Towards the Escambray Mountains (Part II)

Elio Delgado Legon

In the Escambray mountains. Photo:

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.

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!

  • Wow Man, please tell us what good things has the USA done for us in the Third World and in the internal, USA racial and economic Ghetto. You must have known that your Mask, José Martí, was in the USA and he could not have been more unequivocal about how he felt about that “monster”.

  • It is true that Automotive emission have been reduced , about 20 percent fuel efficiency , at the same time they manufactured vehicles with bigger engines , for example Ford Expedition which is more of a bus and not a Automobile .
    In Los Angeles there is the 605 freeway , 5 lanes of traffic each way , yet rush hour 100% jammed with idling vehicles going 10-15 miles an hour .
    Question asked it self how many millions of automobile in Havana ? do you have any highways that would manage 500,000 vehicles a day ?
    So-called free enterprise progress is extremely expensive .
    Talking about American industry in the forties and fifties Los Angeles California there was some of the best public transportation in the world , American industry decided that they want the money for themselves , free enterprise came in the form of General Motors , they bought the public transportation system and destroyed it, they introduced lowes forbidding the construction of building in Los Angeles above 10 stories , supposedly the logic was they want the city to spread out .In recent years it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of billions to rebuild public transportation .
    American industry first and foremost thinks of one thing , the bottom line,the money they can get their hands on
    Catalytic converters use three primary metals to reduce emissions Platinum at $1070 oz , Palladium at $670 oz , Rhodium at $1470 oz ( One troy ounc = 31.1034768 grams )
    I was in the automotive business over 38 years ,I had to go to 48+ classes in the continuous educati system .
    we always hear about new processes that will do a better job in controllin Automotive emissions for less money , yet free enterprise is not interested , they have a large investment in precious metals ,
    Of the sites that come to mind is GEET
    Institute , they’re basically running engines on crude oil without processing , Study it for yourself .
    In the news we hear so much on Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster , how many of you know about Hanford Nuclear Plant ?
    (Scientific American ,Cleanup Plant May Be Too Dangerous ,The most toxic at voluminous nuclear waste of 208 million liters )
    This site is 232 miles from Portland Oregon , upstream on the Columbia River where the most precious resource salmon fish reproduce upstream.
    Based on some estimates if there is an accident then Portland will be uninhabitable
    How many of you heard about Coal Ash?
    Coal Ash is a Hazardous Waste. Coal ash, the toxic remains of coal burning in power plants, is full of chemicals that cause cancer, developmental disorders and reproductive problems. It poisons our water and kills fish and wildlife.
    The devastating coal ash spill at Kingston, TN in December 2008. One billion gallons of toxic coal ash spilled from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant, covering 300 acres, destroying homes, poisoning rivers and contaminating coves and residential drinking water
    ( Earthjustice)
    Based on statements made by the highly credible lawyer and Ring of Fire radio host Mike Papantonio, they are using coal ash as ice and snow de icer , Spraying Toxic Coal Ash Is a Cheap And Popular Way To De-Ice Roads , this is the way of dealing with the problem of toxic waste , this is what free enterprise does to solving a problem , they dump toxic waste all over the roads in America .
    In the medical field to save money , free enterprise introduced the day surgery , in which procedure is performed on a patient and sent home , They will send a patient home with antibiotics and whatever other medication he needs , to make a long story short ,patients start coming back with infections , home environment is not sanitized as a hospital ,infections become resistant to antibiotics , it wasn’t long before they had infections that they can’t cure , for an example ,
    Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus .
    Rate of infection in American Hospital exceeds 40% .
    I can go on and on disaster after disast

  • The U.S. is in a very different place these days. The Dictators the U.S. supported are pretty much gone. The US made many mistakes but it also has done much good in the world.

  • John, life’s too short to not to sit down and talk with enemies. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the days you’re referring to. Look, I’m 100% Irish and had relatives who hated the English and now are best friends with them. That’s an amazing accomplishment if you know about Ireland and it’s past. Let’s hope Cuban’s from both sides can sit down and figure out a way to advance and go forward. Whether you like it or not, the US is very important to Cuba’s resurrection.

  • Reconcile with an imperial USA who seeks to prevent the rise of democracy in the world as clearly and undeniably shown by its 100 year history of interventions to do just that ?
    I don’t think that’s what Cuba should do
    The USA is no model for any country or people aspiring to a democratic society nor has it any moral high ground to stand upon and pontificate to the world about its love of democracy given that history.

  • Cuba could greatly benefit from the lessons learned by US manufacturers. On balance, manufacturers in Cuba are far less regulated than their US counterparts. Emblematic of the differences is the comparison between smoke that bellows from the old cars in Havana compared to the emissions passed through catalytic converters here in California. The notion that Cuba is some unspoiled natural paradise is a fairy tale. A casual walk through central Havana is punctuated by broken pipes leaking raw sewage in the streets overflowing garbage bins at nearly every corner, and máquinas pumping black exhaust fumes in the air.

  • I hope that progress will be balanced with the needs of nature to be clean I hope that your natural heritage will and must not be traded off for dollars,
    after all so called capitalist system they trying to impose on you says that anything and everything should be owned by somebody
    the United States of America being poor or homeless is becoming a crime punishable by jail
    All what you hear about prison labor in China is actually happening in United States of America

  • Elio, I just read hours of info on Batista and have to state that I totally understand why you all were
    so determined to rid him of Cuba’s world. My apologies but as I’ve stated before, you have to morph a bit so as to change what’s going on now in Cuba and perhaps reconcile and repair.

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