Two more victims of Che Guevara: The unpublished story of the brothers from Vertientes

Via the Cuba Archive Project:

Two more victims of Che Guevara: the brothers from Vertientes

An unpublished revelation

This happened on a rice farm, “Arrocera El Cimarrón,” that I used to manage; it was south of the town of Vertientes, province of Camagüey, west of the “Altamira” farm. “El viejo Andrés” (old man Andrés), who told me this story was the caretaker at the farm; he was like my family and had been a sort of grandfather to my daughter, who was born while we lived there.

The armed revolution against Batista, led by Fidel Castro, was in full force. I had moved with my family from the rice farm to the “Lugareño” sugar mill, close to the port of Nuevitas, north of Camagüey. Fidel had ordered Che Guevara to march west. The march took him across the Birama Swamp and all along the south coast of Camagüey, considered “safe” terrain for moving his troops due its inaccessibility. The rice farm was in Che’s path and he set up his camp there for several days in September 1958 before pushing forward. The farm housed around 150 workmen—field and warehouse workers as well as office, machine shop, and grain elevator personnel.

Several weeks after the revolution rose to power, on January 1st 1959, “el viejo Andrés” showed up at our home at the sugar mill. He told me he had something confidential to tell me and after lunch, when we were alone, he related the following:

“One day several ‘rebels’ showed up as scouts of their larger group and announced that Che Guevara and his troops were about to arrive. They came that night and set up camp in the ‘batey’ (settlement). Che took over your house and slept in your old room.

Immediately, the place was abuzz. As you well know, finger-pointing was a quick and easy way to gain favor from the rebels. A rumor started about two brothers who had been tractor drivers for you; soon it turned into charges of wrongdoing and some of the workers agreed to testify against them. That night, a tribunal was formed with Che presiding. The ‘trial’ lasted half an hour at most, and then Che ordered the two tied up and kept in a room in one of the barracks. A sentence was not announced and we didn’t know what was going to happen.

Sometime that night, two rebels took the brothers to the small clump of trees in front of your old house, in that pasture where you raised several cows for meat to feed the workers. While we were having dinner, we heard machine gun fire, but nobody said anything about it.  Early the next morning, I went looking around the area where the gunfire had come from and found the bodies of the two brothers. They had been buried hastily in a very shallow grave and the wild hogs from the forest bordering the farm had come during the night, dug up the grave, and eaten the boys’ intestines. The bodies were all chewed up and in a horrible state.

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