Reflections by Comrade Fidel
WHAT I SAID ABOUT PICHIRILO
I promised to answer the journalist Daily right away.
In her letter that I mentioned yesterday, she said:
“My name is Daily Sánchez Lemus; I graduated from Journalism in 2006 and I have been working for the Cuban Television Information System ever since.
“My graduating thesis was on the journalism of Raúl Gómez García. I recall that at the end of 2005 and early 2006, I wrote to you on three occasions asking for more insight into the Son los Mismos and El Acusador clandestine press and for any detail you might remember, or some special commentary on Gómez García.
“It wasn’t meant to be at that time and I received an answer to the three letters which asked me to get in touch with the Office of Historical Affairs of the Council of State. I know very well how much work had and all your responsibilities and so I understood that my thesis had to come out without your testimony. And come out it did. “Raúl Gómez García, the Moncada Journalist” was the title I gave it, trying to show that that young man was not only a poet but a first-rate journalist.
“After finishing the paper, a friend I liked very much, and I still do, journalism professor Guillermo Cabrera Álvarez, told me: “I have so many things I have to write and I know I won’t have the time to do them all at the same time. I’ll give you a story”. And so it was, inspired by who knows what, that he opened one of the drawers in his desk and handed me a yellow envelope with the first bits of a love story. And thus I learned about Pichirilo, the Dominican who came on the Granma, whom you knew from the days of Key Confites.
“For me, writing this story was more than something incredibly special,
it was a tribute devoted to the History of my country, to the
“Ramón Emilio Mejías del Castillo, Pichirilo, got to go on the Granma
because you knew how good a sailor he was, that he was brave and really wanted
to fight against dictators like
Unfortunately, what I know about Pichirilo is of great human interest, but dreadfully little, and that requires anyone writing about him to make a special effort to pull together the pertinent information about the person I came to know during a very short period of his life.
The idea never crossed my mind that some day we would have to render account of our modest existence.
I don’t know
where Pichirilo came from. He was a
Dominican who enlisted in the expedition set up to overthrow
When I set out from the coast northwest of Antilla, heading for distant Key Confites, to the northwest of Nuevitas and very close to Key Lobo in the English Bahamas, a few miles away, I did it in a type of small patrol vessel, whose captain was a man of the sea, a small man with a face weathered by the sun. His name was Pichirilo. After sailing for many hours, we reached Key Confites.
We met again
later when I traveled for some days to the
I again returned to the Key. I became friends with Pichirilo on those trips; he was several years older, I hadn’t even turned 21 yet and I was a simple recruit in that expedition that brought together more than a thousand men.
Pichirilo continued to come and go from the Key to Nuevitas, supplying food for the expedition.
I talked to
him a fair amount when we attacked
Low flying T-33 fighters from the anti-Trujillo expedition were skimming over the Cuban island, showing off and encouraging us, and they showed up from time to time. I knew nothing else.
We had been there for months when the Orfila events rocked the expedition, wanting much more fervently to set off for their destination than to stay in the inhospitable Key.
The first movement of its unusual command, under the aegis of the pseudo-revolutionaries and corrupt Cuban leaders, was eastwards carrying out a maneuver threatening the Command of the National Army.
At Key de
This is worth mentioning for just one reason: My friend Pichirilo was the second captain of the “Aurora” where Rodríguez, the former Dominican senator and head of the expedition, with historical prestige because he had been the anti-Machado head of the Gibara expedition in the north of Cuba was traveling with other important chiefs.
The treason committed by Masferrer at the command of the “Fantasma”, the other landing vessel in much better technical shape, decided my uprising since I could no resign myself to hand over the ship. Compliance with the navy order was reduced to that.
Pérez Dámera, Cuban Army Chief, had sold himself to
My great appreciation
of Pichirilo stems from the fact that he took command of the ship to back me up
and in coordination with me, he carried out great and audacious efforts to
bluff the Cuban Navy corvette which, with two cannons at the ready in the bow,
ordered us in the far eastern part of Cuba to fall back to the port of Antilla
in Nipe Bay where the rest of the expedition was already being held prisoner. My aim was to save most of the weapons the “
Everything revolved around this.
I won’t repeat what happened the rest of the afternoon in regards to all the events I lived through that day.
later, when the Granma set sail from
I really didn’t know how Pichirilo was able to save his life after the Granma landing when our detachment was practically wiped out.
I learned those days that Pichirilo was one of the 19 members of the Granma expedition who succeeded in escaping without being tortured, murdered or sent to prison.
The task of
knowing more about him will be the job of those who research the life of the
Dominican combatant. I just know that he
fought, with the rank of commander, under Caamaño, against the soldiers of the
82nd Airborne Division who along with more than 40,000 Marines
landed in Quisqueya. He was shot at on
August 12, 1966 by officers of the Dominican intelligence corps during the
presidency of Joaquín Balaguer; such corps was under the aegis of the
Nobody more than I would appreciate a biography of Ramón Emilio Mejías del Castillo, no matter how modest it should be. It is worthwhile that men like him, Jiménez Moya, and other heroic combatants should be known by Dominicans and Cubans alike.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 6, 2009