The author tells the story not merely as a narrator-he was an active participant in these events as part of the first steps in his life as a thirteen-year-old spy as he retrieved important documents for his friends in his intelligence network. Only when they reviewed the data did he realize the sheer magnitude of what he had accomplished as he exposed what really lay behind Cuba: the truth, the lies, and the cover-ups.
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The Truth, The Lies, and the Coverups
By Julio Antonio del Mármol
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2016 Dr. Julio Antonio del Mármol
All rights reserved.
THE DISCOVERED TREASURE
A year later, I was dressed in my Juvenile Commandos uniform in my house on Avenue Cabada, 116. I had dressed hurriedly, because I was supposed to be at the local military regiment for an important meeting with the chief of the province, Commander Dermidio Escalona. It was important, because Commander Ernesto "Che" Guevara wanted to inform us of the new orders of the Maximum Leader, Fidel Castro.
This meeting had been called because several groups within the army were in mutiny. Some of the officers had even taken their troops into the jungles to fight against the emerging Socialist regime. These were the last measures the government had developed as a result of Captain Clodomiro Miranda's rebellion.
After this event, Fidel Castro had started to doubt his Rebel Army. Even though the Revolution was a triumph, he knew most of them were peasants, students, and intellectuals who had abandoned their normal lives. For these people, the Marxist ideology they were indoctrinating the army with was a very hard pill to swallow. Some of them didn't even know what "Marxist-Leninist" meant.
But some of the more educated officers did, and they didn't like it one bit. They had fought to re-establish a free democracy, not to set up a communist dictatorship that would be even worse than the corrupt dictatorship of Batista. Consequently, similar rebellions had erupted around the island, especially in the central mountains of the Escambray in Santa Clara.
The whole Revolution had by now been divided into two groups. In the one group, Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl, Che, and the other big commanders wanted to remain in power perpetually. Che and the Castros were aligned in creating a communist future for the island.
The other group felt betrayed by these ideas and had rebelled, and so they had been persecuted and forced back into the mountains.
The situation was extremely tense inside the armed forces, and this tension spilled out into the general public, poisoning the overall atmosphere of the island. In reaction, the Castros and Che implemented even more extreme measures, seeking to root out any opposition and brutally put it down. Even the simple expression of displeasure or doubt could lead to the firing squad, so intense was the witch hunt they had embarked upon in seeking out any anticommunist sentiments.
For this reason, the men with Captain Miranda were either executed or given sentences of ten to thirty years in prison. Even one of the major Commanders, Huber Matos, received a twentyyear sentence simply for sending a letter to Fidel asking when free elections would be held. No one was exempt or excused.
By this time, I had been trained by my uncle and the man we had codenamed the General. I had been taking my first steps into the spy business and slowly discovered that this was a very dangerous game. What I lacked in experience I made up for in very good, solid training, and my position as the Commander-in-Chief of the Juvenile Commandos was the perfect one in which to learn as I went.
I was primarily guided at this point by my own instincts because of my limited experience. My instincts told me that Che would be back, even though he had recently left the province. I knew that something important must be going on, so I didn't want to be late to this meeting. As soon as I was dressed, I rushed through breakfast and walked to the front door.
After I said goodbye to my Mima and my nanny Majito, I passed by a man of about forty-five coming into the house with a teenaged boy who had Down syndrome. They both brought poles with empty five-gallon cans hanging from either end. Both greeted me in a friendly manner: "Good morning, Julio Antonio."
I nodded affably. "Good morning, Don Pascual. Good morning, Tobito."
"Your driver, that big black guy, has been waiting outside for you for a while," Don Pascual said.
I replied with a smile, "Really good. Daniel is early today. Thank you, Pascual."
"Have a great day. Valla con Dios, mi niño." He waved goodbye to me.
Don Pascual was a tall man, stooped over at the shoulder. He had a large, Greek nose, a ruddy complexion, and straight salt-and-pepper hair. We called his type isleño relloyo, or "island Creole," because he was pure Spanish in ancestry but born on the island.
Like other isleño relloyo, he spoke with an exaggerated Castilian lisp, and he used the "z" even when it wasn't really applicable. As a result, this group of people were the subject of numerous jokes by the majority of people in Cuba. They were unfairly stereotyped as slow and inbred, but otherwise generally likeable.
Tobito was very tall, about six feet three inches, with curly red hair, freckles all over, a complexion like his father, and an overbite.
In that time, the trash sometimes accumulated for a month before someone came by to pick it up. Public service was very deficient, with many public employees at the beginning of the Revolution accused of being collaborators with the previous regime. They were constantly understaffed, and in consequence the trash became a problem.
Cuban ingenuity created a solution for this. Many people raised farms in the surrounding countryside. They offered to pick up the trash in exchange for any food leftovers from the city dwellers' meals for their pigs. The leftovers that they used to feed the pigs were called sarcocho. They bring five-gallon cans into the house, collect the sarcocho from a family, and empty the cans into fifty-five gallon tanks on their wagons.
When I left the house, I smiled because Daniel had parked the jeep a little distance from the wagon and was holding a handkerchief over his nose and mouth due to the stench from the tanks. Despite the tarp cover, the flies swarmed around the wagon and disturbed the horse's rump.
After I greeted Daniel, I jumped into the jeep.
Daniel asked me, "How is it possible that Don Pascual and his son could tolerate that stink all day long?"
I smiled. "Daniel, everything in life is just a question of getting used to something. Good or bad, we get used to everything in life. If you asked Don Pascual the same question, he would probably ask you, 'What stink?' because they've been doing this for so long that they don't smell it anymore."
The good black man shook his head in bewilderment and made a sick face. He crossed himself and said, "Thank God I don't have to do that kind of work. I hear the Devil has a sulfur-smelling ass. But this goddamn smell from Don Pascual's wagon is a thousand times worse probably than the Devil's butt."
"That's got rhythm," I said. We both smiled and drove to the military compound.
A few months before, I had been taking pictures in San Cristobol of the first boxes of missiles that had arrived from the Soviet Union when I visited this facility with my brother-in-law, Canen. Of course, he had no idea what I was doing, but he had been assigned the command of overseeing all the new installations. I was very anxious to know what Che was bringing to us in this meeting — no doubt information that could be of great help to my uncle and our associates in global intelligence.
When we arrived at the compound, I realized that Che had not arrived by himself: he had also brought along a couple of other big names in the communist government. One was Ramiro Valdez, the Minister of the Interior and the DTI, the internal police of the island. The other one was Commander Pineiro, the head of the G-2, or Red Beard, as we called him.
We spent all day going from meeting to meeting, first with the officer in charge of the troops, then with the other junior officers involved in the military training programs. Che explained to us that we had to observe closely every single officer and NCO in our army, because they were the only ones capable of converting entire platoons into counterrevolutionaries.
After interviewing them, he would nominate some to be political "orientators," who would be responsible for detecting and catching in time any discontent or signal that any officer, NCO, or soldier was resisting the socialist indoctrination. From this, Commanders Pineiro and Ramiro conducted interviews for many hours, and out of the hundreds of men, they only selected a small group — the most loyal and accepting of the communist doctrine.
Later in the afternoon, Pineiro and Ramiro informed me that my Juvenile Commandos would become the Young Communist Union.
With a big and pleasant smile, I replied, "Great! We will continue to work with the same objective, to create the best results for the Revolution."
They looked at each other in wonderment, and Che smiled broadly. Escalona took the credit and said, "You see, Che? You see, Ramiro, Pineiro? That is the good ideological work I've done with the Little Commander."
They were all fascinated with my answer and gloated over my apparent enthusiasm.
Escalona continued, "I've given him a few books, and he's been doing his homework."
Che looked a little unconvinced with Escalona's boast. He held up a hand to stop Escalona. "What books did he give to you?" he asked me.
"Well, he gave me a few," I said, stroking my chin. "He gave me The Bolshevik Revolution, he gave me both Marx and Engels, and some of Lenin's essays about the international effect that the Bolshevik Revolution can have."
Che stood up from his chair, walked over to me, and clapped me on the shoulder. "You see? This is good ideological work. I congratulate you, and I'm going to give you one of my books."
He opened his briefcase and pulled out a book. "I don't give a signed book to anybody, because I don't like to brag. But for you, I will sign it, since you are an example for the new generation."
He signed his book and handed it to me. "The book is War of the Guerillas. You will learn from this book how we fight the capitalists and imperialists all over the world with a very small group of men. This is a military combat book."
"Thank you," I said. "It's a great honor."
"No, it's a great honor to have a young man like you at such a young age to have these great political views. Take the time to educate yourself." He closed his attaché case and put it down on the floor by Escalona's desk.
I glanced back and made sure that Che had left his case there. Then we all left the office, Escalona coming last to lock up. We went in different vehicles to the officer's mess to have dinner. We had a great meal of fried chicken, black beans and rice, fried yucca and plantain bananas, and green salad. We all sat at a long table. I excused myself and used the opportunity to go to a chef I knew well and asked him if I could take a few of the rations.
"Sure, Commander, no problem," he said.
The food had started to grow short in Cuba, and every time I went to the military compound, I always tried to get some extra to take home with me. All of the other officers did this as well. I said goodbye to Che and the others, and told Daniel to pick up the extra rations.
He touched his belly in a very satisfied fashion. "Did you eat too much?" I asked him.
He smiled his broad grin. "I ate for today and tomorrow, just in case we don't come back here tomorrow."
I told him, "Take one of those rations to your house. Take the other to Mima, and tell her I sent it to her."
He looked at me and said, "Thank you! Thank you very much. But aren't you coming with me?" I drew close to him and looked into his eyes. "No, I will stay here, but you will tell my mother that I will be coming later. And under no circumstances tell anyone that I didn't leave with you." He raised his hand. "I understand. If anyone asks, I tell them I drove you home and then went home myself."
"Whatever happens," I repeated, "remember — for your security and mine, you stick with that version, OK?" He nodded his head. "I got it."
I smiled and walked away from the jeep. He closed the zipper on the plastic cover of the jeep, got in, and drove towards the guard point of the compound. I started to walk on the sidewalk. Once in the shadows, I left the sidewalk and entered a grassy alley between the military buildings. From there, I made my way back Escalona's offices.
It was about 8:30 in the evening. There was no moon, and the stars were concealed by the overcast. The slight breeze and smell indicated that rain was near.
Don Pascual's wagon rolled by en route to the officer's mess. I smiled, thinking about Daniel's observations.
I went behind the building and found a three-inch drainage pipe hanging down. It crossed the building close by a window just outside Escalona's office.
I unwrapped my cartridge belt, put it around the pipe, and tied myself to the belt, so that I would have some support. I slowly started to make my way up the pipe like a mountaineer. A couple of times, I had to stop, untie myself, and rethread the belt around the pipe whenever I ran into a support bracket mounting the pipe against the building.
When I got close to the window, I supported myself on my knees, took out my commando knife, and pulled out the aluminum frame of the window. I worked the blade back and forth until the latch clicked open. With the window free, I sheathed my knife around my waist.
I carefully slid inside, taking care to make no noise. I unwrapped my belt from around the pipe and retied it around my waist, and then jumped into the corridor.
I used my knife once more to carefully force the lock on the door to Escalona's office. Everything was where it had been left when we departed — including Che's attache case. I grabbed the curtain cord, cut it with my knife, and opened the window in his office. Without wasting any time, I tied one end of the cord to the case's handle, and slowly slid it down to the grass on the other side of the building where I had already planned my escape.
For the last eighteen months I had been tracking all movements in this military camp. I knew where I could get out with minimal danger and where the patrols would be lightest: by the storage building that contained all the heavy equipment.
There were always two guards at the entry point to all buildings in the compound. There were no guards at the backs of the buildings, as there were no rear entrances. The two guards on duty at this time were two big black men deep in conversation. I had grown to know these men and so I was later able to get their accounts of what happened next.
The largest one had a pleasant, jovial face. "You know, man," he said. "I have to go pee, and I've been holding it for so long. But you know, the bathrooms here are all blocked."
The other answered, "What the hell are you holding that for? For God's sake, just go upstairs to the Commander's bathroom." The large man shook his head. "No, I don't want to use his bathroom. They might come back at any moment and catch me there. You know we're not supposed to use it."
"But this is an emergency. If you don't want to go upstairs, at least go behind the building, and find a corner and go there. The dogs are smaller. They pee everywhere, and nobody notices."
"Wait, wait, wait — what kind of comparison is this? You think I look like a dog?"
The other guy paused and looked at his friend closely. "Well, looking at you carefully — you look like a goddamn bulldog!"
The large man put the rifle behind the chair and hit his friend jokingly on the shoulder. "Well, if I look like a bulldog, you look like a goddamn chimpanzee, with long lips that look like bacon that hasn't been properly cooked."
He smiled, left, and started to unbutton his pants even as he walked, so urgent was his need to relieve himself. He found a bush out of sight from the front of the compound and sighed with relief as he started to urinate.
As he emptied his bladder, he looked into the distance. A series of lightning flashes illuminated the night and revealed to him a small man crawling down to the ground along the pipe about one hundred feet away.
At first, the guard did nothing, watching in confusion and silence. It appeared that the small man silhouetted in the distance didn't see him. The man walked in the opposite direction and reached down into the grass for something.
The guard looked up and saw that the curtains in Escalona's office were blowing gently in the breeze, billowing out like sails, plainly indicating that the window was open.
He reacted immediately, yelling, "Hey! What are you doing there? Identify yourself!" The silhouette ran towards the heavy equipment storage.
Excerpted from Cuba by Julio Antonio del Mármol. Copyright © 2016 Dr. Julio Antonio del Mármol. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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