A More Than A Forgotten Captain

His name was Luis Pérez Perdomo. He was an impressive person and with his beard and olive uniform he looked like a guerrilla member. I met him in a friend’s house at the beginning of 1959. He had just arrived in Havana to participate as an attorney in the revolutionary tribunals against war criminals set up in the fortress of La Cabaña.

Photo: Tania Díaz Castro
Photo: Tania Díaz Castro

Cubans were in general little aware of the speedy and summary trials set up against soldiers, policemen and civilians allegedly connected to the overthrown repressive regime of Fulgencio Batista. Thus people in Havana did not know that in Santiago de Cuba Raúl Castro had issued an order to execute more than sixty persons on a single day in January 1959, despite the fact that the death sentence was not legal at that time.

Later, on 23 of January, Captain Luis Pérez Perdomo appeared on TV in connection with the trial set up against Sosa Blanco. It was a macabre show that took place in the Havana Sports Palace and by far exceeded the Roman Circus in the Ancient Europe.

By December 1959, nobody had heard about Captain Perdomo anymore. My friends that were also his friends were wondering about his whereabouts. There was a lot of gossip, often mixed-up, but no one knew anything. We were living in the whirlwind of the revolution which I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to experience today. In the meantime, the number had been growing: by 15 of December, 553 people had been shot dead.

To remind me of the short and strange friendship with the Captain, someone gave me a photo enclosed to this article. You can see him there, apparently showing a certain degree of concern – he had just been informed by a high-ranked official from the Embassy of the United States in Cuba about how the world had been horrified by hundreds of executions carried out by Castro without any due court proceedings.

I have tried to confirm – without any success – if the official that appears on the photo is the then US ambassador in Havana. All I know is that his name was Philip Bonsal and that on 4 May 1959 he rushed to the airport to welcome Fidel Castro, while on 29 October 1960 he was called back to the USA for a “longer period of consultations”. Ha has never returned to Cuba since then.

Towards the end of October 1959 the number of the executed Cubans had reached 1,330.

This is nothing more than just another well-hidden story of the Castro regime. Hidden so well as the name of Captain Luis Pérez Perdomo. And there is yet another strange thing: there is no explanation as to why it was necessary to kill over one thousand people that had allegedly put the Castro’s revolutionary organization 26th of July Movement as well as the Cuban Revolutionary Directorate at risk.

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