The Unruly Ghosts of Camilo and Arnoldo / Juan Juan Almeida

Camilo y Ochoa
Left – Arnaldo Ochoa. Right – Camilo Cienfuegos

February 6 marked the 81st anniversary of the birth of one of the most emblematic figures of the Cuban Revolution. A personality who, simply by mentioning his name, arouses passions, conflicting opinions and some unknowns; I am referring to the man with the open smile, Camilo Cienfuegos.

Undoubtedly charismatic and popular, the strange conditions of his demise, plus the lack of information with respect to it, continue to fire the many questions that stimulate a controversy still open after fifty years. The interesting thing is that an equal controversy can be sparked simply by referring to Arnaldo Ochoa.

Suspicion on the street, or common sense, tells us that someone who can’t assimilate that a plane might fall into the sea without leaving the slightest trace, also can’t believe that one of the island’s soldiers who participates in narcotrafficing, and uses at will the resources of the State to back him up, can do so without the knowledge of his leaders.

It is understood that in a regime like Cuba’s the word “innocent” is always in abundance; everything on the island is a part of a culture of corruption that prevails at the highest sphere. But… what can the Commander and the General have in common.

Let’s see. Camilo and Arnaldo, each in his time, were respected, bold, attractive, critical and cheerful men, followed by their subordinates. Leaders that shared, in addition to their limited education and overflowing military merits, that spirit of adventure that is seductive to the masses.

Today, for many, both are heroes; for others they are unruly ghosts hammering at their conscience.

It is time to rewrite our history without falling into passions, and without the excessive display of this strange ability we often have to turn a man into God or a mortal into Lucifer. This as they are: Herod was a dictator, but he was also the largest builder of the ancient world.

Neither the “Famous man from Yaguajay” nor the “Bold man of Cuito Cuanavale,” competed in publicity with the figure of Fidel. On the contrary, they remained loyal to their “boss” and witnesses attest to this.

One a priori and the other a posteriori, the two, always excelled over Raul Castro, envy, a sentiment of mediocre people, and that prevails in the current president of Cuba.

I have heard a lot; but I have no evidence with which one can unite Camilo’s cadaver with Raul’s bullet; but with the body of Ochoa, yes.

“Where you’re sitting, Ochoa sat, and for not telling me ’the truth’, look what happened to him.”

These were the words that, one morning in December of 2003, I received from Raul Castro during his interrogation of me in his office on the fourth floor of MINFAR. You can draw your own conclusions. For me, it was enough.

February 15 2013