Elio Delgado Legon

In the Escambray mountains. Photo: perlavision.icrt.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Painfully, we moved away from Crespi Hill and headed towards the Escambray mountain range. We walked all afternoon, without taking a break, and, as night fell, completely exhausted, we stopped for a while to regain our strength, confident the army had not followed us, for some strange reason.

Later, we were informed that the detachment that had been trailing us was commanded by lieutenant Regueira, an official we knew, as he had been chief of the rural police in Santo Domingo. As a trained military man, he must have figured out we were heading for the Escambray but, instead of cutting us off, what he did was push us along on our way. This demonstrates that not all military officers were willing to get blood on their hands to defend a tyrannical regime.

After a short rest, we continued on our way, now walking more slowly, as we were entering an unknown area. The guide went ahead of us on horseback to see where he could find something to eat. At around two in the morning, we arrived at the house of a peasant who’d cooked some sweet potatoes for us (the only thing he had). We all had a bit of boiled sweet potato and a sip of coffee and continued on our way. As dawn broke, we crossed the road, from Sancti Spiritus to Trinidad and, before heading up the first hills, arrived at a dairy farm, where we were offered a bit of freshly-squeezed milk.

While resting at the dairy, the captain asked me to write a letter addressed to Commander Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, head of the Second Escambray Front (the area we were heading to was in the hands of this guerrilla front). While the two officers headed off to deliver the letter and bring back the answer, we stayed behind to rest. Before noon, the two arrived with the answer: we could set up camp at a place called Mina Carlota, but we had to hand in all of our weapons. Even the two emissaries had had to hand in their weapons.

We headed up the hill slowly, as none of us was used to climbing hills. We slipped and fell here and there as we marched nearly all afternoon, until arriving at a two-story wooden house where Anastasio Cardenas had set up his headquarters. He let us stay in the house and its surroundings, and welcomed us with a meal the likes of which we had not seen in a long time.

The captain argued the issue of having our guns taken from us and we were finally allowed to keep ours and those taken from the officers were returned, but they told us we had to stay with them.

The first night at Mina Carlota was hectic. Not because we were attacked by the army, but because nearly all of the members of the guerrilla, who weren’t used to having proper meals and hadn’t eaten in several days, got diarrhea and spent the entire night running off to the bathroom or anywhere else.

At Mina Carlota, the captain left us under the command of lieutenant Esmildo Chaviano and other officials and headed off for El Pedrero, on the other side of the hills, to meet with Che Guevara and coordinate our incorporation into the troops of the Ciro Redondo Column that he had brought from the Sierra Maestra. We spent 10 days at Mina Carlota waiting for the captain. Our stay there, and how we managed to leave the place, will be the subject of my next story.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

13 thoughts on “Towards the Escambray Mountains (Part II)

  • Thank you for your kind words, I had the experience at a hospital in Lima Peru, in the emergency room the doctor came out took a blood sample , went over to the laboratory checked it out for himself came back to me with the results, luckily it was something in the water that I drink .
    To see a doctor in United State you would have to go through at least one assistance if not more , you’ll be lucky if he spend 5 minutes with you .
    Health care in United States is more of an assembly line type of processes .
    I went in for surgery 7:30 in the morning , I am to find out that I was the third person in line , other words they’ve done two surgeries before me . Shining floors , clean facilities , staff with nice smiles , is nothing more than a fantasy facade .
    Before my knee replacement they perform a meniscus tear .
    To save money they carried out the surgery in a surgery center, privately owned by the doctors , separate from the hospital, as I walked in surgery room on my own feet, yes I walked , I looked down on the floor , and I panicked , they didn’t bother to clean the room in between surgeries .
    My knee turned black in color , and big as a watermelon, but that’s a different story for another day .
    For crying out loud , there is patience who died waiting in the emergency room for the simple fact they don’t have insurance or the money to get something done .
    Unfortunately the dark side of American Health System is something that you wouldn’t experience until it hits you like a ton of bricks .
    In Florida there is a $100,000 limit on malpractice , despite what you hear and see , lawyers are not what they are cut out to be .
    I slipped and fell into the black hole of the American medical establishment , I tell you right now it is hell on earth an absolute nightmare .
    Michael Moore movie sicko portray a positive picture of Cuban healthcare system then the one you’re trying to portray .
    Keep in mind the American medical decision system is based on the financial side of things .
    If United States government stop squandering money on wars , the US have the potential to be in heaven on earth .
    Iraq war cost 3 + trillion dollars , that’s what we know about, who knows what else it cost ?.
    United States government have given Zionist over 130 billion dollars , billions used to depress Palestine and commit war crimes over the Middle East
    Whatever wrong Cuba might have carried out , is practically irrelevant compared to what United States have done .

  • I am very sorry for what you have had to endure. Medical treatment in the US for the uninsured is a nightmare and even if you do have insurance its still problematic. I hope you recover fully.
    However your description of the hospital is suspect. I have been to Cuban hospitals with family members and your description reminds me more of that. There we had to take our own bedding and provide food. I’ve been to the Ft Myers Hospital and your description does not seem to fit. But then again if I was suffering with pain like yours and fighting insurance companies for coverage, I’d look at everything with a jaundiced eye.

    Get better!

  • Medical treatment in United States is a multi-layer rotten onion , yes United States have the best medicine in the planet if you have the money, at the same time if you don’t have the money , getting treatment in Africa is better than treatment then in the States .
    I had an accident in which an engine fell on me , my right knee had to be operated on and replaced,
    My accident happened back in May 08 until now I’m fighting to workers compensation , which is an absolute nightmare of hell, one of my doctors told me( you can’t believe how many injured workers raise their hands and walk away abandoning their claim )
    My experience in the hospital was as followed
    From towels with blood stains on them , mattresses that smell as if somebody died in it , to toilets that smell as if it was an open sewer . To make an extremely long and complicated story short . After the surgery , my leg from knee down became as red as an amber in a fire , after the surgery they wanted to send me home , a representatives from the workers compensation came and asked me a questions, what will happen to me if I needed help ? my answer was , I will call 911 get an ambulance.
    Realizing that it’s going to cost them they kept me in the hospital for a week
    ( using an emergency room 4 hours for kidney stones the bill was over $11.000)
    After the surgery I had pain to the point where I fainted .I complained about a rashes on my leg and spots full with pus , it was blamed on the tape used in this surgery, complain as might , they did nothing, I was ignored .
    Luckily I healed , after the rash vanished months later , they send me over to see dermatology , I was told if it’s not present on the skin it cannot be tested , I think it’s a lie .
    Dermatology doctor thought it was a type of staff infection, luckily it was not strong enough , otherwise they would have to cut off my leg
    Try and research this headline
    One in 25 Patients End Up with Hospital-Acquired Infections, CDC Warns .
    By Dr. Mercola
    All of this happened to me at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers , one of the most accredited hospitals in the state of Florida .
    I felt those who are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are the lucky ones .
    On the topic of transportation , Cuba may have some catching up to do , in hindsight it may be a blessing in disguise .
    An Arabic proverb says , hate nothing in might be good for you ” .
    At minimum Cuba benefits from all the studies on transportation ,hopefully urban designers in Cuba will avoid the mistakes everybody made , the cost to construct one lane-mile of a 4-lane divided highway can range from $16.8 million to $74.7 million .
    I hope urban designers in Havana concentrate on public transportation light rail , buses , high speed transportation and such .
    On the topic of owning a vehicle in Singapore to buy a new vehicle , you would have to go out and buy a used car , take the plates off and scrap the old one , other words you would have to buy two cars to end up with one .
    Considering the US inhumane embargo imposed on Cuba , I think Cuba have done a fantastic job .

  • A couple of points of contention. The absence of motor vehicles in Cuba is not the result of any benign intent or care for the environment by the Castros, but instead is a function of s disastrous economy.

    Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus .
    Rate of infection in American Hospital are increasingly a problem but you are actually less likely to contact it at home. We are a victim of our own success in having overused antibiotics, the alternatives would have been even uglier.

  • You are quite selective on your Marti quotes. Indeed, some of Marti’s writings, from more than a century ago, are censored in Communist Cuba, where the government is very selective about what the public is allowed to read.

    Cuban schools and books promote Marti’s line about having lived in the “monster” that is the United States, as you pointed out, but they censor his warning about the dangers of socialism and totalitarian leaders.

    “One revolution is still necessary,” Marti wrote in his day, though someone just as easily could write this about the Castro regime today, “the one that will not end with the rule of its leader.”

    That’s the side of Marti that Cubans on the island are not allowed to know. “A nation is not governed like you command a military camp,” Marti wrote. But those are the writings Cubans are not allowed to see.

    Its also important to note that Marti’s prolific writing took place in New York, where he found safety in the “Belly of the the beast”. Today a statue of Jose Marti stands in central park!

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