NOW, more than ever, I am convinced that there is a reason for everything that happens in life, which can explain it or provide an answer, even though, in order for that to happen, some time has to pass or a succession of apparently disconnected events are eventually linked together.
Photocopy of the newspaper
Revolución, dated Dec. 23, 1963,
denouncing the CIA attack against
a unit of the newly formed
When dawn broke on that December 23, 1963, Cubans resident in the area of the Siguanea dock, located on the Isle of Pines (now the Island of Youth), had no idea that the place was about to be shaken by two explosions, a smaller one followed by a more powerful one. The criminal hand of the U.S. CIA had carefully selected its target: a unit of the recently created Revolutionary Navy.
Everything happened in a carefully planned way, with no concern on the part of the killers as to the damage they were going to cause. A team of CIA frogmen surreptitiously placed two deadly submarine charges under the LT-85 torpedo vessel, which happened to be next to a similar boat, an LT-94. The first, as I mentioned, created a small explosion, and when dozens of people approached the area, the second explosion went off, which is what caused the real damage. That’s how it happened.
The powerful blast threw mutilated bodies and a jumble of metal in all directions. Seventeen people were injured and four died: sailors Jesús Mendoza Larosa, Fe de la Caridad Hernández Jubán and Andrés Gavilla Soto, as well as midshipman Leonardo Luberta Noy.
The criminal attack would devastate Cubans precisely as festivities for the New Year were approaching. As Fidel stated at the time, "it was a criminal attack, a cowardly attack. The CIA’s gift to the Cuban people." The details of the criminal action emerged shortly afterwards. The saboteurs had set sail from the mother ship Rex, used by the CIA to perpetrate acts of terrorism against Cuban territory. It was, without a doubt, part of the strategy of terror implemented by the CIA to terminate the Cuban revolutionary process.
For instance, it was discovered that each one of these criminal actions was planned and organized from within U.S. territory, specifically from the JM/WAVE station in Miami in charge of directing the activities of terrorist groups against the island. Based in that center of terror, located on land rented from the University of Miami and under the cover of a company called Zenith International, Ted Shackley, a senior agency member, directed more than 300 officers and 4,000 terrorists of Cuban origin, with a large budget in excess of million a year.
Everyone in Miami knew that the complex of buildings on 1,571 acres of land, fortified and with restricted access, was only the headquarters of dozens of safe houses dispersed throughout the city, training grounds, fleets of vessels and airfields, where violent plans were concocted and where those engaging in acts of terrorism on Cuban territory were based. Along with aircraft and the most sophisticated weapons of the time, JM/WAVE possessed a maritime fleet responsible for aggressions on Cuban coastal targets, the infiltration of terrorists and provocateurs, and providing supplies to subversive bands operating throughout Cuba.
This CIA flotilla included various mother ships similar to the Rex, such as the Leda, the Villaro, Explorer II, and Tejana III, as well as the cargo ships Joanne and Santa María, all equipped with 20- and 40-millimeter cannon, 50-caliber machine guns and other weapons. The CIA also had at its disposal various ships such as the Dart, the Barb, the USS Oxford and the USS Poccono.
It was established that each mother ship would sail to some 50 miles off the Cuban coast, where it would launch lighter and faster boats known as V-20’s. These speedboats, close to 20 feet long, had powerful, 100-HP Graymarine engines, capable of reaching 35 knots. It was common for both the mother ships and the V-20 boats to be disguised as fishing vessels.
To approach the coast, the CIA agents charged with carrying out the attacks, sabotage or infiltrations used RB-12’s, small rubber rafts equipped with special electrical engines that were totally silent.
The atrocious crime in Siguanea was executed by CIA agents transported to the island by the Rex, an old U.S. Navy patrol boat close to 174 feet long, dark blue, and equipped with 3,600-HP diesel engines allowing it to reach 20 knots. The vessel was fitted with sophisticated electronic equipment and was capable of transporting a number of V-20’s.
Today, everything indicates – as I mentioned – that it was precisely this vessel that brought the CIA frogmen close to the Isle of Pines. Transferring to a V-20 and a B-12, the criminals approached under cover of darkness, reaching the Siguanea dock to execute the shameful act. The entire operation was directed by no less than Alfredo Domingo Otero, captain of the Rex, who 30 years later, again in December, would be linked to other criminal conspiracies against Cuba.
In 1993, Alfredo Domingo Otero, a well-known terrorist of Cuban origin and an ex-CIA officer, was acting as chief of operations for the Cuban National Front, the secret, paramilitary arm of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF). During the years I was working with him as a supposed terrorist, I was able to confirm the criminal nature of these enemies of the Revolution.
Perhaps recalling the mission accomplished in Siguanea that December 23,1963, Otero gave me the task of smuggling in various explosive and incendiary devices, propaganda and weapons for the terrorist act on that same day 30 years later. My mission, and that of the cell I supposedly led, was an attack on four tourist facilities in Varadero and City of Havana, as well as eight theaters and cinemas in the capital.
The crime perpetrated on that Navy unit was atrocious and repugnant enough, but the new criminal action would hurt Cubans even more. Luckily, this time, there was no mourning in Cuban homes. I, Agent Fraile, was there with my comrades-in-combat to prevent such actions, fulfilling the same honorable mission of protecting Cuba from its enemies as the one being fulfilled by René, Gerardo, Tony, Fernando and Ramón, the five Cuban heroes unjustly imprisoned in U.S. jails.
A few years later in 1997, Otero was involved in the planned assassination of Fidel Castro during the 7th Ibero-American Summit on the Isle of Margarita. The confirmation that Francisco Secundino Córdova Corona, a crew member of the mother ship Explorer operated by the CIA at the time, as well as Angel Moisés Hernández Rojo, former captain of another CIA mother ship, were potential executors of the planned action against the president during the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State, came as no surprise. All of those mercenaries in the service of the Agency, were continuing – as demonstrated – their terrorist operations on Cuba.
That is how I was able to explain the reason for this coincidence. The CIA trained those men and stimulated their excessive hatred of the Cuban revolutionary process. It trained them to kill, and later, with the passing of time, when their masters – on the surface – attempted to distance themselves from such actions, they maintained their obsessive behavior. That is the first truth.
Of course, without any doubt, individuals like Alfredo Otero, Secundino Córdoba, Angel Moisés Hernández and many other known terrorists and ideological enemies of the Revolution freely strolling the streets of Miami, are painstakingly attempting to maintain a long and dangerous belligerency against Cuba, expressed through the most abominable acts of terrorism. All of them, supported by the CANF, have enjoyed the complicity of their former masters, and still enjoy it. That is another truth.
No one in the United States has demanded any legal explanation for their many crimes. On the contrary, the five Cubans who attempted to prevent such barbarities have been unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned. That is another truth.
They will try to repeat actions like that of Siguanea, bringing mourning to Cuban homes and killing valuable young people in the prime of their lives. For them – why deny it? – there will always be another December full of death and threats. For our part, we will continue to defend ourselves.
But the supreme truth in all of this is that, 40 years after the horrendous crime, the accusing finger of the four martyrs of Siguanea continues to point toward the North, from whence their killers came, demanding the justice they have been awaiting for so long.
As can be appreciated, dear reader, everything in life has a reason, even when it happens in December.
* PERCY FRANCISCO ALVARADO GODOY is a Guatemalan writer.