- Historic Sites
I Fought For Fidel
In the twilight of Castro’s regime, one of the soldiers who put him in power recalls what it was like to be a fidelista up in the hills four decades ago when a whole new, just, democratic world was there for the building
November 1991 | Volume 42, Issue 7
There, after checking in with a CIA agent known to me as Jay, I dabbled in exile politics. I put in a brief stint as “military commander” of one of the two hundred-odd anti-Castro organizations in the city. Everything I learned I passed on to Jay. He was closemouthed, but it was obvious that his agency was backing only the Democratic Revolutionary Front (FRD), which I refused to join. I warned Jay that the FRD politicos—good liberals though they were—had little following inside Cuba and that Fidel’s hold on the masses, as well as the effectiveness of his army and militia, should not be underestimated. The best way to undermine Fidel, I told Jay, was to support the guerrilla bands that were being formed in Las Villas Province by veterans of the Second Front of the Escambray. I volunteered to parachute into the Escambray mountains, but the CIA wasn’t interested. Jay’s superiors were planning to overthrow Fidel with an exile invasion from Central America, for which I also volunteered, to no avail. Resigned to the fact that the CIA was going to conduct this operation without me, I decided to change my way of life, go to graduate school, and become a history professor. In April 1961, three months after I enrolled as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, the CIA-directed invasion was wiped out at the Bay of Pigs.