Humberto Díaz Argüelles

* 1942

  • "As we walked near Playa Girón… and once again we had no ammunition at all… total collapse was unavoidable. We were food and sleep-deprived for four days. Physically, we were absolutely at the bottom. Besides, the psyche started to decline as well. We kept asking ourselves, 'What are we going to do now? Why is this happening to us? Why didn't anyone come to help us? Where is everybody? What have we done to deserve this? How will they kill me? They'll throw me in jail anyway. If I jump into the sea, where will I swim? And if I stay on the ground, I'll soon walk right into the lion's den, right here in the middle of the bushes. Why the hell is this happening?' These were the moments that I have buried deep inside my memory. After all the bad things we had been through, yet we were determined to hope and fight, they left us to fend for ourselves. Why?“

  • (when talking to the experienced soldiers) "They told me: 'Listen, boy, the way we see it... with what we have, we can't possibly win. Just look… do you see any anti-aircraft defenses here? Do you see any machine guns? Are there any tanks? Did we have a briefing on how to proceed with the invasion? How do we get there? And so on… Nothing whatsoever… This was is the happy ending impossible.‘ I say to that: 'Well, I think we can. They told us we can eternaly count on the support from the airspace. The sea is supposed to be taken care of as well. Moreover Cuba should already be infiltrating people who are preparing everything for the success. So I don't know what you're trying to tell me here… Where are we supposed to run? Mexico is on one side and Guatemala on the other.‘ All this is said… both of the soldiers then died during the operation in Playa Girón.“

  • "I have never questioned us during the training. I have never thought about whether it was a good idea to be there. I have not asked even once: ‘What am I doing here?’ I knew I was where I was meant to be. I, and all the other people who took part in the training, were content with it. There was only one reason for us to be there. It was a plain goal - liberate Cuba and then live in a free country.“

  • (The first job in a supermarket) "One of the working days when I was just packing peoples' purchases… mostly we either cleaned or packed peoples' purchases… a very nicely dressed elegant lady, came with two carts filled with goods. It was my turn to care for her, although I helped it a lot. I assumed she would leave me a decent tip. So, I am carrying the two carts while chatting with her in English. Everything seems to be fine, and we are heading to the parking lot. I noticed that brand new Cadillac she had parked there. Back then, it was better than having today's Rolls Royce. And I think again: 'Um... it'll be a decent tip.’ 'And, ma'am, where shell I put it for you? And how do you want this to be there? - 'Well, you're a very willing boy.' - 'Thank you very much, ma'am.' I open the door for her, close it, and she pulls out her hand to tip me. I got three cents. I regard it as such an insult that it has remained in my memory to this day. I told her: 'Well, ma'am, you can keep that and buy candy for the kids because three cents are useless to me.' She required to talk to the shop owner immediately. So we went. He stood across the street and inquired: 'What happened?' The lady complained: 'He was disrespectful to me.' The owner then asked me what is my version of the whole story. So I spilt the beans. 'Ma'am, I never want to see you in this store again. And you, back to work,' the owner stated. Just so you know how things work in life. It's like in a theatre, sometimes comedy, other times tragedy. The next day the lady reappeared. And she gave me a five-dollar bill.“

  • "We had no plan. We just got on a plane. It was a dismal time - the flight from Havana to Miami takes about an hour. Within one hour has my life turned upside down. Imagine the impact on one's mental well-being. I asked myself: 'Why is it all happening?' My mother told me we were leaving Cuba. Moreover, when we were still at home… working there with other people... that time she said: 'Never speak Spanish to me again. Speak only English. Because they're sending me there to learn English.’ Then she just announced: ' We're leaving.“

  • "One day I was watching a live broadcast on TV when suddenly I saw on the screen a black man wearing a traditional white short-sleeved shirt. Some men just threw him off the back of a truck to the ground. I was sixteen then, clueless about what is about to happen. Why are they broadcasting this? I asked myself. Then I noticed that it is only pictorial, without any sound. It was clear the man was saying something… What is it he talks about?... Then the camera shifted, and I could perfectly see the soldiers with submachine guns surrounding the black man. I, a sixteen-year-old kid, had no idea what was going on there. At one point, the whole scene has moved to a tree, next to which was a ditch dug. For all my innocence, I still didn't know what it was all about. I saw the man standing there proudly and upright, he kept talking and talking. But as I said earlier, no one from the TV viewers could hear what he was saying. All of a sudden, I saw his shirt ripple… pam, pam, pam. They pierced him with bullets and he fell into the ditch. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I disbelieved it and asked myself: 'What just happened there?' Until then, I had never seen anyone executed in Cuba, let alone on TV. He (Fidel Castro) came up with a plan. His goal was to instil fear so that he could seize all the power.“

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    Miami, USA, 07.06.2021

    duration: 02:22:42
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Life is like a theatre. Some days it’s a comedy, and other days it’s a tragedy.

Humberto Díaz Argüelles, 2021
Humberto Díaz Argüelles, 2021
photo: Post Bellum

Humberto Díaz Argüelles was born into a lawyer family in Havana on September 14, 1942. His mother, born in Great Britain, soon realized the direction of the Cuban Revolution under Fidel Castro. Therefore, she quickly applied for a British passport at the embassy. So by the end of October 1960, she and then 18-year-old Humbert flew together out of Cuba. Shortly after landing in the United States, young Humberto decided to participate in training for the later unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the recently established Cuban regime. Thus he joined the renowned Brigade 2506. They survived several days without food and ammunition. But on the Caribbean coast of Cuba, Fidel Castro’s army captured them. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison and did just under two years in the “El Príncipe” in Havana. Due to the poor conditions in the jail, he lived through multiple health problems. For instance, he had twice jaundice. Humberto returned to the United States as part of the exchange between Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy administration. Later he studied management at the University of Miami in Florida. Humberto has become a successful businessman with several children and grandchildren. He was once even a chairman of the Brigade 2506 Association of Veterans.