Книги: Episodes of the Revolutionary War, Ernesto Che Guevara
Episodes of the Revolutionary War,
Ernesto Che Guevara
Treason in the Making
IT WAS A PLEASURE to look at our troop. Close to 200 men, well disciplined, with increased morale, and armed with good weapons, some of them new. The qualitative change I mentioned before was now quite evident in the Sierra. There was a true free territory, safety measures not so necessary, and there was a little freedom to carry on conversations at night while resting in our hammocks. We were allowed to visit the nearby villages and establish closer ties with the peasants. We were moved by the hearty welcome given by our comrades.
Felipe Pazos and Raul Chibas were the "prima donnas" of the moment, although they were complete opposites. Raul Chibas lived under the shadow of his brother's reputation - for Eddie Chibas was the symbol of an era - but he had none of his brother's virtues. He was neither expressive nor intelligent. Only his absolute mediocrity allowed him to be the principal figure of the Orthodox Party. He spoke very little and he wanted to leave the Sierra at once.
Felipe Pazos had a certain personality. He was rated as a great economist and had a reputation for being an honest person. His reputation for honesty was due to t e fact that he did not steal from the public funds during his period as President of the National Bank, under Prio Socarras' regime; a regime marked by extreme larceny a great achievement: to remain pure throughout a regime of debauchery and thievery. He deserved credit, yes, but only as an official who followed his administrative career, turning a deaf ear to the country's great problems. However, can anyone imagine a revolutionary who will not e k up against the inconceivable excess and abuse rampant at the time? Felipe Pazos managed to keep his mouth shut, and left the post of President of the National Bank - following Batista's coup - surrounded by an aura of virtue: honesty, intelligence, and a great experience as an economist. Petulantly, he expected to come to the Sierra and take over. This pint-sized Machiavelli thought he was destined to control the country's future.
It is very possible that he was already planning on betraying the Revolution; perhaps this came later. Yet, his position was never clearly defined.
Protected by the joint declaration which we will analyze later on, he appointed himself delegate of the July 26th Movement in Miami and he was on the verge of being appointed Interim President of the Republic. Through this maneuver, Prio made sure that he had a faithful man within the provisional government.
We did not have much time to talk, but Fidel told me about his efforts to turn out a really militant document that would set the basis for a declaration of principles. This was a difficult task when faced by these two "stone age" brains inmune to the call of the people's struggle.
Fundamentally, the manifesto reiterated "the establishment of a great civic Revolutionary front comprising all opposition parties, all civic institutions and all revolutionary forces."
Several proposals were submitted: "the establishment of a civic revolutionary front in a common front of struggle"; the appointment of "a figure designated to preside over the provisional government"; the document stated that the front did neither request nor accept intervention by any other country in the internal affairs of Cuba; it "did not accept any military junta as a provisional government of the Republic"; the determination to separate the army from politics and insure the safety of the armed forces against political intrigue and influence; elections to be held within one year's time.
The program to be observed by the provisional government included the freedom of all political prisoners, civilian and military; absolute guarantee of freedom of the press and radio, and all rights, individual or political, to be guaranteed by the Constitution; appointment of interim mayors in all municipalities, following consultation with the district's civic institutions; suppression of embezzlement in all forms, and establishment of measures aimed at increasing efficiency of all State organizations; establishment of the administrative career; democratization of trade union politics, promoting free elections in all trade unions and industrial workers' federations; beginning of an intense anti-illiteracy campaign, and public education on civic affairs, pointing put the citizens' rights and duties to society and the country: "to establish the bases for an Agrarian Reform aimed at distribution of untilled lands, giving ownership to all sharecroppers, tenants and squatters having small lots of land, either private or State-owned, provided the farmer owners are compensated;" establishment of a foreign policy safeguarding our currency's stability and aimed at investing the country s credit in productive works; to expedite the process of industrialization and create additional employment opportunities.
In addition, there were two points of special emphasis: "First: The need to appoint, from this moment, the person who will preside over the Provisional Government of the Republic, to prove to the entire world that Cubans can become united under a slogan of freedom; to support the person who, for his impartiality, capabilities, and honesty, can personify such a slogan. "There are many able men in Cuba who can Preside over the Republic." Felipe Pazos, one of the co-signers, felt quite confident that there was only one man for the presidency: himself.
"Second: that this person be appointed by an ensemble of civic non-political institutions, whose support would safeguard the president from any political commitments, thus insuring clean, impartial elections. The document also stated "it is not necessary to come to the Sierra for any discussions. We can have representatives in Havana, Mexico or wherever it becomes necessary."
Fidel had pressed for more explicit statements regarding the Agrarian Reform, but it was very difficult to crash through the wall of the two "stone age" characters; "to establish the bases for an Agrarian Reform aimed at the distribution of untilled lands," was the kind of policy that the newspaper "Diario de la Marina" might agree with. To make it worse, there was the part reading: "provided the farmer owners are compensated."
The Revolution did not comply with some of the commitments, as originally stated. We must emphasize that the enemy broke the pact expressed in the manifesto when they refused to acknowledge the authority of the Sierra and made an attempt to shackle the future revolutionary government.
We were not satisfied with the commitment, hut it was necessary; at the time, it was progressive. It could never last beyond any moment that would represent an obstacle for the development of the revolutionary movement. In this matter, the enemy helped us to break the uncomfortable bonds and gave us the opportunity to show the people what their real intentions were.
We were aware that this was a minimal program, limiting our own efforts, but we had to recognize that it was impossible to impose our will from the Sierra Maestra; for a long period of time, we would have to depend upon a whole series of "friends" who were trying to use our military strength and the people's great trust in Fidel for the Machiavellian maneuvers, and above all, to maintain imperialist domination of Cuba, through the importing bourgeoisie, closely linked with the U.S. owners.
The manifesto had its positive sides: it mentioned the Sierra Maestra and it clearly stated: "Let no one be deceived by Government propaganda about the situation in the Sierra Maestra. The Sierra Maestra is an indestructible bulwark of freedom. It is part of the hearts of our people and it is here that we will know how to do justice to the faith and the confidence of our people." The words "we will know how" meant that Fidel and only Fidel knew how. The other two were incapable of following the development of the struggle in the Sierra; not even as spectators. They left the Sierra immediately. Chibas was arrested and beaten by the police. Both men managed to get to the United States.
It was a well planned coup: a group of representatives of the most distinguished Cuban oligarchy arrived at the Sierra "in defense of freedom," signed a joint declaration with the guerrilla chief isolated in the wilds of the Sierra, and returned with full freedom to play their trump card in Miami. But they overlooked one most important point. Political coups always depend on the opponents' strength, . in this case, the weapons in the hands of the people. Quick action by our Chief, who had full confidence in the Guerrilla Army, averted the development of the treacherous move. Months later, when the outcome of the Miami pact became known, Fidel's fiery reply paralyzed the enemy. We were accused of being "divisionists" trying to impose our will from the remote regions of the Sierra, but the enemy had to change its strategy and look for a new trap: the Caracas pact.
Our manifesto, dated July 12, 1957, was published in the newspapers. To us, the declaration was simply a short rest period on our march forward. Our main task - to defeat the enemy army in the battle field - must go on. A new column was being organized, with me as captain, and there were other promotions. Ramiro Valdes was promoted to captain and his platoon joined my column. Ciro Redondo, too, was promoted to captain, and was to lead a platoon. The column included three platoons; the first platoon, the advance guard, was led by Lalo Sardinas, who was also the detachment's Second-in-Command. Ramiro Valdes and Ciro led the other two. The column was made up by close to 75 men, heterogeneously dressed and heterogeneously armed; however, I was very proud of them. A few nights later, I was to feel prouder, closer to the Revolution, anxious to prove that my officers' insignia were well deserved.
We wrote a letter of greetings and appreciation to "Carlos" - Frank Pais' underground name - which was signed by all the officers of the Guerrilla Army who were able to write. Many of the Sierra peasants did not know how to read or write but they were an important part of our column. The signatures appeared on one column and next to it there was another column showing the signer's rank. When my turn came, Fidel simply said: "make it Major." Thus, in a most informal manner, I was promoted to Major of the Second Column of the Guerrilla Army, later known as Column # 4.
The letter, written while resting in a peasant's house, was the guerrilla fighters' warm message to their brother in the city, thanking him for his endless struggle to obtain supplies for us and lessen the enemy's pressure upon us.
There is a tinge of vanity hiding somewhere within every one of us, and I was no exception. I was the proudest man in the world when I was promoted to Major. My insignia, a small star, was given to me by Celia. The award was accompanied by a gift: a wristwatch purchased in Santiago. My first mission was to set a trap for Sanchez Mosquera, but he was the smartest of all the Batista henchmen and had left the zone.
Something had to be done to justify the semi-independent life we were to lead in what was to be our new zone, so we began to plan a series of great deeds.
It was imperative that we celebrate the glorious date of July 26 and Fidel gave me free rein to do whatever I could, provided I took the necessary precautions. We had a new doctor with us: Sergio del Valle, now a Major in our Revolutionary Army. He, too, practised his profession within the limitations of the Sierra.
We had to prove that we were alive because we had received a few setbacks on the plains. Weapons that were to be used to open another front at Miranda sugar mill had been seized by the police, and several valuable leaders, among them Faustino Perez, had been arrested. Fidel had opposed the division of forces but had given in to the insistence of the plains. The results were clear evidence of the correctness of his thinking and from then on we devoted ourselves to strengthening the Sierra Maestra as the first step toward the extension of the Guerrilla Army.