(Tony Cuesta Leaves
Personal papers of Tom Dunkin. Pages 3-5 only]
[NOTE: This seems to be an account of Tony Cuesta's
release from a Cuban jail in 1978.
and Cuesta collaborated on numerous occasions]
October 21, 1978. The chartered Eastern Airlines jet
scheduled to leave Havana at 2PM for the flight to Miami,
but, to my
surprise, we did not head straight for the airport.
General Enio Leyva drove Eugenio Zaldivar and me through the
traffic. He was a surprisingly high-level escort for
two men who
had been languishing in prison for a dozen years.
I nudged Eugenio. "Tell me what you see," I
whispered. "Tell me what streets we are driving
As Eugenio described the points of the passing landscape, I
were heading in the direction of the government
offices. Why were
they not taking us directly to the airport? I thought I knew
answer. There was someone who wanted to meet with me
left Cuba. The same man who 12 years ago refused
the operation that probably would have saved my sight now
wanted to see
me–even though I couldn't see him.
"Let's stop a minute here. Let's walk a second,"
General Leyva said softly.
I was assisted out of the car. Holding my right hand
Eugenio's shoulder, using him as my eyes, I followed the
an office building. When I felt the rara cool breeze
air conditioning, I knew with certainty where we were.
I knew who
wanted to meet with me before I flew away to exile.
I nudged Eugenio, as if to say, "Just you wait." We
were led to a
comfortable room and seated on a deep-pile sofa.
Someone thrust a
huge cigar into my hand and lit it for me; someone else
brought me a
glass of scotch on the rocks. The treatment as well as the
dizzying. I steeled myself.
Suddenly I heard General Leyva stand up quickly as someone
room. Instinctively, following the good manners taught
to me by
my parents, I stood also. General Leyva muttered the
Comandante en jefe." Then I heard the voice of my
pouring forth the shrill, angry demagoguery for which he is
infamous. He had engaged the charming, charismatic
side of his
personality. He spoke in a low, soft, sweet, gentle
If he had not chosen politics, he could have been a hit on
capitalizing upon his melodious voice.
Now I was forced by circumstances to shake the hand of the
one man in the whole world whom I most wanted to kill.
Nothing could blind my memories. In the eternal
darkness of my
mind I could conjure an image of the man. I could see
beard that so complimented his appearance, hiding a weak,
chin. He was 6'3 ˝" tall, a giant as far as most
go. I stiffened my spine, taking advantage of the phenomenon
always galled him. I was a half inch taller.
I knew that he was studying me, too, measuring the effects
upon my will, moreso than my appearance. I kept my
lest he see darkness behind the shaded lenses of my
I did not hide my left arm and the stump above the
wrist. He knew
I had lost the hand in a last attempt to kill him. And
that I would have sacrificed my entire being in exchange for
success of the mission. The only reason he had not
executed me 12
years ago was his fear of my power as a martyr.
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