A Man of Honor

Elio Delgado Legón

The victorious rebel army.
The victorious rebel army.  Photo: juventudrebelde.cu

HAVANA TIMES — After the triumph of the revolution, rebel officials and combatants were assigned to different posts according to rank, under the same structures that had characterized the rural and other police units of previous governments. In addition to rebel troops, members of urban subversive cells and small groups that had taken up arms in the area during the last weeks of combat joined the revolutionary rank-and-file.

The military camp at Colon, Matanzas, was an important place and covered a large area, including the towns of Amarillas, Calimete, Manguito, Perico, Loas Arabos, San Pedro, San Jose de los Ramos and Banaguises.

My superior, Captain Julio Chaviano, had been stationed at Colon, along with part of his troops and some rebels who had come from Oriente, to organize Squadron 43 of the Rural Police.

A number of local combatants and some young people who wanted to join the Rebel Army joined our forces. We sent some of them to receive training at cadet schools.

Among the people who presented themselves to Captain Chaviano were two brothers who had taken up arms during the last two months of Batista’s dictatorship and had previously been involved in urban insurgency actions.

Raul and Felo didn’t want to join the Rebel Army but to offer assistance from civilian positions.

Our relationship with them was cordial and friendly for several months, for the entirety of 1959 and 1960, as I recall. Everything was going well, until, one day, Raul disappeared. His brother Felo came to see us, very worried, and told us he didn’t know where Raul was, that he would continue looking into it.

A few days later, Felo informed us his brother had again taken up arms, this time against the revolution. He seemed genuinely shaken by his brother’s behavior and asked permission to try and convince him to lay down his weapons. He was authorized to do so and we waited to see the results.

Felo sent Raul a number of messages, but the response was not positive. Then he asked permission to go to his brother’s campsite and meet with him, in the hopes that a face-to-face exchange would yield better results. He was again authorized to do so.

A week passed and Felo had not returned home. When he did, he came to see us immediately and tell us of his discussions with his brother who, according to him, was confused, but unwilling to lay down his weapons.

Felo seemed very shaken and ashamed over having been unable to persuade his brother, whose posture he did not share.

That day, he told us his heart was shattered. We tried to cheer him up, but he left, overcome with grief.

Early the next day, we got a call that chilled us all. Felo had been found dead in his room, with a knife through his heart. He had chosen this way to kill himself because he was, without a doubt, a man of honor.

A few weeks later, we received intelligence that Raul had left for the United States

3 thoughts on “A Man of Honor

  • The man of honour in Elio’s story was Raul who took up arms to fight against the tyranny of Fidel Castro. During the struggle against Batista, Fidel promised free elections and insisted he was no communist, But as soon as Batista fled & Fidel seized power, he cancelled the promised free elections and started to place Communists in key government positions.

    Many honourable & patriotic Cubans then took up arms to fight against the new dictatorship of the Castros. Tragically, they were defeated by the scorched earth strategy which the Cuban army, advised by a Russian commander, used against the rebels.

  • I’m also 76 and I enjoy telling my Children and Grandchildren stories about people and events that occurred in my life years ago. I’m sure they’ve probably heard some of the stories repeated but that’s OK. I enjoy reading about Elio’s life experiences and I don’t immediately think about “what have you done lately”.
    Its too bad that we don’t value and honor our seniors more as they do in other countries, especially as in some Asian Countries.
    I’ve been to Cuba several times and I don’t think the country is a mess as suggested. I find the people friendly and helpful and not at all bored. Who are the best to which you refer? Of course they continue to suffer from the American Economic and Trade Embargo which is most shameful. I’m happy as a Canadian that we have friendly relations with Cuba.

  • Elio, I remember a large corporation I had a contract with and my liaison telling me a heartfelt story. He worked very hard on a project and when, after three months he completed and succeeded in his endeavor he sat back and took some time to relax and congratulate himself. Well that same day, the CEO, in case you don’t know who that is, the guy running the company, took him into his office and this is basically what he told him. Jim, you did an excellent job and those who own stock in our company are benefiting tremendously, thank you. Than he asked; “what are you going to do for our company today?” That’s what makes a business and nation great! Not what you did yesterday or sixty years but what are you going to do to make things better today. Cuba is a mess and it’s because you don’t allow its people to help make decisions and get motivated. That’s why the best of Cuba is unhappy, bored and in some cases trying to leave. Your time is running out my friend and talking about the 1950’s and revolution just isn’t putting food on the table and clothes on the people.

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