly, whenever I should see fit, 
the opinion of the body regarding the institutional crisis existing 
in the Republic. 

"2. Before explaining the reasons leading up to my decision, 
I wish to report my deep gratitude to the members of the board, 
which I have always tried to serve successfully. All through the 

229 



six years of office, in two consecutive terms, which is the highest 
honor I could aspire to as a lawyer, all important resolutions of 
the body have been passed unanimously. When I first took office 
following my illustrious professor, Alberto Blanco, I stated at a 
plenary meeting of the Supreme Court of Justice that I aspired 
to 'be able to echo always the unanimous opinions of the 
board.' It has been so in all the problems that the board has had 
to confront in these six years in which Cuba has lived in perma- 
nent crisis regarding legal standards. In this lapse of time the 
Havana Bar Association has done its duty thoroughly in every 
way, whether regarding the defense of the judicial arm of govern- 
ment, or of strictly class interests, or regarding assistance to its 
members, or in an academical sense. And insofar as concerns 
the defense of liberty, democracy, the Constitution and the law, 
as well as the way of judging and resolving the complex problems 
before the nation, the opinion of the board, sometimes severe in 
judging facts and attitudes, has always been a juridical expression 
whenever involving peaceful solutions. I consider myself a faith- 
ful interpreter of the thoughts of the board. 

"3. The copy of the document that I have delivered to the 
assistant president for the attention of the honorable board re- 
flects totally the opinion given by the board at the meeting held 
on the fourth of March last, with regard to the statement made 
by the venerable Episcopate of Cuba and to the request pre- 
sented by Dr. Enrique Llanso, honorary president of the National 
Bar Association, at the meeting held by the executive committee 
on Saturday the eighth instant, with the vote of the representa- 
tives of the local associations: that the obstacle to peace is the 
continuance of the 10th of March, 1952, regime in power, and 
its cessation should be urgently demanded by the men of the 
legal profession. 

"4. In an appeal to the executive power and its supporting 
bodies, the above mentioned document proposes cessation of the 
present regime and the formation of a transitory provisional gov- 
ernment 'comprising citizens of outstanding prestige who, in the 
function of national unity, to be appointed with the assent of all 
the vital forces of the country,' to which the revolutionary forces, 
political parties and factions should give their support, as well as 
the support and respect of the armed forces of the Republic. 

230 



"5. No solution appears to be efficacious at this time other 
than what has been proposed by the Joint Body of Cuban Insti- 
tutions in order to stop the tragic harvest of blood existing in the 
country and to prevent the collapse of the fundamental institu- 
tions of the state. The proposed solution is, in our judgment, the 
only one capable of channeling the rising tide of rebellion of our 
youth and the only logical one, namely, that a provisional govern- 
ment of national unity can lead the country in the shortest pos- 
sible time to the political reality of generating a legitimate 
constitutionality by means of a duly guaranteed electoral process. 

"6. The present regime, which in its essence is illegal, cannot 
invoke constitutional provisions in its favor. To assume com- 
mand without the consent of the juridical status in force; to annul 
the constitutional document that impedes the continuation of its 
existence; to suspend the functions of the Congress elected by 
the people; to issue certain statutes; to grant legislative power to 
itself; to call for general elections, suspend them and finally hold 
them in the absence of any opposition; to alter the results of 
those elections in order to create an artificial minority; to 'rivet' 
those results so as to prevent legal appeal against them and to 
decree an amnesty for electoral crimes; to issue a transitory pro- 
vision fourteen years after the institution of the Fundamental 
Code of the Republic, which the people had approved in a 
sovereign act and formally restored subsequently by decree, are 
acts typical of a de facto government that intends to cover its 
substantial illegality by means of legal appearances. 

"Subsequent to the electoral event alluded to above, which 
was ineffective by being unilateral, the government rejected every 
opportunity to validate its damaged origin by refusing to reach 
an agreement with the political and revolutionary forces of the 
country. From that moment on, deaf to all appeals, it has de- 
pended on force to impose the principle of authority, forgetting 
that the source of all just government is to be found in the consent 
of the people. 

"7. Having explained the reasons underlying the proposal of 
the Joint Committee of Cuban Institutions, all of which are in 
agreement with those set forth at the meeting of March 4, over 
which I had the honor to preside, and with the proposal of the 
executive committee of the National Bar Association, I have now 

231 



to explain only those which justify the moment in which the 
statements of the above mentioned committee have been made. 

"The gravity of the present situation cannot have escaped the 
illustrious consideration of my colleagues. The new suspension 
of the constitutional guarantees of individuals, which implies 
that the government no longer faces a simple problem of public 
order; the censorship of the press; the crisis of the judicial arm 
of the government, whose resolutions are being ignored by in- 
tolerable attitudes of rebellion and by the disdain of agents of 
public authority; the paralysis of all teaching in the schools; the 
state of siege existing in the province of Oriente, the hateful per- 
secution of all citizens, the stalking of death in our cities and 
country places, not to mention the offenses against the common 
right of men and women. These are the circumstances in which 
the former prime minister of the government and a candidate for 
the highest position in the land, who aspires to appear as the 
representative of national concord, has spoken words that offend 
the juridical conscience of the country and which must be evalu- 
ated in all their dramatic dimensions and which I copy as follows: 

" '. . . One does not have to be a Greek sage to understand that 
half-hearted measures are impossible, because at the high point 
which the insurrectional temperature has reached in our midst 
only a strong and extremely energetic government can keep or- 
der, no matter what rights have to be violated or how sacred 
these may be.' 

"8. After hearing these words, which are the terrifying ad- 
vance notice of violence and indiscriminate retaliation, we feel 
that there could be no other opportunity in which to make this 
inevitable pronouncement against the evil and to avail ourselves 
of the rights which the Constitution of the Republic grants to 
free men, whereby resistance to oppression enjoys the category 
of legal right. 

"9. It can be assumed that retaliation will be even stronger 
against the professional associations, and especially the Bar As- 
sociation, which from day to day has suffered restrictions on its 
disciplinary faculties in the matter of dismissals, which has been 
interfered with in the administration of its social security funds, 
and which has been systematically disturbed in the exercise of its 
legal functions by virtue of court orders being ignored and the 

232 



incarceration of men of law. It is the destiny of our profession 
to fight dictatorships without any other weapons than those of 
reason, but 'dangerous dignity is always preferable to a use- 
less life,' as the Apostle of our liberties stated. 

"We cannot encourage the spirit of fighting nor give support 
to bloody fury; but it has become necessary to defend stanchly 
the fundamental institutions of the state. In the Tenth Inter- 
American Conference of Lawyers, held in the free country of 
Argentina in the month of November last, a resolution was 
unanimously passed by the jurists of this continent, whereby 'all 
bar associations are charged with the duty to fight against all 
dictatorships in order to insure a regime of law.' 

"Having explained the reasons which determined the statement 
encompassing the thoughts of the Board of Directors, I reiterate 
the testimony of my highest consideration." 

Jose Miro Cardona, President 

In the home of Ignacio Mendoza I had interviewed the top 
leaders of the Havana underground; they were busy building up 
their partisans for a big blow to force Batista to resign under 
pressure. The action by the civic institutions and other groups 
was part of the plan, but it failed to produce results. 

The rebel co-ordination was faulty from a psychological point 
of view. Almost simultaneous with the issuance of the statement 
by the civic institutions and before that statement could be pub- 
licized abroad and circulated in Cuba through underground 
channels and Radio Bemba, Faustino Perez returned to Havana 
with the manifesto which he and Castro had signed in the Sierra 
Maestra. The trip from the mountain hide-out to another hide- 
out in the capital took him only three days. 

Through the underground contacts I was summoned to an 
interview with Perez. With him came Luis Buch, Manuel Ray, 
David Salvador, Dr. Fernandez Zeballos, the head of the Cuban 
Evangelical Churches— all of whom had been at Ignacio Men- 
doza's house when I went there-and Carlos Lechuga, a news- 
paper columnist and television commentator who was hiding out. 

The meeting was held in the home of Jose Villares, repre- 
sentative of E. R. Squibb and Son. Perez handed me a copy of 
the manifesto. 

233 



CHAPTER />^ 



The burning of the sugar cane fields had long 
ceased when the manifesto was issued, but the sabotage of 
transport and communications was increased. Trains were de- 
railed and burned and passengers had to complete their journeys 
on foot. Freight cars carrying sugar cane were derailed and 
burned. 

The manifesto was almost the equivalent of a field order to all 
rebels throughout Cuba, and it contained an unmistakable threat 
to the members of the armed forces. Castro was announcing the 
plan for the start of what he described as his "total war" against 
Batista. The manifesto read: 

Free Territory of Cuba 
Sierra Maestra, March 12, 1958 
"Manifesto from the 26th of July Movement to 
THE People: 

"On refusing to authorize the Cuban press to visit the field 
of operations and to find out something about the 26th of July 
Movement's attitude, Dictator Batista not only has shown moral 
cowardice and military impotence, but also has spoken the last 
word regarding the outcome of this struggle. 

"In the midst of all the harm being done, he could do an in- 
valuable service to the country at this moment, namely, save the 
bloodshed that will fully come by putting an end to this con- 
test through his resignation, since he must know that he is ir- 
remediably lost. 

234 



"If it is unjustifiable to govern the country by brute force and 
sacrifice human lives on the altar of the selfish will to remain in 
power, as he has been doing for the last six years, it is a thousand 
times more unjustifiable to sacrifice those lives when the unbreak- 
able will of the nation, as expressed by all its social, political, cul- 
tural and religious groups, against which it is impossible to gov- 
ern, has decreed the immediate and inexorable end of this re- 
gime. 

"Those of us who know intimately what human values the 
country is sacrificing in its fight for liberty; who know the lives 
it costs to take each position and carry out every action; who 
always remember Frank Pais and Jose Antonio Echevarria as 
symbols of hundreds of other equally courageous young men 
who have died on the altar of duty; and we who know how much 
the country will need them when the moment, which is at hand, 
actually arrives to do creative work, feel and suffer— courageously 
and with uncontainable indignation— the monstrosity and futility 
of the crime that is being committed against Cuba. 

"If the right to know the truth is denied to the people, how can 
one expect the slightest respect for physical security, personal 
liberty and the right of meeting, organizing and electing its own 
rulers? 

"The fact is that the tyranny could not grant anything without 
being in danger of disintegrating; the tyranny has no other alter- 
native than to disappear. 

"If the rebels have been beaten, if the troops of the regime 
control the hills and the valleys, if our forces do not join combat 
and are impossible to locate, if what exist are only small groups 
engaged in banditry, and if against us there stands a strong, in- 
vincible, disciplined and combative army, as the Army Chief of 
Staff in his cynical reports claims, why were the newspapermen 
not allowed to come to the Sierra Maestra? If they once ostenta- 
tiously sent newspapermen in a plane to see that there was no- 
body here, why are reporters now not allowed to come even close 
to the southern zone of Oriente? Why do they not repair that 
insult, among many others, that they have conferred upon the 
Cuban press? 

"The explanation to all of this lies in the shameful defeats that 
the dictatorship has suffered, in the military offensive that we 

235 



have quickly destroyed, in the unprecedented acts of barbarity 
that their hounds have committed against the defenseless civil 
population, in the true and positive fact that their troops have 
been expelled from the Sierra Maestra and that the 26th of July 
army is now in full offensive attacks on the north of the province; 
in that the demoralization and cowardice have reached such ex- 
tremes in their ranks that women and children are used as a 
shield to prevent the action of our detachments; and in that the 
soldiers and officers are coming over to our side in increasing 
numbers, abandoning the ranks of the crooked and criminal re- 
gime that they have been defending. 

"The dictatorship did not wish the newspapermen to learn on 
the spot, in a direct and irrefutable manner, that more than 300 
peasants were assassinated during the six months of suspended 
guarantees and censorship of the press, that in Oro de Guisa 
alone 53 peasants were immolated in a single day, that the hus- 
band and 9 children of an unfortunate woman were killed. 

"It did not want them to see hundreds of humble homes, built 
through sacrifice, reduced to ashes in brutal retaliation, nor the 
children mutilated by bombing, nor the machine-gunning of de- 
fenseless huts. They did not want the false headquarters reports 
of each combat to be exposed, because they were trying to de- 
ceive not only the people but also the army itself. We would have 
taken the newspapermen to the scenes of the defeats and the 
crimes of the tyranny; we would have shown them the prisoners 
we have taken and the soldiers who have come over to our side. 
If all the truth of Sierra Maestra were to reach the Cuban papers, 
the regime would fall by the fearful discredit it would suffer in the 
eyes of members of the armed forces. 

"No other reason could exist for refusing to grant permission. 
In our territory newspapermen can move around freely and report 
freely what they see; there is no censorship here, all of which 
means that freedom to give information does not jeopardize 
military security and that restrictions to the freedom of the press 
are not justified even in the midst of war. 

"We were sure that permission would be refused, because we 
knew the reasons for it, but we wanted to unmask the dictator- 
ship, as well as its moral ruin and military weakness, in order to 
show the people of Cuba that they must have faith in our victory, 

236 



the same faith that our men have acquired while fighting under 
the most adverse circumstances, the same invincible faith that the 
followers of just causes have always had, because the important 
thing, as Marti said, is not the number of weapons one has, but 
the number of stars on one's forehead. Now we can fight with 
the strength of right, as well as the strength of number, with the 
strength of justice as well as the force of arms. The promise we 
made one day to the nation will soon be a glorious reality. 

"The dictatorship has just suspended guarantees again and re- 
established the hateful censorship. That shows its terrible weak- 
ness. It was enough to announce that the chains were about to be 
broken and the lightninglike speed with which Column 6 was 
advancing toward the heart of the province of Oriente, to make 
them take the necessary measures in the midst of an atmosphere 
of a general strike. The resignations of the ministers are signs 
that the ship is sinking and that the people are rising. 

"Meeting at the camp of Column 1, general headquarters of 
the rebel forces, the national directors of the 26th of July Move- 
ment unanimously adopted the following: 

" '1. To consider that, in view of the visible disintegration of 
the dictatorship, the ripening of the national conscience and of 
the belligerent participation of all social, political, cultural and 
religious groups of the country, the struggle against Batista has 
entered its final stage. 

" '2. That the strategy of the final stroke should be based on 
the general revolutionary strike, to be seconded by military ac- 
tion. 

" '3. That our revolutionary actions should be progressively 
intensified from this moment until they culminate in the strike 
which will be duly ordered. 

" '4. Citizens should be alerted and warned against any false 
order. Therefore, contacts and communications should be de- 
fined and insured. 

" '5. The general strike and the armed struggle will continue 
resolutely if a military junta should try to take over the govern- 
ment. The position of the 26th of July Movement is unshakable 
on this point. 

" '6. To ratify the appointment of Dr. Urrutia as provisional 
president and to invite him to select freely and in the shortest 

237 



possible time his team of colleagues, and to determine the steps 
to be taken by the government when the tyranny falls, all in ac- 
cordance with the minimum program set forth in the manifesto 
of the Sierra Maestra and in the letter to the Committee of 
Liberation. 

" '7. The organization and direction of the strike among the 
workers will be in the hands of the National Labor Front which, 
in turn, will assume the representation of the proletariat before 
the Revolutionary Provisional Government. 

" '8. The organization and direction of the strike in profes- 
sional, commercial and industrial circles will be undertaken by 
the Civic Resistance Movement. 

" '9. The organization and direction of the strike among stu- 
dents will be carried out by the National Students Front. 

" '10. Military action will be undertaken by the rebel forces, 
the 26th of July Movement's militia and all revolutionary or- 
ganizations which back the Movement. 

"'11. The underground papers, Revolucion, Vanguardia 
Obrera, Sierra Maestra, El Cubano Libre and Resistencia, will 
keep the people informed and will be received through the chan- 
nels of the underground movement, so as to prevent false issues. 

" '12. To exhort all journalists, radio announcers, workers of 
the graphic arts and all newspaper, radio and television com- 
panies to organize rapidly as was done in Venezuela, in unani- 
mous response to the new censorship, which is the climax of all 
the arbitrary actions of the regime, and so become the leaders of 
the people in the final fight for freedom. 

'"13. To exhort the students throughout the country to sup- 
port more firmly than ever the indefinite strike, once it is started, 
so that the valiant student youth, who have fought so heroically 
for freedom, will be the vanguard of the general revolutionary 
strike. No student should return to class until the dictatorship 
falls. 

"'14. As from April 1, for military reasons, all highway or 
railway traffic throughout the province of Oriente is prohibited. 
Any vehicle passing through that zone by day or by night may 
be fired upon. 

" '15. As from April 1, the payment of any kind of taxes to 
the state, provincial and municipal governments in the entire 

238 



national territory is prohibited. All payments made subsequent 
to said date to the tax offices of the dictatorship will be declared 
null and void and will have to be paid again to the new pro- 
visional government, aside from the fact that noncompliance with 
this measure will be considered as an unpatriotic and antirevo- 
lutionary act. 

" '16. Any person remaining in offices of trust in the executive 
branch of the government, or in the presidency of government 
dependencies, subsequent to April 5, will be considered guilty 
of treason. 

" '17. In view of the state of war existing between the people 
of Cuba and the Batista tyranny, any army, navy or police officer 
or member of the ranks thereof who shall continue to render 
service against the oppressed people subsequent to April 5 will 
lose his right to continue serving in the armed forces. There will 
be no valid pretext for using arms against the people in the pres- 
ent circumstances. The duty of every enlisted man is to leave 
the force, rebel against it and join the revolutionary forces. Any 
such member of the forces will be received in our ranks with his 
weapon, his rights will be respected and he will be promoted to 
the immediate rank above, and will be exempt from the obliga- 
tion to fight against his former colleagues. 

"'18. The 26th of July Movement will refuse only the col- 
laboration of those military men who have been directly respon- 
sible for inhuman acts or for stealing. The mere fact of having 
fought against us will not prevent any military man from serv- 
ing his country at this decisive hour. 

" '19. In view of the news that 7,000 men will be enlisted in 
the army to fight against the revolution, the 26th of July Move- 
ment hereby declares that any citizen enlisting in the armed 
forces subsequent to the date hereof will be subject to court- 
martial and be judged as a criminal. 

" '20. Likewise, any members of the judiciary, magistrates 
and district attorneys who, subsequent to April 5, wish to protect 
their right to continue holding office, must resign from their posi- 
tions, in view of the fact that the absolute lack of guarantees and 
of respect for legal procedure makes the judicial arm of the 
government a useless body. 

" '21 . To inform the country that Column 6 of the rebel forces, 

239 



under the command of Major Raul Castro Ruz, has left the 
Sierra Maestra and has invaded the northern part of Oriente; 
that Column 8, under the command of Major Juan Almeida, has 
invaded the east of said province; that rebel patrols are moving 
in all directions through the province and that armed patrol ac- 
tions will be intensified throughout the national territory. 

" '22. As from this instant, the country should consider itself 
ih total war against the tyranny. The weapons in the hands of 
the army, the navy and the police belong to the people and should 
be at the service of the people. Nobody has the right to use 
them against the people and whoever does so should not expect 
the least consideration. In order to give the leaders of the revo- 
lutionary movement time to act, the campaign of extermination 
against all those who serve the tyranny under arms will not begin 
before April 5. From that date the war will be relentlessly waged 
against the military in order to recover those weapons which be- 
long to the nation and not to the dictator. The people will have 
to annihilate the military wherever they are found as the worst 
enemies of freedom and happiness.' 

"The whole nation is determined to be free or to perish." 

Fidel Castro Ruz 
Commander in Chief of the Rebel Forces 
Dr. Faustino Perez 
Delegate from Headquarters 

Again Castro had violated one of the basic principles of war- 
fare: the element of surprise. He was broadcasting to Batista, 
and to the entire world, his intended Sunday punch. Perez asked 
me what comment I had to make on the manifesto in my hand, 
and I observed that it was their war but I could not understand 
why Castro insisted on furnishing his enemy with intelligence on 
a silver platter. 

"Those dates don't mean anything," Perez replied. "It could 
happen any time." 

Batista had reinforced censorship of outgoing dispatches and 
there was a tight censorship on telephone calls— at least for me. 
It was impossible for me to file a story by the regular communi- 
cations channels because the censors would not clear my copy. 
Therefore, I had to resort to the telephone. To transmit a single 

240 



story it was sometimes necessary for me to make anywhere from 
five to nine calls, including call-backs from the New York or 
Washington bureau of the Chicago Tribune. The censors would 
not let the operators place any of my calls to Chicago. Harold 
Hutchings, Vincent Butler, Joseph Zullo and Eleanor Coleman 
in our New York bureau and Williard Edwards, Robert Young, 
Joseph Hearst, Laurence Burd, Philip Warden and Lee Forrester 
in our Washington bureau were no more exasperated than I when 
they tried to take my copy over the telephone. Not only did the 
censor's presence on the line weaken the signal, but he would 
persistently cut us off. 

One Sunday night Batista had issued a statement at Camp 
Columbia. I placed a call and began to dictate: "President Ful- 
gencio Batista . . ." That was as far as I got. The censor cut 
me off. I was unable to place another call that night or the 
next day. I complained to a Cuban friend who approached 
General Francisco Tabernilla. Tabernilla countermanded the 
order of total silence and I was allowed to call again, but under 
the same difficult conditions. 

With the aid of bell captains, bellboys and the travel agent at 
my hotel, I found tourists who were returning to the United 
States and asked them to carry my copy and file it at the Western 
Union office at International Airport. One day the Civic Re- 
sistance Movement had a courier going to Miami, and Millie 
Ferrer drove by to pick up my copy and send it on its way. 

Batista prepared for Castro's blow. He had the congress vote 
him powers which enabled him to act as total dictator of Cuba 
under what he considered a phase of legality. 

The same judges who had filed a brief earlier in the month 
with the Chamber of Administration of the Court of Appeals 
of Havana filed a short brief, referring to that paper, which 
terminated with these paragraphs: 

"From that day the Chamber of Administration of the Supreme 
Court has been deliberating on what it should do about these 
grave matters, and has also received a similar brief from judges 
of the Court of Appeals of Oriente, which is under consideration 
together with the above mentioned one. 

"At this juncture, Resolution-Law Number I of the govern- 

241 



ment, dictated under the Emergency Law, has been issued by 
which the provisions of the Organic Law of the judiciary are 
amended and which provides that officers filing petitions of this 
kind should be subject to dismissal by means of summary pro- 
ceedings, and that such dismissal from the judiciary would in- 
clude loss of pension. 

"This monstrous juridical provision, which has no precedents 
in the annals of justice in the American continent, can be applied 
retroactively." 

Batista began to purge the courts under his new powers and 
"unreliable" judges were summarily dismissed. 

Batista also took other measures to prevent the general strike. 
He issued a decree-law which authorized the firing of any worker 
who absented himself and loss of all benefits, privileges and 
severance pay. Similar measures were taken in every field and 
the Civic Resistance Movement started a panic by saying that 
Batista would confiscate bank deposits. The result was a three- 
day run on banks with millions of dollars withdrawn. 

Workers were called on by Castro to contribute one day's pay 
to the revolution fund. The response was overwhelming. 

Batista mobilized his counterpropaganda to halt the intensive 
campaign from the Sierra Maestra and in Havana itself. A 
Batista transmitter began to operate on the same frequency as 
Castro's Radio Rebelde, imitating the latter and spreading con- 
fusion. Phony propaganda leaflets were printed and distributed 
in the capital. 

While the revolutionary general strike tension was increasing 
and Batista's propaganda counteroffensive was under way, the 
heads of the United States Military Mission gave a luncheon in 
honor of General Francisco Tabernilla at Camp Columbia. He 
had been promoted to general in chief of the army by Batista 
under a new law which was primarily designed to permit the 
dictator to assume that post upon the termination of his presiden- 
tial term in February 1959. Batista saw to it that the Havana 
newspapers published photographs of the luncheon to exploit the 
fact that he enjoyed the support of the State Department and 
the Pentagon. 

This was fourteen days after the State Department, on March 
14, established an embargo on all arms shipments to Batista. A 

242 



consignment of 1,950 Garand rifles, ready for embarkation, was 
held on the docks at New York. The State Department had 
responded to the pressure of public opinion in the United States 
and to the fact that Batista's new suspension of civil rights was 
a retreat from the promise that he had given two months earlier 
to Ambassador Smith that there would be guarantees for the 
June 1 elections. 

Several high school students of Santiago de Cuba and Pinar del 
Rio had been killed on the streets of their cities by police, shot 
down in cold blood. This so aroused parents and students 
throughout the country that a spontaneous school strike erupted. 
The strike spread all over the country and Batista was faced with 
a mounting crisis. 

The strike aided the rebel cause, but in Havana some of the 
private schools remained open and a small number of students 
went to class, but these schools closed too during Easter Week. 

The Civic Resistance Movement and the 26th of July Move- 
ment co-ordinated their propaganda for the strike, alerting the 
people. The following instructions were issued: 

"1. A general strike may start at any time from now on. Ev- 
eryone must be prepared. 

"2. Keep enough supplies on hand for several days, such as 
first aid material, candles, kerosene, oil, etc. 

"3. As soon as you get the order to strike, sabotage your work 
center and leave the place with your fellow workers. 

"4. Do not go back to work until the tyrant is deposed. 

"5. Do not stay at any place where you can be located by the 
forces of repression. 

"6. Listen to the guidance given over the 26th of July Move- 
ment's radio stations, on long wave around 1,000 kc. and short 
wave on the 40-meter band. 

"7. Do not use any bus driven by police or strikebreakers. It 
is extremely dangerous. 

"8. Proprietors of business places which remain open will be 
considered as collaborators of the dictatorship. Help to close 
these business places. 

"9. Employers who accuse employees or act as informers, or 
in any way interfere with the strike, shall be considered and 
tried as collaborators. 

243 



"10. If any revolutionary militant asks you for refuge, give 
it to him. It is the least that you can do for those who are fighting 
for our freedom. 

"11. Block the public streets with junk, garbage cans, bottles, 
etc. 

"12. Assemble Molotov cocktails to bomb official vehicles. 
Molotov cocktails are prepared as follows: Fill a large bottle 
with three parts kerosene to one part used motor oil (obtained at 
filling stations). Seal the bottle and wrap cotton waste tightly 
around it. Sprinkle gasoline on the waste cotton and light it just 
before throwing the bottle. 

"13. Throw oil and tacks on the streets. 

"14. If you are worthy of the uniform of the armed forces 
you wear, honor it as follows: Desert your post, do not fire upon 
laborers or participate in the looting of stores. Take the oppor- 
tunity that is offered to you to vindicate yourself in the eyes of 
your brothers. 

"CUBANS: Freedom depends on you. Let us show America 
and the world that Cubans know how to depose tyrannies by 
general strike. 

"Liberty or Death" 

26th of July Movement 

The rebel underground in Havana assured me that the general 
strike would not start until after Easter Week. In the meantime 
Fidel Castro had gained military strength. He had just received 
—on March 28— his first large shipment of weapons and ammuni- 
tion in the long months of waiting, anxiety and hit-and-run skir- 
mishes. A transport plane, chartered in Costa Rica but actually 
taking off from a field in Mexico, had landed in the Sierra 
Maestra bringing Pedro Miret and a group of men who had been 
trained by Colonel Bayo, together with four tons of arms and 
ammunition. 

The plane was damaged when the Cuban pilot. Captain Ro- 
berto Verdaguer, whose twin brother was also a flyer, nosed over 
on landing. The plane was burned by the rebels after the success- 
ful unloading of the men and cargo. The Batista regime issued 
a communique several days later in which it claimed that it had 

244 



shot down a transport plane that had tried to land in the Sierra 
Maestra and killed its occupants and some rebels, a total of seven. 
The occupants and cargo were all safe. 

Castro felt strong enough to send small columns marching out 
of the Sierra Maestra toward the environs of Santiago, Bayamo, 
Palma Soriano, Manzanillo and Guantanamo. Castro's brother 
Raul was dispatched to northeastern Oriente to establish the 
"Frank Pais Second Front" in the mountain range of the Sierra 
del Cristal and Sierra de Puriales. 

Raul Castro's column began its march on April 1 . Its mission 
was to harass transport en route and disrupt communications. 
It was a long and arduous march. To safeguard the column rebel 
militia from Santiago were pressed into action at Puerto Boniato, 
on the outskirts of Santiago, to battle an army garrison there. 
One of the leaders of the militia was Enrique A. Lusson, a resi- 
dent of Santiago, who turned over to his wife the $100,000 of 
merchandise in his store and left her and their three children in 
order to join Castro's active fighters. Lusson was awarded the 
Frank Pais Legion of Honor for extraordinary bravery and hero- 
ism in the Puerto Boniato battle and was assigned to and pro- 
ceeded to join Raul Castro's column of eighty barbudos, or 
bearded men. 

The rebels had grown beards because it obviated the need to 
shave in the mountains. The beards soon became a trademark 
of the rebel soldiers and the campesinos referred to them as Mau 
Mau, an affectionate, rather than a scornful, nickname. 

On April 5, Easter Sunday, I contacted the rebel under- 
ground high command. This time the rendezvous was in a re- 
cently completed apartment house near the Malecon only a block 
and a half from the Hotel Nacional. For reasons of security my 
rebel contact drove me to the building by a circuitous route. 

Meeting in a doctor's office on the third floor were Luis Buch, 
Manuel Ray, Carlos Lechuga, Dr. Fernandez Zeballos and, to my 
surprise, the hotel medico. Dr. Eladio Blanco. The latter had 
been working so discreetly that I did not learn until that morning 
that he was one of the active leaders of the Civic Resistance 
Movement. It was in his office the meeting was being held. 

"We promised we would keep you informed," I was told by 

245 



Luis Buch and Manuel Ray. "We can now tell you that the 
strike call will be issued soon, possibly within the next few days." 

"How about your communications?" I asked. "Are they all 
right this time? You had none for the strike on August 5." 

"Our communications are all set," was the answer. "We will 
be in contact with all points and other cities." 

That afternoon, weapons were secretly distributed to members 
of the 26th of July Militia. Armbands, sewn by the women of 
the Civic Resistance Movement, were distributed that night to 
the militiamen and to the rebel labor leaders and labor cells. The 
armbands issued to the labor groups differed from those of the 
militiamen in that they read: F.O.N. 1 26 de Julio. The three let- 
ters stood for Frente Obrero Nacional, the organization which 
was to replace the CTC. The militiamen and the F.O.N, shock 
troops were alerted for action. 

On April 1 Castro's columns in Oriente province began their 
harassment of transportation and communications, disrupting 
highway and railway traffic and cutting telephone and telegraph 
communications. 

The Communists tried to infiltrate into the general strike move- 
ment and published and circulated in mimeographed form a 
spurious manifesto addressed to the workers of Cuba. Paraphras- 
ing some of Castro's phraseology and using paragraphs from the 
labor manifesto he had issued to complement the March 12 docu- 
ment, the Communists quoted Castro as saying that they had a 
right to form a part of all strike committees. 

Faustino Perez, on the other hand, fresh from his conference 
with Castro in the Sierra Maestra, issued the following statement, 
in the name of the national leadership of the 26th of July Move- 
ment, to counter the Communist maneuver: 

"One of the excuses put forth by totalitarian tyrannies when 
destroying elementary human rights is that their opponents are 
Communists. This form of deceit was used by Hitler and other 
European totalitarian regimes, and it is still being used by hated 
dictators in this hemisphere in their efforts to win the support of 
public opinion in the United States. Deceit, plunder and terror 
have been the basic elements of tyrannical regimes everywhere. 

"The present revolutionary movement to remove totalitarian 

246 



tyranny and restore elementary human rights to the Cuban people 
is far from being Communist. All classes of our population, in- 
cluding professional, religious and business organizations issued 
their courageous joint statement, requesting the resignation of 
the dictator. When the gruesome details of the atrocities com- 
mitted by the regime began to appear in the newspapers daily, a 
most drastic censorship was promptly re-established. It would 
be absurd for the people to participate in an election under such 
conditions. 

"We have mentioned and shall repeat as often as necessary that 
our leader Fidel Castro will not be part of the provisional govern- 
ment. 

"The forces of liberation in the field and in the cities include 
many capable men, leaders in their professions, business and 
industries, who are willing to serve in the provisional government 
which is to take over when the country has been liberated. This 
government will include very capable men. The provisional gov- 
ernment will hold national elections within the shortest possible 
time. Based on the present tragic experience, we are determined 
to adopt all the necessary safeguards to protect our democratic 
processes, destroyed by one of the most cruel and brutal dictators 
on March 10, 1952, a date which will be perpetuated in our 
history as a day of infamy. 

"The administration of the territory we occupy throughout the 
province of Oriente is an example of the kind of national ad- 
ministration we intend to establish. Strict enforcement of the 
law; protection of human rights, life and property; and the ad- 
ministration of the country for the benefit of all the people. When 
our leader challenged the dictator to allow Cuban newspapermen 
to visit our territory to witness how we are running this part of 
the country, he refused. 

"The mission of the provisional government, although transi- 
tory, will be of vital importance. Law and order must be restored 
in a country ruled by terror during the past six years; looting and 
violence will not be tolerated; those guilty of crimes against the 
people will be tried and punished according to law. 

"As a sovereign nation, we shall maintain our relations and 
obligations with all free and democratic governments, and shall 

247 



create a climate of confidence and security for the investment of 
national and foreign capital necessary for our industrial develop- 
ment. 

"Only the resignation of Batista can prevent the imminent 
general strike," 

In his manifesto to the workers Castro called on the people, 
men and women, to make a great sacrifice. 

"Sacrifice, no matter how great it may be," he said, "is prefer- 
able to the alternatives which have been offered us: to choose be- 
tween sacrificing ourselves or enslaving ourselves." And he went 
on: 

"Tyranny must never again be allowed to establish roots in 
our country. 

"The workers and the people are not called to strike in order 
to substitute a military junta for Batista. Whoever might com- 
prise the junta would serve only to pacify the nation, to bring 
passing remedies for our ills, protect the vested interests under 
shelter of the oppression and betray the ideals of the revolution 
sooner or later. We do not want false redeemers of the eleventh 
hour. This time the blood that is spilled will not be in vain. The 
strike and the armed struggle must proceed resolutely until the 
tyranny collapses and an entirely civilian democratic government 
has been constituted. 

"The people must be very alert against the ambitious who will 
be ready to take advantage of the opportunity to seize power, as 
if the fall of the regime, which they abandon only when there is 
no other remedy, was their work and not the heroic sacrifice of 
the nation. 

"Those who occupy military commands in the instant that the 
dictatorship collapses will have to place themselves uncondition- 
ally at the orders of the provisional government. 

"Every civilian or military official who facilitates the evasion 
of the dictator or of any of the figures most responsible for the 
crimes and thefts of the regime will be subject to revolutionary 
court-martial. 

"Those who have cost Cuba so much blood and so much 
mourning will have to answer for their deeds. 

"The support which the revolution desires from the armed 
forces is not a coup d'etat plotted in confabs foreign to the fight 

248 



of the people but the rebellion of enlisted men, noncommissioned 
officers and officers of the army, navy and the police in the forts 
and stations— men who, in the midst of the general strike, wish to 
embrace the cause of the people. 

"The military personnel who, when the April 5 deadline has 
expired, have been unable to make contact with the revolutionary 
elements, should take advantage of the opportunity to join when 
the people flock to the street in the midst of the strike. 

"The symptoms and reports that reach our zones of operations 
show that in the barracks there is extraordinary discontent. In 
the military commands of the regime there exists the impression 
that the troops may refuse to continue to obey. The revolutionary 
current is visibly penetrating the ranks of the armed forces. 

"Upon issuing this call to the workers and the people in the 
name of the combatants of the Sierra Maestra, inviting them to 
the sacrifice that the Fatherland demands in this decisive hour, 
once again I reiterate my total absence of personal interest and 
the fact that I have renounced beforehand every post after the 
triumph. He who has been the first in the fight will gladly be the 
last in the hour of triumph." 

The Civic Resistance Movement had grown in strength, and 
as the propaganda prepared and circulated under the most diffi- 
cult circumstances intensified so did the enthusiasm of the people 
of Havana who had become part of the movement. Each member 
of the movement was asked to contribute $1.00 a month in dues, 
for which he or she received a seal. In the month of November 
only $2,000 was collected. In December the sum had increased 
to $4,000, and in January to $7,000. But the collections leaped 
to $20,000 by the end of March. 

The propaganda was directed from the law office of Dr. Luis 
Botifoll on 23rd Street above the sales offices of Pan-American 
World Airways. Chief of the propaganda section was Dr. Leo- 
poldo Hernandez, a member of Botifoll's firm, and his co-chief 
was Carlos Prieto, who for years had been a clerk in the office of 
the Captain of the Port of Havana. Other members of this propa- 
ganda bureau included Eliseo Iglesias, an employee of an adver- 
tising agency, and Carlos Lama, a lawyer. 

Both the 26th of July Movement and the Civic Resistance 
Movement had been organized into cells as Castro had ordered. 

249 



The cells in the Civic Resistance Movement were designated by 
letters of the alphabet. Hernandez' cell contained 400 persons, 
of which he knew only twelve. The system of communication was 
thus secure. 

Shortly before the call for the general strike was issued, the 
propaganda section in Havana was so organized that it included 
one printing plant, one Multilith machine, two Ditto machines 
and nine mimeograph machines. To prepare for the strike the 
section succeeded in publishing three bulletins a week and as 
many as 65,000 copies of each bulletin. 

Castro was receiving reports of this activity from the man he 
had appointed to replace Frank Pais. He was Captain Rene 
Ramos Latour, known under the code name of "Daniel," who 
had his headquarters in Santiago from which he co-ordinated the 
entire Havana operation. Ramos was killed in battle in the Sierra 
Maestra some months later and posthumously promoted by Cas- 
tro to the rank of major, the highest in the rebel army. 

Hernandez, Prieto, Iglesias, Lama and Botifoll organized their 
propaganda operation in May 1957 because many people in 
Havana refused to support the Castro movement, considering the 
rebel chief and his group a bunch of irresponsible hotheads. 
Hernandez and the others set out to try to erase that view and 
impress on the people that Castro was heading a good cause and 
was honest and sincere. 

At first much of the propaganda was mailed from Florida for 
security reasons. Hernandez and Botifoll delivered material 
to Eliseo Riera Gomez, a Cuban-American resident in Miami. 
They did not know until Consul Eduardo Hernandez' brief case 
was stolen that Riera was listed as a contact man for the consu- 
late. Leopold Hernandez was arrested and beaten by Havana 
police; he was not tortured. In Miami, Riera was beaten with 
a baseball bat by irate Cubans. He denied all allegations, but a 
rebel drumhead court in Miami sentenced him to death should he 
return to Cuba. 

Using the emergency powers voted by his virtually rubber- 
stamp congress, Batista enacted decree-laws in which the Code 
of Social Defense was amended to make it a crime to report or 
publish anything distasteful to the government. The text of the 
Law of Public Order, issued after the Moncada attack, was in- 

250 



corporated into the amended code. Other repressive decree-laws 
were enacted by the cabinet, and Batista turned to Trujillo and 
the Somoza family in Nicaragua for arms and ammunition to 
make him invincible against the rebels. 

Cuban commercial aircraft were dispatched secretly to fields 
in the Dominican Republic to fly back cargoes of bomb fuses, 
detonators, San Cristobal rifles (manufactured at Trujillo's arms 
plant) and millions of rounds of ammunition. Cuban pilots 
who were forced to fly those missions rebelled and flew into 
exile in Miami. Other pilots joined them in Florida when they 
refused to fly to Nicaragua to pick up cargoes of arms and am- 
munition. Soon there were thirty-nine pilots in exile. 

Among the cargo acquired by Batista was an abundant supply 
of napalm, the gasoline jelly incendiary bomb, which Castro 
feared more than anything else— not for himself and his troops 
but because of the tragedy that would befall the campesinos, 
whose tinderbox bohios with their thatch roofs, and even those 
fortunate enough to have galvanized iron roofs, would melt under 
the heat. They would lose their homes and perhaps their lives. 

The Trujillo government issued a statement in an attempt to 
justify the sale of arms to Batista at the height of a civil war and 
after the U.S. State Department had invoked its embargo. 

"Fidel Castro has been supplied by Russian submarines that 
have landed arms and ammunition on the coast of Oriente for 
his rebels," the statement said. 

The United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, not far 
from where Castro was fighting, was useless if such a statement 
were true. 

The rebel underground was relying on a vast plan of sabotage 
to make the general strike effective According to the plan, half 
of Havana was to go up in smoke, electric power lines and gas 
mains were to be damaged and there was to be a series of explo- 
sions and fires that would terrorize the populace, forcing everyone 
to remain away from work and stay indoors. 

The security for the strike was so tight that word was not trans- 
mitted properly to cell leaders of either the 26th of July or the 
Civic Resistance Movement. Some cell leaders were not even 
notified, and heads of certain unions who were to issue orders 
for walkouts at eleven o'clock were not given the order to strike 

251 



until fifteen minutes before. All sympathizers of the rebel move- 
ment were warned to be on the alert for false orders to strike. 
Therefore, many were suspicious or confused when the call for 
the strike was called promptly at eleven o'clock over the CMQ 
radio network. 

The strikes were total in most interior cities, especially Santi- 
ago, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Sagua la Grande (the latter in Las 
Villas province), Pinar del Rio and other important centers. 
Rebel raiders blocked traffic on the central highway in Camaguey 
province. One hundred and fifty youths took over Sagua la 
Grande and held it for several hours and then fled into the sugar 
cane fields, only to be bombed and strafed by aircraft and left 
for dead. 

In Havana there was an explosion of a gas main on the Prado 
near Animas Street which cut off electricity and gas in the section 
near the Sevilla Biltmore Hotel and the presidential palace. The 
palace, though, had its own power. Besides, Batista was lunch- 
ing comfortably in his residence at Camp Columbia, the only 
chief executive of Latin America who maintained a home in his 
principal military fortress. 

At 11:05 three automobiles came to a halt in front of a gun 
store in Old Havana. One car cruised around the block. Two 
youths, submachine guns in hand, entered a grocery store across 
the street to cover the young men who were waiting for a chance 
to enter the gun store. 

The automobile cruising the block drew the suspicion of two 
policemen who ordered the car to halt. When the driver diso- 
beyed and sped on, the police fired. The youths in the grocery 
store opened fire on the policemen, who took refuge in a ware- 
house two doors away. 

The rebels loaded the guns and ammunition on an army truck 
abandoned near by. Police reinforcements arrived and a gun 
battle ensued in which three of the raiders covering the getaway 
were killed. The police were driven back by Molotov cocktails 
and hand grenades hurled by the raiders. 

General Pilar Garcia, who upon promotion by Batista had 
been transferred from his command at Matanzas to replace Gen- 
eral Hernando Hernandez as chief of the Havana police, issued 
orders to his force that he did not want them to bring in any 

252 



prisoners. The order was issued over the police radio at two 
o'clock that afternoon. 

I heard terrifying reports over the police radio while in the 
Prensa Libre office. 

"No prisoners are to be reported. Only deaths," a voice said. 
It was the voice of Lieutenant Francisco Becquer, speaking for 
Pilar Garcia. 

Police patrolling in squad cars queried the order. 

"We have arrested a suspicious character," one reported. "He 
is unarmed. Shall we take him prisoner or kill him? Wounded 
or dead?" 

"We don't want wounded or prisoners!" 

Another called in: "We have a man who says he is a lawyer. 
He has a gun in the glove compartment of his car and a permit 
to carry it." 

"Kill him!" 

"But he says he is a friend of Santiago Rey!" 

"We don't want double talk. Kill him!" 

Marcelo Salado, head of the 26th of July Frente Obrero Na- 
cional, halted at a gasoline station in the Vedado district. Police 
spotted him. They shot him down in his tracks. 

Batista was turning the tables on Fidel Castro in Havana. He 
had declared his own total war against the rebels. 

Three men, members of Catholic Action, were seated in the 
room of Juan Fernandez Duque, a twenty-five-year-old teacher 
at a near-by Roman Catholic school, at 2:30 that afternoon. 
The others were Luis Morales Mustelier, twenty-seven years old, 
a government agricultural bank employee who had not long be- 
fore returned from the University of Michigan which he had at- 
tended on a scholarship sponsored by the U.S. State Department, 
and Ciro Hidalgo Perez, twenty-two years old, a graduate student. 

The police were searching the apartment house when they 
found the trio in the room. They arrested them and took them 
to the 8th Precinct Police Station not far away. Their shouts of 
anguish could be heard as they were beaten by their interrogators. 
They were seen to leave the station under escort an hour later. At 
five o'clock that afternoon their bullet-riddled, naked bodies were 
in the Havana morgue. 

By dawn the next morning a total of 92 bodies riddled by 

253 



bullets had been brought to the morgue. At 4:25 the previous 
afternoon, eight corpses were reported by the police radio as be- 
ing delivered to the morgue. Relatives flocked to the morgue to 
try to find their loved ones, but for twenty-four hours the police 
did not allow anyone to enter. 

There was no general strike in Havana. Some factories closed. 
Some bus lines stopped or offered only limited service. A few 
stores tried to close, windows were smashed and people rushed 
to loot the merchandise. The same practice was followed at a 
few factories. 

Jose Ferrer, who had closed his Concretera Nacional plant on 
the airport highway during the spontaneous strike of August 5 
and spent ten days in jail because of it, did not order his plant to 
close. He was as confused by the strike call as some of the other 
members of the Civic Resistance Movement. His wife Millie 
notified him at ten o'clock in the morning that the strike was 
called for eleven o'clock. She knew the hour before many of 
those who were to issue orders to their action groups. 

In Havana weapons had been distributed to 2,000 militiamen 
of the 26th of July Movement, but when the promised holocaust 
that was to rock Havana failed to occur most did not appear on 
the streets. 

"I expected a Waterloo but what happened was a Dunkirk," 
Batista remarked to his friends after he reached the palace from 
Camp Columbia that afternoon. His spy service and the counter- 
measures which he had taken, together with the failure of the 
rebels to take over and hold any radio stations, also helped Ba- 
tista win the first round of the final battle with Castro. 

That night American correspondents (the author excluded) 
were taken on a conducted tour of the jails by Colonel Ventura, 
dressed in his white silk suit. John Z. Williams, Public Affairs 
Officer, mistakenly lent the prestige of the American embassy to 
the purposely staged affair, apparently acting under orders. Po- 
litical prisoners were brought out of cells by Ventura and ques- 
tioned about their reasons for opposing Batista. Care was taken 
to produce prisoners who showed no sign of having been beaten 
or tortured. Following the tour, Ventura was host to the cor- 
respondents at a post-midnight dinner at the Hotel Habana Riv- 

254 



k 



iera. The caravan sped through the streets of Havana, eight 
black cars and one man with an immaculate white silk suit. 

Other correspondents who flew to Santiago to report on the 
fighting there were arrested by the army and ordered to return 
to Havana. Correspondents were admonished by the Batista 
regime that they could operate only within the perimeter of the 
capital and could not venture into the interior. 

The Batista regime was showing off the jails to correspondents 
but not the torture chambers. There was an ingenious torture 
room in one jail. Prisoners were ordered to step on a scale to 
be weighed. The floor of the scale, a trap door, dropped like an 
elevator and landed the prisoner in the basement below. The 
basement was the torture chamber. 

The strike that failed underscored the lack of unity among the 
insurrectional forces. 

The rebel movement also had refused to accept the co-opera- 
tion of Prio's Organizacion Autentico in the general strike, al- 
though partisans of that group co-operated in the provinces. In 
Havana there was neither co-ordination nor co-operation between 
the OA and the 26th of July Movement although the former had, 
according to its leaders, offered unconditional support to the 
Castro forces. 

On the night of April 9 the police, carrying submachine guns, 
and soldiers and sailors occupied newspaper offices in the city. 
Some of the reporters and composing room personnel had an- 
swered the strike call. At newspapers where linotype operators 
were missing, naval linotypists were moved in to set the type. Em- 
ployees of the morning papers were not allowed to leave their 
newspapers unless they carried a pass signed by the editors; if 
they failed to return to resume their work, the editor was held 
responsible. 

Only a few weeks earlier several editors were threatened with 
death by Batistianos, with the official blessing of the dictatorship. 
They were Miguel Angel Quevedo of Bohemia, Sergio Carbo, 
Humberto Medrano and Ulises Carbo of Prensa Libre. These 
threats were publicly denounced by the Inter American Press 
Association in a statement issued by John T. O'Rourke, editor 

255 



of the Washington Daily News, who was president of the associa- 
tion at that time. (Dr. Alberto Gainza Paz, editor of La Prensa 
of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the current president of the 
I.A.P.A.) 

Sergio Carbo found it healthy to remain outside of Cuba for 
a few months. And while neither he, his son, his son-in-law 
(Medrano) nor Quevedo were attacked, other professionals did 
not fare so well. Dr. Jorge Cabrera Graupera, a young lawyer, 
was arrested on April 9. Before the suspension of civil rights he 
had filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a 
political prisoner. 

Cabrera was mercilessly tortured. His fingernails were pulled 
out, he was beaten unmercifully, he was forced to sit on a pan of 
lighted kerosene until his buttocks were seared. He was on the 
verge of death. Cristobal Diaz, president of the Press bloc, ob- 
tained Cabrera's release but only on condition that Diaz did not 
take the lawyer to a hospital or allow him to be seen by a doctor. 
The next day the lawyer died at his home. 

On the night of April 14, I interviewed Faustino Perez, the 
most hunted man in Havana at that time, at Ignacio Mendoza's 
house. He had a statement prepared on the fiasco of the general 
strike. Because of its language it might have been written by 
Castro, but it was not. Here was a rebel movement that had just 
suffered its worst military and psychological defeat since the civil 
war began, and Perez, who was thoroughly saturated with the 
thinking and confidence of Castro in face of adversity, was voic- 
ing certainty that the battle was going to be won. 

In Castro's mind there was not the slightest doubt that it was 
going to be won, but thousands, if not millions, of Cubans were 
disillusioned by the fiasco. Many were killed on April 9 and 
another strike that had been successful in the provinces failed in 
Havana because Havana did not respond. 

"Certain tactical factors inspired by our desire to avoid great 
torrents of blood, so as not to add any more grief to what the 
people have already suffered in the struggle against the dictator- 
ship," Perez's statement read, "frustrated from the start the mech- 
anism that had been prepared and halted other contributing fac- 
tors outside of the movement. 

256 



"The events of Wednesday in Havana once more pointed up the 
appetite for blood of the dictatorship, its disdain of the truth and 
its mockery of public opinion. The revolutionary acts carried 
out by the 26th of July Movement militia were full of the most 
genuine heroism and guided by the supreme duty to liberate 
Cuba from a regime of shame and theft. The decision of the 
26th of July Movement is an irrevocable interpretation of the 
wishes of the people, since far from having disappeared, the 
causes for the struggle have increased. 

"The dictatorship is disintegrating. It depends entirely on the 
gangs of assassins who carry out the jungle law— not attending to 
the wounded, refusing to take prisoners, only showing corpses. 
Innumerable persons have been tortured and even young people 
have been taken from the jails and killed after having been ter- 
ribly tortured. 

"The revolutionary movement stands firmer than ever, its col- 
umns intact. Early on Wednesday it paralyzed the life of the 
nation. Previously, when it issued the order to withdraw funds 
from the banks, it served as a plebiscite against the regime. One 
hundred twenty-five million dollars was withdrawn. The banks 
which suffered most were precisely those which had negotiated 
funds through spurious government bonds, which the revolution 
will not honor. The hangmen of the people cannot be nourished 
and sustained with the clean savings of the people. They will re- 
ceive their punishment. 

"The struggle is reaching its climax. In Oriente, Camaguey 
and Las Villas are seen the combative power and vigor of the 
revolution. 

"Our armies in the provinces have been reinforced with the 
loyal elements of the armed forces of the nation, who have come 
to do their duty of defending the rights of the people with their 
arms. Others in the cities have joined the underground move- 
ment. 

"The 26th of July Movement has always fulfilled its promises 
and, in accord with the announcement in the 12th of March Man- 
ifesto issued by the National Headquarters, the total war that has 
been started will culminate in the defeat of the tyranny. 

"The fight continues firmer and fiercer than ever and is con- 

257 



solidated by the firm unity of the forces which combat the tyranny 
as well as by the backing of economic, professional, civic, religi- 
ous and cultural sections of the nation." 

For the 26th of July Movement 
Faustino Perez 

Not long afterward Castro summoned Perez to the Sierra 
Maestra for a personal report and kept him there on his head- 
quarters staff. 

Meanwhile, Batista had cut me off from all communication 
with the outside world. I was not allowed to receive incoming 
calls and was not allowed to make any. Local means of com- 
munication were ordered not to accept any copy from me. After 
six days of this news blackout. Ambassador Smith obtained per- 
mission from Prime Minister Gonzalo Guell for me to call my 
wife. When I tried to make another call the following day, I was 
advised that permission had been granted for only a single call. 
My stories managed to get through despite the censorship. 

Batista tried to discredit Castro among the Roman Catholic 
population of Cuba and the rest of the world. First, he capital- 
ized on the fact that the general strike was called on April 9, the 
anniversary of the Bogotazo. The fact that the strike was called 
that day was simple coincidence; the underground leaders in 
Havana did not realize it was the anniversary of the Colombian 
uprising until Batista mentioned it to brand Castro as a Com- 
munist. 

Then the palace ordered that a statement by Monsignor En- 
rique Perez Serantes, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, in which 
he commented on a blast that damaged the National Sanctuary 
of Cobre, reported by correspondents in Oriente, should not be 
published. Instead, the palace sent an entirely different text to 
the newspapers with orders to publish it. 

Monsignor Perez Serantes tried to have the palace distortion 
clarified but to no avail. He issued a pastoral letter, dated April 
16, in which he transcribed his statement and added: 

"Absolutely and totally untrue, lacking all foundation of truth, 
is the statement which some newspapers published in which they 
quote us as saying: Tt is a barbaric act, perpetrated by anti-Chris- 

258 



tian hands, in order to offend the religion of the people of 
Oriente.' Others have said similar and equally false things. 

"All who have been close to us know that we are sure that 
those responsible for the explosion did not in any way think that 
there would be the slightest damage to the National Sanctuary 
as a result of an act that was performed for other reasons." 

The rebels had blown up a government dynamite warehouse 
and the impact shattered the shrine but left the Virgin of Our 
Lady of Charity of Cobre standing unharmed at the altar. 

Castro was favored immensely by Batista's awkward attempts 
to smear him and discredit his activities. 

In the United States we accept as honest official statements 
issued by the White House, by the Pentagon, or by the F.B.I. 
But in Cuba, under Batista, the government agencies normally 
fabricated their press releases or statements without regard for 
integrity. And this fault was to help Castro enormously because 
his reports were true. 

Two correspondents and one photographer of an American 
magazine interviewed Batista and photographed his day's activi- 
ties at the palace after the general strike. The presidential press 
office issued a statement in which it reported the visit. It listed 
their names and reported that they were American businessmen 
who had called on Batista to discuss their plans to invest in in- 
dustries in Cuba. This was to convey the impression to the 
Cuban people that nothing was happening in the country and that 
American businessmen would not be calling on him without the 
concurrence of the American embassy. 

Embassy officers were sometimes hamstrung by orders from 
Ambassador Smith forbidding them to associate with members 
of the opposition. Some found it very hard to understand how 
the State Department could be properly informed about what was 
going on in Cuba if its officers could not talk to the members of 
the opposition who were familiar with rebel plans and activities. 

Smith felt he had his own good sources, and that was true as 
far as Batista was concerned. They were Burke Hedges, playboy 
son of an American who had built a textile industrial empire in 
Cuba, and Senator Guillermo Aguilera. Hedges became a natur- 
alized Cuban not long ago, and Batista rewarded him with an 

259 



ambassadorship to Brazil. Aguilera was chairman of the senate 
foreign relations committee. 

What embassy officers managed to tell their chief at staff con- 
ferences to put the picture of the situation into proper perspective 
apparently made little impression. Some had excellent contacts 
among members of the Civic Resistance Movement and, con- 
trary to orders, maintained them. 



260 



CHAPTER 




Vice President Richard M. Nixon left Maiquetia 
airport May 14, 1958, for Puerto Rico on his return home from 
his trip around South America, which ended with the Caracas 
incident. The next day I was visited at the Hotel Tamanaco in 
Caracas by Sergio Rojas, head of the 26th of July Movement in 
Venezuela, and Dr. Justo Carrillo, an old friend from Havana, 
who was the leader of the Montecristi group in the ill-fated 
Barquin conspiracy. 

"Do you want to interview Fidel Castro?" Rojas asked after a 
while. I replied affirmatively. 

"Prepare a questionnaire," he suggested, "and I will have it 
transmitted to the Sierra Maestra. Then we will arrange a night 
and a time for Fidel to be at Radio Rebelde to read his replies 
to you." 

The next day the questionnaire was transmitted to the Sierra 
Maestra, and a radio appointment was made for the following 
Sunday night to get the answers from Castro. That Sunday night, 
however, a military crisis produced the resignation of two civilian 
members of the junta, and the 26th of July Movement rebel radio 
in Caracas was instructed to remain off the air. 

The direct shortwave conversation with Castro could not be 
made but Castro's answers to my questions were transmitted to 
the secret rebel radio link in Caracas. His answers give another 
insight to his thinking and to his plans: 

261 



"Q. You are accused of being a Communist or a Communist 
sympathizer because you were in Bogota in 1948 for an Anti- 
Imperialist Student Congress and participated in the events of 
April 9 in the Colombian capital. Are you or have you ever been 
a Communist? 

"A. I do not see any relation between the premise that you 
point out and the conclusion that because of it I am classified as 
a Communist or a Communist sympathizer. I was one of the 
organizers of this Congress, and it had as one of its essential ob- 
jectives to fight against dictatorship in America. On April 9 I 
joined a mob that marched against a police station. They were 
followers of Jorge Elecier Gaitan, chief of the opposition Liberal 
Party, assassinated that afternoon for political motives. 

"I did what all the Colombian students did: I joined the peo- 
ple. As far as I was able to, I tried everything possible to prevent 
the fires and disorders that carried that rebellion to failure, but I 
was no more than a drop of water in the midst of the tempest. 
I could have died there, as many anonymous fighters fell, and 
perhaps nobody would have had any more news about my exis- 
tence. My conduct could not have been more disinterested and 
altruistic, and I do not regret having acted in that way because 
it honors me. Is this any reason to suspect me of Communism? 

"I never have been nor am I a Communist. If I were I would 
have sufficient courage to proclaim it. I do not recognize any- 
body as a judge of the world before whom anyone must give an 
account of his ideas. Each man has a right to think with absolute 
freedom. I have reiterated often how I think, but I understand 
that this is a question that every North American newspaperman 
feels compelled to ask. 

"Q. The movement which you head is accused of being a Com- 
munist movement. What is the political ideology of this move- 
ment? 

"A. The only person interested in branding our movement as 
Communist is Dictator Batista in order to continue obtaining 
arms from the United States, which country in this manner is 
staining itself with the blood of the assassinated Cubans and is 
earning the antipathy and the hostility of one of the peoples of 
America who most love liberty and human rights. 

"That our movement is democratic is demonstrated entirely by 

262 



its heroic fight against the tyranny. What is shameful is that a 
government that proclaims itself before the world as the defender 
of democracy is helping with arms one of the most bloody dicta- 
torships of the world, and worse for the dictator is the fact that 
even with the help of the United States, of Somoza and of Trujillo 
he will not be able to defeat us. They would have to exterminate 
the entire nation in order to overcome a people who fight for 
rights of democracy that Trujillo, Somoza, Batista and the De- 
partment of State cannot understand. The people of the United 
States should be told how its erroneous policy is carrying it along 
roads of discredit. Do you need any other explanation of the 
increasing hostility of all Latin America? 

"Q. You are accused of favoring the socialization or nation- 
alization of privately owned industries in Cuba, especially the 
North American properties. What is your position regarding free 
enterprise and guarantees for North American capital invested in 
Cuba? 

"A. Never has the 26th of July Movement talked about social- 
izing or nationalizing the industries. This is simply stupid fear 
of our revolution. 

"We have proclaimed from the first day that we fight for the 
full enforcement of the Constitution of 1940, whose norms estab- 
lish guarantees, rights and obligations for all the elements that 
have a part in production. Comprised therein is free enterprise 
and invested capital as well as many other economic, civic and 
political rights. Certain interests are very much concerned that 
an economic right should not be violated, but they are not wor- 
ried in the least about the violation of all the other rights of the 
citizens and of the people. Because of this, if a dictator guaran- 
tees their investment, they support him without concern that every 
day dozens of citizens are assassinated. 

"0. The revolutionary movement to overthrow Batista has 
apparently not triumphed up to now due to the lack of unity of 
all the forces in belligerence against Batista. Do you favor unity 
now? 

"A. The 26th of July Movement is in itself the immense ma- 
jority of the people, united under its direction. The apparent 
causes should not be confused with the real ones. If the last effort 
did not triumph, it was due to a tactical error in the manner of 

263 



launching the strike. However, in the military field we obtained 
resounding victories and we are now stronger. 

"About unity, I have always had the same opinion. I consider 
that unity should not be made abroad but in Cuba; that from the 
outside a battle like this cannot be directed. Those were the es- 
sential reasons for our differences with the junta of Miami. Actu- 
ally, we hold an extensive territory, dominated totally by our 
forces. Into it as many persons as want to can penetrate by safe 
ways. This is demonstrated by the multitude of newsmen who 
have visited us. We offer it for a meeting of delegates of all the 
elements who want unity. 

"Q. Another of the reasons why it is said that the revolution 
which you lead has not triumphed is because you have rejected 
the possibility of a military junta to replace Batista even if it be 
for a few days until a provisional government takes over the 
power. Do you still believe that you can overthrow Batista with- 
out the help of the army? 

"A. It is true that if we had accepted the hypothesis of a mili- 
tary junta, the dictatorship of Batista would already have been 
defeated. But that is not a revolution. The military also put 
Batista in power. We do not settle anything with the overthrow 
now of a dictator if within four or five years another is imposed. 
The armed forces should subordinate themselves uncondition- 
ally to the people. That the people can fight against a dictator- 
ship and its repressive forces we have demonstrated: without 
resources of any kind we have fought for eighteen long months, 
and each day we win more ground and we have more force. We 
accept the collaboration of the military. Many soldiers have 
passed over to our ranks, many officers have been imprisoned 
because they conspired with us; actually we maintain contact 
with many others. 

"But we do not renounce our civilian thesis. The dictatorship 
must be replaced by a provisional government of entirely civilian 
character that will return the country to normality and hold 
general elections within a period of no more than one year. 

"We who are the majority organization have proclaimed Dr. 
Manuel Urrutia Lleo, whose reputation as an honest, upright and 
capable man nobody doubts. 

"Personally I do not aspire to any post and I consider that 

264 



there is sufficient proof tliat I fight for the good of my people, 
without any personal or egotistic ambition soiling my conduct. 
After the revolution we will convert the Movement into a political 
party, and we will fight with the arms of the Constitution and of 
the law. Not even then will I be able to aspire to the presidency 
of the republic because I am only thirty-one years old. He who 
sacrifices and fights disinterestedly has, then, the right to wish 
the best for his country." 

Arms shipment to Batista had been halted two months before 
and yet— as can be seen in the interview— Castro was accusing the 
United States of still supplying arms. This puzzled me somewhat 
until a few nights later I heard him broadcast from the Sierra 
Maestra and charge that rockets had been supplied to Batista's 
air force. The rebel underground was so efficient that it had 
photographed the loading of rockets aboard Cuban Air Force 
transport planes on McCalla Field at the Guantanamo Bay naval 
base. They had also received a copy of the requisition from the 
Bureau of Ordnance, U.S. Navy Department, which authorized 
the exchange of live rockets for a dummy cargo which was 
shipped by mistake. 

It made no difference to the Cubans that the delivery of the 
rockets to Batista's air force was to correct a mistake. Mistake 
or not, they could counter in rebuttal, their countrymen would 
be just as dead if those rockets were fired. It was not until Raul 
Castro ordered the kidnaping of American sailors and marines, 
together with American and Canadian civilians, at the end of 
June 1958, that the rocket error hit headlines around the world. 

The last ferry trip made by Candido de la Torre to the Cuban 
shores from Mexico was on April 8 when he successfully landed 
a cargo of men and arms from the yacht El Corojo to reinforce 
the third front at Pinar del Rio. He went into the mountains with 
the expeditionaries and received orders from Castro to return to 
Mexico to transport more arms. 

Colonel Orlando Piedra, chief of Batista's detective force, sent 
eight agents to Mexico City to devise a scheme to kidnap De la 
Torre and return him to Cuba. On May 30 he was snatched at 
pistol point by four Mexican officers, two of them from the air 
force and two from the army. With Cristobal Martinez Zor- 

265 



rilla, a Mexican listed on the narcotics traffic record books, ap- 
parently acting as co-ordinator of the kidnaping, De la Torre was 
flown in a private plane to the San Julian air base in Pinar del 
Rio province. 

There he was subjected to four days of torture, and his skull 
was fractured with blows from pistol butts. Fidel Castro was 
informed of the kidnaping by secret rebel radio and immediately 
took to the microphone to denounce the Batista government. 
Rebel sympathizers in Mexico City demanded an investigation 
by the government. President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines threatened 
to break diplomatic relations with Batista if De la Torre was not 
released and returned to Mexico. The prisoner was transferred 
to the infantry regiment at Pinar del Rio, then to Military Intel- 
ligence Headquarters at Camp Columbia. The following day he 
was delivered to the Mexican embassy, and Ruiz Cortines sent a 
special plane to the San Julian air base to pick him up and return 
him to Mexico. He recovered completely from his injuries. 

The terror of Batista's police struck everywhere. Omar Fer- 
nandez, president of the student government body of the Faculty 
of Medicine of the University of Havana, was arrested. He was 
beaten into unconsciousness in the police station and was then 
taken, almost dead, to the police hospital. 

He relates that General Hernando Hernandez, chief of police, 
and Colonel Esteban Ventura, recently promoted again by Ba- 
tista, came to his bedside. They yanked off the oxygen mask 
which the doctor had placed over his face to keep him alive. The 
doctor arrived just in time to restore it over the threats and pro- 
tests of Hernandez and Ventura. 

The police officers were trying to make Fernandez reveal the 
whereabouts of other student leaders who were in hiding. He 
refused to talk. In an interview I had with Fernandez after he 
reached exile in the United States, he credited Ambassador Smith 
with saving his life. He told me that he understood the American 
envoy had sent an officer of the embassy to police headquarters 
to inquire about his condition and that query alone sufficed to 
prevent the torturers from finishing him off. 

Frequently, lives of political prisoners were saved when Cuban 
army and navy intelligence and the police learned that the Amer- 
ican embassy was aware that they had been arrested. Also pub- 

266 



lication of their detention in the United States served as a brake 
on possible plans to kill political prisoners. Members of the 
Civic Resistance Movement and the 26th of July Movement in 
Havana and Miami resorted to this tactic, which contributed to 
the saving of many a life. 

The lives of two sisters, Maria and Cristina Giral, employees 
of Jose Ferrer at the Concretera Nacional, however, could not 
be saved. Their case, which was widely broadcast by Radio 
Bemba, added to the determination of many Cuban men and 
women to fight Batista to the bitter end. The two girls were 
twenty-five and twenty-one years old, respectively. One was em- 
ployed as a receptionist in Ferrer's office and the other worked 
in his accounting department. On the afternoon of Friday, June 
13, an attempt was made to kill Senator Santiago Rey, Batista's 
former minister of interior. Rey escaped but the police went 
hunting for the frustrated gunmen. 

At five o'clock that afternoon the brother of the Giral girls 
picked them up in front of the office building where they worked. 
He drove them to Cienfuegos for Father's Day. They reached 
Cienfuegos that night and remained there until after luncheon 
on Sunday. 

On the Saturday night while the girls were in Cienfuegos, the 
police conducted a raid on the apartment house in the Vedado 
district in Havana where they lived. There was a short exchange 
of gunfire as the police, apparently, were pursuing suspects of 
the Santiago Rey shooting. 

At eight o'clock Sunday night the brother left his two sisters 
at the doorstep of the apartment house. Jose Ferrer was 
alarmed when the girls did not report for work that morning. He 
got in touch with their brother, who assured him that he had left 
them at the apartment house the previous evening. Both imme- 
diately began to search for the two. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon they found the bodies, half 
naked and badly bruised, in the morgue. The eyes of both were 
blackened and across their breasts were bullet holes. Their 
blouses had been torn from them and from the waist up their bare 
bodies were covered with newspapers. The pedal pushers of one 
were torn near the vagina, which indicated an attempt at rape. 
Stains of semen were evident to substantiate that theory. It was 

267 



not unusual for the police to threaten women prisoners with 
rape. 

The theory that they had been victimized by the police was 
enhanced when the authorities refused to allow an autopsy to be 
made of other than the parts of the bodies that had been 
struck by bullets. Moreover, as the news was quickly spread via 
Radio Bemba of the tragedy of the two sisters, the police issued 
an official communique, signed by Major Wilfredo Alvarez del 
Real, commander of the Eighth Precinct (which is on the Male- 
con adjacent to the American embassy chancery), in which it 
was certified by that officer that the girls had been caught in the 
cross-fire during the apartment house fighting "on Saturday night 
as they were going from one apartment to another. They were 
felled by the gunfire and their wounded bodies were picked up 
by the police and taken to the nearest dispensary where they 
died on arrival." 

The police added that they had found a substantial quantity 
of arms and ammunition in the girls' apartment, "including a 
book by Leon Trotsky." This last bit of information was injected 
into the communique to indicate that the young women might 
have been Reds, 

"The whole story was nothing but a tissue of lies," Jose Ferrer 
said. "The police apparently were waiting for the girls when 
they were left at their house by their brother, and they took them 
away. They were two fine girls, and their only offense was that, 
like thousands of other women in Havana, they were members 
of the Civic Resistance Movement. They were devout Roman 
Catholics and did not have the slightest taint of Communism." 

Ferrer was asked by William B. Caldwell of the American em- 
bassy to call at the chancery to give them the details of the case 
of the Giral sisters. John Topping was invited by Caldwell to 
sit in on the interview. Topping asked Ferrer to please tell the 
story to Ambassador Smith. 

"What do you want us to do, send down the marines?" Smith, 
asked the astounded Ferrer, the latter relates. 

"No, I do not," Ferrer replied, "but I hope you realize what is 
happening here." 

"Have you gone to the police to file a complaint?" Smith 
asked. 

268 



"What police?" Ferrer demanded. "The same police who 
killed the girls?" 

"Well, have you gone to the courts to complain?" Smith con- 
tinued. 

"What courts and what judges?" Ferrer asked. "Don't you 
remember that Judge Alabau had to go into hiding and then into 
exile after he indicted Ventura and Laurent?" 

"Certainly there must be some persons in this government to 
whom you can talk about this," Smith insisted. 

"Mr. Ambassador, who are those persons in the government 
with whom one can talk? Please name them for me. You won't 
be able to name five." 

Ferrer reports that Smith mentioned the names of Gonzalo 
Guell, the prime minister and foreign minister; Amadeo Lopez 
Castro, a minister without portfolio; Raul Menocal, minister of 
commerce, and Jorge Garcia Montes, minister of education. 

"There Smith stopped," Ferrer reports. "He had only been 
able to name four, and the four were unconditional stooges of 
Batista." 

The tragedy of the Giral sisters was practically forgotten ten 
days later when Raul Castro ordered the kidnaping of American 
sailors and marines from the Guantanamo Bay naval base, to- 
gether with some American civilians and one Canadian sugar- 
plantation boss. The rebel raiders also took equipment and 
machinery from the Moa Bay Mining Company, a subsidiary of 
Freeport Sulphur Company, and from the Nicaro nickel mines, 
which are operated by the General Services Administration. 

The kidnaping of the sailors, marines and civilians was a grave 
psychological faux pas insofar as American public opinion was 
concerned, but it gave a lift to the rebel sympathizers throughout 
Cuba. Castro had returned to the front pages all over the world 
because of the bold stunt ordered by Raul without consulting his 
brother, who was busy holding off Batista's biggest offensive since 
the start of the war. This drive had begun a month earlier, as 
soon as leaders of the Civic Resistance Movement had finished 
a strategy and policy conference with Fidel, to reorganize and 
revitalize the shattered and disillusioned underground, especially 
in Havana. 

Raul Castro issued Military Order No. 32 in which he de- 

269 



nounced the indiscriminate bombing and strafing of the civilian 
population in his sector by Batista's air force, lambasted the use 
of United States bombs for the purpose and had a few caustic 
words for the United Fruit Company interests in Cuba and else- 
where in Latin America. 

He also ordered a rebel detachment to capture a bus load of 
sailors and marines who were returning after special liberty to 
the Guantanamo Bay naval base from the city of Guantanamo, 
twenty-seven miles away. They were due back at the base before 
midnight of June 28. Instead they were taken captive along a 
coastal road to the east and into rebel free territory. 

The civilians were taken to Calabazas, where they were shown 
some of the bomb damage and fragments of bombs that had 
been dropped. 

American Consul Park F. Wollam was dispatched immediately 
from Santiago de Cuba to obtain the release of the captives. As 
he was driving his jeep, with the American flag prominently dis- 
played, along the rocky rebel road, Batista aircraft strafed him 
but fortunately none of the .50 caliber bullets hit him. 

The rebel underground in Havana and in the United States 
now released photostats of the Navy Department requisition of 
May 8 that ordered the delivery of rockets to Batista's air force. 
The American embassy in Havana and the State Department in 
Washington, pressed concerning the matter, issued this statement: 

"On March 2, 1956, the Government of Cuba inquired of the 
United States Government through formal channels concerning 
the purchase of three hundred 5-inch aircraft rockets for the use 
of the Cuban Army Air Force. 

"A firm purchase order was placed by the Government of Cuba 
on December 4, 1956. 

"On May 2, 1957, the final price was established and a firm 
contract signed. 

"Delivery to the Government of Cuba was made on January 
11, 1958. 

"Upon receiving the shipment the Government of Cuba dis- 
covered that the rockets were equipped with 'inert' [nonexplo- 
sive] heads. The Government of Cuba had wanted explosive 
heads and had understood that that was what the shipment con- 

270 



tained. The Government of Cuba therefore reopened this con- 
tract with the United States Government. 

"Readjustment of the contract was made on February 26, 
1958, and final delivery of the correct heads was made on 
May 19, 1958. 

"Since there was a stock of the correct heads available at the 
United States Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba, and since this 
was the U.S. Naval facility most readily available for the Govern- 
ment of Cuba, the U.S. Department of the Navy directed the 
Naval Base at Guantanamo to effect the exchange. 

"This was merely a rectification of a mistake on an order that 
had been initiated on March 2, 1956. The exchange was made 
by exchanging rocket heads, not entire rockets. It was accom- 
plished by the Cuban Army Air Force delivering the inert rocket 
heads to the Guantanamo Naval Base and picking up the explo- 
sive heads in two Cuban Army transport aircraft." 

Again, the Cubans argued, mistake or no mistake, their people 
would be just as dead or maimed by those rockets with the newly 
acquired live heads. Neither Fidel Castro nor many other Cu- 
bans, except Batista and his minority of supporters, could recon- 
cile the March embargo on arms shipments with the replacement 
of the inert rocket heads. 

How did the rebel underground obtain copies of the Navy 
Bureau of Ordnance requisition for these nine tons of rocket 
heads? On duty in the Office of the Military and Air Attache of 
the Cuban embassy in Washington was a secret agent of the 26th 
of July Movement. He was Sergeant Angel Saavedra, chief clerk 
of that sensitive office. Photostats of the requisition had been 
flown into the Sierra Maestra to Castro from Washington via 
Florida and were distributed to the rebel underground every- 
where. That is why, less than two weeks after the requisition was 
issued and a copy was in the hands of the Cuban military attache 
in Washington, Castro made the denunciation in the question- 
and-answer interview. Saavedra had been a secret agent of the 
26th of July Movement, and head of an important cell in Wash- 
ington since early in 1957. 

The civilians who were kidnaped were from the Moa Bay 
Mining Company, the Nicaro Nickel Company, the United Fruit 

271 



Sugar Company and private plantations. Wlien the sailors and 
marines were snatched, Vice Consul Robert Weicha flew from 
Santiago de Cuba to the Guantanamo naval base, borrowed a 
navy jeep and rode into the rugged mountains to try to locate 
them and to obtain their release. 

Raul Castro and his staff, as well as "Deborah," who had 
joined him as his secretary, did not have as much confidence in 
Wollam and Weicha as they had in their predecessors, who 
could speak fluent Spanish; the new consular heads had difficulty 
with the language. Nevertheless, Raul let a few of the civilians 
return after they had been taken on conducted tours to inspect 
bomb damage. 

Batista's offensive kept Fidel so occupied at the front that 
he did not learn of the kidnaping until July 2. Immediately 
he radioed his brother to release all of the captives forthwith. 
But Raul, stalling for more time, released only a few at a time. 
The freed men were evacuated by navy helicopter from Cala- 
bazas. 

More than twenty American correspondents were at the Guan- 
tanamo Bay naval base to report the kidnapings. Batista exer- 
cised censorship in Havana over all the telephone calls and all 
the cable copy that was filed at Fisherman's Point, the All Amer- 
ica Cables office at the base. To avoid that censorship, the cable 
company sent the dispatches via the Balboa cable office in the 
Panama Canal Zone, from which station the traffic would return 
on a direct relay through Fisherman's Point to New York. Thus 
it usually took anywhere from two to six hours or more for a story 
to reach New York once it was filed. 

All telephone calls from the naval base had to go over the land 
lines of the Cuban Telephone Company through Havana to the 
United States. The Associated Press photographers had brought 
wirephoto equipment with them to expedite their pictures to 
Miami via telephone. When some correspondents complained 
that their calls wefe being cut off, I suggested that the problem 
be presented to Rear Admiral Robert B. Ellis, base commandant, 
who could then request Ambassador Smith to take up the matter 
with the Cuban government. 

Admiral Ellis telephoned Smith without delay and conveyed 
the request. The reply came that afternoon: Batista had given 

272 



orders that all correspondents would be free to make calls except 
the author. After the Associated Press transmitted a photograph 
which showed me translating a letter from Raul Castro to the 
correspondents at the base, with Eugene A. Gilmore, economic 
counselor of the American embassy leaning over my shoulder, 
the photographers were barred from making further picture calls 
out of the base. 

Rear Admiral Daniel J. Gallery, commandant of the Tenth 
Naval District at San Juan, Puerto Rico, who has administrative 
command of the Guantanamo Bay, flew in from his headquarters 
to confer with Ellis about the kidnapings, and Admiral Jerauld 
Wright, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, flew down from Nor- 
folk in a jet fighter. 

"Kidnaping is a heinous crime and is punishable by death in 
the United States," Admiral Wright told the correspondents. He 
returned by the same jet aircraft after the brief conference with 
Gallery and Ellis. 

Correspondents were reminded that the American embassy had 
forbidden anyone to use the naval base as a base of operations for 
journeys into rebel country because of the Cuban government's 
objections. Those of us who went did so without the knowledge 
of Admiral Ellis or members of his staff. The first to go was Jay 
Mallin, string correspondent in Cuba for Time and Life, the 
New York Post and the Miami Daily News. Religiously, almost 
every week, Mallin had documented for Time the atrocities com- 
mitted by Batista's police, often flying to Miami to file his copy 
from there. 

Most Americans considered the kidnapings abominable. But 
for the Cubans they were a means of forcing the United States, 
at long last, to give some recognition to the existence of a civil 
war: consuls had to parley with Raul Castro and his officers. And 
Raul continued to ignore Fidel's orders to release the prisoners. 

When Raul Castro, with "Deborah," visited me at a base 
hospital near Mayari Arriba (I had suffered a jeep accident en 
route to interview him), I asked him why he had ignored the 
release orders. 

"I told Fidel not to send me any serious orders by radio, but to 
transmit them in writing," he replied with a smile. 

When I asked Fidel later about the remark, he retorted: "Yes, 

273 



that is true, but at that time it took twenty-five days for a courier 
to reach Raul with a written message." 

I asked Raul Castro about his trip to Vienna to attend a Com- 
munist Youth Congress and his subsequent journey behind the 
Iron Curtain when he was a student at the University of Havana. 

"The Communists approached me for a contribution so they 
could send a delegate to the World Youth Congress at Vienna in 
1953," he said. "I wanted to travel and thought this an excellent 
opportunity. I offered to pay my entire fare if they would let 
me go and they agreed. So I went. At the Congress I had an 
argument with a Rumanian delegate on the floor, which led the 
head of that delegation to invite me to visit his country. I also 
visited Budapest, Hungary, on that tour. I would travel to China 
if I had the chance because I enjoy it and I want to see the world, 
but that doesn't mean I am a Communist." 

Raul Castro slept in the bed opposite me in the hospital that 
night. Before he left, I submitted a list of questions to him, which 
he carefully answered in longhand; he had both questions and 
answers typed for delivery to me. (After my conversation with 
him he issued written orders to release the remainder of the cap- 
tive sailors and marines at once and dispatched a courier to 
Puriales with the orders. The trip by jeep took thirteen and a 
half hours.) 

"Q. Why did the Frank Pais Second Front Column kidnap the 
Americans and take some equipment from Moa and Nicaro? 

"A. We were obliged to detain the North American citizens: 

"1. In order to attract world attention in general and that of 
the United States in particular to the crime that was being com- 
mitted against our people with the arms which the government of 
the United States of North America had supplied to Batista for 
continental defense. In one of the clauses of the treaty is the 
express prohibition that said arms would be used in the domestic 
questions of the respective countries. And in that way those citi- 
zens would serve us as international witnesses. 

"2. In order to deter the criminal bombardments— with in- 
cendiary bombs, rockets and even napalm bombs— which in those 
moments were being carried out against our forces and above all 
against the defenseless towns of the campesinos without taking 

274 



into account at all the fact that they were not military objectives. 

"3. Some equipment, like tractors and vehicles, of Moa and 
Nicaro were taken as strict war necessities, and for the construc- 
tion of strategic roads within our liberated territories. It filled a 
social function but it also furnished us with greater facility in 
mobilizing reinforcements between zones. This would be impos- 
sible within a territory as immense as that which we occupy from 
coast to coast in the east of the province if it were not for those 
strategic roads that represent more arms for us. With greater 
mobility we can use what we have in different places. 

"And if the United States of North America supplies arms to 
the government of Batista, we believe we have a certain right to 
make use of equipment from some properties of the North Amer- 
ican government, for the benefit of our cause and better opera- 
tions for the victorious course of the war. 

"Notwithstanding, we have already told those companies that 
we will not again touch their properties; that upon the triumph 
of our cause we will pay them for the damage caused. Also we 
have already returned some of the machinery which we did not 
use, and we will gradually return the rest. Moreover, we have 
told them that in the belligerent zones of this Frank Pais Second 
Front, where large interests of the United States of North America 
are located, as the responsible power, we guarantee their normal 
operations. Of course, those guarantees go hand in hand with the 
word given to us and to the people that no more arms will be 
supplied to Batista, for if they continue destroying and bombing 
our defenseless people we will also feel freed of our given word. 

"Don't think that we are pleased to take measures of this type, 
but in the face of two evils, we chose the lesser. 

"Q. Why did you decide to liberate all the sailors and marines 
in one day after having ordered their liberation in groups? 

"A. It was decided to liberate the sailors and marines in one 
day after having ordered them freed in small groups while await- 
ing the arrival of the written order ratifying that given by our 
General Staff by radio days ago, mainly because of the crisis that 
has arisen in the Middle East and the need which your govern- 
ment has for them. For it is not our intention to interfere in any 
of the domestic questions of your country or of any country. 

275 



"Q. Certain elements, including President Batista, say you are 
a Communist. Why does this accusation prevail? 

"A. That Batista accuses me of being a Communist is not 
strange, for it is just the way every Latin-American dictator tries 
to label his political adversaries. If I were a Communist, I would 
belong to that party and not to the 26th of July. 

"Therefore, I don't care about Batista's opinion of me. What 
does surprise me is the attention that is given to this matter, 
when everyone knows he doesn't do anything but repeat stupid 
accusations like a parrot. I feel that every time he says that, he 
is pulling the leg of his interviewers with the same childish tale. 

"Q. Do you consider Communism as nefarious and as dan- 
gerous as the so-called dictatorships of the extreme right? 

"A. I consider nefarious every government imposed by force, 
be it of the right or of the left. 

"Q. What is your political philosophy? 

"A. I don't like to consider these questions from a personal 
point of view because I consider myself only another soldier of 
our cause. But mine, like those of all the members of the 26th 
of July, are the doctrines of Marti. We consider ourselves fol- 
lowers of his unfinished work. If we cannot conclude it we will 
nevertheless have fulfilled our historic role, sustaining until the 
end the standard of his ideological principles. Behind will come 
new generations, which rising anew will know how to carry it 
forward another step. Our struggle is not for today nor for 
tomorrow but for the future. 

"Q. What do you forecast for the future of Cuba? 

"A. With a people like ours, who in these tragic and terrible 
moments have given such a great example of civic virtue, bravery 
and the spirit of sacrifice, it is easy to forecast a future of real 
hope for the reconquest of their lost freedoms, the conquest of 
their full sovereignty and a flourishing economy which would 
bring everything together. 

"Finally, referring to our relations with the United States of 
North America, we sincerely believe that in 'our America'— as 
Marti called it— it would be more convenient for them [the 
U.S.A.] to have friends of the heart in an equality of conditions 
than false friends obligated by circumstances." 

276 



Together with the order to release the sailors and marines, 
Raul Castro dispatched a letter to Admiral Ellis which read: 

26th of July Revolutionary Army 

Frank Pais' Second Front 

Northern Zone 

Free Territory of Cuba 
17 July 1958 

Mr. Admiral of the North American 
Naval Base of Guantanamo 
"Sir: 

"Because of the measures adopted by your nation in the face 
of the latest international events— taking into account the need 
your army has for each one of your members in these moments— 
the Military Commands of the 26th of July Revolutionary Army 
in the 'Frank Pais' Second Front have decided to order the im- 
mediate release of all the sailors who still remain in our liberated 
territories." 

Respectfully yours, 
LIBERTY OR DEATH 
Raul Castro Ruz 
Commander-in-Chief, 
Frank Pais' Second Front 

Raul Castro had more than 1,000 men under arms on that 
front. The previous April he had left the Sierra Maestra with 
only eighty men. The bulldozers his troops had taken from Moa 
and Nicaro were opening roads just as he said they would and 
they were much more comfortable to traverse after some of the 
rugged hills my jeep had to negotiate. 

Raul Castro honored a request by Consul Wollam to allow the 
embassy to station a radio operator with a transmitter in those 
mountains to keep in contact with the naval base and report on 
the condition and progress of the captives. The presence of the 
transmitter expedited the ultimate release of all the men. 

Because of my accident and the rebel doctor's refusal to let me 
attempt returning to the naval base by road, Castro requested 
Wollam and Admiral Ellis to evacuate me by helicopter, which 

277 



was done the day after all the sailors and marines were returned. 

Before our navy helicopter lifted into the air, Captain Enrique 
A. Lusson, the hero of the Puerto Boniato battle and now sector 
commander at Calabazas, asked me to act as interpreter for 
Wollam on a problem. Standing on the porch of the house by 
the Calabazas landing strip was one of the rebel doctors who 
had given me a tetanus shot the previous day. 

"The doctor reports," Lusson said, "that a rebel soldier who 
accidentally shot himself last night is in a critical condition and 
unless we can get him to a hospital with better facilities than we 
have he is going to die. Would it be possible to evacuate him 
to the naval base?" 

"I am sorry," Wollam replied. "It would be necessary to con- 
sult Admiral Ellis and he would have to consult the embassy in 
Havana and I don't think we could get the authorization from 
the Cuban government." 

Lusson and the other rebel officers accepted the reply stoically, 
pointing out that they understood it presented a delicate diplo- 
matic problem. The soldier died that night. 

Wollam asked Lusson to release the Cuban driver of the naval 
base bus, whom they had retained in Puriales where the balance 
of the sailors were freed. The rebels were holding him under 
suspicion that he was an informer for Senator Masferrer's private 
army, 

"The admiral has said that he [the driver] will live on the base 
in the future," Wollam assured Lusson, and added: "He has a 
wife and three children." 

"We have wives and children, too," Lusson answered. "As 
soon as we complete our investigation you can be assured we will 
release him. He has seen many of our defensive positions and 
some of our organization but as soon as we think it is safe, we 
will release him." 

He was released shortly afterward and returned by the rebels 
to the base. 

Fighting with the rebels on that front was an American named 
Charles W. Bartlett, Jr., a sailor from Sevastopol, California. He 
had jumped ship at the naval base, being a machinist's mate on 
the U.S.S. Diamond Head, and joined Castro. He was twenty 
years old. 

278 



"I was on liberty in the city of Guantanamo when I saw some 
soldiers, for apparently no reason at all, beat up some civilians," 
Bartlett said. "I couldn't stomach it and thought it was an in- 
justice. So I decided to join the rebels." 

He was returned to the base in October 1958, after his father 
appealed to Fidel Castro. He was returned home for court- 
martial. 

At the same time outside of Cuba there was other activity in 
behalf of Castro and the revolution. 

After the arrest of her husband, Haydee Santamaria Hart re- 
turned to Castro's headquarters in the Sierra Maestra. With the 
failure of the general strike, Castro's forces in the hills were 
demoralized but the rebel chief never showed any sign of defeat. 
He infused confidence and spirit into his troops and assured them 
that the victory would ultimately be theirs. 

Batista made one grave mistake in not being ready to launch 
a counteroffensive against Castro as soon as the strike fiasco in 
Havana and, ultimately, in the rest of the country, became a 
reality. By the time Batista was ready for an offensive, Castro 
had revived the weakened morale to an admirable height. 

Castro ordered Haydee to prepare for a trip to the United 
States, which she would have to enter secretly to avoid detention 
by the immigration authorities. 

"You are to be the supreme chief of the 26th of July Movement 
in the United States," Castro told her. "Get me a million dollars 
in contributions to buy arms and ammunition and we will over- 
throw Batista. You are to direct the Movement from Miami." 

Haydee Santamaria was secretly flown into the United States 
and went into hiding in a house in Miami Beach. There she 
pitched into her task of expediting shipments of guns and bullets 
to Castro, of raising money, of communicating regularly with the 
Sierra Maestra and of laying the groundwork for the unity of 
the revolutionary and political opposition groups. 

The 26th of July Movement had stepped up its propaganda 
activities in the United States. Dr. Antonio Buch, the Santiago 
medico who escaped Batista's troops when Armando Hart and 
Javier Pazos were captured, was designated propaganda chief 
and set up his headquarters in the Chamber of Commerce Build- 
ing in Miami. 

279 



Fidel Castro had shattered the unity of the opposition political 
forces of revolution when he rejected the Council of Liberation 
in December 1957. Now he was ready to agree to the formation 
of a Civilian Revolutionary Front, which he had originally advo- 
cated in the July 12, 1957, manifesto from the Sierra. 

"Tony" Varona flew to Caracas to confer with Castro via the 
secret rebel radio there on the terms of the unity compact. Com- 
plete accord was reached and other political and rebel leaders 
flew from Miami to Caracas to be ready to sign the pact on July 
20, the anniversary of the independence of Colombia. Castro 
had dictated the text of the pact from Radio Rebelde in the 
Sierra Maestra to the secret rebel radio in Caracas. Delegates 
from the various groups approved the text as they arrived, and 
the pact was signed at a ceremony that historic Sunday. It be- 
came a manifesto to the people of Cuba, and read: 

"Ever since the treacherous coup of March 10, which inter- 
rupted the normal democratic process of the nation, the people 
of Cuba have opposed with much heroism and determination the 
forces of tyranny. Each and every form of defiance has been 
used in these six blood-stained years, and all elements of Cuban 
life have opposed with real patriotism Fulgencio Batista's dic- 
tatorship. The people of Cuba, in their struggle to be free, have 
copiously shed the blood of their best sons, thus demonstrating 
that their love for freedom is indefatigable. 

"Ever since the long-gone days of student parades and demon- 
strations, when the first martyrs fell, up to the recent battles, such 
as the one that took place in Santo Domingo, province of Oriente, 
in which the dictatorship suffered a crushing defeat, leaving on 
the battlefield its dead and wounded, as well as large amounts of 
war material, much blood has been spilled and numerous efforts 
made to free the enslaved Fatherland. Labor strikes, three large 
military conspiracies and courageous protests by all the country's 
civic institutions, have abetted the heroic armed attacks at San- 
tiago, Matanzas, Havana, Cienfuegos and Sagua la Grande. In 
the cities, sabotage, armed aggressions and other forms of revo- 
lutionary tactics have tested the indomitable spirit of a generation 
true to the immortal words of our national anthem which de- 
clare: 'to die for my country is to live.' 

"Rebellion has extended over the whole nation. In moun- 

280 



tainous regions, new battle fronts have been formed, while in 
the plains guerrilla columns constantly harass the enemy. At 
present, thousands upon thousands of soldiers, in Batista's great- 
est offensive to date, have dashed themselves against the courage 
of rebels who are defending, inch by inch, the free territory at 
the Sierra Maestra. In this same zone in the province of Oriente, 
after ferocious battles. Column No. 6, called Frank Pais, controls 
a third of the province. In the plains of Oriente, Column No. 2 
is fighting from Manzanillo to Nuevitas in the next province. In 
the central region of Santa Clara, the Revolutionary Directorate 
has been bravely fighting at Escambray, and near-by places for 
several months. Members of the Partido Autentico and the 26th 
of July Movement have also been battling in this region. At 
Cienfuegos and Yaguajay, revolutionary guerrillas are stanchly 
fighting and marauding. Small guerrilla forces operate in Matan- 
zas and Pinar del Rio. In each corner of Cuba, a struggle to the 
death is taking place between freedom and tyranny, while abroad 
numerous exiles are making every effort to free the oppressed 
Fatherland. 

"Aware that the co-ordination of human efforts, of war re- 
sources, of civic forces, of the political and revolutionary sectors 
of the opposition, including civilians, the military, workers, stu- 
dents, professionals, the commercial classes and citizens in 
general, can overthrow the dictatorship if a supreme effort is 
made, we, the signatories of this document, pledge our united 
efforts. We hereby reach agreement in favor of a great revolu- 
tionary, civic coalition, made up of all elements of Cuban life, 
and pledge ourselves to give our best and most patriotic efforts, 
that thus united we may tumble from power the criminal dictator- 
ship of Fulgencio Batista and regain for Cuba the coveted peace 
and the return to democracy, the two blessings which can lead 
our people toward the development of their progress, resources 
and liberties. We are all cognizant of the need to act in concert 
and our fellow citizens thus require it. 

"This union of the Cuban opposition forces is based on three 
pillars, to wit: 

"First: The adoption of a common strategy to defeat the dic- 
tatorship by means of armed insurrection, reinforcing, as soon as 
possible, all the combat fronts and arming the thousands of Cu- 

281 



bans willing to fight for freedom. The popular mobilization of all 
labor, civic, professional and economic forces, culminating in a 
great general strike on the civilian front; while, on the military 
front, action will be co-ordinated throughout the country. From 
this common determination, Cuba will emerge free, and the pain- 
ful shedding of blood of our best human reserves will come to an 
end. Victory will be ours in any case, but will be delayed if our 
activities are not co-ordinated. 

"Second: To guide our nation, after the fall of the tyrant, to 
normality by instituting a brief provisional government that will 
lead the country to full constitutional and democratic proce- 
dures. 

"Third: A minimum governmental program that will guarantee 
the punishment of the guilty ones, the rights of the workers, the 
fulfillment of international commitments, public order, peace, 
freedom, as well as the economic, social and political progress of 
the Cuban people. 

"And as we ask the government of the United States of Amer- 
ica to cease all military and other types of aid to the dictator, we 
reaflftrm our position in defense of our national sovereignty and 
the nonmilitary, republican tradition of Cuba. 

"To our soldiers we say that the moment has arrived to deny 
their support to tyranny; that we have faith in them, for we know 
that there are decent men in the armed forces. If in the past hun- 
dreds of officers and enlisted men have paid with their lives, im- 
prisonment, exile or retirement from active duty because of their 
love for freedom, there must be many others who feel the same 
way. This is not a war against the armed forces of the Republic 
but against Batista, the only obstacle to that peace desired and 
needed by all Cubans, both civil and military. We urge the 
workers, students, professionals, businessmen, sugar plantation 
owners, farmers and Cubans of all religions, ideologies and races 
to join this movement of liberation that will overthrow the in- 
famous tyranny that has soaked our soil with blood, liquidated 
our best human reserves, ruined our economy, destroyed our 
republican institutions, and interrupted the constitutional and 
democratic evolution of our country, thus bringing about a 
bloody civil war which will come to a triumphant end only with 
a revolution backed by all citizens. 

282 



"The hour has come when the intelligence, patriotism, valor 
and civic virtues of our men and women— especially those who 
feel deeply the historic destiny of our nation, its right to be free 
and to adopt the democratic way of life— will save the oppressed 
Fatherland. Our future is great because of our history, as well as 
because of our natural resources and the undeniable capacity of 
our sons. We exhort all the revolutionary, civic and political 
forces of our nation to subscribe to this declaration of unity, and, 
later, as soon as practicable, we will hold a meeting of all and 
every representative delegate to discuss and approve the bases 
of our pledge." 

Free Territory of Cuba (for Caracas) July 20, 1958 

Signed: Fidel Castro, 26th of July Movement; Carlos Prio 
Socarras, Organizacion Autentico; E. Rodriguez Loeche, Direc- 
torio Revolucionario; David Salvador, Orlando Blanco, Pascasio 
Lineras, Lauro Blanco, Jose M. Aguilera, Angel Cofino, Labor 
Unity; Manuel A. de Varona, Partido Cubano Revolucionario 
(A) ; Lincoln Rodon, Partido Democrata; Jose Puente and Omar 
Fernandez, Federation of University Students; Captain Gabino 
Rodriguez Villaverde, ex-army officers; Justo Carrillo Hernan- 
dez, Montecristi Group; Angel Maria Santos Buch, Civic Re- 
sistance Movement, and Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, Co-ordinating 
Secretary-General. 

There was no doubt of the authenticity of this unity pact and 
of Castro's adherence to it, for it was he who dictated the final 
draft, and the 26th of July Movement gave it wide circulation in 
the rebel underground in Cuba and also in the United 
States and Latin America. Radio Continente and its Freedom 
Network in Caracas broadcast the text in full the night of its 
signing. 

Thus the rebellious opposition began to prepare for what they 
hoped would be the second and final round against Batista. 
While this agreement was being reached, Batista suddenly with- 
drew his army guard of approximately one hundred men from 
the water pumping station near the United States Naval Base at 
Guantanamo Bay and authorized United States Marines to as- 
sume the duty there. 

This action produced a wave of indignation in Cuba, as well 
as a renewal of accusations that our government was intervening 

283 



in behalf of Batista. The dictator had set a trap for Castro, ap- 
parently banking on a direct attack by the rebels against the 
marines. Such an attack never transpired and the State De- 
partment, aware of the explosive potentialities of the maneuver, 
succeeded in having the marines withdrawn and in compelling 
Batista to restore the army guard. 

The rebels had no intention of sabotaging the water supply: 
the marines were withdrawn late on a Friday and the Cuban 
army did not reassume guard duty until Sunday morning and no 
harm befell the pumping station. 

In the midst of all this, Fidel Castro was busy directing the de- 
fense of all rebel positions in the Sierra Maestra against the big- 
gest offensive that Batista had ever undertaken against the rebel 
army. No one can tell the story of this offensive with more accu- 
racy, eloquence and drama than Castro in his own report from 
the Sierra Maestra on that August night in 1958. 

This offensive, beaten back by the rebel army, proved to be 
the turning point in the civil war. The tide began to ebb for 
Batista and rise for Castro on every military front and the fighting 
soon extended to four of the six provinces. Castro was reinforced 
by airlifts of arms and ammunition from the United States, 
Mexico and Venezuela, dispatched by the now co-ordinated rebel 
groups. The planes landed at secret fields prepared in the jungle, 
to discharge their cargo and take off again. 

Among the Castro supporters and active workers there were 
many who were friendly, appreciative and grateful to Americans 
who show^ed them friendship, including members of our diplo- 
matic and consular corps. "When all this is over," Haydee Santa- 
maria Hart told me, "I am going to give a banquet at my house 
for one American. He is William Patterson, who was Vice Con- 
sul in Santiago and is now in Caracas." 

In contrast to this attitude toward individuals, there was gen- 
eral distrust of Ambassador Smith and the State Department. 



284 



CHAPTER 




The turning point of the civil war came at this 
juncture. The announcement of the unity pact of Caracas and 
the creation of the Civilian Revolutionary Front was a psycho- 
logical blow to Batista. On the battle fronts in Oriente his mer- 
cenary army was being resoundingly defeated by bearded sol- 
diers, many of whom had nothing but shotguns with which to 
shoot and none of whom received any pay. 

While all this was going on, more recruits were being trained 
at Camp Columbia to be sent to Oriente. Batista was very careful 
to ensure mention of the fact, in official communiques, that mem- 
bers of the United States Military Mission and the military 
attache of the American embassy were present at the boot train- 
ing graduation ceremonies of these men. 

When Batista's offensive was being mounted and thirteen com- 
bat teams were deployed within a five-mile perimeter under the 
best-trained officers of the regular army, Castro issued a field 
order to his troops for the defense of their positions and for an 
eventual counteroffensive. 

"We must be conscious," the order read, "of the minimum 
time that we should resist in an organized manner and of each 
of the successive phases that will arise. In this moment we must 
be thinking of the coming weeks. This offensive will be the long- 
est of all. After its failure Batista will be irremediably lost and 
he knows it, and therefore he will make his maximum effort. 

285 



This is a decisive battle being fouglit precisely on the terrain best 
known by us. 

"We are directing all our efforts toward converting this offen- 
sive into a disaster for the dictatorship. We are adopting a series 
of measures in order to guarantee: 

"1. Organized resistance. 

"2. To bleed and exhaust the enemy. 

"3. The conjunction of elements and arms sufficient to launch 
a counteroffensive as soon as the enemy begins to weaken. 

"The successive defensive phases are prepared one by one. 
We are sure that we will make the enemy pay a very high price. 
At this hour it is evident that he is very far behind in his plans, 
and although we assume that there is going to be a hard fight, 
because of the efforts that they will make to try to gain ground, 
we do not know how long their enthusiasm will last. The task 
is to make our resistance stronger each time, and that will be 
in the measure that their lines are extended and we withdraw 
toward the most strategic positions. 

"As we estimate that it is possible that at some points they 
might break through the Sierra Maestra, precise instructions for 
each case are contained in the annexes attached. The funda- 
mental objectives for these plans are: 

"1. To select a basic terrain for headquarters, hospitals, shops, 
et cetera. 

"2. To keep Radio Rebelde, which has become a factor of 
importance, on the air. 

"3. To offer greater resistance to the enemy every time we 
concentrate and to occupy the most strategic positions in order 
to launch the counterattack." 

Secret orders sent by Castro to the underground in the near-by 
cities of Oriente produced a wave of heroic rear-guard action to 
contain troops there so they would be unavailable as reserves. 
Patrol cars were fired on, bridges and aqueducts were dynamited, 
branches of the railroad were destroyed and police and soldiers 
were harassed day and night. 

On June 29, while brother Raul was performing his own little 
kidnaping stunt, Castro's barbiidos routed the reinforced combat 
team under command of Lieutenant Colonel Angel Sanchez 
Mosquera in a three-day battle at Santo Domingo, in which the 

286 



commander was seriously wounded. Nearly 1,000 troops were 
defeated by less than a third that number and 443 prisoners were 
captured. 

Batista's ballyhooed offensive was checked by Castro on all sec- 
tors of the Sierra Maestra. Facing the barbudos in the vicinity 
of El Naranjal and El Jigue was a combat team under the com- 
mand of Major Jose Quevedo, whom Castro had known as a law 
student at the University of Havana. Quevedo's soldiers were 
running short of supplies and from June 9 to July 1 1 there were 
fourteen contacts with rebel troops. 

Castro had written a letter to Quevedo on June 9, recalling 
their student days and insinuating that Quevedo might find it 
expedient to defect. Quevedo was not to receive that letter for 
some time because of the difficulty couriers had getting it to him. 
Castro told him that he entertained no hatred toward the army 
officers in spite of their loyalty to Batista and said no army with 
"true esprit de corps among their officers would tolerate the 
abuses and humiliation which they suffer under Batista." The 
letter was written in very friendly terms and Castro used the 
familiar tu instead of Usted throughout. 

On July 3 some rations arrived for Quevedo, but by the tenth 
they had been consumed. On the eleventh Castro's troops sur- 
rounded Quevedo's force and opened fire on it. The fighting 
continued for two days. On the thirteenth Quevedo ordered his 
best company, the 103 rd, to break the encirclement and reach 
the mouth of the La Plata River so they could be resupplied. He 
divided the company into three platoons, sending one along a 
saddle of the mountain, another along the banks of the river— 
which was the only place the mules could operate— and one on a 
straight advance; but they could not break the ring. Two of the 
platoons returned safely to their main-line positions, but the 
third was decimated by the rebels, with only twelve soldiers 
returning. 

Quevedo wrote a message and sent a courier to the mouth of 
the La Plata River where the George Four Company under his 
command was operating. He asked for reinforcements and 
rations and urged the frigate Maximo Gomez to shoot flares to 
acknowledge the request. The frigate, which was standing to sea 
off the coast, shot the flares. Quevedo received air support and 

287 



attacked the rebels, but the latter, with a better field of fire from 
their heights, beat back the soldiers. When Quevedo called for 
urgent reinforcements, and was advised he was getting a full 
company, he warned against sending the company forward intact 
instead of piecemeal, but his warning was not heeded. The rebels 
ambushed the reserve company and took all its ammunition and 
medicines. The remnants straggled back to the reserve command 
post. 

Castro had learned something about psychological warfare. 
He moved loudspeakers to the front lines and bombarded the 
Batista troops day and night with calls for surrender. Castro 
spoke personally and addressed himself to Quevedo, recalling 
their university days and lamenting the necessity to fight against 
him. None of the propaganda broadcast from the front lines 
contained any insults to the troops or their officers. 

Quevedo, however, called for more reinforcements and recom- 
mended that all uncommitted battalions to the north be rushed 
into action. Quevedo was notified he was getting one reserve 
battalion. And again instead of following his recommendation, 
that battalion was sent just as the ill-fated reserve company had 
been. And the result was identical: The battalion was ambushed, 
the rebels capturing much ammunition, medicines and other sup- 
plies. Among the ammunition captured were unopened cases of 
.30 caliber cartridges. The cases were marked: "G. de N. Co- 
rinto." It was ammunition originally shipped to the government 
of Nicaragua at Corinto, which is the Pacific Coast port of that 
country. Some troops managed to reach Quevedo's lines and he 
reorganized his positions. But aircraft dropping rations to his 
troops missed their mark and the rebels got them all, taunting the 
starving soldiers. 

Castro now sent Quevedo a message suggesting they hold a 
conference. The major agreed to a truce and a meeting with the 
rebel chief. During the truce the rebels and the regular army 
soldiers fraternized, embracing one another, and tears streamed 
down the cheeks of the soldiers as the rebels handed them food, 
water, cigarettes and cigars. Quevedo assembled his men and 
explained the situation to them, indicating that he believed it 
would be to the best interests of Cuba if they defected. He 

288 



emphasized that the decision was entirely up to them. The men 
answered that they would follow him. 

At nine o'clock on the night of July 20 Quevedo climbed the 
mountain, escorted by Dr. Charles Wolf Silva, Castro's emissary, 
on a mule sent down by the rebel chief at the major's request. 
Castro and Quevedo met on the trail. That night, while the in- 
surrectionist groups were celebrating the signing of the unity 
pact of the Civilian Revolutionary Front in Caracas, Castro and 
Quevedo talked under the protection of the jungles of the Sierra 
Maestra. 

Quevedo asked Castro to release all the soldiers after their 
defection but to hold him and the officers as prisoners of war. 
Castro's first concern, Quevedo emphasized, was to make certain 
that the army wounded would be given preferential medical care 
by his surgeons. 

On July 21 the 163 officers and men who were left of the com- 
bat team under Quevedo surrendered. Radio Rebelde announced 
the surrender of Quevedo and his force that night. Batista's gen- 
eral staff hastily denied it. 

By August 20 Castro was ready to announce to the people of 
Cuba and to the world his first major victory over Batista's army. 
In his usual eloquent language, he displayed the talents of an 
experienced war correspondent. His report was so long that he 
had to split it up into two broadcasts on successive nights, but it 
served to notify the Cuban people, blacked out by censorship, 
that the 26th of July army could stand off the 30,000 men under 
Batista's arms, more than a third of whom were in the Oriente 
Theater of Operations. 

"In the first battle in Santo Domingo," Castro began his report 
of Batista's offensive, "the shortwave equipment used by Com- 
pany M, of Infantry Battalion 22, comprising a Minipax and a 
PRTIO with its war codes, was captured by our forces. 

"The enemy command did not even realize this detail, but since 
then in every battle we were completely aware of the tactical 
arrangements and orders of the enemy, 

"The military command's secret code of June 5, which was 
captured by us on the twenty-ninth of the same month, was not 
changed until July 25, and the new code fell into our hands on 

289 



that very day, together with new shortwave equipment, as the 
result of the destruction of Company P in El Salto. That code 
was not changed until the last days of the rebel counteroffensive. 

"When an enemy unit was left without communication, be- 
cause their Minipax was out of order, the rebels themselves or- 
dered the enemy aviation over the radio to bomb the army posi- 
tions. Batista's technique of deceiving the soldiers by not re- 
vealing the hardships and the defeats undergone by any other 
unit, bore the natural fruit that lies, sooner or later, always give. 

"The soldiers easily fell into the same errors which had had 
costly consequences for other soldiers. They fell into similar 
traps and even into the very same ones other troops had fallen 
into days before. No unit command ever received the slightest 
news regarding the experience that other commands had under- 
gone. Thus, the soldiers as well as the officers did not know what 
was going on around them. Right now, at the end of the offen- 
sive, the headquarters of the dictatorship has just issued the most 
favorable war report that has been heard in Cuba, regarding the 
death of hundreds of rebels. The mere fact of publishing so 
many rebel casualties, which of course, are really army casualties, 
indicates their acknowledgment of the magnitude of the battles 
being fought. 

"Their cynicism has been so great that on the same day we 
delivered 1 63 prisoners and wounded from the army to the Red 
Cross in Sao Grande— minutes of which were duly drawn up and 
signed by the colonels of the Cuban Red Cross— which make up a 
total of 422 prisoners returned. Army headquarters issued a re- 
port that the rebels were giving themselves up in Manzanillo, 
Bayamo and other places. The fact of the matter is that during 
the 76 days of the offensive, the forces of the dictatorship have 
not taken a single prisoner, nor has there been a single rebel 
deserter. 

"What will the General Staff tell the soldiers when they see a 
flood of rebel troops over the length and breadth of the island? 
Does not the General Staff believe that in that moment their sol- 
diers are going to have the most terrible surprise and the bitterest 
deceptions about their military command? After having led them 
to defeat, they lied shamelessly to the rest of the armed forces, 
saying that the enemy has been destroyed, an enemy who may 

290 



appear at any minute at the unprotected gates of their forts. 

"We can very well repeat now, with more reason than ever, 
what we said four months ago. When the true history of this 
struggle is written, and every event is compared with the military 
reports of the regime, the capacity of the tyranny to corrupt and 
vilify the institutions of the Republic will be understood: to what 
point the criminal and barbaric forces at the service of evil will 
go, and to what point the soldiers of the dictatorship can be de- 
ceived by their own commanders. After all, what do despots and 
hangmen of the people care how their words will be belied in the 
history books? What they care about is to get out of a tight cor- 
ner and make their inevitable doom lighter. 

"I do not believe that the General Staff lies because of shame.. 
The General Staff of the Army of Cuba has demonstrated that it 
has no shame whatever. The General Staff lies deliberately; it 
lies to the people and to the army; it lies to avoid demoralization 
in the ranks because it refuses to acknowledge before the world 
its military incapacity, its condition of mercenary commanders 
sold out to the most dishonest cause that could be defended; be- 
cause it has been unable, in spite of dozens of soldiers and of its 
immense resources to defeat a handful of men who have rebelled 
to defend the rights of the people. 

"The mercenary rifles of the tyranny were smashed against the 
rifles of the idealists, who take no pay. All of their military tech- 
nique, their military academies and their most modern weapons 
were to no avail. The trouble is that when the militarists do not 
defend their country but attack it, when they do not defend the 
people but enslave them, they cease being armed forces and be- 
come an armed gang; they cease being military men and become 
evildoers; they no longer deserve the salary that they tear from 
the sweat of the people; with dishonor and cowardice they are 
bleeding the land and even the sun that shines on them. 

"Those of us who thought that Major General Eulogio Cantillo 
was an officer of a different kind from the Ugalde Carrillos, Salas 
Cnizares, Chavianos, Tabernillas, Cruz Vidals, Pilar Garcias, 
etc., have been changing our opinion. Whereas at the beginning 
of the campaign he was discreetly silent in regard to the course of 
the operations which were going against him, and gave battalion 
commanders more humane orders about how to treat the civil 

291 



population (although it was already too late to offset the horrible 
crimes that had been previously committed) the latest reports 
from the army are more cynical and untrue than ever and con- 
stitute a real prostitution of character and a dishonor for any 
clean-thinking man. 

"The bombarding of defenseless townships of the Sierra 
Maestra that he has ordered in these days in cruel vengeance or as 
a result of a miserable panic; the dispossessing of the peasants 
ordered by means of thousands and thousands of leaflets dropped 
from the air; the crimes perpetrated by the bloody Morejon in 
the neighborhood of Bayamo and other places— these are more 
than sufficient to include Major General Eulogio Cantillo not 
only among the pusillanimous ones who have looked with in- 
difference on the chain of corpses that his colleagues Chaviano, 
Ventura, Pilar Garcia and others have spread among the cities 
and towns of Cuba, but also among the men who have prosti- 
tuted to the tyranny their honor and their military career. 

"Owing to the length of the report and not wanting to tire the 
listeners, I will continue tomorrow at this same time, so as to 
explain the present military situation, as well as our attitude 
toward the army and the armed forces of the Republic, our 
position toward the possible military coup, the next advance of 
the rebel army in the rest of the territory and the part that the 
people will play in the new stage of the struggle." 

The next night Castro resumed his personal report to the peo- 
ple of Cuba. 

"Our doctors," he continued, "have attended to 117 enemy 
wounded. Of this total, only two died. All the rest are well and 
on the way to recovery. This shows with singular eloquence two 
things: First, the care with which the enemy wounded are treated. 
Second, the capability and extraordinary merit of our doctors 
who, completely lacking in medical resources and working in im- 
provised hospitals, have fulfilled their humanitarian task so bril- 
liantly. 

"Besides, we did not want to expose those wounded to the 
inconveniences and sacrifices necessarily imposed by confinement 
in hospitals built in the heart of the jungles. 

"From the beginning we appealed to the Red Cross to take 
them to hospitals of the armed forces, which in some cases was 

292 



absolutely necessary to save a badly damaged limb or even life 
itself, and because there the wounded would have better nourish- 
ment and care, and above all the benefit of visits and attentions 
from their own relatives. 

"Four hundred twenty-two prisoners and wounded were re- 
turned to the International and Cuban Red Cross, aside from 21 
prisoners wounded in the Battle of Arroyones, who were left 
near by, to be picked up by the army itself. A total of 443 enemy 
soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers were allowed to 
go free during the rebel counterofTensive. All other wounded and 
prisoners were returned unconditionally. 

"It may look illogical that in the midst of war enemy prisoners 
are given their freedom. That depends on what kind of war it is 
and the concept guiding that war. In war one must have a policy 
toward the adversary similar to that which one has toward the 
civilian population. War is not a simple question of rifles, bullets, 
guns and planes. Maybe that belief is one of the reasons why 
the forces of the tyranny have failed. That phrase of Marti that 
could have been mere poetry: 'What matters is not the quantity 
of weapons at hand but the number of stars on your forehead,' 
has become a profound truth for us. 

"Ever since we landed from the Gramma, we have followed 
an invariable policy in dealing with the adversary, and that line 
has been strictly kept, maybe as it has been rarely kept in all his- 
tory. 

"Ever since the first combat at La Plata on January 17, 1957, 
up to and including the last battle of Las Mercedes in early 
August, more than 600 members of the armed forces have been 
captured by us in the Sierra Maestra front alone. 

"With the natural pride of those who follow an ethical stan- 
dard, we can say that without exception the combatants of the 
rebel army have complied with the law regarding the treatment 
of prisoners. No prisoner has ever been deprived of his life. No 
wounded have ever been left unattended. But we can say more: 
no prisoner has ever been beaten up. And more still: no prisoner 
has ever been insulted. All officers who have been our prisoners 
can attest to the fact that none of them has been submitted to 
questioning, out of respect to their condition as men and mili- 
tary men. 

293 



"The victories we have won in arms, without murdering, tor- 
turing or even questioning the enemy, show that attacking human 
dignity can never be justified. This attitude of ours during twenty 
months of fighting, with more than a hundred combats and 
battles, speaks for itself regarding the conduct of the rebel army. 

"Today, in the midst of evil passions, it will not have the value 
it will have when the history of the revolution is written. It is not 
so praiseworthy from a human point of view that we should be 
following this line now that we are strong, as when we were a 
handful of men persecuted like wild beasts in the rugged moun- 
tains. 

"It was then, in those days of the combats at La Plata and 
Uvero, that knowing how to respect the life of prisoners had a 
profound moral value. And even then this would only have been 
a duty of elemental reciprocity, if the forces of the tyranny had 
cared to respect the lives of their adversaries who fell into their 
hands. But only torture and death were the sure fate awaiting 
any rebel or follower of our cause, or of even a simple suspect 
captured by the enemy. 

"There are many cases in which poor miserable peasants were 
murdered in order to pile up corpses as a justification of the 
false reports of the General Staff of the tyranny. 

"We can state that 600 members of the armed forces who 
passed through our hands are alive and with their families. On 
the other hand, the dictatorship can affirm that more than 600 
helpless patriots, many of them unconnected with any revolu- 
tionary activity, have been murdered by them in these last 
twenty months of campaigning. 

"Killing does not make anybody stronger. Killing has weak- 
ened the enemy forces. By not killing we have become strong. 
Why do we not murder enemy prisoners? 

"First, because only cowards and hounds murder an adversary 
who surrenders. 

"Second, because the rebel army cannot follow the same tac- 
tics as the tyranny which it is combating. 

"Third, because the policy and the propaganda o\ the dictator- 
ship have essentially been to show up the revolutionaries as the 
relentless enemies of any man wearing the uniform of the armed 
forces. By means of deceit and lies, the dictatorship has tried 

294 



desperately to make the soldiers become an active part of the 
regime, by making them believe that to fight against the revolu- 
tion is to fight for their career and their very lives. What the 
dictatorship would like is not for us to cure the wounded sol- 
diers and respect the lives of our prisoners, but for us to murder 
them without exception, so that every member of the armed 
forces would feel bound to fight and give his very last drop of 
blood. 

"Fourth, because if in any war cruelty is stupid, it never is so 
much so as in a civil war, where the fighters will have to live 
together someday and the victors will find themselves before the 
children, wives and mothers of the victims. 

"Fifth, because the example that our combatants are giving 
must be held up as an edifying stimulus for our future genera- 
tions, as against the shameful and depressing examples given by 
the murderers and torturers of the dictatorship. 

"Sixth, because the seed of brotherhood must be sown from 
this moment and should prevail in the future life of the country 
that we are shaping for all and for the good of all. If the fighters 
respect the life of an adversary who surrenders, tomorrow nobody 
will feel that he has the right to use vengeance and political crime 
in times of peace. If there is justice in the Republic, there should 
not be vengeance. 

"Why do we free prisoners? 

"First, because in order to keep hundreds of prisoners in the 
Sierra Maestra, we would have to share with them the supplies, 
clothes, shoes, cigarettes, etc., that we have collected with great 
effort, or, on the other hand, keep them in a state of want that 
would be inhuman and unnecessary. 

"Second, because owing to the economic conditions and high 
rate of unemployment that exist in the country, the dictatorship 
would never lack men willing to enlist for a salary. Therefore, 
it would be illogical to think that the dictatorship would be weak- 
ened by our withholding prisoners. From our military point of 
view we are not so much interested in the number of men and 
weapons that the dictatorship may have, because we have always 
supposed that they could count on whatever war resources they 
may wish to have, since the treasury of the Republic is at their 
disposal. What interests us is the number of weapons and men 

295 



that we rebels have for carrying out our strategic and tactical 
plans. Victories in war depend to a minimum on weapons and 
to a maximum on morale. Once we lay hands on the weapons 
that a soldier bears, he no longer interests us, because he would 
scarcely want to fight us when we treat him nobly. To kill a sol- 
dier or submit him to the hardships of prison will only serve as 
an inducement for besieged and conquered troops to resist even 
when a military resistance is no longer justifiable. 

"Third, because a prisoner at liberty is the best means of bely- 
ing the false propaganda of the tyranny. Hence on July 24 we 
returned 253 prisoners at Las Vegas. The minutes of the return 
were signed by J. P. Schoenholzer, International Red Cross 
delegate from Geneva, Switzerland. On August 10 and 13, 
169 prisoners were returned at Sao Grande, and the minutes 
were signed by Dr. Alberto P. Llanet, colonel of the Cuban 
Red Cross. There could be no exchange of prisoners because in 
the entire offensive the forces of the dictatorship took not a single 
rebel prisoner. In exchange we demanded nothing, because the 
freeing of the prisoners by us at that time would otherwise have 
failed to have any political or moral meaning. 

"We accepted all the medicines that the International Red 
Cross sent when we delivered the second group of prisoners, be- 
cause we interpreted that as a generous and spontaneous gesture 
on the part of said institution, which compensated partly for the 
medicines we spent curing the enemy wounded. The medicines 
from the International Red Cross arrived in an army helicopter. 

"What less could they have done after we had saved the lives 
of so many soldiers? It is a real pity that the General Staff and 
the spokesmen of the dictatorship should have started talking 
politics with a simple and unimportant detail, altering the sig- 
nificance of it. 

"Our sentiments toward the members of the armed forces have 
been demonstrated practically, and facts are worth more than 
words. 

"In our dealings with prisoners we have observed one charac- 
teristic circumstance always present, namely, deceit. A ma- 
chinery of lying operates constantly out of the regime's centers 
of higher authority. We have captured a great quantity of docu- 
ments, circulars and secret orders which are very reveahng. The 

296 



troops in the field are deceived. They are assured that the rebels 
consist of dispersed groups, that our morale is low, that we are 
armed with shotguns, etc., etc. Logically, when the soldier finds 
himself up against the reality, he receives a severe shock. 

"Generally speaking, no soldier or officer knows what has oc- 
curred in the Sierra Maestra. For example, in El Uvero a year 
ago we took 35 prisoners, cured 19 wounded and then let them 
all go free. The General Staff does its best to bury this fact. They 
make the soldier believe that if he is taken prisoner, he will be 
tortured, castrated or killed. In other words: everything that they 
do at army and police headquarters, everything that they have 
seen done to the revolutionaries at army and police headquarters. 

"Due to the censorship of the press, the soldier is unaware of 
what is happening in the country. He reads nothing but the cir- 
culars issued by the General Staff. 

"Toward the end of September 1957, for example, 53 peasants 
were murdered in a single day at Oro de Guisa. A few days later 
the General Staff issued a circular reporting that two battalions 
had gained a splendid victory, killing 53 revolutionaries. 

"The wholesale desertion of soldiers is something hard to dis- 
guise. On the night of July 24, at Cerro, 31 of 84 soldiers sta- 
tioned there deserted as one man— not to mention what is taking 
place in other battalions. We are well informed regarding these 
details. 

"When an armed organization reaches such a state, it is their 
duty to analyze the causes leading thereto before it is too late. 

"The objectivity with which I am speaking to you allows no 
doubt regarding the sincerity of my words. 

"A handful of murderers, without salvation, who have dis- 
honored the institution to which they belong and whose acts are 
leading them to suicide, cannot possibly desire to reach an agree- 
ment with the revolutionaries; but such an agreement is the only 
salvation left to the military men who are truly worried about the 
fate of the army and the country. 

"The young officers should be alert to prevent a coup from be- 
coming a hasty maneuver, maybe on the part of the tyranny 
itself, to save the heads of the accomplices most deeply involved. 

"Since we are not disposed to yield in the slightest degree in 
anything affecting the interests of the people, the 26th of July 

297 



Movement and the rebel army are willing to discuss a peaceful 
solution with the army, exclusively on the following bases: 

"1. The arrest and delivery of the dictator to the Courts of 
Justice. 

"2. The arrest and delivery to the Courts of Justice of all 
political leaders who, correspondent with the tyranny, are the 
originators of the civil war and have enriched themselves with 
the public moneys. 

"3. Arrest and delivery to the Courts of Justice of all military 
men guilty of tortures and crimes, either in the cities or in the 
provinces, and those who have enriched themselves by smug- 
gling and gambling, shady businesses and extortion, no matter 
what the amount may be. 

"4, Delivery of the provisional presidency of the Republic to 
the person designated by all active combatants or groups against 
the dictatorship, with a view to calling general elections in the 
shortest possible time. 

"5. Reorganization of the armed forces and separation of 
same from political and partisan activities, so that the armed 
forces may never again be instruments of any caudillo or political 
parties, but will limit their mission to defending the sovereignty 
of the country, the Constitution, the laws and the rights of the 
citizens, in such manner that confraternity and mutual respect be 
established among the civilian and the military, without one fear- 
ing the other, as is fitting to the true ideal of social peace and 
justice. 

"The Republic demands better and more honorable politicians, 
and also demands better and more honorable military men. Un- 
less these conditions are strictly complied with, no one should 
hold the illusion that war can end, because we would rather die 
than abandon the goal for which our people have been fighting 
for six long years and have been yearning for for half a century. 

"Nobody has more right than we to demand something for the 
good of the country, because nobody has given up personal am- 
bition as we have from the very beginning. 

"We are waiting for the answer while continuing the fight. 

"The rebel columns have advanced in all directions toward the 
rest of the national territory, and nobody can stop them. If a 
leader falls, another will replace him. If a man dies, another will 

298 



take his place. The people of Cuba should prepare to help our 
combatants. Any town or zone of the island could, in the next 
few weeks or the next few months, become a battlefield. The 
civil population must be ready to suffer courageously the priva- 
tions of war. 

"The integrity of the population of the Sierra Maestra, where 
even children help our troops and who have suffered twenty 
months of ceaseless campaigning, should be emulated in exem- 
plary fashion by the rest of the Cubans, so that the Fatherland 
may be truly free, cost what it may, and the promise of the 
Titan be fulfilled, when he said that the revolution would con- 
tinue on the march so long as a single injustice needed to be 
redressed. 

"There is a revolution because there is a tyranny. There is a 
revolution because there is injustice. There is and there will be a 
revolution as long as there is a shadow of a threat against our 
rights and our freedom." 

With such conclusive evidence that there was a full-fledged 
civil war raging in Cuba, as was contained in Castro's report, not 
many Cubans could understand why the United States Military 
Missions were still training Batista's forces. The Civilian Revo- 
lutionary Front could not understand it, either, and directed Jose 
Miro Cardona to write a letter to President Eisenhower on the 
subject. This he did as follows: 

Miami, Florida 
August 26, 1958 
The President, 
The White House, 
Washington, D. C. 

"My dear Mr. President: 

"The representatives of the political parties, the United Labor 
Organization, and the Federation of University Students, all of 
which make up the Cuban Civilian Revolutionary Front, have 
agreed to send you this message to express our solidarity and 
congratulations for the concepts of democratic reaffirmation 
which you uttered upon the inauguration of the new free govern- 
ment of Colombia and the presentation of credentials by the new 
ambassador from Venezuela. 

299 



"Your words, Mr. President, were precisely what our con- 
tinent expected from tlie leader of a nation that crushed, in Eu- 
rope, the threatening power of some doctrines which, since they 
denied freedom, ignored and destroyed one by one all of man's 
fundamental liberties. All the peoples of America proved, during 
the Second World War, that they would never submit to any 
form of slavery. 

"However, we still have in our continent strong vestiges of 
those totalitarian conceptions in the form of military dictator- 
ships, which differ from Nazism and Fascism only in that those 
systems had at least a doctrinaire content, mistaken and anti- 
human, whereas American dictators act only because of their 
uncontrollable love for gold and power. 

"Our own country, Cuba, now suffers the prevalence of one 
of those tyrants, the most cruel and ferocious our America has 
known. Coming to power by a military coup in 1952, he re- 
mains in power only because of the backing of the armed forces 
turned into a political army; and he jails, tortures, kills or exiles 
all who demand the right to be free and to live in their own 
Fatherland without fear. That is, Mr. President, the dramatic 
case of our unfortunate Cuba, which is today experiencing many 
external difficulties to achieve its own liberation, as was the 
case with Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and other sister re- 
publics. 

"Those difficulties which are of a domestic nature are being 
overcome by the spirit of heroism and sacrifice of all Cubans of 
good will, among whom the love for democracy and freedom 
runs very deep. But our people must, likewise, face other diffi- 
culties attributed to outside factors. For example, the twenty-one 
American republics have obligated themselves, in international 
pacts, to respect the dignity of the individual; to guarantee human 
rights, which are considered essential for hemispheric solidarity; 
and also to respect the sovereignty of each state. 

"The dictatorial regime under which Cuba suffers has sys- 
tematically failed to carry out the obligations set forth in the 
Charter of the Organization of American States, which are the 
foundation on which rests the association of nations in that inter- 
American entity. And yet the O.A.S. has not taken one single 
step to demand strict compliance with the said duties of states. 

300 



Such a conduct attributes to the strength of the existing dictator- 
ships and stimulates the establishment of others on American 
soil. 

"Finally. Mr. President, allow me to refer to another difficulty 
which concerns more directly the United States of America. On 
August 28, 1951, an agreement was signed between the govern- 
ments of the United States and Cuba, by virtue of which three 
American Missions were sent to our country: Army, Navy and 
Air Force. Article 5 of the said agreement stipulates that the 
said Missions would be withdrawn at any time, and the agree- 
ment canceled, whenever one of the two countries became in- 
volved in domestic or foreign hostilities. 

"It is well known, and both your government and the Cuban 
government have so recognized it, that our country has been in- 
volved in a bloody civil war for almost two years. Nevertheless, 
the corresponding Departments maintain those Missions in Cuba, 
which produces deep resentment, since their maintenance, con- 
trary to the spirit and the letter of the agreement, is proof of the 
moral and material backing offered by the government of the 
United States of America to the dictatorial regime in Cuba. The 
North American Missions (Army, Navy and Air Force) are un- 
der the direct orders of the Chief of Staff of the Cuban army, by 
the terms of the agreement, and it is obvious that they train and 
support the armed forces of the dictatorship to kill Cubans and 
to fight against those who struggle to liberate the Fatherland. 

"An order from you. Sir, based on Article 5 of the said agree- 
ment, would straightway correct that situation. Such an order, 
furthermore, would implement the beautiful democratic concepts 
proclaimed by you recently. 

"This petition is being made not only by the Civilian Revolu- 
tionary Front but also by the people of Cuba, who detest tyranny 
and believe in democracy; and it is being sanctioned by all who 
love freedom above all material blessings. 

"To maintain the said Missions in Cuba is, moreover, a form 
of intervention in our internal affairs, not to mention the fact that 
they favor the forces of evil now oppressing our nation. It is 
they which have let loose the terrible civil war which is destroy- 
ing our economic resources and our spiritual values. We know 
that this tragic process will end with the victory of the people 

301 



over tyranny; but we are cognizant of the fact that, without the 
feeling of complacency on the part of other democratic govern- 
ments, the struggle would be shorter and the sacrifices in lives 
and brotherly human blood would be smaller. 

"Mr. President, call for the withdrawal of the Military Mis- 
sions, and your words to the new democratic president of Co- 
lombia and the ambassador of a free Venezuela will acquire new 
meaning, for they will then become deeds, as contrasted with 
mere words devoid of any force, effect, or significance." 

Respectfully yours, 
J. MiRO Cardona 
Secretary-General Co-ordinator 

It is doubtful that President Eisenhower ever was apprised of 
that letter. It might have been recorded in the White House log 
as having been received and then bucked to the State Department 
"for appropriate action and reply." 

Six hundred miles from Havana in the safety of his headquar- 
ters in the Sierra Maestra, Castro summoned majors Ernesto 
Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos on August 21. In their presence 
he signed a general order, which was to seal Batista's fate. 

"Major Ernesto Guevara," the order read, "is given the mis- 
sion to lead a rebel column from the Sierra Maestra to the prov- 
ince of Las Villas and operate in said territory in accordance 
with the strategic plan of the rebel army. 

"Column No. 8 is given this objective and will carry the name 
of Ciro Redondo in homage to the heroic rebel captain killed in 
action and posthumously promoted to major. 

"Column No. 8, Ciro Redondo, will depart Las Mercedes be- 
tween August 24 and August 30. Major Ernesto Guevara is 
appointed commander of all rebel units of the 26th of July Revo- 
lutionary Movement that operate in the province of Las Villas, 
in both the rural and the urban zones, and is granted powers to 
collect the tax contributions that our military dispositions estab- 
lish, make payment of war expenses, apply the penal code and 
agrarian laws of the rebel army in the territory where his forces 
operate, co-ordinate operations, plans, administrative disposi- 
tions and military organization with other revolutionary forces 
that operate in the province, which should be invited to integrate 

302 



into one army corps in order to vertebrate and unify the revolu- 
tion: to organize local combat units and to appoint officers of 
the rebel army up to the grade of major of column." 

The order then went on to outline the strategic objective, 
which was incessant attack against the enemy in the central part 
of Cuba, intercepting and paralyzing the movement of troops 
between Havana and Oriente. Guevara leaned over a map with 
Castro, and the rebel chief put his finger on a point north of 
Manzanillo. 

"Your ammunition will be delivered there," Castro said. "You 
will have to wait there until it arrives in a DC-3 transport that 
will come from a secret base abroad. Is everything clear?" 

Guevara nodded. Castro briefed him and Cienfuegos again on 
the invasion route about which they had talked so many times. 
It was to be the route followed by the insurrectionists during the 
War of Independence, and it was the plan that Castro had de- 
cided on when he studied that war while in the Isle of Pines 
military prison. Guevara handpicked the 150 battle-tested men 
who were going to accompany him. Their physical condition was 
an essential factor in their selection. Major Camilo Cienfuegos 
handpicked the men who would comprise Column No. 2, 
Antonio Maceo, that would accompany Guevara. They lost no 
time in getting started. 

Cienfuegos, for a time in exile in San Francisco, California, 
was now a seasoned field commander who in his spare hours in 
the Sierra Maestra read books on political economy. Guevara 
had become the most efficient of Castro's field commanders, as 
forecast by Colonel Bayo. He had proved to be an organizer, 
administrator and excellent leader. He had established industries 
in the Sierra Maestra, among them a shoe factory, a uniform fac- 
tory, a knapsack factory, ordnance plants, bakeries and butcher 
shops; he had built up hospitals. These not only helped to supply 
and serve the rebels but gave remunerative work to the natives. 
Castro himself had supervised the establishment of schools. 

The Argentine medico who had reached Guatemala in 1954 
and found to his liking, as he has said, "the experiment of the 
government of Arbenz," who had tried to get work there but re- 
fused to join the Communist Party to do so and obtained a job 
as laborer with the United Fruit Company, who finally volun- 

303 



teered to serve in a hospital in Guatemala City just before the 
downfall of Arbenz, had been entrusted by Castro with one of 
the most important— and most difficult— missions of the civil war. 
Because of his sympathy for Arbenz, Guevara's political ideology 
was challenged by Cubans who wanted to see their country liber- 
ated but wanted no obligation to Communism or to Communists 
in the task. Nobody, though, questioned Guevara's proved mili- 
tary ability. 

On August 27 Guevara ordered his troops to camp in the 
vicinity of Plurial de Jibacoa in the northern zone of Manzanillo. 
A hurricane was brewing in the Caribbean and the backlash of 
the storm was beginning to strike the island. A drenching rain 
fell on the rebel troops and their vehicles. 

At five thirty in the afternoon of the twenty-eighth, the DC-3 
was observed on the horizon and contact was made by the rebel 
radio. Guevara ordered his troops to remove the leaves from the 
field that would be used as a landing strip. The plane circled the 
field, then came in to land in pools of water. Just before it came 
to a halt at the end of the field one of the wings struck a tree. 
The rebel jeeps raced down the field. The door opened and out 
came Raul Chibas, returning to the Sierra Maestra from his exile 
in the United States. 

"Have the munitions arrived?" Guevara asked. 

"Yes, the full load," Chibas answered. Guevara gave Chibas 
and the pilot a guide and an escort and sent them into the moun- 
tains to rejoin Castro while the troops feverishly raced against 
time to complete the unloading operation. Cases of 30.06 ammu- 
nition were unloaded but before they could finish the job Batista 
aircraft appeared and strafed them. Station wagons that had been 
loaded with ammunition sped off in different directions, and the 
troops dispersed and dropped to the ground. But the damaged 
rebel plane could not take off and it was set afire. 

Guevara took the ammunition that he needed and left the rest 
stored in a hiding place to be picked up by a detail that Castro 
would send. Guevara and Cienfuegos resumed their march across 
the sugar cane fields to the vicinity of Guaimaro on the Oriente- 
Camaguey border. 

The invading troops had to ford rivers swollen by the torrential 
rains that the Caribbean hurricanes were pouring onto Cuba and 

304 



they had to keep their weapons out of the water. On September 7 
they forded the Jobabo at night under a deluge of rain and en- 
tered Camaguey province. Most of the troops were now suffering 
from swollen feet and athlete's foot. They commandeered some 
trucks in the vicinity of Santa Cruz del Sur on the southern 
Camaguey coast but fell into an ambush and Guevara ordered 
them to occupy defensive positions. 

"Place a bazooka behind that algarroba tree!" Guevara ordered 
and it was promptly done while the rebels opened fire against the 
enemy in a near-by house. The firing continued, and the rebels 
pressed a counterattack. The army lost four dead and some 
prisoners were taken. Rebel Captain Marcos Borrero was killed 
and two rebel officers were wounded. Aircraft appeared and 
bombed and strafed the rebels. Later it was learned their posi- 
tion had been revealed by an unfriendly Cubana Airline pilot who 
spotted them as he flew on his regular run in the provinces. 

Camilo Cienfuegos' troops had had similar experiences and 
several times his column was dispersed, but by the seventeenth 
he had been able to regroup all his men after some had operated 
as guerrillas until they could rejoin him. 

On September 20, bivouacked on the San Nicolas farm, the 
invading rebels heard this announcement over the radio: 

"An official army communique reports: General Francisco 
Tabernilla, chief of the Joint Staff, declared in a press conference 
that the forces of Regiment No. 2, Agramonte, had surprised a 
party of bandits in Laguna de Guano, Province of Camaguey, 
killing one hundred, dispersing the rest who in their flight left 
arms, equipment and important documents and Communist 
propaganda. Other groups are surrendering to the authorities. 
These rascals and rustlers are fleeing from the Sierra Maestra, 
trying to escape their imminent destruction and were commanded 
by the well-known Communist international agent, Che Gue- 
vara." 

The rebels looked at each other and began to joke about the 
ridiculous statement. 

"Well, well," one exclaimed, "we now know that we are all 
dead and buried." 

"Old imbecile!" another ejaculated, referring to Tabernilla. 

The broadcast had given the morale of the men a lift, and 

305 



Guevara ordered them to break camp immediately and resume 
their march. They followed the shore line as closely as possible 
and it didn't take them long to reach the Rio San Pedro. But the 
army reported their position to a coastal patrol vessel that was 
offshore, and they had to flee from that place as .50 caliber fire 
fell on them. 

Having expended their rations they lived for two days on 
hearts of palm, which they cut from the coconut trees. Without 
guides they entered the swamps and began to pick their way 
across a railroad right of way. To the rear, at Santa Cruz del Sur, 
Captain Jaime Vega had run into trouble. 

Castro was incensed over what had happened to Vega and to 
his men, and he gave this report over the rebel radio, which left 
no doubt that once victory was achieved the "war criminals" 
would be executed: 

"A company of Column 8, commanded by Captain Jaime 
Vega, suffered a serious setback in the zone of operations in the 
province of Camaguey. We have not published any information 
regarding what happened more than two weeks ago, awaiting 
results of the investigation ordered. 

"Any war unit can suffer a tactical misfortune, because the 
course does not necessarily have to be an uninterrupted chain of 
victories against an enemy that has always had superior weapons 
and resources and which, nevertheless, has always borne the 
worst part of this conflict. 

"We consider it our duty in the command of our army, to an- 
nounce any setback that any of our forces in action suffers, be- 
cause according to our moral and military standards we consider 
it wrong to conceal from the people or the combatants any re- 
verses we may suffer. 

"The misfortunes should be published, because valuable les- 
sons can be learned from them and we can thus prevent the errors 
committed by one unit from being repeated by others, and care- 
lessness on the part of one revolutionary officer being repeated 
by other officers. ' 

"In war, human shortcomings will not be overcome by con- 
cealing them or by deceiving soldiers, but by making them 
known, always alerting commanders and demanding new and 

306 



redoubled efforts in the planning and execution of the movements 
and actions. 

"But in this case the action was characterized by subsequent 
facts that the people should know, mainly because they affect 
very seriously the fate of the armed forces of the nation and if 
they continue happening, could have very grave consequences 
for their future. 

"We have repeatedly proclaimed that we are not in war against 
the armed forces, only against the tyranny. But the unheard-of 
barbarities of certain officers and members of the army respon- 
sible therefor could reach a degree in which a military man in 
active service today could find it hard to justify his freedom from 
guilt for what has been happening and prove that only the un- 
limited ambitions of an unscrupulous dictator, plus the treason of 
a few officers of the 10th of March movement, led the army to 
assume the unconstitutional, undemocratic and undignified role 
it is now playing. The facts to which we refer are as follows: 

"Not observing the tactical measures of security contained in 
his instructions, which should always be followed in enemy- 
controlled territory. Captain Jaime Vega was advancing in trucks 
on the night of the twenty-seventh of September on a railroad 
embankment leading from Central Francisco to Central Maca- 
reno, in the south of Camaguey province. 

"Company 97 of the enemy forces, lying in ambush along the 
embankment, opened fire on the column by surprise at two 
o'clock in the morning of the twenty-eighth, with heavy machine- 
gun support. The heavy enemy fire against the vehicles caused 
eighteen dead, and eleven wounded prisoners could not be re- 
covered because of the darkness and the superior position of 
the machine-gun emplacements. 

"The wounded rebel prisoners were taken to the hospital at 
Macareno, where they were attended by the resident doctor 
and two other doctors from Santa Cruz del Sur, sent for by 
Lieutenant Colonel Suarez, in charge of Company 97. 

"On the following day Colonel Leopoldo Perez Coujil arrived 
by plane, and shortly after Lieutenant Colonel Suarez Suquet, 
Major Domingo Pineyro and his body guard. Sergeant Lorenzo 
Otano, arrived by car. 

307 



"Colonel Perez Coujil distributed a gift of $1,000 in cash 
among the soldiers. Thereupon, the first thing he did was to strike 
one of the wounded prisoners in the face, and, after questioning 
them, instructed Lieutenant Colonel Suarez Suquet to kill all of 
the wounded. Suarez Suquet appointed Major Pineyro to feign a 
rebel attack in the course of transferring the wounded to Santa 
Cruz del Sur. 

"They prepared trucks with mattresses, on which the wounded 
were placed, and after going a few miles, the soldiers started to 
shoot, while Major Pineyro shouted: 'The rebels are attacking 
us.' Whereupon Sergeant Otano threw two hand grenades at the 
trucks carrying the wounded who, thinking they were really being 
attacked by their rebel colleagues, shouted 'Don't shoot, com- 
panions; we are wounded.' 

"Sergeant Otano leaped forward, climbed the trucks and, ma- 
chine gun in hand, finished off the wounded, who were already 
half dead. Some lost arms and legs, others were badly mutilated, 
some decapitated; inside the trucks there was nothing but a mass 
of human blood and flesh. 

"From then on, Sergeant Otano was known by his fellow 
soldiers as the Butcher. 

"Then they placed the corpses in a truck, carried them to 
Santa Cruz del Sur, opened a huge ditch and buried them. 

"The narration of these deeds is enough to make the most in- 
different person indignant. But no Cuban can feel the facts so 
much as the rebel doctors who cared for more than one hundred 
wounded enemy prisoners when the offensive against the Sierra 
Maestra commenced, or our combatants who carried those 
wounded on their shoulders and on stretchers from the battle- 
fields to the hospitals many miles away. It is possible that among 
those murdered rebel wounded, there could be found some who 
in the battle of Jigue had carried enemy wounded from the 
points of action to the place where they received first aid, after 
having climbed almost inaccessible terrain. 

"Those wounded who had been murdered in Camaguey had 
witnessed with their own eyes how 422 soldiers of the tyranny had 
marched in the Sierra Maestra and were delivered to the Interna- 
tional and Cuban Red Cross, and shared with them their medi- 
cines, their tobacco and their food. 

308 



"The lack of reciprocity could not be more repugnant or more 
cowardly. And this is not an isolated case on the part of an 
officer or a given group of troops, but a general custom of the 
entire army, to a nauseating degree. 

"They murdered prisoners when we attacked Moncada; they 
murdered prisoners when we landed from the Gramma; they 
murdered prisoners when the presidential palace was attacked; 
they murdered prisoners when Calixto Sanchez landed; they mur- 
dered prisoners at the Cienfuegos revolt. But on all of those occa- 
sions the army could still have hopes of remaining in power: it 
was strong, it had not suffered substantial defeats and it could 
still believe that its crimes could go unpunished by virtue of the 
helplessness of an unarmed people. What happened in Cama- 
guey is doubly absurd and double cause for indignation. First, 
because the return of hundreds of soldiers safe and sound by the 
rebels to the Red Cross is still fresh in the memory of the citizens; 
and second, because the soldiers of the tyranny are losing the war 
and have been beaten in several battles, giving up more and more 
territory every day and are retreating everywhere. 

"They are losing the war and yet murder the few prisoners they 
take, in spite of being an army now vanquished. 

"Through that same territory in Camaguey, Column Nos. 
2 and 8, under the command of majors Camilo Cienfuegos and 
Ernesto Guevara, marched victoriously without being stopped by 
the heavy forces that the dictatorship threw against them. The 
vanguard has now invaded more than thirty-five miles of territory 
in Las Villas province. 

"What military or political sense can there be in that treacher- 
ous attack against the rebel wounded, except inflicting another 
stain of blood on the armed forces, which will be remembered 
frequently in history as an unwashable stain on the uniform of 
an infamous and dishonored army, that can never more be called 
the army of the Republic? 

"This deed will be denounced before the International Red 
Cross and we will demand that their delegates be sent to investi- 
gate what has happened; an open letter will be addressed to the 
armed forces notifying them of the responsibility they are putting 
upon themselves. 

"Besides holding several soldiers as prisoners, we also have a 

309 



lieutenant colonel who, paradoxically, is wounded and is being 
attended in one of our hospitals, and a major and two captains. 

"The conduct of Colonel Leopoldo Perez Coujil, Lieutenant 
Colonel Suarez Suquet, Major Triana and the other miserable 
murderers constitutes an act of infinite cowardice and a total 
lack of consideration for their colleagues in arms who are being 
held prisoner by us, without any other guarantee for their lives 
than our attitude of calm serenity in the face of this kind of van- 
dalism, the sense of humanity and justice which accompanies us 
in this war we are waging, the ideals which inspire us and our 
true concept of what honor is. 

"Let not those responsible for these acts think that they can 
escape even if at the last minute the army should rebel against 
them, because one of our most inflexible conditions is that even 
if any military coup be carried out, the war criminals and all 
militarymen and politicians who have enriched themselves with 
the blood and sweat of the people must surrender, beginning with 
Batista and ending with the last torturer. Otherwise, they will 
have to continue fighting the war until their total destruction, be- 
cause they cannot stop this revolution at all either by the shame- 
ful farce that is being prepared for November 3, or any military 
coup which may be carried out without fulfilling the conditions 
of the 26th of July Movement, or by means of any prior agree- 
ment. 

"Those who have sown winds will reap whirlwinds. 

"There is no longer any doubt that the decadent and demoral- 
ized forces of the tyranny cannot stop the victorious advance of 
the people. To do that they would first have to vanquish each 
one of the columns that are already operating successfully in 
four provinces, and then take the Sierra Maestra up to the very 
last trench at the top of Turquino Peak, which will be defended 
by the very last rebel soldier. 

"Batista's army has demonstrated to the full extent that this it 
cannot do. 

"An extensive report has been received at general headquar- 
ters, to the effect that invading Column No. 2, Antonio 
Maceo, after having crossed Camaguey province successfully, 
has entered Las Villas territory. That report contains a detailed 
account of an extraordinary military achievement and will soon 

310 



be read by Radio Rebelde so as to give the people an opportunity 
of knowing about one of the most thrilling episodes of the con- 
temporary history of our country." 

While the people of Cuba heard the above report over Radio 
Rebelde and rebroadcast by Radio Continente from Caracas, 
Guevara and his men found themselves surrounded by 1,100 
troops of the Agramonte Regiment in the swamp they had 
entered to avoid detection. They were in the water up to their 
necks, holding their weapons over their heads. But nothing hap- 
pened because in the still of the night the soldiers appeared to 
be more frightened than the rebels, who had not eaten or slept 
for three days. Aircraft bombed and strafed the vicinity regularly 
but always managed to miss them. The column continued its 
march through swamps, into open fields, back into swamps again 
—and by now Camilo Cienfuegos' column had rejoined Guevara— 
with the troops hardly able to drag their feet any more. 

Guevara returned to his chores as medico and examined the 
feet of the men, joking: "That is nothing; when we get to Havana 
we will be walking on rugs." 

On October 6, exactly sixty-three years to the day since Gen- 
eral Maximo Gomez, a Dominican, and General Antonio Maceo, 
a Cuban, crossed the trail from Jucaro to Ciego de Avila, Major 
Ernesto Guevara, an Argentine, and Major Camilo Cienfuegos, 
a Cuban, at the end of a different kind of liberation march, cov- 
ered the same route. 

Three officers of the 26th of July Army in Las Villas were 
waiting for them the next morning at the border of that province 
to take the entire invading force to the Sierra del Escambray. 
When the invading troops reached Las Villas they knelt and 
kissed the ground. 

There Guevara held conferences with Captain Victor Bordon 
of the 26th of July Movement, Majors Rolando Cubela and 
Faure Chomon of the Directorio Revolucionario and Major Eloy 
Gutierrez Menoyo of the Segundo Frente Nacional del Escam- 
bray. He completed another phase of the mission given to him 
by Castro. He obtained an agreement on the co-ordination of 
the three forces for the offensive that was planned to capture the 
entire province. 

311 



The safe arrival of the invading columns in Las Villas was 
reported over Radio Rebelde; and Diario las Americas, a Spanish 
language daily of Miami which is delivered on the desk of every 
State Department officer dealing with inter-American affairs, 
published the documents of Guevara's agreement with the other 
two rebel groups. The Directorio had 1,000 men. The Second 
Front force numbered nearly 5,000. 

As soon as the news spread that the invading columns had 
reached Las Villas, hundreds of volunteers offered to join the 
rebel army. Those who could be supplied with weapons, or who 
brought their own, were taken in. The others were trained as 
recruits, pending the arrival of guns or their capture from the 
army. 

It was not until October 13, when the civil war had gained 
momentum, that the State Department replied to Dr. Miro's let- 
ter of August 26 to President Eisenhower about the military mis- 
sions. The department exercised particular care to preserve the 
necessities of diplomatic protocol, avoiding reference to the Civil- 
ian Revolutionary Front or to Miro's title in it. The letter read: 

October 13, 1958 
"Dear Dr. Miro: 

"Your letter of August 26, 1958, addressed to the President, 
regarding the political situation in Cuba and the presence there 
of the United States Military Missions, was referred to the De- 
partment of State for reply. 

"We have noted your comments regarding the remarks made 
by President Eisenhower, on the occasion of the presentation of 
Letters of Credence by the new Venezuelan Ambassador to the 
United States, to the effect that the United States believes firmly 
in the democratic elective process and the choice by the people, 
through free and fair elections, of democratic governments re- 
sponsive to them. At the same time, the United States does fol- 
low a strict policy of nonintervention in the domestic affairs of 
our sister American republics, including Cuba. 

"With respect to the request in your letter that the United 
States Military Missions to Cuba be withdrawn, I should like to 
point out that these missions were established in 1950 and 1951 

312 



during the presidency of Dr. Carlos Prio Socarras, and have 
continued to this date, operating within the terms of an approved 
contract agreed to by the governments of the United States and 
Cuba. In your letter you refer to Article 5 of the mission agree- 
ments and state that this article 'stipulates that the said missions 
would be withdrawn at any time, and the agreement canceled, 
whenever one of the two countries became involved in domestic 
or foreign hostilities.' The actual wording of that article reads 
that the agreements are 'subject to cancellation' (i.e., may be 
canceled) under conditions such as you describe so that with- 
drawal is permissive rather than mandatory as indicated in your 
letter. 

"The Mission agreements were negotiated in conformity with 
discussions which had taken place between the two governments 
on hemispheric military co-operation. The United States Gov- 
ernment believes that its missions in Cuba are serving the purpose 
for which they were established. Governments and administra- 
tions change from time to time in both Cuba and the United 
States but hemispheric defense needs present a constant problem 
the solution of which calls for a co-operative program carried out 
on a steady, long-range basis." 

Sincerely yours, 

For the Secretary of State: 
William A. Wieland 
Director, 

Office of Caribbean and Mexican Affairs 

That reply could be summed up as follows: governments may 
come and governments may go but our Military Missions are not 
going to be withdrawn come hell or high water. That was a stub- 
born and mistaken decision by the State Department and the 
Pentagon. The implication that Prio was to blame for the exist- 
ence of the missions was a childish and absurd weasel. The gen- 
eration that was fighting Batista was going to rule Cuba and we 
were festering sores in their hearts, building up resentments in 
their minds and fanning the enmity of their relatives and the 
entire Cuban people by insisting on the continued training of an 
army by our mission— an army headed for inevitable defeat. 

313 



Miro replied to Weiland on October 28 and pointed out that 
he gathered his letter precluded a right of appeal. He countered, 
in part, with the following: 

"Your letter contains arguments that imply an evident error of 
judgment regarding Cuba, the function of the Military Mission 
and the future relations between the two nations." 

Agreeing with the legal interpretation given by the State De- 
partment regarding the permissive right rather than the obligation 
to withdraw the missions in the event of civil war, Miro added: 
"By not using that permission power when the civil war is a 
notorious and lamentable fact in Cuba— admitted by the United 
States— implies the assumption of a tremendous historic responsi- 
bility that will have to have disagreeable repercussions in the rela- 
tions with those who in the not too distant future will assume the 
power in Cuba. It is obvious that the fighters of today, rulers of 
tomorrow, and the people themselves cannot fathom that, invok- 
ing the hemisphere defense potential, the North American army 
trains the soldiers of Batista— who took office ignoring constitu- 
tional precepts— who kill Cubans who fight to restore the princi- 
ples of democracy. This fact is creating a profound resentment in 
the present generation of Cuba that should be avoided. 

"We fought together for independence and we have been to- 
gether in two wars for democracy; but those ties that appeared 
indestructible are suffering from a mistaken foreign policy. 

"In 1947 the United States ordered the members of its Military 
Mission in Paraguay to withdraw to their homes in order not to 
intervene in the internal affairs of that nation. [A revolution had 
erupted that flowered into a civil war,] In Cuba not only are the 
soldiers of the dictatorship trained but the Chiefs of Mission grant 
decorations to officers of an illegitimate government that has shat- 
tered the principles of civilized co-existence." 

Miro concluded that there could be no honest elections under 
Batista and that the "insurrectional forces who now dominate 
almost all of the national territory will continue fighting until 
they overthrow Batista in order to give birth to a provisional gov- 
ernment which, guaranteeing the rights of all, convenes an elec- 
tion that will allow the citizens freely to decide the destiny of the 
nation rather than succumb to a regime of force, of death, of 
peculation and of prostitution that reigns in Cuba." 

314 



The lobbyists for the Civilian Revolutionary Front, Ernesto 
Betancourt for the 26th of July Movement, and Carlos Piad, for 
the Autentico Party, made regular pilgrimages to the State De- 
partment to inquire when the missions would be withdrawn. Spe- 
cial delegations also called on Wieland and other officers and 
met no success. The State Department and the Pentagon un- 
doubtedly appraised the impact of the withdrawal of the missions 
correctly: this measure would have expedited the fall of Batista, 
for he exploited the presence of the missions, despite the proviso 
to withdraw them in the event of civil war in Cuba, as direct sup- 
port by the United States for him, notwithstanding the fact he 
could no longer obtain export licenses for arms and ammunition 
and resorted to rebel tactics to smuggle them out of various ports 
and airports. 

The Inter American Press Association held its annual conven- 
tion in Buenos Aires, and Jorge Quintana, one of the editors of 
Bohema, reported on the censorship in Cuba and threats against 
editors. He emphasized (showing photographs which I made 
available to him) that one of the main reasons for the censorship 
was to conceal the atrocities committed by the repressive forces. 

This forthright attitude brought threats and reprisals. Batista's 
military, naval and police repression chiefs threatened to kill 
Quintana if he returned to Cuba. As a result he had to remain 
in the United States and Puerto Rico until Batista fled. 

Castro was strong enough now to prepare for his final offen- 
sive that was destined to produce victory. Plane load after plane 
load of arms and ammunition was reaching him from the United 
States, Mexico and Venezuela. He had studied the campaigns 
of the War of Independence in minute detail and had planned to 
duplicate the march westward toward the eventual collapse of 
Havana. 

On October 10, the ninetieth anniversary of the Cry of Yara 
in 1868 for independence from Spain, Castro issued two impor- 
tant rebel laws. One was a comprehensive law for agrarian re- 
form, which it will be recalled he had spoken about at his trial 
for the Moncada attack. The other was Law No. 2, which or- 
dered everyone to remain away from the polls on November 3, 
the date which Batista had set for presidential elections. Batista's 
handpicked candidate was Dr. Andres Rivero Aguero, fifty- 

315 



three, who was going to win come hell or high water. Opposing 
him was Carlos Marquez Sterling, former President Grau and 
Alberto Salas Amaro. Batista financed the campaigns of opposi- 
tion candidates to ensure their going to the polls. 

Castro's no-election law, also signed by Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral Humberto Sori Marin, showed not only his determination to 
keep the voters away from the polls but to punish those who in- 
sisted on being candidates. His language was now becoming 
more defiant than ever, for he was on the road to victory and he 
was certain of it. The law read: 

"Whereas the tyranny prepares a new and raw electoral farce 
for the third of November, totally behind the back of the inter- 
ests of the people in the midst of the pool of blood into which the 
Republic has been converted in full civil war— in which the mili- 
tary forces retreat before the victorious push of the rebel troops— 
without finding formulas capable of masking the elections such 
as even the technical re-establishment of individual guarantees 
and of freedom of the press; against a citizenry, in sum, that is 
persecuted, in mourning and determined to recapture their liber- 
ties and rights through the definite end of the usurper regime of 
thieves, traitors and assassins who have converted the Fatherland 
into the feudal estate of their infinite ambitions. 

"Whereas the participation in the election farce constitutes an 
act of betrayal of the interests of the Fatherland and the revolu- 
tion and is classified as opportunism on the part of those who 
think only of their bastard personal conveniences and work in the 
shadows at the expense of the Republic when they serve the plans 
of the tyranny while the best of our people offer their lives on the 
battlefield. 

"Whereas it is necessary for the last time to alert the Cubans 
who have not yet understood the profound question that is being 
debated in Cuba and who, insensible to the tragedy that sur- 
rounds them, have enlisted in the company of actors of the com- 
edy which the tyranny prepares November 3 by stubbornly lend- 
ing their names as candidates for posts they never will hold. 

"Therefore, in use of the powers that are found invested in this 
command, the following Law No. 2 is dictated about the electoral 
farce: 

"I. Everyone who takes part in the electoral farce the third day 

316 



of November of 1958, as a candidate to any elective post, with- 
out prejudice to the criminal responsibility in which he may incur, 
will be barred for a period of thirty years from the date of this 
law from holding a public or elective post or one by appointment 
by the state, the province or the municipality. 

"II. The period having expired in which a candidate cannot 
resign so that his name does not appear on the ballot, he will show 
his nonparticipation in the electoral farce by absenting himself 
from the country and previously presenting himself in the free 
territory of Cuba, or, in any case, by reporting his resignation 
to the foreign press or through the broadcast means of the rebel 
army by the thirtieth of October. 

"HI. Any political agent who dedicates himself to the corrupt 
system of collecting voting cards will be tried by a summary court- 
martial and executed on the spot. 

"IV. The candidate to any elective post who may be captured 
in the zone of operations of the free territory will be tried and 
condemned to a penalty that may fluctuate, in accordance with 
the greater or lesser degree of responsibility, from ten years to 
the death sentence. 

"V. In the urban zones the death sentence may be executed 
against the guilty either by the rebel troops or by the militia who 
operate in the towns and cities." 

Florence Pritchett Smith organized a gala Cuban ball at the 
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York to raise funds for a scholar- 
ship for a Cuban dress designer. This fun-making at the height 
of the civil war further antagonized an already irate people. Re- 
quests by Smith for contributions to the scholarship circulated on 
stationery of the Cuban-American Institute already had brought 
protests from Cuban members in Havana. The publicity given to 
the ball— which Batista made certain was carried in censored 
newspapers and over the radio— did not serve to improve the state 
of mind of the Cubans toward Smith. 

At the same time the secret agent of the 26th of July Move- 
ment in the Cuban embassy in Washington obtained a let- 
ter written by his chief to the General Staff in Havana. It was 
dated October 13 and was signed by Colonel Jose D. Ferrer 
Guerra, military and air attache. Sergeant Saavedra, the secret 

317 



agent, made available to Ernesto Betancourt of the 26th of July 
Movement a photostat of the original letter, and he promptly dis- 
patched it from Washington to Castro in the Sierra Maestra. 

Ferrer reported to the director of operations of the Cuban 
army that he had had a conversation with a four-star general 
and a two-star general of the United States Armed Forces "and 
both hold important posts in American military establishments 
in relation with Latin America, which makes their opinions of 
interest." 

He went on to report that one of the generals told him that the 
26th of July Movement had tried to stage a demonstration dur- 
ing a World Series game so all televiewers could see them but 
"the police had dispersed them before they could get on camera." 

He then reviewed the generals' criticism of the arms embargo 
which they called "stupid and prejudicial to both Cuban and 
American interests" because it allowed Batista to buy Sea Fury 
aircraft from England. (Castro had already ordered a boycott 
against all British products in Cuba and against the Shell Petro- 
leum Company because of this sale of seventeen planes to Ba- 
tista.) 

Ferrer Guerra reported one of the generals as saying that As- 
sistant Secretary of State for Latin-American Affairs Roy R. 
Rubottom had weakened on the arms embargo because he was 
"afraid of criticism in Congress by persons like Congressman 
Porter and Senator Morse." Then Ferrer made a statement which 
was to have subsequent influence on Castro. 

"He also said," Ferrer continued referring to one of the gen- 
erals, "that Ambassador Smith, after his unfortunate trip to San- 
tiago de Cuba, now is a valuable co-operator with the American 
Armed Forces in his fight with the Department of State to defend 
the sale of arms to Cuba. 

"One of the general officers also stated," Ferrer went on, "that 
he felt very proud of the fine way the air force of the Cuban 
army was working." He then added that the same officer said 
that "when exiled revolutionary elements here asked him to use 
his influence to withdraw the American Missions in Cuba he 
answered that 'while Cuba has a friendly government recognized 
by the United States he will do all in his power to continue the 
Missions.' 

318 



"Then conversation," Ferrer reported, "passed to the subject of 
Cuba, and one general said that although he only knew slightly 
the Honorable Senor Presidente of the Republic of Cuba, he felt 
admiration for him due to the progress of Cuba in recent years. 
Comparing the progress of Cuba with the much ballyhooed prog- 
ress of Puerto Rico, he said that Cuba had progressed very much 
more in recent years, that in Puerto Rico only isolated improve- 
ments were noted. He said that in his opinion the revolutions 
should be made with votes and not bullets and guns, and that no 
group has the right to harm a country as the Cuban revolution- 
aries are doing, trying to discredit Cuba abroad." 

There was little wonder that Castro would react most unfavor- 
ably to such a letter, especially when certain events that were to 
follow invited him to suspect a conspiracy to arouse American 
public opinion so that the arms embargo would be lifted. 



319 



CHAPTER 




Two events in quick succession brought an ex- 
change of recriminatory statements between the State Department 
and Fidel Castro before the end of October. The first involved 
nine employees of the Texaco Refinery, two Americans and seven 
Cubans, who were captured when they discovered a rebel ambush 
on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba. The rebels and their cap- 
tives notified the refinery manager, and letters written by the Tex- 
aco employees were delivered to their families. The letters 
reported that they were well and would be released as soon as 
their freedom would no longer jeopardize the rebel position. 

Lincoln White, State Department spokesman, issued a state- 
ment in Washington in which he declared that our government 
"was fed up with the kidnaping of Americans by the Cuban 
rebels." 

Another incident occurred at Nicaro, when Batista withdrew 
his troops and the rebels moved in. After the rebels were inside 
the city, Cuban troops were ordered back and the rebels withdrew 
to avoid harming the populace. It was reported that American 
civilians in Nicaro had been held by natives there as hostages 
against bombardment by Batista's air force. The Navy sent the 
transport Kleinschmidt from Guantanamo Bay to evacuate the 
civilians; the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was 
maneuvering off the naval base, was ordered to stand by in case 
its helicopters were needed for evacuation. 

Another statement by Lincoln White irritated Castro into 

320 



broadcasting a blistering blast over Radio Rebelde on the night 
of October 26: 

"A communique received from the 'Frank Pais' second front 
reports the possibility that the Nicaro zone, where the United 
States government has a nickel plant, is being converted into a 
battlefield. 

"Three days ago and without any military reason therefor, the 
dictatorship surprisingly withdrew the troops that had been sta- 
tioned there. 

"Following the usual tactics, the rebel forces immediately took 
the territory abandoned by the enemy, offering the employees 
and officers of the company full guarantees to continue oper- 
ating. 

"Today the rebel command intercepted an order from Colonel 
Ugalde Carrillo, ordering forces to land again at Nicaro, which 
will naturally cause an armed conflict. This all forms part of a 
maneuver on Batista's part, in complicity with Ambassador Earl 
E. T. Smith and other high officers of the United States Depart- 
ment of State, to provoke the intervention of the United States 
in the Cuban civil war. 

"In its despair, the dictatorship is trying to precipitate a grave 
incident between the rebels and the United States. The first at- 
tempt took place early in July, when the General Staff of the 
dictatorship, in agreement with Mr. Smith, withdrew their troops 
from the Yateritas waterworks, which supplies the United States 
Naval Base at Caimanera with water, and requested the U.S. 
authorities there to send soldiers to protect the waterworks. 

"Batista and Mr. Smith were trying to cause a fight between the 
United States marines and the rebels, but a great campaign to 
influence public opinion in the entire continent, plus the responsi- 
ble attitude of the rebel forces in the face of that self-evident 
provocation and the efforts on the part of the Civilian Revolu- 
tionary Front achieved a diplomatic solution of the matter. 

"The United States marines were withdrawn without any inci- 
dent. 

"An unimportant incident took place by pure chance a few 
days ago which encouraged the intrigue between the American 
embassy and the Batista dictatorship against the sovereignty of 
the country. 

321 



"Two Americans and seven Cubans working at the Texaco 
plant fell into an ambush prepared by Cuban patriots who were 
expecting the advance of enemy forces. For strict reasons of se- 
curity for said employees, as well as for our own forces, the 
people traveling in the vehicle were detained by us and taken to a 
safer place. This was done not because they were Americans or 
Cubans, but simply because when an ambush is discovered by 
civilians and when the latter do not immediately inform the 
forces of the tyranny and thus prevent their falling into the am- 
bush, the dictatorship always acts against them. If, on the other 
hand, the civilians reveal our position, it could be surrounded by 
superior enemy forces and attacked. It is for this reason that in 
these cases civilians are held in some safe place, for reasons of 
security, as much for us as for them, and for as long as the opera- 
tion may last, 

"This act cannot be classified as a kidnaping. Nobody in- 
tended to prevent those employees from going to their work. 
Nothing was demanded from them in exchange for their freedom, 
and they were treated with every consideration. This was simply 
what happened and they were freed as soon as the commander 
of the column withdrew our forces from the road. 

"However, Lincoln White, spokesman for the United States 
Department of State, taking advantage immediately of this inci- 
dent and seeking the smallest pretext to interfere in the internal 
affairs of Cuba, made insulting statements against the Cuban 
patriots, which are equivalent to an open threat against the integ- 
rity of our territory and the sovereignty of our people. 

"Batista's dictatorship has assassinated more than one United 
States citizen and has repeatedly attacked and even murdered 
newspapermen from other countries. Nevertheless, the Depart- 
ment of State has kept silent regarding those deeds, by hiding 
them from the public opinion of the United States. Why, then, 
should this simple incident make Lincoln White launch a serious 
threat and accusations against the 26th of July Movement? 

"The town of Nicaro was evacuated by the forces of the dicta- 
torship and, three days later, when the patriots took it over, the 
dictatorship ordered its troops to land there again. They are now 
trying to make that place the scene of a battle; the United States 
government's nickel plants are there, and by causing material 

322 



damages to the plants, a pretext can be found for sending United 
States troops to our national territory. It is a plan similar to the 
one involving the Yateritas waterworks. 

"It is the lowest kind of betrayal that the government can com- 
m.it against its own country. 

"We hereby denounce these acts to United States and Latin- 
American public opinion. 

"Why did the forces of the dictatorship give up the nickel 
plants when they were not being attacked by rebels? Why was a 
new landing of troops ordered there? What is the connection 
between these deeds and the aggressive statement made by Lin- 
coln White? 

"The rebel command has never felt any hostility toward the 
United States. When a group of United States citizens were held 
in the north of the province of Oriente, so that they could see 
and prove the effects of the bombings of the peasant population— 
which had been carried out with bombs and planes of United 
States origin— this command, upon hearing of the matter, imme- 
diately ordered that those citizens should be handed over to the 
authorities of their country, because we considered that they 
should not suffer as a result of the errors of their government. 

"When I gave that order, a United States newspaperman, who 
was with us in the Sierra Maestra, immediately sent the mes- 
sage to the wire services. 

"The latest incident concerning the two United States citizens 
was purely a matter of chance and arose as a result of the events 
we have set forth. The fact that seven Cubans were with them 
and were held at the same time is proof that a question of nation- 
ality was not involved. 

"If Lincoln White classifies as a transgression of civilized stand- 
ards the retention of two of his compatriots, who were treated 
decently and freed as soon as the danger for them and for our 
soldiers had passed, how would he classify the death of so many 
helpless Cuban civilians murdered by the bombs and planes that 
the United States government sold to the dictator Batista? 

"Cuban citizens, Mr. White, are human beings just like United 
States citizens; but a United States citizen has never died by 
bombs from Cuban planes. You cannot accuse Cuban patriots 
of these acts, but we can accuse you and your government. 

323 



"The war that our country is now suffering causes losses and 
inconveniences, not only to the citizens of your country, but to 
the residents of Cuba as well. But this war is not to be blamed 
on the Cubans, who want to recover our democratic system and 
our liberties, but on the tyranny that has been oppressing our 
country for six long years, the tyranny which has been supported 
by United States ambassadors. 

"Our conduct is open to the public light. There is no censor- 
ship of the press in the territory liberated by our forces. American 
newspapermen have visited us countless times, and they may go 
on doing so as many times as they want, in order to report our 
activities, freely and wholly, to their own people. . . . 

"It is proper to point out that Cuba is a free and sovereign 
country and that we wish to maintain the most friendly relations 
with the United States. We do not wish any conflict between 
Cuba and the United States that cannot be solved by the use of 
reason and the exercise of the right of peoples. 

"But if the United States Department of State continues to 
become involved in the intrigues of Mr. Smith and Batista and 
if it makes the unjustifiable mistake of committing an act of ag- 
gression against our sovereignty, it can be sure that we will know 
how to defend ourselves with dignity. There are duties to one's 
country that cannot be left unfulfilled, cost what they may. 

"The words and threats in your recent statements do not honor 
a great and powerful country like the United States. Threats are 
useful when used against cowardly and submissive people, but 
they never will be of any use against men who are willing to die in 
the defense of their country." 

It was only natural, in view of the photostat of the letter from 
Colonel Ferrer, the Cuban military and air attache in Washing- 
ton—which the secret agent of the 26th of July Movement sent 
on— that Castro would consider the succession of psychological 
blows apparently aimed at him by the State Department a 
result of conniving. 

The State Department was quick to deny Castor's accusations 
that it was intervening in the Cuban civil war. Lincoln White 
said that his blunt statement was designed "as a part of a general 
policy to protect the lives of American citizens." He added: "We 

324 



have carefully avoided any such intervention, and there is cer- 
tainly no intention on our part to alter this policy." 

The Cubans had a different definition of intervention, espe- 
cially regarding the continuation of the Military Missions. The 
Batista regime, on the other hand, voiced its protest through a 
public relations representative in Washington that "United States 
diplomats working in Cuba have on many occasions negotiated 
directly with rebel elements. This direct dealing is not only an 
insult to the Batista government but contrary to all the accepted 
practices and usages in modern diplomacy." 

Back in the Sierra Maestra, Major Quevedo was still a pris- 
oner, as were captains Carlos Manuel Duran and Victoriano 
Gomez. On October 27 the three asked to join the 26th of July 
forces and offered to return clandestinely to the cities to under- 
take conspiratorial work among their old comrades in the regular 
army. 

"I think that you are more useful here than if you returned 
to take part in conspiracies," Castro said. "We need you here 
to try to win over and save army units that are fighting decently. 
Moreover, with your experience you can help us to plan the final 
campaign." 

Castro assigned the trio to his planning staff. This job did not 
prevent Quevedo from writing letters to friends in the army at- 
tempting to persuade those officers to conspire and defect, which 
he did with Castro's consent and help. 

A secret 26th of July Movement cell had been organized 
among the pilots of the Cubana Airline. Captain Leslie Nobre- 
gas, thirty-two years old, was the head of the cell. He had taken 
his pilot training at the Embry-Riddle Flying School in Miami 
and had been with Cubana for six years. The Cubana pilot un- 
derground carried most of the rebel secret correspondence for 
personal delivery to Santiago, Camaguey, Holguin and Miami. 

Castro was anxious to attempt to bomb the Moncada fortress. 
To accomplish this, the rebels needed planes capable of perform- 
ing the operation in a certain way. Word was sent to Nobregas 
to co-ordinate the hijacking of certain planes to be flown to the 
rebel field which Raul Castro had prepared at Mayari Arriba, 
which had a 3,400-foot runway. 

325 



Captain Francisco Valiiciergo, another Cubana pilot, was in- 
structed to contact the 26th of July Movement in Santiago. The 
underground chief there told him Castro wanted two planes, and 
Nobregas took him to see the national co-ordinator of the 26th 
of July Movement, operating under the code name of "Eloy," in 
Havana. Eloy approved the plans. 

When a Cubana DC-3 landed at Moa in Oriente on a regu- 
larly scheduled flight there were three passengers, two men and a 
girl, waiting to board. When the plane was in flight, the girl 
went to the lavatory and removed a gun she had strapped around 
her leg. With gun in hand one of the men then entered the cock- 
pit. The plane was flown to the Mayari Arriba strip, where 
flights of guns, ammunition and mail had been ferried regularly 
from Florida. 

Orders were sent by Raul Castro to bring him another plane. 
This time it was more difficult because of the investigation fol- 
lowing the first hijacking. The chief of the 26th of July group 
in Havana, who used the code name of "Machaco," assigned 
three men and three women to the job. 

They boarded Flight 482 at the Camaguey airport. The girls 
had pistols taped to their legs, but this time the pistols were not 
needed. For the pilot, Captain Armando Piedra, Cuban skin- 
diving champion, was a rebel sympathizer. 

From Camaguey the plane flew to Manzanillo, a regularly 
scheduled stop. Flight 482 continued its schedule and reached 
Cayo Mambi on the Atlantic Coast of Oriente. The hijackers 
went into action, and Piedra turned the plane westward to land 
at Mayari Arriba. The steward on this flight was a son of Major 
General Eulogio Cantillo, commander of Moncada. 

As soon as it was safe, Castro released the crew members and 
passengers and delivered them to the Red Cross. The two DC-3's 
were readied for loads of improvised bombs made from acetelyne 
tanks. The tanks, filled with explosive, were to be kicked out of 
the door when the planes reached their targets. 

Over in Miami one Cuban-American, Edmundo Ponce de 
Leon, a resident of that city, and five young Cuban exiles decided 
they would try to hijack a Cubana Viscount and join Castro's 
forces. On the afternoon of November 1 they boarded the Vis- 
count in Miami as it took off for Havana via Varadero. 

326 



Ponce de Leon and the others forced the pilot to change 
course eastward near Varadero to head for Oriente. The plane 
crashed into the sea that night, killing fourteen of its twenty pas- 
sengers and crew. This was a terrible tragedy and an absolutely 
unnecessary one, but it was not ordered by Castro or by anyone 
connected with him— although official announcements issued by 
our embassy in Havana created this impression. 

"That group of irresponsible boys acted on their own," Nobre- 
gas said. "They had absolutely no contact with any revolutionary 
leader. The only persons in Miami who had authority to approve 
such a plan were Haydee Santamaria Hart and Jose Llanusa, both 
of whom would have consulted us about it. I would, naturally, 
have vetoed the plan because the Viscount must land at 120 
knots and cannot land at an unlighted airport like Mayari Ar- 
riba." 

Castro ordered all transport halted from November 1 through 
November 6 to harass Batista's election plans. Cubana did not 
fly to embattled Oriente. 

In Washington Batista's ambassador Nicolas Arroyo, whose 
confirmation for the post had been confirmed in the senate by 
only four votes, scored a diplomatic coup. On the night of Octo- 
ber 30 Secretary of State and Mrs. John Foster Dulles were Ar- 
royo's guests at dinner at the Cuban embassy. Batista had a field 
day with this story, and Havana newspapers headlined it on page 
one: Dulles Toasts Batista. Diario la Marina published a full 
page of pictures of the dinner in its rotogravure section on No- 
vember 2, the day before the elections. 

Many people were extremely bitter about Mr. Dulles' action 
at this crucial moment for their country. Even if the occasion 
was in commemoration of Theodore Roosevelt, as reported, the 
Cubans did not think it fitting. 

The publicity given to the affair made even more Cubans deter- 
mined to remain away from the polls. As Castro had forecast, the 
elections were a farce. At least 75 per cent of the people of 
Havana stayed away from the polling places although voting was 
mandatory. The percentage was higher in the provinces, and 
Santiago reported 98 per cent abstention. 

The newspaper Prensa Libre defiantly appeared on the streets 
without an election story, and with a two-column picture on the 

327 



front page of a guerrilla carrying a rifle. The next day the censor 
was fired. 

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal began to furnish election re- 
turns after the polls closed. As expected they showed a wide 
lead for Rivero Aguero. 

The General Staff of the army began to supply figures, report- 
edly received from military commanders throughout the country. 
These returns leaped far ahead of the tribunal figures. By mid- 
night the army returns had announced a decision in favor of 
Batista's candidate. 

Many people who mistakenly thought that Batista might swing 
the election victory to Marquez Sterling— to feign a semblance 
of desire for compromise— were shocked and stunned by the 
brazen announcement of the count. The ballot boxes had been 
stuffed by army officers before the elections. The only results 
that would be recognized were those announced by army head- 
quarters. The rebels obtained dozens of voting identity cards 
made out in different names but with the same photograph on 
each card. These had been given in quantity to government 
ward heelers for use on behalf of Rivero Aguero. Even those 
who had entertained a faint hope for change without total war- 
fare discarded that fantasy and were convinced that Castro was 
right: the people of Cuba did not vote on election day. Others 
had voted for them. 

The contributions to Castro's treasury poured in from hitherto 
reluctant citizens of means. The Castro army had been collecting 
taxes in the free territory, and Raul Chibas, who had secretly left 
the United States, was in the Sierra Maestra as its tax collector. 
Some American firms in the area ignored the demands as the 
U.S. embassy recommended. 

Dr. Manuel Urrutia once again flew from New York to Vene- 
zuela, a trip he had made many times in the year past. But this 
was to be his last journey. From Venezuela he flew to Oriente 
province in a plane loaded with arms and 1,000,000 rounds of 
ammunition for Castro's army. 

Juan Nuiry and Omar Fernandez, the student leaders in exile, 
flew from Florida to the Sierra Maestra to join Castro; they be- 
came captains in the rebel army. That flight was one of 

328 



many secret missions flown by Cuban and American pilots. 

The day after the elections the government pressured Prensa 
Libre, under threat of closure, to publish at least the bare returns 
furnished by the electoral tribunal. This the newspaper did. Pres- 
sure on Bohemia was even greater; police under Colonel Esteban 
Ventura, wearing his white silk suit as usual, invaded the plant, 
stopped the presses and closed operations. He stationed police- 
men at the plant. I was a witness to it. 

Editor Quevedo, who was in New York to receive the Maria 
Moors Cabot Award at Columbia University, was telephoned a 
report by Managing Editor Lino Novas Calvo. Quevedo's in- 
structions were to stand firm, not submitting to government pres- 
sure to print anything about the elections, and let the plant be 
closed. Quevedo said he would publish an election article and 
photograph provided he could comment on its fraudulence. 
Quevedo's firm stand won out, and the police were withdrawn. 
Closing down Bohemia at that moment would have been Batista's 
best gift to Castro because of the magazine's prestige, not only 
in Cuba, but in the United States and Latin America. 

On November 5 Millie Ferrer and Beba Mendoza drove me to 
a house in the La Vibora district where I was to interview 
Manuel Ray, head of the Civic Resistance Movement in Havana. 
Ray was still eluding Batista's hunters, and under the code name 
of Campa was directing the subversive activities of thousands of 
members of the revived cells of his organization. 

What Ray told me was not for publication at that time and was 
not, in fact, to be repeated to anyone. He said that a military con- 
spiracy was under way. It could erupt any time after November 
15 and Batista would surely fall by the night of December 31. 
There would be no general strike before the final blow against 
Batista, he added, but there would undoubtedly be one to ensure 
total victory. 

Fidel Castro had long planned his final offensive against Ba- 
tista and he was now ready to start it. It was November 7, only 
four days after the elections. Castro closed his headquarters at 
La Plata, the third highest peak of the Sierra Maestra, and 
marched on foot, at the head of a column of 220 armed men 

329 



and 100 unarmed recruits, to the northwest toward Bueycito, 
the site of copper mines more than a thousand years old. He 
arrived there on November 17, with his column intact. 

Castro had planned a surprise attack at Bueycito but the mis- 
tress of an army lieutenant had warned her sweetheart that the 
barbudos were on their way. The garrison commander asked 
sector headquarters at Bayamo for reinforcements for the ex- 
pected attack, Bayamo replied that no reinforcements could be 
sent, and the garrison commander ordered a withdrawal, covered 
only by ineffective rearguard action. 

Trucks and jeeps were available for the rebels at Bueycito. 
Castro ordered the column to advance eastward across the fields 
toward Guisa, about twenty-five miles away. He rode in a jeep 
with the faithful and indispensable Celia Sanchez and his personal 
bodyguard, including Ignacio Perez, one of the four sons of 
Crescendo Perez who were fighting with his army. 

Castro's plan was to bypass Bayamo— where Batista had 2,000 
troops, tanks and artillery— continue northward to the central 
highway, and then move eastward toward Santiago in a pincer 
movement. On one flank was the column of Major Huber Matos 
with 245 barbudos and on the other was Major Juan Almeida 
with 350 barbudos. They would be called on to support his col- 
umn during the battles at Guisa and Maffo. His brother Raul 
was moving west at the head of the Frank Pais Second Front 
column, now more than 2,000 strong with an additional 1,000 
trained but unarmed troops ready to go into action as soon as 
more guns were captured from the enemy. 

Castro ordered an old bridge over the Monte Oscuro Creek to 
be destroyed to protect the rearguard in the encirclement of 
Guisa, which was his next operation. His order was to blow up 
one section of the bridge and mine the rest. This was necessary to 
prevent tank reinforcements for Batista's forces from crossing the 
creek. Castro sent out his patrols in what was to be the first of 
eleven days of decisive action. During this period five battles 
were to be fought by inspired barbudos of the rebel army, fighting 
for a cause, against 1,800 troops who were defending a dictator 
with no cause except the lust for power and personal enrichment. 
The attacks were co-ordinated with Major Juan Almeida, who 
commanded a newly formed third front in the hills to the north. 

330 



One Sherman tank attempted to rumble along the road and 
Castro ordered Major Hubert Matos to plant a dynamite mine in 
in its path. The vehicle turned a somersault before it shook itself 
into immobility. Matos was an expert in destroying tanks in that 
manner. 

"I set a trap for a rat," Castro ejaculated when the tank was 
doing its flip-up, "and they sent me an elephant!" 

Batista's troops withdrew after suffering 200 dead and 
wounded and losing 21 men as prisoners to Castro, whose 
troops withstood assaults by Sherman tanks, artillery, avia- 
tion and nine companies of reserves. 

With Guisa in his hands, Castro proceeded across the fields to 
Charco Redondo, where he ordered Radio Rebelde to set up 
headquarters along with the press and propaganda section, in 
which Carlos Franqui was assisting Major Luis Orlando Rodri- 
guez, the newspaper editor turned soldier. 

While the fighting was going on Batista's counterintelligence 
discovered a plot widespread among the dictator's army officers. 
This plot had no connection whatsoever with the 26th of July 
Movement. More than 100 army officers were arrested and 
Major General Martin Diaz Tamayo was retired as a result of it. 

Although Urrutia had been in the Sierra Maestra for some 
time, it was not until nearly the middle of December that he and 
Castro met. They had never met each other personally before 
then. The meeting took place at Rinconada near Charco Re- 
donda, and the two men conferred about future victory. Urrutia 
then returned to his place of safety near Santiago while Castro 
resumed his direction of the war. 

Castro moved his troops onto the central highway and took 
Jiguani and Baire and then moved eastward toward Maffo, where 
again Batista's army used artillery and aviation to try to destroy 
the rebels. Castro personally commanded this operation. The 
rebels continued their march, with Major Francisco Cabrera 
taking near-by Contramaestre. 

On the eastern sector, Raul Castro's troops had captured 
Sagua de Tanamo near Cayo Mambi, and Batista retaliated by 
ordering his air force to bomb the city. The rebels had with- 
drawn to protect the civilian population after the capture of the 
city. Sagua de Tanamo was reduced by Batista's air force 

331 



with devastating bombing like that of Hiroshima, but, unlike 
Hiroshima, the side that was devastated was not going to offer to 
surrender— this was a different kind of war. 

Raul Castro moved his columns closer toward Santiago and 
cut highway and telephone communications. Town after town 
and city after city fell. Batista's air force continued its attacks 
against each captured village and even some that were not in 
rebel hands. Refugees began to pour into Santiago, taxing the 
supplies of the provincial capital to such an extent that Mon- 
signor Perez Serantes smuggled out a letter to Cuban friends in 
Miami via Puerto Rico, imploring them to send clothing and 
food to help the destitute. Wives of Cuban exiles solicited con- 
tributions and clothing to ship to Santiago aboard one of the 
secret flights. 

On the invasion front Che Guevara moved his column through 
the sugar cane fields westward toward the city of Sancti Spiritus, 
situated on the main highway and railroad link to and from Ha- 
vana. Camilo Cienfuegos moved his column toward Yaguajay on 
the northern highway and railway branches. 

It was during this period that Castro's former teacher, Father 
Armando Llorente, responded to an invitation from his pupil to 
visit him in the Sierra Maestra. The priest made the journey to 
Oriente at the height of the campaign to take Guisa, Jiguani, 
Baire and other cities, 

"It was an unforgettable experience," he reports. "I was able 
to appreciate firsthand the hardships and vicissitudes of that 
group of Cubans who were determined to liberate us or die. It 
was a war of the spirit against matter. The day I arrived in the 
Sierra a message was sent to Fidel, who was on an inspection 
trip of several of his sectors and many miles away. He sent back 
a note to tell me that he would arrive at seven o'clock. One 
minute before seven that night he arrived on foot, apologizing 
that his jeep had broken down and he had to hike the rest of the 
way, , , . With his men he acted as a counselor and he guided 
them in a paternal voice," 

On December 13 Senator Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana drew 
some caustic criticism from the Times of Havana, which is pub- 
lished by Clarence W. Moore and edited by Milt Guss. It came 
as a result of Henry Goethals' report of the lawmaker's press con- 

332 



ference at the American embassy the previous day. Goethals, 
grandson of the general of Panama Canal fame, had this to say: 

"Maybe that's how it is in the great game of U.S. politics, but 
there were times yesterday when Senator Allen J. Ellender didn't 
know what he was talking about. Or at least, that's what he said. 

"Asked if he thought Cuba was in a state of civil war, he an- 
swered ingenuously: 

" 'I don't know of any. Has there been any fighting?' 

"The civil war query was prompted by Ellender's remark that 
U.S. ban on arms shipments to the Cuban government was 'most 
curious' in light of similar arms shipments by several U.S. allies, 
including Britain, France, Belgium and Italy. 

" 'Of course, I don't know much about it,' Ellender 'said in 
opening his discussion on the arms question, 'but if a nation re- 
quires weapons to maintain internal security, I personally cannot 
understand why they cannot be shipped. But if there were a 
raging civil war going on, my answer to this question would be 
an emphatic no.' 

"He added that his understanding of Cuba's trouble was that 
'bandits are burning sugar plantations' and that the government 
was in need of weapons to maintain internal peace. 

"He added: 'People on the Washington level evidently feel that 
the shipment of weapons to the Cuban government under the 
circumstances might be picked up by Russia for propaganda pur- 
poses. But I do not think this is valid. It would be a tragedy for 
Cuba if civil war were to take place here. The poor people would 
be the ones to suffer. And Cuba is too prosperous and too won- 
derful a little island for such a thing to happen. I am hopeful that 
nothing will occur.' " 

There was much more which led the Times of Havana to say 
in its editorial: "Spokesman for Whom?" 

"The Times will be in the front line to defend the 'rugged in- 
dividual.' Too few of them in the world these days. And we 
consider Senator Ellender one. Real rugged example of an in- 
dividual who says and does what he thinks. So cheers for 
Senator Ellender. 

"Up to a point. The senator speaks for the senator, but we 
haven't read anywhere that he speaks for the United States. We 
sincerely hope he doesn't, and we accept our own decision that 

333 



he does not. But the trail of memories that he leaves behind 
him will long outlive his brief visit. And Cubans will certainly 
consider him an official spokesman. How would they imagine 
that a press conference would be held in the U.S. embassy for a 
senator unless he spoke with a certain authority. On this basis, 
scallions for the senator who fails to measure the importance of 
his own remarks when placed in a position of responsibility be- 
yond his own depth. Come back for a nice trip some day, Senator, 
but just for fun and not as a self-appointed spokesman." 

Moore, who had rejected every offer of subsidy from the 
Batista regime, expected reprisals from the government after that 
editorial, but apparently neither the censor nor the officials of the 
regime understood his sarcasm. 

Guevara's main objective was Santa Clara, the provincial 
capital which in the 1953 census had a population of 77,398. 
He planned to take the city in a co-ordinated attack by the Di- 
rectorio and Escambray Front troops and with Camilo Cien- 
fuegos' column moving down from the north. 

Castro's main objective was Santiago de Cuba. He planned a 
co-ordinated attack by the Frank Pais Second Front force under 
his brother Raul, along with columns commanded by Juan Al- 
meida, Hubert Matos, Rene de los Santos, Efigenia Almejeiras 
and Jaime Vega, all now majors. And marching with Almeida's 
column was his judge advocate, Melba Hernandez, veteran of 
the Moncada attack. 

The offensive was on and there was to be no stopping it. The 
rebels now had radio communications from Pinar del Rio in the 
extreme west to Baracoa in the extreme east, almost on the tip of 
the Windward Passage. With the columns in Oriente and Las 
Villas marched women commandos, armed with shotguns and 
pistols, organized and trained to fight as a separate unit or with 
the men, all by now battle-tested. 

Rebels in Pinar del Rio were harassing and containing Ba- 
tista's army as they operated from hide-outs in the Sierra de los 
Organos. Armed militia were active in Matanzas and the prov- 
ince of Havana, raiding army posts or police stations. 

For several months the reprisals of the Batista repressive forces 

334 



took a large toll of political prisoners. For every bomb that was 
exploded, two prisoners were removed from jail and summarily 
shot. One night in Marianao, a borough of Havana, the bodies of 
98 political prisoners were scattered through the streets, riddled 
with bullets. Each had been taken from his cell in reprisal for a 
raid on a police station. 

"Every night we prayed that the underground would not toss 
any more bombs," several political prisoners told me, "because 
we feared we would be the next." 

There was one equally tragic case of a father who was friendly 
with a police officer. One day the father asked the officer to 
arrest his wayward son to teach the boy a lesson not to stay out 
too late at night. The police officer obliged and put the youth in 
a cell; the boy was to be held only a few hours and then sent 
home. A few bombs were exploded that night, and the youth was 
among the prisoners taken from cells and summarily shot. 

While Castro was advancing toward Santiago in the east, 
Guevara and Cienfuegos were advancing in Las Villas. De- 
cember 20 was D-day for the offensive there. Cienfuegos 
launched his assault on Yaguajay in the north. He bivouacked 
at the Narcisa sugar plantation on December 22, only a mile and 
a half from the city; he had sent Captain Pinares with the advance 
guard to the outskirts the previous day to push back the outpost 
line. The slow advance of Cienfuegos' column began as the 
Batista troops put up a strong fight. The regular army occupied 
a redoubt in the Hotel Plaza which Cienfuegos took upon himself 
to reduce after house-to-house fighting. A battle for possession 
of the electric plant lasted two hours, after which Cienfuegos 
went on to capture the Cawy bottling plant and the police station. 
By that time Cienfuegos was ready to encircle the garrison which 
had holed up in the fort. 

To the south Guevara moved on to Sancti Spiritus, which was 
important as a railroad junction; also the central highway ran 
through the city, which was in almost the exact geographical 
center of the island. His patrols reached the outskirts of the city 
on the morning of December 24. 

Almost at the same time Castro's troops advanced toward 
Palma Soriano, which for a long time had been the command 

335 



post of the Oriente Theater of Operations and was one of the 
larger cities of the province. On December 23 they began their 
attack. 

Castro had promised his brother Ramon that he would have 
Christmas supper at his house at Marcane in northern Oriente. 
Ramon had been saving a twenty-four-pound guanojo— turkey— 
in his freezer for a year and a half for this occasion. He had 
vowed that he would not eat it without Fidel. Brother Raul was 
also invited but could not make it. Fidel arrived after ten o'clock 
at night on Christmas Eve with members of his staff, Celia San- 
chez and his personal bodyguard. 

Ramon's wife and children were there and so were Fidel's 
mother and sisters. As soon as the dinner was over— and Fidel 
ate his usual enormous meal— the rebel chief left with Ramon, 
bearded too, to continue the war. 

Guevara's troops entered Sancti Spiritus on Christmas Eve. 
There were no Christmas trees in the city and hardly anywhere 
in Cuba, except in some official buildings, at armed forces posts 
and in some homes of Batista officials and supporters. None was 
in evidence in Havana. 

Batista's ironclad radio censorship was broken by the fall of 
Sancti Spiritus. Suddenly the people of Cuba were electrified by 
a voice that rang through the airwaves with: "This is Radio 
Sancti Spiritus in the free territory of Cuba!" And the 26th of 
July rebel march and the Cuban national anthem were played 
over and over again between announcements and news. The first 
big breakthrough had occurred. People in Havana, though, 
could not hear Radio Sancti Spiritus because local stations 
jammed its wave length. But the people in the provinces were 
able to tune it in, as did the thousands of exiles in Miami 
and Tampa. 

The island of Cuba had been cut in two, for rebels had taken 
Sancti Spiritus and were threatening the highway and railroad to 
the east of Yaguajay and other sugar plantation railroads to 
the south. The country's economic lifeline— sugar— was in real 
danger now. Unless the war ended soon there would be no 
1959 crop. 

The planters had presented the problem to Batista the previous 

336 



week, and he had assured them that by January 10 he would 
have resolved the situation by routing Castro. 

Guevara advanced toward Santa Clara, sixty-five miles to the 
northeast. His troops fanned out and captured in quick order 
Cabaiguan, Fomento, Placetas, Cruces, Manicaragua and other 
towns and cities. Batista pressed his air force into action, and 
500-pound bombs purchased from England were dropped on 
Cruces to take the pressure off the encirclement of Santa Clara. 

On the Oriente front, Castro's troops entered Palma Soriano 
on Christmas Day and began three days of house-to-house fight- 
ing until the garrison was surrounded. 

At a palace meeting of his high command Batista announced 
an extreme measure. He recalled General Jose Euleterio Pedraza 
to active duty, designating Colonel Joaquin R. Casillas Lumpuy 
as commander of Las Villas to replace General Alberto del Rio 
Chaviano. Pedraza had been a dreaded police chief of Havana; 
in April 1 958 he had shot down a father and two sons in an apart- 
ment house in the capital after their arrest in alleged reprisal 
for the murder of his son on a highway in Las Villas province. 

While Cienfuegos was busy trying to capture Yaguajay he sent 
some patrols into the province of Matanzas to the west to harass 
transport and prevent reinforcements from arriving via the north- 
ern roads. 

The rebel radio network was now heard all over the 
short-wave dial. The capture of Sancti Spiritus and other cities 
made both short-wave and long-wave transmitters available. The 
Second National Front of Escambray forces had moved out of 
the hills toward Cienfuegos while others of its columns moved 
northward toward La Esperanza, Cruces, Ranchuelo. 

The rebel radios were operating around the clock and trans- 
mitting intelligence, operational messages, news and warnings to 
the populace that Batista's aircraft would bomb and strafe the 
captured cities. 

On the afternoon of December 26 a lieutenant of Batista's air 
force flew an armed B-26 into Miami International Airport in- 
stead of carrying out his bombing mission. The morale of Ba- 
tista's armed forces was collapsing. And it was evident when I 
arrived in Havana that night that Castro had almost destroyed 

337 



their will to fight. This was indicated at Yaguajay where naval 
units stood offshore ready to land reinforcements to relieve the 
besieged garrison. Cienfuegos ordered cut the approaches from 
the beaches at Carbo, El Jucaro and Estrada Real, as well as 
the highway and railroad to Mayajigua and Caibarien. His 
troops were ordered to fire in the direction of the naval vessels. 

"The beaches are hostile to us," the naval commander signaled 
naval operations. "It is impossible to attempt to land." 

Cienfuegos sent two emissaries to parley with the naval officers. 
His message was a virtual ultimatum: "Surrender or fight or stand 
off the coast!" 

The naval units turned and stood out to sea, their guns 
silenced. Another battle had been won. 

In the shops of the Narcisa sugar mill rebel armorers and 
mill workers converted a D-8 Caterpillar tractor into a tank in 
a round-the-clock operation. They welded on thick plates of 
steel, equipped it with two .30 caliber machine guns and devised 
a flame thrower with 500 pounds of pressure and metal nozzles 
that gave it a range of 1,200 feet. The tank was christened 
Dragon I. 

The garrison at the Yaguajay fort was under the command of 
Captain Abon Li, a Chinese Cuban. A railroad line ran through 
the patio of the fort. Two sugar cane cars of the Central Victoria 
were loaded with dynamite and rolled down the tracks. The 
cars crashed through to shatter the walls and demolish the roof. 
Notwithstanding this. Captain Li and his troops replied with 
heavy machine-gun fire and bazooka fire. Batista's air force gave 
them support, strafing and bombing the rebels, but the rebels 
fired back at the planes and drove off the pilots. 

In Las Villas the rebel radios were talking to each other and 
to the people of Cuba: "Hello, Placetas. Hello, Placetas. Radio 
Rebelde de Sancti Spiritus calling," and on and on as the an- 
nouncers reported every incident of the now fast-moving war 
and filled their intermissions with the spirited rebel march. Nine- 
teen of the thirty-one municipalities of Las Villas had already 
fallen into rebel hands. Radio Caibarien joined the freedom 
network. 

In Oriente, Castro received a visitor on December 28 at eight 
o'clock in the morning. He arrived by Cuban army helicopter. 

338 



He was Major General Eulogio Cantillo, commander of the 
Moncada fortress. He had requested the interview four days 
earlier, and Castro had replied through Father Guzman, a priest 
with the rebels, that he would meet him at a time and place to be 
designated. 

By that time, Castro's offensive had captured 750 weapons in 
Oriente alone, where he had 12,000 soldiers surrounded by his 
columns. All main roads in Las Villas had been cut, and the 
island was cut in half. 

Raul Chibas, now a major, Celia Sanchez and Major Quevedo 
were present during the interview, with Cantillo. They were 
joined by Raul Castro and Vilma Espin. The rebel chieftain, 
flushed with the enthusiasm of the approaching victory, explained 
to Cantillo the causes of the revolution and the plans for the 
future. Cantillo told Castro that Batista was willing to quit if 
the structure of the army was left untouched. Castro replied he 
would not accept such a condition. He added that he was 
definitely opposed to letting Batista get away, but that was per- 
haps beyond his control. 

Cantillo agreed to engineer a coup against Batista. At Castro's 
insistence it was planned for the Moncada fortress in Santiago. 
Cantillo assured him that at three o'clock on the afternoon of 
December 31 the Moncada garrison would defect without firing 
a shot; the garrison at Bayamo was to rise at the same time. 
Cantillo wanted to return to Havana to talk to some of his army 
friends there. Though the rebel chief advised him to go to San- 
tiago instead, Cantillo took off at noon in the helicopter and went 
on to Havana. 

In Las Villas Guevara tightened the ring around Santa Clara 
while Cienfuegos led the assault on the fort at Yaguajay. The 
people of Santa Clara had risen like a fifth column when the 
rebels entered the city. Pedraza, who had become director of 
operations of the General Staff, dispatched an armored train to 
Santa Clara, loaded with a million dollars' worth of arms and 
ammunition and armored vehicles purchased from England. The 
engineer officer assigned to command the train and its 400 troops. 
Colonel Florentino Rosell, boarded his yacht at the Biltmore 
Yacht Club in Havana and sailed to exile in Florida. 

Colonel Casillas had taken command of Santa Clara and or- 

339 



ganized its defenses. Capiro Hill on the approaches to the city, 
which furnished a dominating field of fire, was surrounded by 
trenches. The city's natural defenses were reinforced there by 
two .50 caliber machine guns and one 20 millimeter anti-aircraft 
gun. The police check point on the central highway east of the 
city was strengthened by an infantry company, while the troops 
of the 31st squadron were strategically deployed to the south. 
In the Leoncio Vidal fort of the 3rd Tactical Regiment there were 
almost 2,000 troops. 

Army troops were also deployed in the towers of the Buen 
Viaje Church, the Nuestra Senora Church, on top and at windows 
of the eleven-story Gran Hotel, on the roof of the provincial 
palace and on its balconies, on roofs of police stations, the prison 
and other buildings and residences. 

From his command post near the University of Santa Clara, 
Guevara gave the order to attack at five o'clock on the morning 
of December 29. The rebels converged on the positions at Capiro 
Hill and the District Public Works Building. The armored train, 
with 17 cars, arms, ammunition, rations for a two-month 
campaign, electric kitchens, uniforms and engineers and techni- 
cians, was on its way with 400 officers and men who had little 
or no will to fight. 

The rebel patrols infiltrated into the city, to cut intersections 
of the central highway and hold the La Cruz bridge. Major 
Rolando Cubela, commanding the Directorio troops, applied 
pressure against the garrison of the 31st squadron. Guevara's 
troops blocked the railroad with trailers, gasoline trucks and 
other obstacles. The armored train halted far from its destina- 
tion. The rebels opened fire against it, tossing hundreds of Molo- 
tov cocktails, which burst into flames against the steel plates 
while the bullets beat a tattoo against them. The regular soldiers 
fired machine-gun bursts in desperation through the slits of the 
plates, and the engineer tried to back the train. It was too late- 
commandos had already torn up the track and the train was 
derailed. 

A white handkerchief appeared at the end of a rifle barrel that 
emerged from one of the slits. The men were ready to surrender. 
Some 400 officers and men were escorted to the captured Public 
Works Building. 

340 



The guns captured were distributed among natives of Santa 
Clara who had been clamoring for them. The fifth column in the 
city went into action. Automobiles were driven out of garages 
by their owners and overturned in the streets to serve as road- 
blocks and prevent tanks from operating. Men, women and chil- 
dren tossed Molotov cocktails at passing armored vehicles. The 
two and a half months of preparation by the fifth column for 
this offensive had served in good stead. 

Rebels infiltrated along the streets, from house to house and 
corner to corner, driving back the defenders. Fighter aircraft 
and medium bombers flew over the city to bomb and strafe 
though the pilots could not tell the regular army troops on roof- 
tops from rebels. Sea Fury fighters were used, together with 
Thunderbolts and B-26's. 

Monsignor Perez Serantes in Santiago issued an appeal for a 
halt to further bloodshed as Batista's bombers devastated more 
cities and towns already captured by the rebels. 

On December 30 Cantillo sent word to Castro that some 
difficulty had arisen and it would be necessary to postpone the 
planned coup until January 6. 

On December 31 at three o'clock in the afternoon, when Mon- 
cada did not defect, Castro issued orders to his commanders to 
march to Santiago and attack that city on January 3. The attack 
plan had been thoroughly discussed with them at a meeting at his 
command post on December 17. Another conference was un- 
necessary. 

That same day, the last day of 1958, Cienfuegos obtained the 
surrender of Captain Li and the rest of his men at Yaguajay, and 
Guevara, with Cubela, who had been wounded, was advancing 
inside Santa Clara. Captain Li came out of the fort with his men, 
holding their hands in the air, and Cienfuegos ordered them de- 
tained until further notice. 

"This victory has an extraordinary moral significance," Cien- 
fuegos remarked. "Those army troops were the same who burned 
down homes and murdered campesinos in the Sierra Maestra 
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Sanchez Mosquera. 
We had a debt to collect and now we have accomplished it." 

Cienfuegos then turned his attention in the direction of Santa 
Clara to assist Guevara. In Santa Clara, Guevara, through the 

341 



Red Cross, asked Casillas for a truce to evacuate the wounded to 
a safe place. 

"There will be no truce!" Casillas replied. "I demand the sur- 
render of the rebels." 

Though Batista's army was crumbling everywhere, Casillas, 
his own forces under rout except for the garrison of the regi- 
ment where he had his headquarters, was arrogantly demanding 
the rebel surrender! The rebels countered with an all-out attack 
against the remainder of the 31st squadron, the police station, 
the Gran Hotel, the courthouse and the Los Caballitos army post, 
driving the defenders from them. Except for the fort there were 
only mopping-up operations left in the city. 

In Oriente, Castro's columns moved on closer to Santiago in 
force, taking Maffo after a heavy battle, San Luis, El Cristo, Dos 
Bocas and El Caney. Raul Castro's men had already captured 
Guantanamo, the native city, which had long since been cut off 
from supplies from Santiago. Batista's troops had withdrawn 
■from the water-pumping station at the Guantanamo Bay naval 
base, and the rebels were guarding it. The rebel captain there 
warned his men not to turn off the water as had been done earlier 
in the month because of confused orders. Rebel patrols, infiltrat- 
ing with their customary abandon into Santiago, would withdraw 
after a quick survey of the situation. 

That night a wire service reported that Batista's army was 
driving the rebels from Santa Clara eastward and was administer- 
ing a crushing defeat to the barbudos. 

And that night Fulgencio Batista was preparing to flee Cuba. 

Batista held a conference in his quarters at Camp Columbia 
after he had arrived from Kuquine, and wrote the following 
resignation in his own hand: 

"In the city of Havana the first day of January of 1959, meet- 
ing in the private office of the President of the Republic in the 
Military City, the signers of this act certify the statements of the 
Honorable Senor Presidente of the Republic General Fulgencio 
Batista y Zaldivar, who spontaneously states: 

"That in the early morning of this day the high military chiefs 
who have at their command the highest posts notified him of the 
impossibility of re-establishing order, considering the situation 
that confronts the country as grave; and requested (I quote): 'ap- 

342 



pealing to your patriotism and to your love of the people that you 
resign your office.' He stated that the high representatives of the 
church, of the sugar industry and of the national businesses had 
addressed him in similar manner: 

"Taking into account the loss of lives, the material damage to 
property and the evident harm that was being done to the 
economy of the Republic, and imploring God to illuminate the 
Cubans so they can live in concord and in peace, he resigns his 
powers as President of the Republic, delivering them to the 
constitutional substitute. He begs the people to keep order and 
not to become victims of tumultuous passions which would be 
unfortunate for the Cuban family. In a like manner he urges all 
members of the armed forces and the police agents to obey and 
co-operate with the new government and with the chiefs of the 
armed bodies, of which Major General Eulogio Cantillo y Porras 
has taken charge." 

Batista signed that with his initials "FBZ," and below was the 
signature of Anselmo Alliegro, president of the senate, who ap- 
pended this note: "Constitutional substitute because the consti- 
tutional vice president has resigned on being elected mayor." 
There were also other signatures such as General Francisco 
Tabernilla, General Pedraza, General Rodriguez Avila and 
Senior Justice Carlos Manuel Piedra of the Supreme Court, the 
"constitutional" successor. 

Batista left his quarters for the air base at the northeastern end 
of Camp Columbia. Transport aircraft were waiting. At the 
gangway was General Cantillo. Dozens of would-be fugitives, 
officers of the army, navy, air force and police and politicians 
were gathered at the Air Force Headquarters building. 

Batista climbed the gangway and turned to give some last- 
minute instructions to Cantillo. 

"Cantillo," he said, "you know what I have told you you have 
to do. Call the persons I have mentioned, Drs. Ricardo Nunez 
Portuondo, Raul de Cardenas and Gustavo Cuervo Rubio, and 
tell them what my plans are." 

"Very well. General," Cantillo responded. 

"Try to have these people help you," Batista continued. "They 
are representative of great zones of opinion and their collabora- 
tion is necessary in these moments." 

343 



"I think so, too, General," Cantillo said. 

"All right, Cantillo, don't forget my instructions," were Ba- 
tista's final words. "On you depends the success of the negotia- 
tions from now on." 

Batista turned to the crowd below. "Salud! Salud!" he ex- 
claimed and entered the DC-4 aircraft. It was 2:10 a.m. when 
the plane taxied away from the ramp to the runway to take oflf 
for the Dominican Republic, 

Events followed in quick succession. Cantillo tried to with- 
hold the news of Batista's flight, but it was news that could not 
be withheld. Since 9:30 p.m. that night I had been receiving 
reports from different contacts that Batista was preparing to flee, 
reports that were most difficult to confirm at the time. They per- 
sisted, however, and at two o'clock Jose Ferrer telephoned me to 
say that he had just received a call telling him Batista had ffed. 
Half an hour earlier, with Clay Gowran of the Chicago Tribune, 
I had left Ferrer's house, and had just fallen asleep. The task 
now was to obtain confirmation. It came an hour and a half later 
when Miguel Angel Quevedo called to report that Batista's press 
secretary, Enrique Pizzi de Porras, had told him he had seen 
Batista board the plane and leave. 

Cantillo met at Camp Columbia with Piedra and the men men- 
tioned by Batista. They had been chosen by Batista the previous 
year to comprise the Conciliation Commission that Castro had 
rejected. 

Before dawn the following general order by Cantillo was read 
to the officers at Camp Columbia: 

"A great responsibility falls on my shoulders and all you 
worthy officers, that of saving the country and ending this fratri- 
cidal war that has cost so many lives. 

"The President of the Republic, not wanting to spill any more 
blood, has resigned, the senior justice of the Supreme Court, 
Dr. Carlos M. Piedra, being designated President of the Re- 
public. 

"The President has embarked. The chief of the joint staff, the 
chief of the navy and the chief of the national police have also 
embarked. The president of the senate and the Vice President 
of the Republic as well as high officers of the armed forces have 
resigned. 

344 



"We have assumed the command of the armed forces and 
have designated Colonel Daniel G. Martinez Mora as Chief of 
Operations." 

Cantillo sent word that he would receive the members of the 
Cuban Press Bloc and the Cuban Radio and Television Broad- 
casters at nine o'clock at his headquarters for an important con- 
ference and announcement. But some radio and television sta- 
tions tired of waiting for the official announcement and broke 
the news of Batista's flight. Miguel Angel Quevedo of Bohemia 
and Sergio Carbo of Prensa Libre refused to go to Columbia. 
Newspapers prepared extras to report the news, although New 
Year's Day was normally a press holiday. 

Castro spent New Year's Eve in the home of Ramon Ruiz, 
chief engineer of the Central America, a sugar mill near Palma 
Soriano, and was having breakfast there shortly before nine 
o'clock the next morning when he was told the news of Batista's 
flight. 

Castro fingered his beard and then exploded, "This is a cow- 
ardly betrayal! A betrayal! They are trying to prevent the tri- 
umph of the Revolution!" 

He rose from the table, went to the door and called out for 
his men to hear. "I am going to leave for Santiago now! We 
have to take Santiago right away. Find Rene de los Santos! Call 
Calixto Garcia! I want the captains of Santiago here at once! 
We have to attack Santiago without delay! If they are so in- 
genuous as to think that they will paralyze the Revolution with 
a coup d'etat, we will show them they are wrong!" 

One of the men in the room, his dentist, who was also ord- 
nance officer of his headquarters, spoke up: "Pardon me. Com- 
mander, but I think you should wait, at least for fifteen minutes." 
Castro ignored him and continued to summon officers and issue 
orders. His troops had captured a Sherman tank with its 75-milli- 
meter gun at Maffo. He planned to use that now. 

"The tank— tell Pedro Miret to move it from Maffo to Santiago 
immediately! Huber Matos' troops are to prepare to attack Mon- 
cada with artillery. All the troops who are in Palma Soriano and 
Contramaestre are to occupy positions in El Cobre." 

Meanwhile in Santa Clara at that hour, while Castro was busy 
in Oriente writing his final directive to his troops and to the 

345 



people, army medicos requested the Red Cross to arrange a 
meeting with Guevara for them. When they were received, they 
told Guevara they were offering the surrender of the regiment 
and the air force detachment without the knowledge of Colonel 
Casillas Lumpuy. 

Guevara accompanied them to the fort to talk with Casillas. 
"Colonel, I come to ask you to surrender to avoid any more 
bloodshed," the Argentine said. 

"Major, while I have one bullet left, I will not surrender," 
Casillas replied. "Moreover, I am going to turn Santa Clara into 
dust, and I will throw you out of the city, cost what it may. With 
the arms I have you will not be able to beat me." 

"Colonel, you have the weapons, but you don't have anybody 
to fire them," Guevara said with a wry smile. Guevara had hit 
the mark. 

"This interview is ended," Casillas said. "You may come here 
again whenever you like." 

"No, Colonel," Guevara said, "it is you who will have to sur- 
render now." And he nodded his head toward Casillas' officers 
and men. The surrender followed later, but Casillas fled in 
civilian clothes and was captured by a patrol of Major Victor 
Bordon's column in the Central Washington mill. He was to be 
one of many officers who were tried by rebel summary courts, 
convicted and executed for murders of unarmed civilians. 

At the Central America sugar mill, Castro affixed his signa- 
ture to the directive and personally broadcast it over Radio Re- 
belde. In a vibrant voice he said: 

"Instructions of the General Headquarters to all commanders 
of the rebel army and to the people: 

"Whatever the news from the capital may be, our troops should 
not cease fire at any time. 

"Our forces should continue their operations against the enemy 
on all battlefronts. 

"Parleys should be granted only to those garrisons that wish 
to surrender. 

"Apparently, there has been a coup d'etat in the capital. The 
conditions in which that coup was produced are not known by 
the rebel army. 

346 



"The people should be very alert and attend only to the in- 
structions of our general headquarters. 

"The dictatorship has collapsed as a consequence of the crush- 
ing defeats suffered in the last weeks, but that does not mean to 
say that the Revolution has already triumphed. 

"Military operations will continue unchanged until an express 
order is received from this headquarters, which will be issued 
only when the military elements who have risen in the capital are 
placed unconditionally at the orders of the revolutionary com- 
mand. 

"Revolution, yes! Military coup, no! 

"Military coup behind the backs of the people and the Revolu- 
tion, no, because it would only serve to prolong the war! 

"Coup d'etat so that Batista and the other big guilty ones 
escape, no', because it would only serve to prolong the war! 

"Coup d'etat in agreement with Batista, no; because it would 
only serve to prolong the war! 

"To take the victory away from the people, no; because it 
would only serve to prolong the war until the people obtain total 
victory! 

"After seven years of struggle, the democratic victory of the 
people has to be absolute, so that never again will there be in 
our Fatherland another 10th of March. 

"Nobody should let himself be confused or deceived! 

"To be on the alert is the order! 

"The people and very especially the workers of the entire Re- 
public should listen to Radio Rebelde and urgently prepare all 
centers of work for the general strike. And as soon as the order 
is received they should start it if it should be necessary to stop 
any attempt of a counterrevolutionary coup. 

"The people and the rebel army must be more united and more 
firm than ever in order not to let the victory that has cost so 
much blood be snatched from them!" 

Castro had made his decisions: unconditional surrender of 
the Batista armed forces and a general strike to ensure it. 

In Havana the 26th of July and Civic Resistance Movement 
undergrounds, caught unawares by the sudden flight of Batista, 
had to emerge into the open in order to organize the general 

347 



strike and mobilize the militia to preserve order in the capital. 
Manuel Ray had returned from the Sierra Maestra with instruc- 
tions from Castro for the last push in the capital to topple Batista. 
It took some hours to establish a command post in the CMQ 
building, opposite the Havana-Hilton Hotel, and general head- 
quarters in the Sports Palace. 

Castro made a second broadcast over Radio Rebelde. It was 
an appeal to the people not to take justice into their own hands 
and to preserve order. He promised them that every "war 
criminal" would be arrested, tried and punished. He reiterated 
the need to preserve order and avoid acts of personal vengeance. 

There was a good reason for this appeal. After Dictator 
Gerardo Machado fled in 1933, Havana and other cities of Cuba 
were shaken by anarchy and chaos for three weeks. Hundreds of 
persons were gunned down on the streets in vengeance killings, 
among them dozens of innocent men. The period of anarchy and 
chaos gave rise to a clamor at that time for a strong man to put 
an end to the disorders— and that man happened to be Batista. 

Before Castro's broadcast appeal there had been several ven- 
geance killings, especially in the provinces. They came to an 
immediate halt, and all suspected torturers, assassins and in- 
formers were arrested and imprisoned pending trial. Most of 
them were regular army, navy and air force officers, noncommis- 
sioned officers and enlisted men, police officers, policemen and 
some civilians. 

Other civilians who were not in the above category, but who 
had had some close association with the Batista regime since 
1952 were also arrested. Among them was Joaquin Martinez 
Saenz, president of the Banco Nacional, and Ernesto de la Fe, 
who had been minister of propaganda in 1952-1954. It was 
while De la Fe occupied that post that Mario Kuchilan, Prensa 
Libre columnist, was arrested and almost tortured to death, then 
left on a seldom-traveled road outside of Havana. Lately, 
De la Fe had held the post of secretary general of a Latin- 
American anti-Communist organization. De la Fe reported that 
he was arrested by the Communists and taken to La Cabana. 

The city of Cienfuegos had been under siege by the rebels of 
the Second National Front of Escambray for weeks. That force 

348 



had also encircled 500 Batista troops who had holed up in the 
tuberculosis sanitorium on the hilltop of Tope de Collante in the 
Escambray Mountains and had finally forced their surrender. 
The effective encirclement had prevented those troops from being 
committed as reserves in the battle for Santa Clara. 

At dawn on New Year's Day Major William Alexander Mor- 
gan, after prior arrangements had been made with officers inside, 
entered the Cayo Loco Naval Station at Cienfuegos and took 
command of the entire city. 

As they usually do in such circumstances, events moved 
rapidly in the capital. 

At eleven o'clock Cantillo escorted Justice Piedra to the 
presidential palace where the other justices of the Supreme Court 
were supposed to administer his oath of office. At noon Piedra 
began, with Cantillo as a smiling witness beside his desk, to sign 
presidential decrees appointing ministers, but he had not yet 
taken the oath of office. 

At two o'clock a committee of the diplomatic corps, led by 
Ambassador Smith and comprising Monsignor Luis Centoz, the 
Apostolic Delegate, and the Brazilian, Spanish and Chilean am- 
bassadors, called at the presidential palace. They conferred with 
Cantillo and left. The justices of the Supreme Court had refused 
to go to the palace to administer the oath to Piedra. As one 
justice explained to me, they would not administer the oath be- 
cause the flight of Batista was a result of a triumphant revolution 
led by Fidel Castro and the state of war which prevailed in the 
country obviated any so-called constitutional succession. 

That morning Ambassador Smith had issued a statement that 
Batista had left of his own free will and expressed the hope that 
peace would now be restored to Cuba. Later, when vandals were 
on the loose throughout Havana, he issued another statement 
advising Americans to remain indoors to avoid the possibility 
of injury. 

Vandalism broke out on the streets of Havana almost at the 
same time that joyous crowds began to parade in their automo- 
biles or on foot, carrying large Cuban flags. Enormous flags 
waved from balconies of homes and from church towers. The 
equipment of several hotel gambling casinos was smashed; slot 
machines were taken and their contents removed. Parking meters 

349 



were demolished. Store windows were smashed as looters com- 
menced their field day. The police fired on the crowds, and 
downtown Havana became a virtual battlefield. 

Newspaper offices and printing plants owned by Batista or his 
friends, particularly Masferrer's Tiempo en Cuba, were wrecked. 
The 26th of July Movement took over the plant of the newspaper 
Alerta, which was owned by Batista's minister of communica- 
tions, Ramon Vasconcelos. 

The Communist Party took over the political offices of Al- 
berto Salas Amaro above the press wireless office in the Parque 
Central and hung out a banner indicating their location. 

Newspaper extras were published that morning and afternoon 
but by rebel order no regular papers were to be published for 
three days. Radio and television stations were allowed to oper- 
ate. Revoiucion, the official organ of the 26th of July Movement, 
emerged from the Alerta presses— the only paper allowed to be 
published and circulated in Havana. The only person who could 
authorize the appearance of the newspapers was Fidel Castro. 

In the Isle of Pines prison, a vest-pocket transistor radio smug- 
gled into Cell Block 4 brought the news of Batista's flight to 400 
political prisoners. Colonels Barquin and Borbonnet and Ar- 
mando Hart, of the 26th of July Movement, tried futilely to per- 
suade the prison commander to release them. 

When majors Carlos Carrillo and Montero Duque arrived 
from Havana to confer with Barquin and escort him to Camp 
Columbia to assume command of the army, Barquin demanded 
the release of all army, navy and air force officers and all political 
prisoners, in accordance with an agreement with the 26th of July 
Movement. He wanted Armando Hart, Quintin Pino Machado 
and Mario Hidalgo to accompany him. He also wanted the 
military command of the Isle of Pines delivered to Lieutenant 
Fernandez Alvarez and the governorship to Jesus Montane. 

"I have come to receive orders, not to give them," Major Car- 
rillo told Barquin. 

All the prisoners were released and the troops were assembled. 
Barquin handed the command of the island to Alvarez. The 
transport plane in which the two majors had arrived— without 
approval from their superiors— returned to Camp Columbia with 
Barquin, Borbonnet, Hart, Pino and Hidalgo still in prison garb. 

350 



In Oriente, Castro had issued an ultimatum that he was march- 
ing on Santiago and would attack at 7:00 p.m. unless Moncada 
surrendered. A letter from Colonel Jose Rego Rubido, regi- 
mental commander at Moncada, was on its way to Castro offer- 
ing to deliver the fort to him without firing a shot. Castro's 
columns hastened their advance into Santiago. 

The prisoners alighted from the transport at the same ramp 
from which Batista had left hours before and sped in waiting 
automobiles toward the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Di- 
vision. Barquin ordered Borbonnet to take command of that 
division, with two junior officers who had been liberated at the 
same time, and sent Major Varela to La Cabana to take com- 
mand there. Lieutenant Villafana was ordered to take command 
of the air force. 

They walked to the General Staff Headquarters in the darkness 
across the parade ground, where tanks had been deployed. In 
the office of the chief of the Joint Staff, Barquin told Cantillo 
that he had taken the infantry division, the air force and La 
Cabana fortress, and was himself taking command of the armed 
forces to end the civil war and deliver the presidency to Urrutia. 
Cantillo was escorted to his quarters under house arrest. 

Barquin asked the rebel commanders to proceed immediately 
to Havana for a conference, but Fidel Castro would have none of 
that. Radio appeal on radio appeal was sent out by Barquin to 
Castro for a short-wave conversation with him, but Castro ig- 
nored him completely. 

Shortly before one o'clock on the morning of January 2, Cas- 
tro's triumphant columns of bearded warriors and feminine com- 
mandos rode into Santiago and entered the Moncada fortress 
where Colonel Rego Rubido was waiting. The man who as a 
rebel on July 26, 1953, tried to storm Moncada with a frontal 
attack now entered that fortress as a liberator. 

The cheering, frenetic populace of embattled Santiago de 
Cuba, overjoyed that their five and a half years of struggle 
against Batista had ended in victory, swarmed into the streets to 
welcome the bearded warrior. The last census showed Santiago 
with 163,237 inhabitants, and every man, woman and child who 
could possibly do so ran out to catch a glimpse of Castro and his 
troops, those legendary but long invisible heroes. 

351 



Castro addressed the throng in the plaza. Flanked by Urrutia 
and by Monsignor Perez Serantes, he began to speak at 1 :30 a.m. 
He designated Urrutia as provisional president— Urrutia's election 
had been ratified months earlier by the Civilian Revolutionary 
Front— and declared that, as a tribute to its heroic stand against 
Batista, Santiago de Cuba would be the provisional capital of 
the Republic. Urrutia would set up his government there with- 
out delay, Castro added. Urrutia then spoke and announced that 
he had asked Castro to become delegate of the armed forces to 
the President of the Republic, in other words, commander in chief 
of the armed forces, directly subordinate to the chief executive. 
Castro then announced he had appointed Colonel Rego Rubido 
as chief of staff of the army, knowing that he did not intend to 
keep him in that post for long. Archbishop Perez Serantes, 
addressing the crowd, praised Castro and his men for their tri- 
umph and prayed for everlasting peace in Cuba. 

Castro spent part of January 2 in Santiago and then decided 
to start a historic overland journey to Havana. He left his 
brother Raul in Santiago to consolidate the military victory 
there, designating him military commander of Oriente. His 
brother Ramon accompanied him as quartermaster, attending to 
every detail of feeding and supplying the 1,500 men in the vic- 
tory cavalcade. 

Castro had reasons for his triumphal march by highway to 
Havana. It gave the rebel troops time to consolidate their hold 
on the military fortresses in the capital. The announcement of 
the appointment of Colonel Rego Rubido as chief of staff of 
the army served to assuage many regular army officers all over 
the country. En route to Havana Castro could personally make 
certain that the rebel position was fully consolidated in each 
province, that every fort was in the hands of one of his trusted 
officers. Also he could address the defeated troops, receive a 
firsthand report of the situation in each city and town he visited 
and— this cannot be discounted in the least— receive the personal 
satisfaction and the stimulation of the hero's welcome accorded 
to him at every place. 

Castro ordered Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara to march 
on Havana and take Camp Columbia and La Cabana, respec- 
tively. The Directorio Revolutionario, led by Faure Chomon and 

352 



Rolando Cubela, also started from Las Villas, with the objec- 
tive—one which was not co-ordinated with Castro's— of taking 
the presidential palace. Troops of the Second National Front of 
Escambray marched in to assume any mission that might be 
assigned to them. 

When the 26th of July militia appeared on the streets of 
Havana late in the afternoon of the first and promptly restored 
order by routing the vandals, the people gained much confidence 
in the Movement's ability to bring and maintain such order. As 
soon as the well-trained Castro barbudos arrived, there was a 
notable improvement in public manners, because of their cour- 
teous, respectful and sober treatment of civilians and tourists. 
There was no drunkenness and no braggadocio. Though taverns 
and liquor stores were closed, those who really wanted liquor 
managed to get it. 

The unconditional surrender demanded by Castro had been 
accomplished with a minimum of difficulties, but there was still 
one obstacle to overcome. The Directorio Revolucionario had 
taken 500 rifles and five machine guns and some ammunition 
from the ordnance depot at the San Antonio de los Banos air 
base. It had occupied the presidential palace and had tanks and 
armored cars deployed on the university campus. 

It was in such circumstances that I obtained the first post- 
victory interview with Fidel in Holguin on the night of January 3, 
thanks to W. D. Maxwell, editor of the Chicago Tribune, who 
authorized and chartered the plane. John H. Thompson, mili- 
tary editor of the Tribune, obtained the aircraft for me in Miami 
and flew on to Havana to cover the story with Clay Gowran while 
I went in search of Castro. I found him at Holguin. As we 
landed there in the Piper Apache, we were greeted by hundreds 
of barbudos, who surrounded our plane smiling and waving. 

Castro was at the technological school on the extreme western 
end of the city. It was the only area that had any electricity; 
because of the war most of Holguin had been deprived of power 
for three weeks. Castro was in conference with some of his 
commanders in the principal's office. It was after eight thirty 
when I got a chance to interview him. He was surrounded by 
his commanders, some of whom I had met previously in the hills 
of Oriente. And, of course, there was Celia Sanchez, silent, at- 

353 



tentive, ready to spring into action should he need her fine hand 
to write his orders. 

The bearded officers and soldiers hung on Castro's every word 
as we reviewed the past, present and some of the future. Every 
one of his utterances was apparently both gospel and law to them. 
I bombarded him with questions, some of them very pointed, 
especially as to whether he harbored any resentment against the 
United States. In those first hours of victory he was magnanimous 
and replied that at such a time one should not talk about re- 
sentments. 

"Look here," he said, referring to my questions about Cuba's 
relations with the United States, "if I have had to be very cautious 
about my statements in the past, from now on I am going to 
have to be even more careful." 

Castro's words rang with the unmistakable sincerity and con- 
viction of a man who knew in which direction he was traveling 
and was determined that no obstacle would prevent him from 
reaching his destination. He had proved that for almost six 
successive years. 

Castro set himself a grueling schedule. He loved receiving the 
acclaim of people who were grateful for his leadership on their 
road to freedom. 

At the airport at Holguin was a captured British helicopter. 
Castro's eyes sparkled and his face broke into a smile like that 
of a child who has just received a toy that he had always wanted. 
"There is a helicopter out there," he said, pointing toward the 
airport, "worth five hundred thousand dollars to me. I won't 
exchange that for anything or for anybody. It's mine now! It's 
mine!" 

The rebel who had had to climb up and down the steep, jagged 
slopes of the Sierra Maestra for two years now could leapfrog 
over all terrain obstacles in a 'copter that he had captured from 
an army that had surrendered to him. 

I pointed out to Castro that newspapers had not appeared in 
Havana since Thursday afternoon and it was now Saturday night; 
I suggested that he might want to rectify the obvious discrimina- 
tion that favored the radio and television stations, which had 
been allowed to keep on operating. I volunteered to carry back 
to Havana written authorization from him for the newspapers 

354 



to resume publication; I would deliver it to the Propaganda 
Section of the 26th of July Movement for appropriate action. 

Castro asked for a pad of paper, which Celia Sanchez fur- 
nished, while I handed him my ball-point pen. He wrote the 
following: 

"Because of the fact that the written press constitutes a public 
service of extraordinary value in guiding the people and keeping 
them duly informed of happenings, and it being evident, more- 
over, that the press, as well as the radio and television, is closely 
collaborating with the Revolutionary Movement, we notify the 
graphic arts workers, the newspaper guild and all distributors 
that, beginning tomorrow Sunday at twelve noon, we consider it 
convenient to the revolutionary service that they facilitate the 
publication of all the organs of the written press as has been done 
from the start with radio and television and other public services. 

"As for the other sectors of labor, as soon as this General 
Headquarters receives reports from Major Camilo Cienfuegos 
that all commands of the air, sea and land have been put 
unconditionally under his control, as has been ordered, I 
will communicate with the labor leaders so that they may give 
the order to end the strike, because then the triumph of the 
Revolution and the first obedience to the civil power of the Re- 
public will be totally assured." 

Castro signed it, reread it and was about to hand it to me 
when Celia Sanchez said, "Don't you want me to letter it?" 
Castro handed it to her. She copied it in perfect block letters, 
then returned her finished product for him to read and sign. I 
carried it to Havana and delivered it to the Propaganda Section 
of the 26th of July Movement at rebel command headquarters 
at four o'clock on Sunday morning. 

If there was, in Castro's words, any implication that the press 
should be kept under wraps, it was dispelled when Major Cien- 
fuegos released the order just at noon that same day with the 
following statement— which he signed as commander in chief of 
the forces of land, sea and air of the province of Havana: 

"It constitutes for me an extraordinary honor that through 
me our commander in chief has released all the necessary fa- 
cilities for Cuban journalism and the workers of this sector to 
return to their labors of reporting and guiding public opinion in 

355 



the country, that the same may freely exercise their profession, 
ending once and for all the odious and humiliating censorship 
to which the press was subjected during the bloody dictatorship 
crushed by the triumph of the rebel arms." 

Castro's romantic designation of Santiago de Cuba as pro- 
visional capital of the Republic was not destined to last long. All 
the facilities for national administration were in Havana, and 
the presidential palace was the symbol of government. The 
occupation of the palace by the Directorio Revolucionario— and 
the refusal of that force to evacuate and turn it over to troops 
commanded by Che Guevara— created a tense situation, further 
complicated by the fact that the Directorio had supplied itself 
with arms and ammunition from the San Antonio de los Banos 
air base after victory. 

Urrutia flew by presidential plane from Santiago to Camaguey 
on the morning of January 5 to confer with Castro. They met 
inside the aircraft to confer privately and then were joined by 
Guevara, who flew in from Havana. Guevara gave a firsthand 
report of the military situation. It was decided that Urrutia would 
continue to Havana to assume the seat of government there and 
that the Directorio should be persuaded to surrender the palace 
to him. Along with Castro's instructions, the Argentine medico 
turned military tactician consented to carry back to Havana a 
story which I had written for delivery to the press wireless. 

While at Camaguey, Castro issued orders to his provincial 
commanders to begin summary courts-martial and try alleged 
"war criminals," officers, noncommissioned officers, privates, po- 
licemen and civilians accused of having killed unarmed civilians 
or torturing and killing members of the rebel forces. In accord- 
ance with the rebel law issued by Castro on February 11, 1958, 
he ordered those convicted to be executed by firing squads. 

There was no constitution in force in Cuba at the time Castro 
issued that order. There was a revolutionary government that 
was trying to gain control of the presidential palace, which was 
in the hands of another rebel force that had co-operated in the 
attack on Santa Clara and other cities in Las Viflas. 

Urrutia had selected two more officers from Castro's staff as 
ministers. They were Luis Orlando Rodriguez, for interior, and 
Dr. Humberto Sori Marin, for the ministry of agriculture. Sori 

356 



Marin was author of a proposed agrarian reform law. Faustino 
Perez had already been appointed to a new ministry for the re- 
covery of property illegally acquired, and Dr. Julio Martinez 
Paez had been named minister of public health. 

Urrutia designated Prime Minister Jose Miro Cardona and 
Foreign Minister Roberto Agramonte to parley with the leaders 
of the Directorio about evacuation of the palace. They agreed 
to do so upon Urrutia's arrival there. Accompanying Urrutia as 
his minister of the presidency (equivalent to the post now held 
by General Wilton B. Persons at the White House) was Luis 
Buch. Also with him as his minister of public works was Manuel 
Ray, alias Campa. 

It was not until after Castro's victory that the tragedy that be- 
fell four students of the Catholic University of Villanueva be- 
came known in all its horrible details. The victims were Jose 
Ignacio Marti Santa Cruz, twenty-one years old; Ramon Perez 
Lima, twenty-two; Javier Calvo Formoso, twenty-one, and Ju- 
lian Martinez Inclan, twenty. The four were members of the 
Catholic University Group directed by Father Llorente. 

They had left Havana at eleven o'clock at night on Decem- 
ber 26 for Pinar del Rio, after informing Father Llorente that 
they planned to make contact with members of the underground 
there to ascertain how they could help from the capital by ship- 
ping needed medicines, clothing and foodstuffs. The students 
were unarmed and made the trip in two automobiles. They were 
scheduled to return to Havana on December 31 to see the 
New Year in with their families. There was no concern felt 
until they failed to appear. 

The first clew as to their fate came from a bar in Bahia Honda 
where a soldier nicknamed "Piel de Canela" boasted that he had 
helped to arrest four young men en route to Pinar del Rio from 
Havana. He said they had been taken to the Las Pozas army post. 

Father Llorente set out in a jeep for Pinar del Rio. He located 
Piel de Canela to learn more of what had happened. Late one 
night, the soldier said, he heard what sounded like bees buzzing 
in the cell where the four young men were and investigated. They 
were on their knees praying the Rosary in soft voices, their bodies 
trembling from the beatings and tortures they had suffered. 

At three o'clock in the morning of the twenty-eighth, they 

357 



were taken by Lieutenant Dupairon to Guajaibon about fifteen 
miles to the west, where they were tortured again. At five o'clock 
in the morning, they were hanged. Father Llorente went in 
search of the bodies and found them in a common grave under 
four feet of earth. 

"Believe me," Father Llorente explained, "it was not only 
finding the bodies of those four dear boys that filled us with 
sorrow and astonishment. It was the number of corpses that we 
discovered as we searched. There were thirty, fifty, eighty, all 
victims of the inhuman cruelty that was carried out in that zone 
of Pinar del Rio without the least sentiment of charity." 

The remains of the four young men were brought back to 
Havana for burial. An outdoor funeral Mass was held at which 
Monsignor Luis Centoz, Apostolic Delegate to Cuba, officiated. 
The four victims of the last hours of Batista's rule are now known 
as the Martyrs of Guajaibon. 

The people of Cuba were shocked by the reports of more and 
more mass graves being discovered from one end of the island to 
the other. One man was more indignant than anyone else. He 
was Fidel Castro and he was determined that, whatever the con- 
sequences, those who had done the killing would pay. 



358 



CHAPTER 




Castro made use of the helicopter on his cross- 
country victory march. This enabled him to dispatch his escorts 
and staff members ahead by highway while he spent more time 
in cities and towns. It also enabled him to bypass detours caused 
by bridges that had been destroyed or damaged by his troops. 

In each city where he halted, no matter what time of the day 
or the night it was, he delivered a speech and explained the pur- 
pose of the revolution and his plans for the future. He talked like 
a Robin Hood and he never stopped until he had exhausted 
every point of argument to impress upon the people that every- 
thing he had done in the past, and all that he planned to do, was 
for their benefit and that of Cuba. 

In Matanzas, for example, he began to speak at ten o'clock 
and finished at one-thirty in the morning. Then he held a press 
conference and after that he was interviewed in the provincial 
palace by Ed Sullivan, who had flown down from New York 
especially so he could present Castro on his Sunday night tele- 
vision show. It was ten minutes after two when he began; twenty 
minutes later he was handed a note that Che Guevara had arrived 
from Havana to confer with him. 

359 



Within hours Castro was to enter Havana, but there was little 
or no rest for him. Captain Enrique Jimenez, a Dominican 
exile who had been wounded in the stomach during the Maffo 
battle and, now recovered, was on Castro's staff, tried without 
success to end the succession of appointments. Castro just could 
not, or would not, say no to anyone who wanted to talk to him. 

Fidel was driven to Varadero, where he slept two hours; early 
the next morning he proceeded to Cardenas to pay his respects 
to the parents of his friend, Jose Antonio Echevarria, who was 
killed the day of the palace attack. The mother of the student 
leader was waiting for Castro in the foyer of her home. As he 
entered solemnly, she burst into tears and hugged him close, and 
he put his arms around her and comforted her. It was an 
emotional scene that brought tears to the eyes of witnesses, 
all close friends of the family. That was his last act before he 
resumed his ride into Havana. 

The road from Matanzas to Havana was filled with people 
who clamored for a glimpse of Castro. Many were disappointed. 
He hedgehopped with the helicopter to make up his schedule, 
for he was expected in Havana at three o'clock. He landed at a 
point south of El Cotorro, where the large Hatuey Brewery of the 
Bacardi Company is located. His victory column— with their 
captured Sherman tanks on trailers, with trucks full of triumph- 
ant, sleepless, bearded rebel troops, with busses filled with more 
such troops, with accompanying tank trucks— was stalled in a 
traffic jam. Castro boarded a jeep to proceed like a broken-field 
runner evading tacklers as he made his way through the jam. 

Castro was scheduled to have luncheon at the brewery where 
members of the Bacardi family— the firm that manufactures the 
rum— were waiting for him. There was a banner across the 
brewery fence painted and placed there by workers, welcoming 
Castro and thanking him for their liberation. All along the route 
to Havana there were banners which read: Gracias, Fidel! 
(Thank You, Fidel!) Camilo Cienfuegos was already devouring 
his luncheon at the brewery, having come from Havana to accom- 
pany Castro into the capital. There was to be no luncheon for 
Castro that day, for as the brewery siren with steady, deafening 
blasts heralded the approach of the liberator, an officer-messenger 

360 



reached him to report that his son, Fidelito, was waiting for him 
at a gasoline station north of the brewery. 

"Let's go!" Castro ordered, and the jeep sped by the brewery 
as Cienfuegos and other officers ran out to catch up with him. 

"It is the most marvelous thing that I have ever seen or ex- 
pected to see in my life," Joaquin E. Bacardi, technical director 
and vice president of Bacardi and Company, told me. "Cuba is 
now free and I hope it will remain so for many years." 

Jose M. Bosch, president and general manager of the Bacardi 
Company and one of the first and earliest supporters of Castro, 
had returned from his exile in Mexico, ready to help to recon- 
struct a Cuba torn by civil war. 

Just in front of the gasoline station the willing and eager hands 
of rebel officers lifted Fidelito into the jeep, and father and son 
were locked in an embrace. Castro beamed with joy as he con- 
tinued his triumphal ride with Fidelito beside him, but it was 
impossible to make any progress through El Cotorro. The entire 
populace was on the streets, and men, women and children— 
especially the women and children— wanted to touch him, to 
shake his hand, to kiss him. The jeep could not move. I was 
seated on the hood of his second escort car, and as the people 
would see me they would shout: "There is the American news- 
paperman!" With broad, friendly smiles, they would wave 
and make the "V for victory" sign that Winston Churchill, one 
of the best customers of Cuban cigar manufacturers, had popu- 
larized during World War II. 

The helicopter circled overhead as the Castro caravan tried to 
crawl past a church. A priest was in the church tower with two 
men. A large Cuban flag flew from the tower. Castro signaled 
the helicopter pilot to descend in a near-by field, and the jeep 
detoured into a side street. Castro boarded the helicopter with his 
son and flew to a field in a southern suburb of Havana, where he 
was met by another rebel jeep and escort and sped toward the 
capital. Thousands of persons were pouring into the heart of 
the city from all outlying districts. They came in trucks, in 
busses, in their own automobiles and on foot. They carried 
placards, banners, Cuban flags and 26th of July banners. They 
sang and they cheered and they shouted in choruses. 

361 



"Viva Fidel! Viva Fidel! Viva Fidel Castro, our liberator!" 
The rest of the rebel army and the unsung heroes and heroines 
were not forgotten either. There were banners which read: 

Welcome, Heroes of Our Liberty! 
Homage to Those Who Fought and Died for Our Freedom! 

Delegations from the Partido Socialista Popular (the Commu- 
nist Party) also were on hand with their placards identifying 
their affiliation. The Organizacion Autentico decorated lamp- 
posts and telegraph posts along the victory route with their plac- 
ards of welcome and praise for Castro. 

Castro's original plan had been to proceed directly to Camp 
Columbia, invite the public inside and address the nation from 
there. But this was changed so that he could first call on Urrutia 
at the palace. Urrutia waited for him at the Plaza of Luyano, and 
Castro rode with the President the remainder of the distance to 
the palace while the sirens of the factories and the electric plant 
screeched the news of his passing. 

As Castro entered the palace, the women there— some of them 
wives of cabinet ministers— shed tears of emotion and joy. Castro 
addressed the nation from the balcony of the palace. It was a 
short speech, for he had yet to traverse the entire westward route 
to Camp Columbia. He announced he would make that march 
on foot and actually started to do so, but his security officers won 
out. He climbed aboard a Sherman tank on the Malecon and 
rode in triumph up 23rd Street where thousands had been wait- 
ing for hours to see him. 

"I must see him! I've got to see him!" one almost hysterical 
woman said to me, tears flowing from her eyes. "He has saved 
us! He has liberated us from a monster and from gangsters and 
assassins!" 

That was not the isolated opinion of a lady filled with emotion 
at the arrival of Castro. It was a general opinion that thousands 
of Cubans volunteered without the asking. In all my years of 
reporting in Latin America never had I seen a similar tribute to 
one man. 

Castro rode into Camp Columbia as a conquering hero, and 

362 



the ten-mile journey from the palace took four hours. Bearded 
John H. Thompson, noted war correspondent of the Chicago 
Tribune, who was in Paris when it was liberated in World War II, 
compared the welcome accorded to Castro with that historic 
event. And Thompson's beard both startled and pleased the 
Cubans. 

The public had been invited by Castro to join him at Camp 
Columbia, and they swarmed into that hitherto impenetrable 
fortress by the thousands, jamming the parade ground. Waiting 
for him on the speakers' stand were, among others, Prio and 
Tony Varona. White doves were released from cages and three 
of them flew directly to the speakers' stand. One rested on Cas- 
tro's shoulder for the several hours that he talked. 

There he was in the most glorious hour of his life. A man who 
in December 1956, at the age of thirty, had been holed up in the 
Sierra Maestra with only twelve men; who in April 1958 had 
only 200 riflemen in his rebel army; who for two months, from 
June to August of that year, held off fourteen battalions of 
trained infantry with only 300 troops and then, having aug- 
mented his armament to 806 weapons— including bazookas, mor- 
tars and machine guns— by capturing them from the enemy, 
counterattacked and drove the enemy from the foothills of the 
Sierra Maestra; who had directed the organization of an under- 
ground sabotage and propaganda such as Cuba never had wit- 
nessed; whose columns invaded the provinces of Camaguey and 
Las Villas and then with rebel groups and columns in other prov- 
inces swarmed over the countryside and defeated a standing army 
of 30,000 men; who forced out a tyrant during whose tenure 
civil rights were suspended for 779 days, a tyrant with extraordi- 
nary powers, including the law of the jungle by which he could 
authorize the murder of any opponent of the regime, employed 
during part of that period; and who demanded and obtained the 
unconditional surrender of the enemy's armed forces— this man 
was now the undisputed military chieftain of the land. He was 
the hero of Cuba and had captured the enthusiastic imagination 
of the entire Western Hemisphere. 

That enthusiasm was to diminish in many places as soon as 
the executions of the "war criminals" began. The speed with 

363 



which Castro began to mete out rebel justice shocked almost 
everyone except the people of Cuba. Castro had been telling 
them for months that the torturers and killers and the informers, 
who were responsible for the deaths of those they denounced, 
would be executed as quickly as possible after victory. He had 
issued the rebel law of February 11, 1958, precisely to provide 
for that action. 

As Castro proceeded overland from Santiago de Cuba on his 
triumphal ride, he heard the clamor of mothers, fathers, sisters 
and other relatives for the promised "revolutionary justice" and 
speedy trials of those officers, noncommissioned officers and 
civilians who had torn their sons or brothers or other kin from 
their arms inside their homes, only to leave their mutilated, bullet- 
riddled or hanging bodies to be found the next day or a few 
days later in the woods or the fields and even on the streets of 
their cities and towns. He assured them that he would expedite 
the justice which he had promised and at Camaguey issued the 
appropriate orders to all commands. 

Bohemia was preparing its "Edition of Liberty," a record- 
breaking 1,000,000 copies with a painting of Castro on the cover 
and a caption which read: "Honor and Glory to the National 
Hero." In it was an article entitled: "Disgrace for North America. 
Ambassador Smith: Servant of the Despot." There were two 
photographs especially selected by Editor Quevedo accom- 
panied by descriptive captions. The caption for a picture of 
Smith laughing read: 

"Always laughing out loud over the drama of Cuba, Ambas- 
sador Earl E. T. Smith lent valuable services to the dictatorship, 
disfiguring the realities of the tragedy in order to disorient the 
State Department. Smith laughed and partied while all of Cuba 
was drowned in blood and in horror. Now that we are in hours 
of victory, he should go and never return." 

The other picture showed Smith, who is an excellent shot, on 
the skeet range holding a rifle. 

On Saturday, January 10, Smith, who had apparently learned 
of the Bohemia article, cabled his resignation to the State De- 
partment and urged that President Eisenhower accept it before 
nightfall. Smith's wish was granted, and the White House an- 

364 



nounced his resignation late that afternoon. Bohemia appeared 
on the streets of Havana the next Monday. 

There was still no constitution in force and the rebels knew 
no other form of justice but that of the kangaroo courts which 
they hurriedly organized from among their men and women 
officers. The first summary courts-martial were held in the same 
courthouse at Santiago de Cuba where the Moncada attackers 
were tried, and the trials were open to the public. Seventy-one 
officers, soldiers, police and members of Senator Rolando Mas- 
ferrer's private army were tried and sentenced to death. The 
rebels dug a trench in a field outside the city and the condemned 
faced the firing squad in pairs, with the exception of one officer 
whose execution was delayed to enable a television cameraman to 
film it. The condemned officer gave the order to fire and his body 
fell into the trench where the other seventy had fallen. A bull- 
dozer pushed the dirt into it and left an identifying mound. 
Castro authorized that the film be made available to a television 
network in the United States. The film was given to CBS without 
charge, and it was the film scoop of the day. The last officer 
to be executed admitted in court that he had killed eighteen 
young men. Those were not deaths in combat. They occurred in 
jail or in the fields. 

The reaction to the executions produced a storm of criticism 
from Canada to Argentina. The Argentine congress even ap- 
pealed for a halt. Castro read about the criticism in the United 
States press and the statements by several senators and congress- 
men, 

"If it is public trials they want," he told me, "I'll give them one 
like they never saw before! I am going to order the trial of Major 
Jesus Sosa Blanco to be held in the Parque Central!" 

Castro had become the emotional and spiritual hero of Cuba. 
He was revered, idolized and admired. Wherever he went crowds 
followed. Men, women and children begged for a glimpse of him. 
They wanted to see him, to touch him. 

He had suddenly emerged from the guerrilla territory of the 
Sierra Maestra, where the only opportunity he had to talk to the 
public was through a microphone of Radio Rebelde hid- 

365 



den in a cave, to the plazas and public buildings of the cities. 
He had acquired both a national and international audience, and 
each was eagerly attentive to his every word. 

Castro made the most of it at the time, but perhaps not the 
best. His mingling with the public stimulated and invigorated 
him. It was like that old professional politician, former President 
Harry S. Truman, out on the hustings again, lashing at the oppo- 
sition and his critics with a biting tongue. 

Castro could not understand the avalanche of criticism that 
had rolled off the presses against him because of the executions. 
He firmly believed he was in the right. Each accused, he pointed 
out, was being tried and was allowed to receive the minister of his 
faith before his execution. 

"Batista never gave any of the people a trial; he just had them 
killed, and there were no protests or criticism like this," Castro 
would say. "These men are murderers, assassins. We are not 
executing innocent people or political opponents. We are execut- 
ing murderers, and they deserve to be shot." 

It was inevitable that Castro would react violently to the criti- 
cism from the United States. He undoubtedly felt, and somewhat 
mistakenly, that the State Department was behind the "cam- 
paign" against him and the revolution. Castro's speeches those 
days were full of fire and brimstone and his target was the United 
States. He repeatedly criticized the fact that United States Mili- 
tary Missions had trained Batista's army, navy and air force and 
that our government had equipped Batista with tanks, guns, 
planes and bombs with which Cubans were killed. The facts were 
true, but the manner of presentation by Castro in a tone inter- 
preted by the Cuban people as one of righteous indignation lent 
itself to kindle flames of anti-American resentment. 

Castro also mistakenly thought that he needed to employ such 
tactics to keep the Cuban people united behind his policy. He 
had apparently underestimated the irrefutable fact that the Cuban 
people were solidly behind him. He had forgotten that he was no 
longer a guerrilla warrior and did not realize that he had acquired 
the stature of a world-wide celebrity. 

Although Castro could not conceal his indignation, on formal 
occasions the United States was no longer a target of his remarks. 

366 



Just after he had read in a United States national magazine an 
implied threat that "intervention is not a thing of the past," he left 
his suite in the Havana-Hilton to keep an appointment. Fidel has 
a habit of thinking out loud, and as he walked through the lobby, 
his group surrounding him as usual, he exploded with indigna- 
tion: "If there should be intervention, 200,000 Gringos will be 
killed." The story hit the headlines around the world. 

Castro tried to explain the remark at a luncheon at the Rotary 
Club, where President Urrutia and the Rotarians waited from one 
o'clock until almost four o'clock for him to appear; before the 
television cameras and radio microphones he admitted that he 
had not been misquoted. However, he was quick to add, he had 
not intended it as a threat, nor had he intended, he said, to be 
insolent. He repeated that every Cuban would bear arms to repel 
any intervention, and in that he was telling no more than the bald 
truth. Armed intervention is to the Latin American what a mata- 
dor's cape is to a bull. 

Castro's blistering declaration was aimed not only at critics 
abroad but also at people at home. At a luncheon given for him 
by the Lions Club, he spoke for three hours before the television 
cameras, most of the time answering questions. At one point he 
said: 

"This afternoon you give me this luncheon here at the Lions 
Club. Here you also gave luncheons to those who enriched them- 
selves through malfeasance during the dictatorship. You received 
them with open arms and you gave luncheons to them, too, when 
you knew who they were and what they did." 

Castro did not spare his audiences when he felt they deserved 
his criticism. He commented: "Who knows how many Batistia- 
nos have shaken my hand in the last few days!" 

The country was as one in acclaiming Castro. How often 
in the history of Latin America has a man of thirty-two so 
captivated a people as has Castro? The euphoria seemed 
unanimous and nonpartisan. And Castro enjoyed every 
minute of it. So much so that he worked virtually around 
the clock so that nobody would be deprived of an opportunity to 
talk to him. He had been so accustomed in the Sierra Maestra 
to sleep in the daytime and fight at night that it was most difficult 

367 



for him to readjust himself to the usual schedule. Therefore, 
he seldom retired before six o'clock in the morning and only 
infrequently slept more than three hours. 

Castro moved into a suite in the Havana-Hilton Hotel, where 
several hundred barbiidos were already billeted. Barbados were 
also billeted in other hotels. There were no facilities at army 
posts for them at the time, as the troops of Batista's army were 
still occupying barracks and quarters. The barbudos behaved 
very well, the management reported. 

Castro's voracious appetite is well known but while at the 
Havana-Hilton, when he could break away from the hundreds of 
people who wished to see him, he would venture into the kitchen 
to pick and taste food. An average noonday meal for Castro 
might— when he is somewhat relaxed— consist of caviar on crack- 
ers, cold cuts, asparagus soup, arroz con polio (chicken with 
rice), chow mein, caramel custard, fruit and then coffee. His 
favorite beverages are Coca-Cola and the "Malta" of the Hatuey 
Brewery. Brandy is the only liquor he drinks and then only when 
he has to talk a lot. He drinks plenty of the strong black Cuban 
coffee and enjoys chilled French pastry. Celia Sanchez sees that 
he has multivitamins to build up his resistance. 

"Why don't you get more sleep?" I asked him one day as it 
became apparent he was going to be bedded by influenza. "Sleep 
is a necessary medicine." 

"My medicine is the people," he answered. "I thrive on 
seeing and talking to the people." 

Even his self-prescribed medicine failed to save him from a 
high fever and a day and a half in bed with influenza. His powers 
of recovery are remarkable; against the doctor's orders, he left 
his bed to resume his heavy schedule of activities. 

The cabinet duplicated Castro's schedule and worked virtually 
around the clock. The ministers would meet at night and con- 
tinue their sessions until dawn. 

Julio Lobo, the sugar baron of Cuba who owns fourteen of the 
country's plantations and mills, compared Castro's rout of Batista 
with Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru. 

When I mentioned this to Castro, he displayed another of his 
traits with this retort: "Yes, but there was one difference. Pizarro 
started out with twelve men but returned for more." 

368 



Castro, however, did not have to return for more. He had the 
manpower to draw from. Now, when he found himself cornered 
by public opinion around the world because of the executions, he 
decided to counterattack. He invited newspapermen from the 
United States and Latin America to Cuba on an all-expenses-paid 
junket to witness the trials and to meet with him at a press con- 
ference. He ordered the trial of Sosa Blanco to be held, not in the 
Parque Central as he had planned, but in the five-million- 
dollar Sports Palace on the Rancho Boyeros highway, where 
17,000 people could be spectators. 

Castro visited Pinar del Rio to complete his island-wide vic- 
tory tour. In the capital of the westernmost province the 40,000 
inhabitants crowded the streets from noon to wait for him. 
They had expected him at three o'clock in the afternoon, but at 
cities and towns enroute the people clamored for him to speak to 
them and he obliged. He reached the speaker's stand at Pinar del 
Rio at midnight, began to talk and finished at two o'clock in the 



mornmg. 



Castro called for a rally on January 2 1 to support his stand on 
the summary courts-martial and executions. The CTC declared 
a holiday to allow the people to attend the rally. 

"We will show them that public opinion is behind us and that 
we are doing the right thing!" Castro said. "There will be one 
million people at the presidential palace that day." 

There were nearly one million. There was no check-off by the 
labor unions to compel the workers to be present, as Peron 
required in Argentina or as Batista had done. The workers 
marched voluntarily. There were at least 500,000 persons in 
front of the palace and thousands more in the plaza and adjacent 
streets. 

Castro got his mandate from the people to proceed with the 
executions. He also warned Cuba that if his enemies killed him 
there were other leaders, some more radical, to replace him. He 
said he would recommend that in that circumstance his brother 
Raul be designated deputy chief of the 26th of July Movement to 
replace him. "Not because he is my brother— we are against ne- 
potism—but because he has the personal qualifications of a lead- 
er." Raul Castro is considered by many to be more radical than 
his brother Fidel. 

369 



Castro had some critical words for American companies, espe- 
cially the Cuban Telephone Company, and spoke in passing 
about relations with the United States. That night at a reception 
for the diplomatic corps, the American charge d'affaires, Dan- 
iel M. Braddock, was introduced to Castro. Braddock looked up 
at the rebel chieftain through his glasses, stuck his chin out and 
said: "I don't know whether your speech this afternoon was in- 
tended to be critical of us but I would like you to know that my 
government wishes to have the best of relations with you and with 
the Cuban government. We are sincere about it and we want to 
be able to help in any way." Castro replied that he was glad to 
hear so. 

Castro's press conference for "Operation Truth" broke all 
world records. It lasted five hours, and Castro answered every 
question that was put to him, employing both Spanish and Eng- 
lish. His English is good but heavily accented. His Spanish 
is eloquent. 

Castro emerged from the press conference with high esteem, 
but the performance that followed in the Sports Palace, which 
enabled Sosa Blanco to say that he felt as if he had been in the 
Coliseum when the Christians were tossed to the lions, shocked 
many sympathetic Cubans who watched the trial on their 
television sets. It will be recalled that in one of his reports from 
the Sierra Maestra Castro had mentioned the crimes committed 
by Sosa Blanco. To try to prove to public opinion throughout 
the world that Sosa Blanco was a criminal, Castro ordered 
witnesses brought to Havana from Oriente to testify. The wit- 
nesses, all from mountain villages, often had to be prompted by 
the prosecution and by the court. There was no doubt that Sosa 
Blanco would be convicted, but the reaction against the proce- 
dures was so great that Castro ordered a new trial after the 
defense counsel. Captain Aristides da Costa— who had become 
famous overnight because of his brilliant performance in behalf 
of the accused— appealed. 

Castro was invited to Venezuela by Rear-Admiral Wolfgang 
Larrazabal, who had been president of the junta and was the 
defeated presidential candidate, but he was reluctant to accept. 
The Venezuelans wanted him there on January 23, the first anni- 
versary of their overthrow of Dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez. At 

370 



the moment the summary revolutionary court-martial an- 
nounced its conviction of Sosa Blanco, Castro left for Caracas 
and did not return in time for his brother Raul's wedding at 
Santiago de Cuba on January 26. Raul Castro and Vilma Espin 
were married in a civil ceremony at the Rancho Club, as the bride 
does not profess any religion. 

Two events gave a semblance of revolutionary legality to the 
executions. The Fifth Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, 
reorganized by the government, denied a petition for a writ of 
habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner held at the La Cabana 
fortress with this unanimous opinion: 

"There is a state of war in Cuba that is a product of a trium- 
phant revolution. The revolution is the source of law. The revo- 
lution therefore has the right to detain the prisoner." 

The first week in February the cabinet, exercising legislative 
functions, enacted the Fundamental Law to replace the Constitu- 
tion of 1940, and the following article was written into it: 

"Article 25— There will be no death penalty. Excepted are the 
cases of the members of the armed forces, of the repressive corps 
of the tyranny, of the auxiliary groups organized by it, of the 
armed groups privately organized to defend it and of the inform- 
ers for crimes committed in pro of the installation or defense of 
the tyranny overthrown December 31, 1958. Also excepted are 
persons guilty of treason or of subversion of the institutional 
order or of espionage in favor of the enemy in time of war against 
a foreign nation." 

The Fundamental Law retained the paragraph in Article 40 
which Castro used to justify his right to rebel against Batista. 

Sosa Blanco was given his new trial. Major Humberto Sori 
Marin, president of the court, announced the revocation of the 
sentence; all previous testimony would stand on the record. New 
and conclusive evidence was introduced at the trial held in the 
Superior War Tribunal at Liberty City, Castro's new name for 
Camp Columbia. The proceedings were not televised but were 
broadcast over the radio and photographers were allowed in the 
courtroom. Sosa Blanco was convicted, another appeal was 
quickly rejected and he was executed a few hours later. 

"I forgive you, and T hope you will forgive me, too," he said to 
the firing squad just before he fell. 

371 



Castro might have had absolutely no trouble at all with world 
opinion about the executions if during the first three days the 
rebel troops had mowed down a thousand suspected torturers, 
killers and informers without summary courts-martial, without 
appeals, without the right of comfort from the ministers of their 
faith. Then, perhaps, such a deed might have been considered as 
an expected reaction in the hours of immediate victory. But if 
that had been done, then many innocent men might have been 
included, as well as those who would receive jail terms and obtain 
their liberty whenever a general amnesty would be decreed. 
Castro thought he was being scrupulous by ordering trials even 
in drumhead courts. 

"There were three events in my life," he said, "where I acted 
selflessly and in good faith and yet was the victim of wrong inter- 
pretation of my action. The first was in the frustrated invasion 
of the Dominican Republic in 1947, the next was the Bogotazo 
and the third is the executions." 

He explained: "I criticized American reaction to our war 
crimes trials and the failure of Americans to understand the rea- 
sons for the executions because what do Americans know about 
tyrants? What do Americans know about censorship, about a 
tyrant's atrocities, except in the novels and movies? If you want 
to know about tyranny go to Santo Domingo— it is appalling." 

Castro argued that he had a better case in his war-crimes trial 
stand than the Allied Powers had at Nuremberg. His position is 
that he enacted his war-crimes trial law before his war ended, 
whereas the Allied Powers acted to do so after the war. 

He appeared twice on the "Meet the Press" program of station 
CMQ and explained his plans and hopes for Cuba. He broke a 
record by keeping all of Cuba awake from 10:45 p.m. to 2:30 
A.M. on one of those programs. 

When Batista fled, the 26th of July Movement underground 
had to recover quickly from its surprise and mobilize its militia 
and labor sections to go into action. But not the Communists. 
They emerged from within the labor unions with speed and 
efficiency, for some of their labor leaders had been playing the 
game with Batista all along. The 26th of July labor chieftains, 
who were going to become the real leaders, were wearing beards 
and were with Castro in Oriente. 

372 



The revolution against Batista was made to order for the 
Communists after the April 9 general strike fiasco in Havana. 
The Communists knew by then that Castro enjoyed nation-wide 
support and they jumped on the bandwagon. They ordered their 
partisans to enlist in the rebel army and, as Raul Castro said in a 
speech, "Nobody was asked what his religion was or what his 
creed might be or what was the color of his skin." 

They tried to obtain recognition from the Civilian Revolution- 
ary Front and acceptance as a part of it and were unanimously 
rejected. They sent one of their leaders, Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, 
to the Sierra Maestra to await the arrival of the members of that 
front to meet with Castro, as was stipulated in the last paragraph 
of the unity pact signed at Caracas. The meeting was never held, 
but Rodriguez remained in the Sierra Maestra from the end of 
July until victory. 

Castro has repeatedly and categorically stated: "I am not a 
Communist." Raul Castro has said that if he were a Communist 
he would belong to that party and not to the 26th of July Move- 
ment. There are those who entertain misgivings about one of 
Castro's most trusted men, Che Guevara, because Communists 
claim they have found in the Argentine medico a friend, because 
of some officers under his command and because he made public 
statements in the early days of victory that were derogatory to 
the FBI and advocated the burning of all security files. In those 
files were the names of Cubans accused of being Communists, 
although many may not have been. Other Cubans fear infiltra- 
tion of Communists in the officers' corps and ranks of the new 
rebel army. 

General Alberto Bayo (promoted after the Cuban revolution 
by the Spanish government in exile, together with other of his 
compatriots) discounts all such misgivings. He asserts that he 
had not found any Communists among the men he trained for 
Castro, and that includes Guevara. Bayo points out that the 
political ideology he encountered is leftist but not Communist. 
Guevara could be described as a leftist, not anti-Communist. 

The Communists would like to capture Fidel Castro but he has 
shown that nobody will be able to capture him. They won't be 
able to capture him because the people of Cuba will not stomach 
Communism and because they recall that the Communists made 

373 



their greatest gains under Batista. Two leaders of the Communist 
Party were ministers without portfolio in Batista's government 
from 1940 to 1944; other leaders enjoyed safe conducts from him 
in recent years. 

The people of Cuba know that dictatorships are the breeding 
ground of Communism and that while the Communists profess to 
be champions of democracy their overlords in the Kremlin order 
the massacre of the freedom fighters in Hungary and elsewhere. 

The Fundamental Law reduced the eligibility age for candi- 
dates for the presidency from thirty-five to thirty. This will allow 
Castro to be a candidate in the elections which are scheduled 
approximately for January 1961. The same law also granted 
native-born citizenship to Guevara, for he is the only one who 
comes under this subsection of Article 12: 

". . . the foreigners who shall have served in the fight against 
the tyranny overthrown December 31, 1958, in the ranks of the 
rebel army during two or more years, and who shall have held the 
rank of major during one year at least, provided they fulfill those 
conditions in the manner in which the Law disposes." 

Other foreigners who do not fulfill the above requirements but 
were officers in the rebel army at any time are granted naturalized 
citizenship. Guevara is thus eligible to hold any office in the land. 

The anomalous situation of the existence of two governments, 
one in the palace and the other in the Havana-Hilton where 
Castro lived, had to be cleared up. Castro was making policy 
pronouncements which conflicted with decisions, or contemplated 
action, of the government. The government had banned all 
gambling; and Castro announced he favored restoring it for the 
four large hotels and the two large Cuban night clubs. The gov- 
ernment was opposed to the granting of safe conducts to Batis- 
tianos who had taken refuge in embassies, and Castro thought 
they should be given. 

As people crowded around him to petition for prompt action 
on behalf of their problems, Castro told them: "I am not the 
government. I am not God! I cannot resolve all problems. They 
will be resolved but it takes time.". 

On the evening of February 12 Castro visited President Urru- 
tia, who was abed in his palace apartment with chicken pox, and 
they had a long talk. The next morning Dr. Jose Miro Cardona 

374 



submitted his resignation along with those of the entire cabinet, 
including that of Luis Buch. 

Miro Cardona had resigned January 17, but his resignation 
had not been accepted; this time it was definite. Refer- 
ring to the post of prime minister, Miro wrote: "The Funda- 
mental Law profiles more neatly the characteristics of the semi- 
parliamentary regime than is provided for in the Constitution of 
1940 when it grants to the post the powers of a true chief of 
government which, in my judgment, corresponds to those as- 
sumed by Dr. Fidel Castro, who, because of his historic hierarchy, 
is the chief of the Revolution." 

That night Castro returned to the palace to confer with Urru- 
tia, accepted the post as recommended by Miro, met with the 
cabinet, outlined a twenty-point program and then retired to plan 
for his swearing-in ceremony on February 16. 

The Fidel Castro of 1 947 displayed the fire and the spirit that 
was to make him the inspirational leader of Cuba a decade later. 
And just as in the month of February 1959, the Fidel Castro of 
1947 considered himself a revolutionary and conveyed an impres- 
sion that he knew where he wanted to go but always managed to 
contradict himself en route. His contradictions, it will have been 
noted, in no way conflicted with his ultimate goals. His program 
for Cuba in 1959 differed hardly at all from that which he had 
dreamed of in 1947 and in 1953 at Moncada. 

Continually, Castro had denied any desire for high office or 
power in the provisional government. He reiterated his denial in 
statement after statement and in speech after speech over Radio 
Rebelde while in the Sierra Maestra. Yet, as leader of the 26th of 
July Movement, he was steadily acquiring power and prestige, 
which he never tried to abuse, and in the end circumstances re- 
sulting from his dramatic victory forced him to become Premier. 

Castro's twenty-point program included agrarian reform, pro- 
tective tariffs, industrialization to furnish 200,000 jobs the first 
year and another 200,000 in the second year, a low-cost housing 
program, salary increases, the reduction of salaries of ministers, a 
solution to the casino problem, reduction of rents, reduction of 
public service rates, a new metropolitan area for the capital, crea- 
tion of the merchant marine and support of the Gran Colombian 
Fleet, promotion of a national motion-picture industry, creation 

375 



of an undersecretary of state for Latin-American affairs, end of 
all war crimes trials in fifteen days, a campaign to consume na- 
tional products, a campaign against traffic accidents, a campaign 
to buy bonds of the Savings and Housing Institute and a World 
Fair for Cuba. 

Castro does not expect all this to be accomplished overnight 
although he would like to hope it could be. The ministers' salaries 
were cut to $500 a month at his first cabinet meeting and their 
monthly personal expenses were reduced. The gambling casinos 
were allowed to reopen but minus the slot machines, which have 
been impounded by the ministry of interior. The agrarian reform 
is under way, and Castro distributed government-owned land to 
peasants in Oriente and Pinar del Rio, the latter consisting of 
tobacco farms. Bohemia sponsored a popular subscription cam- 
paign to help finance the agrarian reform program, and Castro 
contributed his February salary to it. Electricity rates were 
reduced by the cabinet in the provinces, and a reduction of tele- 
phone rates for the entire country and of electricity rates for 
Havana was being considered by the cabinet as this was written. 
The cabinet voted to begin to pay the troops of the rebel army as 
of February 1 . 

Many questions have been asked about Castro, and here are 
some of those questions with my answers: 

Q. Is Castro a sincere idealist or an opportunist? 

A. He is a sincere idealist who never overlooks an opportu- 
nity. His goals are political, moral and social revolution and 
election to the presidency by popular suffrage. Political in the 
sense that he hopes by the measures of punishment taken that 
never again will anyone— once it is restored— attempt to destroy 
constitutional government in Cuba. Moral because he hopes to 
end all graft and corruption. Many of the contradictions between 
his pronouncements and his actions are the rather unavoidable 
conflict between the generalities of an idealist (which operate in 
a simple and untroubled atmosphere of abstraction), and a revo- 
lutionary movement inspired by dedication and enthusiasm to 
ideals which suddenly finds itself catapulted into the vortex of the 
most complete collapse of an enemy armed force in contemporary 
Latin-American history. 

Q. How can Castro justify the execution of officers of Batista's 

376 



army, who were only following instructions? Isn't this the first 
time that a successful revolutionist has executed the losers in 
Latin America? 

A. We return to the Nuremberg trial defense arguments again 
to answer the first part of that question. Some of the army officers 
may have been following instructions, others killed to try to 
ingratiate themselves with Batista and others killed because they 
were homicidal maniacs. This is not the first time that a success- 
ful revolutionist has executed the losers in Latin America. A 
more recent example is that of Argentina in June 1956 when 42 
army officers who led a Peronist counter-revolution were sum- 
marily executed by firing squads. It will be recalled that there 
were no bleeding hearts then. 

However, revolutionary justice is always one-sided and the 
Cuba of Castro was no exception. He had urged people not to 
take justice into their own hands when Batista fled. He had 
assured them that each "war criminal" would be tried by rebel 
courts. This was done, but in some cases the people overran the 
courtrooms, often driven by a lust and a clamor for blood that 
was equivalent to the taking of justice into their own hands. A 
criterion was established that if the "war criminals" were con- 
victed the rebel judge was honest and fair. If the accused were 
acquitted the court must have been in error. One such notable 
case was the trial of 22 pilots and 22 ground crew members who 
were acquitted by a rebel court presided over by Captain Felix 
Pena, a hero of the fighting in Oriente. The flyers had been 
charged with genocide because they had bombed cities and towns 
in that province. It will be recalled that Castro had protested that 
he was denied a fair trial after the Moncada attack. Historians 
will very likely make a most critical study and analysis of the 
procedures employed in those trials. 

Q. Is there a technical reason (age or otherwise) why Castro 
is not now President of the Republic? 

A. The age factor has been overcome by the Fundamental 
Law. The technical reason is Castro himself. As he says, elec- 
tions now would be unfair because he would be swept into office. 
He does not want the presidency except through popular suffrage 
(although there are those who would like to push him into it for 
reasons of adulation and personal gain); and he hopes to organ- 

377 



ize the 26th of July Movement into a strong political party. 

"Elections now would reflect interest on my part," Castro says. 
"We would be the overwhelming majority party at this stage. It 
is in the best interests of the nation, therefore, if elections are held 
when the political parties are fully developed and their programs 
are clearly defined." 

Q. Is Castro strong enough to see the revolution through to a 
creative end? 

A. Yes. He has already undertaken some of the creative 
projects for the welfare of the people. He is impatient to accom- 
plish his objectives as quickly as possible, but he realizes that 
there must be sound planning, preparation and financing of each. 
There might be impetuous action in some cases, and in others he 
might be pushed too quickly toward an objective and stumble on 
the way, but his powers of recuperation are great. 

Q. Is Castro unfriendly to the United States? 

A. No. He has said: "We want to be friends of the United 
States, but we are a sovereign nation. We have historically been 
victims of odorous interventions of the United States in our coun- 
try. There always was in the early years a movement for annexa- 
tion current in the United States. We have nothing against 
the United States, and we do not wish to see our sugar quota 
jeopardized in any way because that is our economic life blood." 

With regard to the U. S. Military Missions, Castro said: "That 
mission was training the soldiers that we fought against for two 
years. Do you think we could accept training from such a 
mission?" 

Castro has also said that if there had not been United States 
intervention in the War of Independence the Cubans would have 
won their independence anyway. That is undoubtedly true, but 
he overlooks the facts that it would have taken much longer and 
that it was the United States fleet that bottled up the Spanish 
vessels of war in the bay at Santiago de Cuba while Admiral 
Dewey contained the remainder of the fleet in the Philippines. 
American lives and blood were selflessly and gallantly spilled on 
the battlefields of Cuba and at San Juan Hill so that the citizens of 
the island could enjoy the freedoms which Fidel Castro led them 
to reconquer. If the diplomatic and political aftermath was a 

378 



mistaken policy, that was ultimately rectified when the Piatt 
Amendment, which had allowed our government to intervene in 
Cuba, was abolished in 1934. 

There are diplomatic and military lessons to learn from the 
recent civil war in Cuba. A policy of winning governments and 
losing people must definitely be discarded if we are going to win 
and maintain the sincere friendship of the people of Latin 
America. We are looked upon as the champions of freedom, free- 
dom of the people, by the people and for the people, and our 
message in that regard should be transmitted to the peoples of 
the Americas. 

The retention of the Military Missions in Cuba was a serious 
mistake, compounded by the fact that there was a proviso in the 
agreement that permitted their immediate withdrawal in the event 
of a civil war. Yet it was stated that their continued presence 
"was necessary for hemisphere defense." In February 1959 the 
Missions were withdrawn at the request of the Cuban government 
because Castro felt that officers who trained an army he had 
defeated could not teach him anything about warfare in his 
country. 

The Central Intelligence Agency, I understand, reported the 
steady and inevitable collapse of the Batista regime and the indig- 
nation over the retention of the Military Missions. Did the other 
government agencies who were responsible for co-ordinating 
policy regarding Cuba make adequate and sensible use of this 
evaluated intelligence? If not, why not? 

And there were other members of the embassy staff in Havana 
who did not spend all their after-office time at useless cooky- 
pushing cocktail parties but had their ears to the ground and 
developed friendships with the man in the street, the student 
and the rebel. Earl Williamson was one and he is now in Wash- 
ington, and so was Ignacio Carranza, now on duty in Guatemala. 
The Cuban people are grateful for their understanding and objec- 
tive approach to their problems, and their discreet inquiries which 
helped save the lives of political prisoners. 

No ambassador should be sent to any post unless he can speak 
the language of the country. A new look in relations with Cuba 
began with the arrival of Ambassador Philip W. Bonsai in 

379 



Havana. He has a long Cuban background, for his late father, 
Stephen Bonsai, was a correspondent in the War for Indepen- 
dence. 

Q. Will U.S. companies in Cuba be persecuted or national- 
ized? 

A. Not if they have not been involved in any dealings that 
included unethical business practices that favored the henchmen 
of the Batista administration. Castro has said that foreign firms 
will be required to leave all of their profits in Cuba. Lands owned 
by some U.S. firms might be subdivided in the agrarian reform 
program with prior indemnification by the government. 

An economic lesson that American corporations should learn 
from tne Cuban revolution is that some American businessmen 
cause resentment against the United States by praising dictators 
in print and in public speeches. They express their delight to do 
business with the dictators and, at times, seem to condone the 
absence of civil rights. This type of American presents to the 
Latin American the most reprehensible feature of our export 
economy. Only by assuming a most correct attitude— and by not 
fawning over the dictator or offering to agree to the payment of 
bribes or be a party to shady deals and the "promise of a bite"— 
will the American businessman be able to convince our Latin 
neighbors that he is not performing a disservice to the principles 
for which we stand before the free world. Otherwise, he invites 
unfortunate and inevitable reprisals against himself and his cor- 
poration and stimulates resentment against our country and our 
government. 

Q. Will Fidel Castro become a dictator? 

A. Not if he can help it, although the existence of a revolu- 
tionary de facto government without the checks and balances of 
representative, elected government, including a congress and a 
senate, lends itself to dictatorial measures. As Prime Minister, 
Castro enjoys powers similar to those of General Charles De- 
Gaulle before the Fourth Republic. There are those who would 
like to encourage him to become a dictator. He did not fight the 
five-year war against Batista to don the cloak of a tyrant, for he 
well knows that many of the same people who fought so hard 
with him in the Sierra Maestra and in the cities, towns and vil- 
lages in the underground, would be the first to turn on him and 

380 



demand that he go. He is a fervent fan of public opinion surveys 
and has reiterated that as soon as his support drops to fifty per- 
cent or lower he will step out of the picture. 

"Do you think the best army in the world can defend a dicta- 
torship in Cuba if it is opposed by the people?" Castro asks. 

Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, now out of the cabinet and back at his 
law practice, says emphatically that Castro will never become a 
dictator. 

"He is an advocate of the doctrine of Jose Marti," Miro says. 
"That is the doctrine of democracy, freedom, love of fellow man, 
welfare of the people and Cuban nationalism. He will never 
become a dictator." 

Rufo Lopez Fresquet, minister of treasury, who was one of the 
most active leaders in the Civic Resistance Movement in Havana, 
emits an emphatic "No!" when asked if he thinks Castro will ever 
become a dictator. 

Castro has a deep reverence for civilian, representative, consti- 
tutional government. Yet he became exasperated with the politi- 
cal parties and even his own Ortodoxo Party when they vacillated 
in the fight against Batista. He became impatient with the civic 
institutions when they failed to elect a provisional president, as 
he had advocated in the manifesto of the Sierra. He repudiated 
the Council of Liberation because they wanted a voice in the 
selection of a coalition cabinet in Miami in December 1957 and 
announced that he had chosen Dr. Manuel Urrutia to be provi- 
sional president on the fall of Batista. He agreed to, and led the 
list of signatories of, the Civilian Revolutionary Front on July 20, 
1958. He said in his interview with me in Holguin that he had to 
be more careful than ever about his future statements and then 
blew that caution to the four winds after criticism began to rankle 
him. 

Those were all actions of a guerrilla, of a man who fought all 
night, was hunted by a dictator's army and air force, and on 
whose shoulders was the responsibility for the direction of the 
vast organization that was fighting in one way or another through- 
out the country and abroad. 

He had not yet divested himself entirely of the guerrilla's 
methods and this can be attributed to the pressure of his responsi- 
bilities and work and the lack of sufficient sleep which increases 

381 



his tensions. Under such conditions he is swayed by impulsive 
decisions which require rectification because when the prob- 
lems were originally presented to him all the facts were not 
made available. But he does possess the qualities of willingness 
to rectify when he might make mistakes as a result of those 
impulses. 

He has yet to organize his working and sleeping hours so that 
he can operate more efficiently from an office instead of from the 
improvised headquarters at his residence at Sierra Cojimar. He 
said he plans to effect such a reorganization whereby he will work 
from noon until midnight and clear up some work at home in the 
mornings. 

He was offered $25,000 for his beard by an industrialist but 
said he won't sell. 

"We will not shave until the revolution is a reality," he said. "If 
the soldiers of the tyranny could not cut off our beards and mus- 
taches, neither will they be shaved by the intriguers of the 
Fatherland." 

Now he is no longer a guerrilla, and he has the enormous 
responsibility of winning the peace. As the euphoria that fol- 
lowed victory begins to wear off and people examine the deeds of 
the revolutionary government with a more critical eye, there is 
bound to be more outspoken criticism. One danger lies in the 
possibility that those who wish to force Castro into excesses might 
try to inflame him against any criticism, even though that criti- 
cism might be intended as constructive. Critics then might be 
smeared as making "anti-Cuban and anti-patriotic" statements; 
fear and intimidation, weapons of dictators, their adulators and 
of the Communists, would then replace the subsidies which most 
of the press had enjoyed under Batista and which the revolution- 
ary government abolished in the third decree it issued. 

In his defense of the Moncada attack Castro outlined five 
basic laws that he intended to enact for the welfare of the people 
of Cuba, and those are incorporated in his program of govern- 
ment. He has never varied from them just as he has not varied 
from his desire to see Latin America rid of dictators, especially 
Trujillo. He has lent the moral support of revolutionary Cuba to 
exiles from the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Nicaragua. The 
air waves of the Caribbean are filled nightly with psychological 

382 



warfare broadcasts against those three countries by exiles in 
Havana. Castro has offered to grant recognition to any insurrec- 
tionist group that gets a foothold in the hills of any of those coun- 
tries, though his domestic problems and diplomatic complications 
might prevent him from furnishing active armed aid to those 
expeditionaries. 

On the other hand, Trujillo and the Somozas can be expected 
to take every countermeasure within their capabilities to try to 
frustrate the planned revolutions. The same is true of Duvalier 
in Haiti. As Castro himself has often forecast, his victory has 
sounded the death knell for dictators in Latin America. Can a 
man who is so imbued with such a missionary zeal to see others 
free degenerate into a dictator himself? 

On August 21, 1958, he said from the Sierra Maestra: 

"There is a revolution because there is tyranny. There is a 
revolution because there is injustice. There is and there will be a 
revolution as long as there is a shadow of a threat against our 
rights and our freedom." 

If he succeeds in ensuring the consolidation and preservation 
of those cherished rights to freedom for which millions of Cubans 
rallied to his cause; if he succeeds in translating into reality and 
practices the tolerance, justice and the respect for the Constitu- 
tion and the law which he advocated in his brilliant defense after 
the Moncada attack and reiterated during his exile in Mexico and 
throughout the epic of the Sierra Maestra, then history surely will 
absolve him. 

Havana, March 7, 1959 



383 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

It is impossible to record the names of all the people to whom 
I am indebted for having been able to accomplish the task of 
writing this book in twenty days. Many of them appear as charac- 
ters in the story, and to them I am most grateful. Howard W. 
Sams, Chairman of the Board, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 
Inc., is the man who made this book possible, directed its produc- 
tion and provided me with most helpful stimulation as the writing 
progressed. W. D. Maxwell, editor, the Chicago Tribune, ap- 
proved the request from Bobbs-Merrill, made through S. I. Nei- 
man of Chicago, for me to write this book. To those gentlemen 
go my sincere thanks for their confidence. 

Mention must be made of Dr. Fidel Castro, who furnished not 
only valuable information but also the frontispiece letter; 
Major Raul Castro and his wife Vilma Espin, whom I inter- 
viewed in the hills of Oriente as well as in Santiago de Cuba; 
Ramon Castro; Captain Jesus Yanes Pelletier, aide-de-camp to 
Fidel Castro; Faustino Perez; Manuel Ray; Haydee Santamaria 
Hart; Armando Hart; Justo Carrillo; Felipe Pazos; Jorge Quin- 
tana; Rufo Lopez Fresquet; Drs. Luis and Hector; Drs. Antonio 
and Angel Maria Santos Buch; Senor and Senora Jose Ferrer; 
Senor and Senora Ignacio Mendoza; Dr. Raul de Velasco; 
Manuel Antonio de Varona; Drs. Luis Botifoll, Leopoldo Her- 
nandez and Carlos M. Rubiera; Carlos Castaneda; General 
Alberto Bayo; Jesus Montane and his wife Melba Hernandez; 
Candido de la Torre; Angel Ogawa; Ronald C. Levy; Humberto 
Medrano; and Ulises Carbo. 

Special mention must be made of Dr. Miguel Angel Quevedo, 
editor and publisher of Bohemia, who placed at my disposal his 
files and all but one of the photographs that appear in this book; 
and Enrique Delahoza, editor of the "En Cuba" section of that 
magazine. 

I cannot close without expressing my gratitude for his invalu- 
able help to Harrison Piatt, editor. Trade Department, The 
Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., who flew to Havana to expedite 
the editing of the manuscript. 

J. D. 
384 



INDEX 



Agramonte, Roberto, 13, 24-26, 120, 

188, 357 
Aguiar, Raul de, 78, 118 
Aguilera, Guillermo, 259 f. 
Aguirre Orteiza, Ignacio, 154 
Alabau Trelies, Francisco, 178, 222, 269 
Alba, Marisol, 161, 179, 209 f. 
Alcalde, Oscar, 43, 64, 93 
Alles, Augustine, 223 
Alliegro, Anselmo, 116, 343 
Almeida, Juan, 144, 330, 334 
Almejeiras, Efigenio, 143 f., 343 
Alonso Pujol, Guillermo, 24-25 
Alvarez del Real, Wilfredo, 268 
Arango Alsina, Ramiro, 42, 46 
Arcos, Gustavo, 77, 92 
Arias, Abelardo, 93 
Arocha Boizan, Toribio, 154 

Barquin, Ramon, 124, 350 f. 

Barreras, Pedro, 139 

Bartlett, Charles W., Jr., 278 f. 

Batista y Zaldivar, Fulgencio: 1/1/59, 
7-8; 1933-1952,9-14;coup of 3/10/52, 
26; suspension of civil rights and cen- 
sorship of press and radio, 37, 148- 
149, 173, 177, 222, 272-273; retalia- 
tion for 7/26/53 revolt, 38; inaugu- 
rated, 3/24/55, 86; grants amnesty, 
5/13/55, 92; Dubois' interviews with, 
151, 156, 175-176; denounces Castro 
as Communist, 152; attempt on life of, 
3/13/57, 152; requested to resign, 
222-229; empowered as total dictator, 
241; purge of courts, 242; resignation, 
342-343; flight, 343-344; et passim. 

Bayo, Alberto, 98-100, 111-113, 126, 
138, 159 ff., 209 f., 373 

Bayo, Alberto, Jr., 126, 209 

Belt, Guillermo, 23 

Betancourt, Ernesto, 315 

Betancourt, Romulo, 18 

Blanco, Eladio, 245 



Blanco Rico, Antonio, 135 f. 
Bonsai, Philip W., 379 
Borbonnet, Enrique C, 125, 350 f. 
Bordon, Victor, 215, 311, 346 
Borrero, Marcos, 305 
Bosch, Jose M., 163 f., 361 
Botifoll, Luis, 249 f. 
Braddock, Daniel M., 370 
Brana, Manuel, 143 
Buch, Antonio, 191, 279 
Buch, Luis, 191, 213, 233, 245 f., 357, 
375 

Cabrejas, Jose, 50 

Cabrera, Francisco, 331 

Cabrera Graupera, Jorge, 256 

Cairol, Francisco, 209 

Caldwell, William B., 268 

Calvo Formoso, Javier, 357 f. 

Camejo, Hugh, 78 

Camps, Vincente, 41 

Cantillo, Eulogio, 9, 10, 326, 339, 341, 

343, 345, 349, 351 
Capote, Juan M., 92 
Carbo, Juan Pedro, 158 
Carbo, Sergio, 155, 255 f., 345 
Carbo, Ulises, 255 
Cardenas, Raul de, 343 
Carillo, Justo, 125, 261 
Carranza, Ignacio, 379 
Carrillo, Carlos, 350 
Carrillo, Ulgade, 321 
Casillas Lumpuy, Joaquin R., 337, 339, 

342, 346 
Cassuso, Teresa, 133 ff. 
Castanedo, Carlos, 217 
Castellanos, Baudilio, 57 
Castellanos, Juan, 129 f. 
Castro, Fidel, Jr., 25, 93, 96, 137, 151, 

361 
Castro, Lidia, 14, 92 f., 150f. 
Castro, Lina Ruz Gonzales de, 14-15 
Castro, Pedro Emilio, 14 



385 



Castro Ruz, Angela, 14 

Castro Ruz, Juana, 14 

Castro Ruz, Fidel: early life and school 
years, 14-17, 25; Bogota riots, 17-23; 
letter to Batista, 26; files briefs against 
Batista, 27-30; organizes revolution- 
aries, 30-32; 26th of July revolt, 32- 
37; flees to Sierra Maestra, 37-38; 
capture and arrest, 38-39; trial and 
sentencing. Urgency Court, Santiago, 
41-83; imprisonment. Isle of Pines, 
84-92; release and return to Havana, 
92-96; in Mexico, 96-138; and Bayo, 
98-100; article, "Against Everybody," 
100-1 11; letter to Luis Conte Aguero, 
3/19/55, 86-91; forms 26th of July 
Movement, 114-124; letter to Miguel 
Quevedo, 8/26/56, 127-133; and Prio 
at McAllen, Tex., Sept. 1956, 133- 
134; acquires the Gramma, 136-137; 
returns to Cuba, 139; defeat at Alegria 
del Pio, 142-143; in the Sierra Mae- 
stra, 145-330; leads attack on army 
post at Ubero, 162; manifesto, 
7/12/57, 166-172; reply to Council 
of Liberation, 12/14/57, 191-206; 
begins Radio Rebelde broadcasts, 
212; letter to CMKC, 3/9/58, 218- 
219; manifesto, 3/12/58, 234-240; 
manifesto to populace, 248-249; re- 
plies to Dubois' questions, 261-265; 
orders release of American sailors 
and marines kidnaped by Raul Castro, 
272; manifesto, 7/20/58, 280-283; 
field order, 285-286; and Jose Que- 
vedo, 287-289; report of first major 
victory, 289-299; general order, 
8/21/58, 302-303; report of fate of 
Jaime Vega's company, 306-311; no- 
election law, 316-317; broadcast, 
10/26/58, 321-324; final offensive, 
329-351; first meeting with Urrutia, 
331; learns of Batista's resignation 
and flight, 345; directive, 1/1/59, 346- 
347; enters Moncada, 1/2/59, 351; 
begins triumphal march, 352; au- 
thorizes resumption of newspaper 
publication, 355; orders courts-martial, 
356; defends trials, 372; accepts post 
of prime minister, 375; et passim. 

Castro Ruz, Ramon, 14, 146, 210 f., 336, 
352 

Castro Ruz, Raul, 14, 32, 45, 51, 62, 84, 
93, 96 f., 135, 138, 142, 144, 149, 160, 
245, 269, 272 f., 277, 286, 325 f., 330 
ff., 334, 336, 339, 352, 369, 371, 373 



Castro y Argiz, Angel, 14-15 

Centoz, Luis, 349, 358 

Cespedes, Carlos Manuel de, 45 

Chaurondo, Hilario, 92 

Chaviano, Alberto, 37 ff., 41, 44, 49, 

51, 157 
Chenart, Fernando, 44 
Chibas, Eduardo R., 13, 24 f., 30, 33, 

45,64 
Chibas, Raul, 94 f., 162, 166, 174, 191, 

304, 328, 339 
Chomon, Faure, 215, 311, 352 
Cienfuegos, Camilio, 144, 302 ff., 309, 

311, 332, 334 ff., 352, 360 f. 
Colomba, Boris Luis, 50 
Conte Aguero, Luis, 86 
Cotubanaba Henriquez, Enrique, 207 
Cowley, Fermin, 150, 210 
Crespo, Abelardo, 77 
Cubela, Rolando, 311, 340 f., 353 
Cuervo, Pelayo, 131, 153 fT. 
Cuervo, Pelayo, Jr., 162 
Cuervo Rubio, Gustavo, 343 
Cushing, Richard, 173 

De Cespedes, Carlos Manuel, 45 

De la Fe, Ernesto, 348 

Delahoz, Enrique, 95 

De la Torre, Candido, 208 ff., 265 f. 

De los Santos, Rene, 334, 345 

Del Pino, Rafael, 20 f., 23 f., 97, 134 f. 

Diaz, Armando, 50 

Diaz, Cristobal, 217, 256 

Diaz Balart, Mirtha, 25, 93, 97 

Diaz Balart, Rafael, 86 

Diaz Oliveira, Ricardo, 40 

Diaz Tamayo, Martin, 38, 75, 331 

Dulles, John Foster, 174, 327 

Duran, Carlos Manuel, 325 

Echevarria, Jose Antonio, 152 f. 
EUender, Allen J., 332 f. 
Ellis, Robert B., 272 f., 277 f. 
Escalona, Victor, 118 
Espin, Vilma, 172, 339, 371 
Euleterio Pedroza, Jose, 337 

Faget, Mariano, 154 
Fangio, Juan Manuel, 213 
Fernandez, Eufemio, 134, 209 
Fernandez, Omar, 266, 328 
Fernandez Casas, Fico, 124 
Fernandez Duque, Juan, 253 
Fernandez Miranda, Roberto, 213 
Fernandez Zeballos, Raul, 225, 233, 245 



386 



1 

i 



Ferrer, Jose, 211 f., 254, 267 flF., 344 
Ferrer Guerra, Jose D., 317 ff., 324 
Figueroa, Luis, 41 
Franqui, Carlos, 331 

Gaitan, Jorge Elecier, 19-21 

Galindez, Jesus, 129 

Gallery, Daniel J., 273 

Garcia, Calixto, 144, 345 

Garcia, Pilar, 252 f. 

Garcia Diaz, Andres, 46, 78 

Garcia Ibanez, Roberto, 42 

Garcia Monies, Jorge, 269 

Garcia Olayon, Alejandro, 177 

Gardner, Arthur, 152, 156, 165 

Gilmore, Eugene A., 273 

Gomez, Maximo, 3 1 1 

Gomez, Victoriano, 325 

Gonzalez, Eulalio, 78-79 

Gonzalez, Guillermo, 149 

Gowran, Clay, 344, 353 

Grau San Martin, Ramon, 12-13, 17, 25, 

85 f., 316 
Guell, Gonzalo, 165, 258, 269 
Guerra, Oscar H., 164 
Guevara, Ernesto, Jr., (Che), 96-97, 127, 

138, 144, 160, 302 flf., 309, 311, 332, 

334 ff., 346, 352, 356, 359, 373 f. 
Guitart Rosell, Renato, 30, 32, 36, 43, 

50,61 
Guss, Milt, 332 
Gutierrez, Rafael, 155 
Gutierrez Menoyo, Eloy, 311 

Hart, Armando, 156, 163, 191, 218, 279, 

350 
Hermida, Ramon, 86 
Hernandez, Bernardo, 49 
Hernandez, Eduardo (Consul General), 

179 
Hernandez, Eduardo (Guayo), 23, 223, 

250 
Hernandez, Hernando, 252, 266 
Hernandez, Leopoldo, 249 f. 
Hernandez, Melba, 31 f., 35-37, 40, 47, 

49, 51, 54, 76, 93 f., 134, 334 
Hevia, Carlos, 13-14, 120, 188 
Hevia Ruiz, Rolando, 50 
Hidalgo, Mario, 350 
Hidalgo Perez, Ciro, 253 
Hilton, Conrad, 8 f. 

Inglesias, Eliseo, 249 f. 

Jiminez, Enrique, 360 



Kuchilan, Mario, 348 

Labrador, Fidel, 63, 77, 93 

Lama, Carlos, 249 f. 

Laurent, Julio, 178. 222, 269 

Lechuga, Carlos, 233, 245 

Leon, Mauricio, 36 

Li, Abon, 338, 341 

Linares, Santiago Rosales, 154f. 

Llanusa, Jose, 163, 327 

Llaverias, Fernando, 125 

Llerena, Mario, 191 

Llorente, Armando, 145 f., 332 f., 357 f. 

Llosa, Juan Maria, 50 

Lopez Castro, Amadeo, 269 

Lopez Fresquet, Rufo, 381 

Lopez Vilaboy, Jose, 162 

Lusson, Enrique A., 245, 278 

Maceo, Antonio, 45, 91, 311 

Machado, Gerardo, 11, 13, 66, 346 

Machado, Jose, 158 

Mallin, Jay, 273 

Marquez, Juan Manuel, 99, 133 f., 140, 

143 
Marquez Sterling, Carlos, 316, 328 
Marrero, Pedro, 43 
Marshall, George C, 17, 21 
Marti, Marcos, 51, 77-78 
Marti Santa Cruz, Jose Ignacio, 357 f. 
Martinez Araras, Raul, 50-51 
Martinez Inclan, Julian, 357 f. 
Martinez Mora, Daniel G., 345 
Martinez Paez, Julio, 357 
Martinez Saenz, Joaquin, 348 
Martorell Garcia, Juan, 49 
Masferrer, Rolando, 95, 125, 278, 365 
Matos, Huber, 330 f., 334, 345 
Matthews, Herbert L., 140, 145, 152 
Medrano, Humberto, 255 f. 
Mejias Valdivieso, Juan Francisco, 40 
Mendoza, Ignacio, 212, 233, 256 
Miret, Pedro, 32, 50, 61, 63, 77, 93 f., 

135, 244, 345 
Miro Cardona, Jose, 125, 229, 312, 314, 

357, 374 f., 381 
Molinari, Diego Luis, 18 
Montane, Jesus, 32, 43, 50, 61 f., 92, 94, 

97, 134, 350 
Moore, Clarence W., 332, 334 
Morales, Calixto, 126, 144 
Morales Mustelier, Luis, 253 
Moran, Lucas, 190 
Morgan, William Alexander, 178, 215, 

349 
Munoz Monroe, Mario, 35-37, 50 f., 75 



387 



Nieto Pineiro-Osorio, Adolfo, 40, 46-47 

Novas Calvo, Lino, 329 

Nuiry, Juan, 158, 328 

Nunez Portuondo, Emilio, 219, 343 

Ojeda, Fernando, 164 
Ordoqui, Joaquin, 49 
O'Rourke, John T., 255 
Ospina Perez, Mariano, 20, 22 

Pais, Frank, 172 f., 209 

Patterson, William, 164, 284 

Pazos, Felipe, 163, 166, 190, 206 

Pazos, Javier, 218, 279 

Pena, Felix, 377 

Pena, Lazaro, 49 

Penalver, Ernesto, 16 

Perez, Antonio, 50 

Perez, Crescencio, 139, 145, 149 

Perez, Faustino, 135, 143 flf., 213, 233, 

240, 245, 256, 258, 357 
Perez, Ignacio, 330 
Perez, Lima, 357 f. 
Perez Diaz, Roger, 93-94 
Perez Poey, Gerardo, 50 
Perez Rey, Luis, 45 
Perez Serantes, Enrique, 37, 46, 64, 258, 

332, 341, 352 
Piad, Carlos, 315 
Piedra, Armando, 326 
Piedra, Carlos Manuel, 343 f. 
Piedra, Orlando, 129 f., 135, 265 
Pino Machado, Quintin, 350 
Pizza de Porras, Enrique, 344 
Ponce, Jose, 77 

Ponce de Leon, Edmundo, 326 f. 
Pozo, Justo Luis del, 116 
Prieto, Carlos, 249 f. 
Prio Socarras, Carlos, 12-14, 24-26, 39, 

42, 49, 73, 76, 125, 133 f., 159 f., 188, 

209, 313, 363 
Pulido Humaran, Antonio, 186 

Quevedo, Jose, 287 ff. 
Quevedo, Miguel Angel, 111, 127, 134, 
143, 255 f., 329, 339, 344 f., 364 

Ramos Latour, Rene, 250 

Ray, Manuel, 213 f., 233, 245 f., 329, 357 

Redondo, Ciro, 51, 78, 93, 112, 142, 144 

Rego Rubido, Jose, 351 f. 

Requena, Andres, 129 

Rey, Santiago, 116, 130, 267 

Ridgway, Matthew B., 17 



Riera Gomez, Eliseo, 250 

Rivero Aguero, Andres, 7-8, 328 

Rodon, Lincoln, 188 

Rodriguez, Carlos Rafael, 373 

Rodriguez, Conrado, 92 

Rodriguez, Fructuoso, 157 f. 

Rodriguez, Juan, 16, 132 

Rodriguez, Lester, 32, 190, 209 

Rodriguez, Luis Orlando, 136, 331, 356 

Rodriguez, Rene, 143 f. 

Rodriguez Aleman, Eduardo, 92 

Rodriguez Miranda, Pedro, 41 

Rojas, Sergio, 261 

Rosell, Florentino, 339 

Rubottom, Roy R., 224 

Ruiz, Ramon, 345 

Ruiz Ramirez, Jorge, 1 83 ff. 

Saavedra, Angel, 271, 317 

Salado, Marcelo, 253 

Salas Amaro, Alberto, 316, 350 

Salas Conizares, Rafael, 132, 135 f., 172 

Salvador, David, 233 

Sanchez, Celia, 330, 336, 355, 368 

Sanchez, Universo, 143 f. 

Sanchez Arango, Aureliano, 40, 120, 

160, 208 f. 
Sanchez Mosquera, Angel, 286 
Sanchez White, Calixto, 160 ff., 309 
San Roman Toledo, Jose, 176 ff., 214 
Santamaria, Abel, 30 f., 32-33, 35, 37, 

44 f., 50-51, 61 ff., 79 
Santamaria, Haydee, 31 f., 35-37, 40, 51, 

76, 93 f., 163, 279, 284, 327 
Santos Buch, Angel Maria, 191, 213 
Sardinas, Guillermo, 164 
Sarria, Pedro, 38-39, 64 
Smith, Earl E. T., 165, 172 ff., 211 f., 

223 ff., 243, 258, 266, 268 f., 272, 284, 

317, 321, 324, 349, 364 
Smith, Florence Pritchett, 317 
Soler, Policarpo, 131 
Sori Marin, Humberto, 215, 316, 356 f., 

371 
Sosa, Elpido, 44 
Sosa Blanco, Jesus, 365, 369 ff. 
Stock, Ernesto, 143 
Suarez, Jose, 62, 64 
Suarez, Pepe, 32 
Suarez Blanco, Jesus, 92 

Tabernilla, Carlos, 181 

Tabernilla Dolz, Francisco, 9 f., 157, 

177, 241 f., 305, 343 
Tamayo, Edmundo, 51, 77 
Tasende, Jose Luis, 50, 61 



388 



Tizol, Ernesto, 30, 43, 50-51, 92, 94 
Topping, John. 173, 225, 268 
Torriente, Cosme de la, 92, 122 
Trigo, Julio. 35 
Troque, Eloy, 138 f. 

Urrutia Lleo. Manuel, 164, 181, 191, 
204-205, 206, 328, 331, 351 f., 356 f., 
362, 367, 374 f., 381 

Valdes, Andres, 78 

Valdes. Ramiro, 62 

Valliciergo. Francisco, 326 

Varona, Manuel Antonio de, 120, 178 f., 

188, 207, 280, 363 
Vasconcelos, Ramon, 96, 350 
Vasquez, Gerardo, 124 
Vega, Jaime, 306 f.. 334 
Velasco Guzman, Raul de, 183, 187, 

223 ff. 



Velez, Pedro, 78 

Ventura, Esteban, 222 f., 254, 266, 269, 

329 
Verdaguer, Roberto, 244 
Villares, Jose, 233 

Weicha, Robert, 272 
Westbrook, Joe, 158 
White, Lincoln, 320, 322 ff. 
Wieland, William A., 313 ff. 
Williams, John Z., 254 
Williamson, Earl, 379 
Wolfe Silva, Charles, 289 
Wollam, Park P., 270, 271, 277 f. 
Wright, Jerauld, 273 

Yanes Pelletier, Jesus, 40, 49 
Zendegui, Guillermode, 118 



The publisher wishes to express his deep grati- 
tude to the Weimer Typesetting Company, 
Inc., the Waldemar Press, Inc., and the Book- 
WALTER Co., Inc., for their extended efforts in 
producing this book on such a tight schedule. 

H.W.S. 



389 



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