Книги: Episodes of the Revolutionary War, Ernesto Che Guevara
Episodes of the Revolutionary War,
Ernesto Che Guevara
On the March
THOUGHOUT THE FIRST TWO WEEKS of April we marched toward our objective. Beginning near Turquino, we 'crossed zones that later became the scene of many battles: Santa Ana, El Hombrito, Pico Verde. We found Escuedro's house and went on to Loma del Burro. Our trip toward the East was intended to pick up some weapons sent from Santiago and hide them in the Loma del Burro zone, close to Oro de Guisa. One night I got lost in the woods and remained lost for three days until I met some , people in a place called El Hombrito.
It dawned upon me at that moment that we were equipped with everything necessary for survival: oil, salt, canned food and milk, a kit for starting a fire, and a compass. Up to that time, I had placed great trust in that device.
Realizing I was lost, I had used my compass without any results. I had finally come to a peasant's house where they gave me the right directions. We all found out later that in rugged places like the Sierra Maestra a compass will indicate only a general direction, but never a definite course. The only way to set a course is by being thoroughly familiar with the area or by the use of experienced guides. This was to be my personal experience, one I began to operate precisely at the zone of El Hombrito.
My return to the column was an exciting affair. I was received with great demonstrations of affection and was told that I had just missed attending the trial of three informers, one of whom, named Napoles, had been sentenced to death. Camilo had presided over the tribunal.
I was carrying on my duties as a physician, and every time we arrived at some village or hamlet the people would come to me, looking for relief. My task was a monotonous one: I did not have too many medicines to choose from, and most cases were quite similar, typical of life in the Sierra: toothless women, who had aged prematurely, children with tremendously swollen bellies, parasitism, rickets, and avitaminosis. Of course, some cases still remain, but the sons of poor women are now studying at the Camilo Cienfuegos School City; they have grown; they are healthy. Quite a contrast with the first under nourished, puny-looking contingent that arrived at our original school city.
I remember a small girl who kept watching me as I listened to the women who came to me, with an almost religious attitude, in an effort to find out the reason for their various illnesses. As the girl's mother approached my "office" - a corner of an old palm-thatched hut - the little girl said to her: "Mamma, this doctor tells every one of them the same story."
The little girl was right. My experience as a doctor was limited; moreover, every one of them had told me, unwittingly, the same horrible story. What would have happened if the doctor had come to, the conclusion that a young mother of several children complained of fatigue following her daily task of carrying a bucket of water from the stream to. her house simply because she did not have enough to eat? It is useless to try to explain the- reason for that fatigue to a woman of the Sierra. She will argue that she has done that, kind of work "all her life" and it is only now that she gets this sudden feeling of tiredness. There is the' whole sad story: People in the Sierra grow like wild flowers, unattended. Then they fade away constantly busy at a thankless task. It is due to our daily contact with these people and their problems that we became firmly convinced of the need for a definite change in the life of our people. The idea of an agrarian reform became crystal-clear, and communion with the people ceased to be a mere theory, to become an integral part of ourselves.
Guerrillas and peasants began to merge into a solid mass. No one can say exactly when, in this long process, the ideas became reality and we became a part of the peasantry. As far as I am concerned, the contact with my patients at the Sierra turned a spontaneous and some- what lyrical decision into a more serene force; one of an entirely different value. Those poor, suffering, loyal in habitants of the Sierra cannot even imagine what a great contribution they made to the forging of our revolutionary ideology.
Guillermo Garcia was promoted to captain, taking command of all new peasants joining the columns. Per haps comrade Guillermo has forgotten the date of his promotion, but it is right here in my notebook: May 6, 1957,
Haydee Santamaria left the following day. Fidel had given her instructions to establish all the necessary contacts. Then we received the news that Major Iglesias ("Nicaragua") had been arrested. He was supposed to bring the weapons and now we were at a complete loss, not knowing what to do. Still, we continued on our way.
We, came to a little depression near Pino del Agua, at the very edge of the Sierra; where there were two abandoned huts. One of our patrols captured an army corporal. He was known for his many crimes dating back to Machado's regime, and a few of us suggested that he be executed, but Fidel refused. We simply left him in the custody of the new recruits, who did not even have rifles, warning him that any attempt to escape would mean death.
Most of us went ahead to see if the weapons had arrived. It was a long walk, even though we did not carry ,packs; we had left them at the camp. We did not find the weapons and of course we put the blame on Nicaragua's arrest. We were able to purchase some food and return with our load. Not the load the men had been expecting, but a welcome load just the same.
We returned slowly, bordering the crests and being very careful. on the open spaces. We heard shots ahead of us and became alarmed because one of our men had gone ahead in order to reach the camp as soon as possible. He was Guillermo Dominguez, a lieutenant, recently arrived with the men from Santiago. We prepared for a fight and sent out a scouting group. The group came back with Fiallo, a comrade from Crescencio's group. He came from our base camp and said that he had seen a dead man n the road; he added that there had been an en counter with some guards who had withdrawn toward Pino del Agua where there was a large detachment of troops. We moved forward and came upon the body of dead man.
It was Guillermo Dominguez. His body was naked from the waist up, showing a bullet wound in the left elbow and a bayonet wound in the chest. A shotgun blast had literally blown his head apart. Apparently, he had been killed with his own gun. Several buckshot pellets were clearly visible around his head.
It seems that the guards were looking for their comrade, our prisoner, and heard Dominguez coming. He must have been quite confident because he had made the same tour the day before. He was captured by the soldiers at the time that Crescencio's men were on their way to us. Crescencio's group came upon the soldiers from the rear, and began firing. Then the soldiers killed Dominguez, and escaped.
Pino del Agua is a sawmill camp up in the Sierra, and the road taken by the soldiers was an old lumber trail that we had to follow for 100 yards and then "take up our narrow trail. Our comrade had not taken the necessary precautions and it was his luck to meet the soldiers at the lumber trail. This served as a lesson to all of us.