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Guillermo A.

Estévez (1995): “The Double Trial Of The Cuban Airmen”, in “The First Decade Of The Communists: January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1968”, Witness To Persecution (electronic journal) © 1995,2009 Guillermo A. Estévez

The Double Trial Of The Cuban Airmen
Trial 1: March 2, 1959:Tribunal 1- ACQUITTED Trial 2: March 8, 1959: Tribunal 2- SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS My name is Guillermo Estévez, tried in Cuba in Trial No. 127-59. I hereby testify:

 • THAT I was one of the pilots from the Cuban Air Force who was selected at random to be tried in the first judicial “show“ fabricated by Castro that came to be known as “the double trial of the Cuban airmen.” • THAT we were tried by a Revolutionary Tribunal composed of two Rebel Commanders and a Rebel Captain who was also a lawyer. • THAT on March 2, 1959, all 43 members of the Cuban Air Force were found innocent and absolved of all charges by said Revolutionary Tribunal, who ordered that we should immediately be set free •THAT instead of being set free, we were taken to Boniato Prison right after the acquittal. That same night, in front of television cameras, Fidel Castro announced to the Cuban people that he did not accept the verdict of the Revolutionary Tribunal that he, himself, had appointed. He said: “ I do not accept the decision of the Revolutionary Tribunal. The pilots are potential conspirators and counter-revolutionaries and the revolution cannot afford to absolve them.” • THAT a new Tribunal, this time composed of five Rebel Commanders and the Minister of Defense acting as Prosecutor was named by Fidel Castro to try us again for a second time. • THAT on March 5, 1959, the new Tribunal convened at 8:30 PM. We were not present. Instead, the room was packed full with an audience previously prepared by the Prosecutor, who chanted and yelled and physically pushed the defense lawyers out of the room. Only a single defense attorney was able to remain in the room and take charge of the defense arguments for the 43 airmen. This man had been one of the defense lawyers of attackers of the Moncada Garrison and had impeccable revolutionary credentials. • THAT we were never taken to court for this second trial and instead were kept locked up in punishment cells in Boniato Prison, unaware of what was going on. • THAT this Second Trial lasted for 8 hours and the Prosecutor did not present any new

Guillermo A. Estévez (1995): “The Double Trial Of The Cuban Airmen”, in “The First Decade Of The Communists: January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1968”, Witness To Persecution (electronic journal), Montclair, NJ page 2 charge or any new evidence against us. • THAT at the end of this Second Trial, the Tribunal did not announce any decision. • THAT on March 8, 1959 Fidel Castro appeared in front of the television cameras and all radio stations and, to the astonishment of the people of Cuba, ordered that the pilots be sentenced to 30 years of forced labor, the gunners to 20 years and the mechanics to 2 years. I served more than 19 years in 12 different prisons. I was beaten repeatedly and I have scars from the blows of bayonets and machetes in my right wrist, a finger in my left hand and my left leg. I participated in two hunger strikes I spent long periods of time in isolation cells and punishment cells. I was subjected to years of forced labor in quarries and in the fields. I suffered cruel and inhuman physical and psychological tortures as a consequence of the abuse of power and judicial monstrosity committed against us. I was victim of many acts of unbridled cruelty and savagery , but I will recount only one 
One morning, during the years of forced labor in the Isle of Pines, I was sick with a high fever and diarrhea. I was weighing around 100 pounds at the time, had no shoes and was wearing torn pants. We were all supposed to again go out in the fields and dig holes.

 I told the guard at the door of the prison that I was sick, that I felt real bad andt hat I could not even stand, let alone go out and use a pick and shovel. The guard, a corporal known as Chucho told me to go back in, and as I turned he hit me so hard on the neck with butt of his rifle, that I smashed the bars of the entrance gate and fell down.

 As I laid on the floor, Chucho kept hitting and kicking me. Bleeding, in a mental haze, I managed to stand up and began screaming at him. The corporal went backa few steps and yelled an order to another soldier standing about 15 feet away from us: “Get the bayonet! Give him the bayonet!” 
As the soldier was obeying the order, a fellow prisoner (Ernesto Peñalver) got a hold of the empty wooden box where the bread for the prisoners was delivered, and ran between me and the soldier with the wooden box in his hand. Immediately all the other prisoners began shouting: “Stop! Stop! Donʼt kill him! Donʼt kill him! Donʼt kill him!…” and two other prisoners pulled me inside.

Guillermo A. Estévez (1995): “The Double Trial Of The Cuban Airmen”, in “The First Decade Of The Communists: January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1968”, Witness To Persecution (electronic journal), Montclair, NJ page 3 The names of the 43 victims of this judicial monstrosity are listed below: Pilots (sentenced to 30 years) 1. Alonso Guillot, Ramón Mechanics (sentenced to 2 years) 1. Antúnez González, Telesforo 2. Alemany Peláez, Jorge 2. Bergeiro, Armando 2. Argüelles, Ramón 3. Brito García, Juan 3. Córdova Aguilar, Arístides 3. Cernuda Valdés, Benigno 4. Bermúdez Esquivel, Mario 4. Delgado Hernández, 4. Concepción, Julio Sandino 5. Bacallao Forte, Pedro 5. Hernández, Nemesio 5. Díaz Aguilar, Emilio 6. Beruvides Ballesteros, 6. Hernández, Pablo 6. Fernández, Máximo Eulalio 7. Buria Acosta, Luis 7. Mesa Yanez, Juan 7. García Abreu, Julio 8. Campbell Cole, Francisco 8. Piloto González, 8. Liyin, Cresencio Francisco 9. Chappy Muñiz, Francisco 9. Yip Martínez, Gilberto 9. Gómez Ballesta, Silvio 10. Estévez y De Arcos, 10. Pinocho Fernández, Luis Guillermo 11. Iglesias Ramírez, 11. Pérez Morales, Florencio Manuel 12. Lam Rodríguez, Roberto 12. Reyes Basulto, Pablo 13. Lazo Cuba, Carlos 13. Vasallo Lima, Pedro 14. Piñera Machín, Agustín 14. Vasallo, Silvio 15. Pérez-Valdés Montiel, Roberto 16. Pieras Bustarviejo, Antonio 17. Rodríguez De Castro, Ricardo 18. Rodríguez, Edelso 19. Somoano Alvarez, Gustavo Gunners (sentenced to 20 years) 1. Becerra Alba, Rafael

Guillermo A. Estévez (1995): “The Double Trial Of The Cuban Airmen”, in “The First Decade Of The Communists: January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1968”, Witness To Persecution (electronic journal), Montclair, NJ page 4

picture caption translation: "The Tribunal judging the military airmen for war crimes whose summary trial started yesterday. It is composed of Commander Felix Lugerio Pena Diaz (presiding) and Dr. Adalberto Parúas Toll and Antonio Michel Yabor” (Photo: L. Arias)

picture caption translation: "Tribunal composed of five commanders of the Rebel Army that
heard arguments to impugn the absolution of the pilots and gunners. They are, from left to right: Commanders Belarmino Castilla, Carlos Iglesias Fonseca, Manuel Piñeiro Losada, Demetrio Montseny Villa and Pedro Luis Díaz”

Guillermo A. Estévez (1995): “The Double Trial Of The Cuban Airmen”, in “The First Decade Of The Communists: January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1968”, Witness To Persecution (electronic journal), Montclair, NJ page 5

picture caption translation: "A group of airmen surrounds Dr. Carlos Peña Jústiz, defense lawyer ...(illegible) his judicial performance that obtained an acquittal verdict in the trial that took place in Santiago de Cuba."