Anniversary of a Heroic Deed
By: Pedro Corzo
This column dedicated to a new anniversary of the Expeditionary Brigade 2506 more than the commemoration of a military action against a dictatorship, evokes the realization of a commitment of hundreds of Cubans who left their country to enlist in a mission in which they risked their lives, with the sole ambition of overthrowing a regime contrary to the democratic convictions that encouraged them.
More than one Brigade fighter has publicly stated that he has never stopped fighting compatriots, but that it was inevitable if a regime that violated the dignity of all Cubans was to be overthrown.
They were men who were not looking for a better life, did not aspire to economic improvements or the enjoyment of freedoms lost on foreign soil. They traveled to prepare militarily, as did others before and after, who only left The Cuban coast to return to them to fight the dictatorship.
The history of the Brigade is very rich in events, contradictions and heroism. Much has been written, documentaries have been made and pseudo analysts of different nationalities and political ideas have drawn their conclusions, but this note only aims to highlight the courage and sense of duty of men who left studies, family and work, to fulfill their obligations.
They arrived in the United States by different ways and times. Some traveled to Mexico. They were willing to fulfill the assignment that was most useful to the cause they were flying and all, beyond former political militancys, accepted the challenge of joining in the action to be more effective in combat.
The avant-garde departed From Miami for the island of Useppa, where she was trained in different disciplines, among them was Carlos Rodríguez Santana, “Carlay”, who after fiercely fighting in the clandestineness against the dictatorship, left Cuba to join the expedition and fight on the island, a dream truncated by his early death during training in the mountains of Guatemala, which motivated the Brigade to adopt his number.
They were prepared in different countries and also in the United States. They felt the change of strategy. They lived the new ordering in the camps. Paratroopers, frogmen, tankers, Marines, specialized in commandos actions to enter their country clandestinely, several were shot, among them Manuel Blanco Navarro, and others served long years in prison, such as Emilio Martínez Venegas and Jorge Gutiérrez Izaguirre.
All of them integrated the infiltration teams that entered Cuba clandestinely to support the clandestine resistance and guerrilla groups operating throughout the island.
They crewed planes to fight in the Cuban sky. They fell into the sea as pilots José Crespo and Lorenzo Pérez Lorenzo, or shot down by enemy fire like American Thomas W. Ray or Cuban Osvaldo Piedra.
Many were imprisoned. Some fell to the firing wall. Others died in the gulf. Nine died of asphyxiation in a rake that Osmany Cienfuegos ordered to attack the detainees.
During the hard experience, the commitment to keep fighting was ratified, and spread to fight the castro communism anywhere in the world.
Idea that has nurtured many of them for years. Collaborating or working with U.S. government agencies did not make them servers.
What they did was a consequence of an awareness that the interests of castrism must be confronted where circumstances determine, and the confidence that the collaboration provided would be reciprocated by the United States by providing it with conditions and resources to confront totalitarianism in its homeland.
Roberto Pichardo, Juan Tamayo and Juan Carlos Perón were some of the many brigadiers who integrated the marine, infantry and air force units that fought in Congo against the castrist crew run by Ernesto Guevara. In the African country, pilot Fausto Gómez died among others.
Brigade troops also joined the fight against the mercenaries that castrism sent to Angola. Pilots and infantry veterans trained troops from units of the Angolan National Liberation Front, a gesta described in the book “Cubans Fighting Communism in Africa”.
In Vietnam, in the fight against communism, brigadiers also participated, some lost their lives, among them Irenaldo Padrón and Félix Sosa Camejo. Latin America was another scenario in which Cuban democrats faced castrist subversion, where, among others, Félix Rodríguez and Captain Eduardo Barea.
It is true that they allied themselves with a foreign nation, the United States, a country that brought them together, trained and provided resources for combat. It was an alliance of mutual convenience that never affected their Cubanía, as true as that of palms, quite the opposite of the one made by Fidel and Raúl Castro who made Cuba the carrier of the Soviet Union in the hemisphere.
These men sought an ally, not a master, and although the laurels did not cover their foreheads, they fulfilled their duty, because they always had a conscience that if victory is important, much more transcendent to honor commitments.