Pedro J. Fuentes Cid

* 1939  

  • "The Castros came to the US to form the 26th of July Movement. This was the core of the movement, which was about to take down Batista. As we arrived to that meeting, there was the 30-year-old Fidel. He received us in the living room and began preparing coffee in an Italian kettle, which is put on the stove and this is how they prepare the espresso. He started talking and couldn't stop himself. Meanwhile, coffee was ready and began getting burnt. When he realized that, he stopped and poured us coffee. It was horrible. But when he asked people how they liked it, they said: 'Yes, doctor, it's very good.' I kept shut and he asked me: 'Student, did you like the coffee?' I replied: 'Pretty horrible.' He turned to the other ones and said: 'This is the only honest person in here.' During one of his discussions, he came to realize I was the nephew of Pepilla Serra. She was the owner of a farm next to the farm of Fidel's father. Pepilla was the sister of my grandma and the Castro brothers were friends with her children - my cousins. One of them was even Raúl's best friend. Enrique used to take Fidel to school in Belén when he studied law in Havana. And since I am from Holguín and they lived just nearby, Fidel came to realize who I was and treated me a bit different from the others."

  • "At the execution ground, people shouted: 'Hail to free Cuba! Hail to Jesus Christ!' And then I heard just: 'Aim, shoot!' Countless people were murdered there. I can't even tell you how many but I estimate it at 200. A year later, it was time for our trial. My family obtained an attorney who was supposed to defend me. In the end, she couldn't do anything. Her name was Dona Rivas and she defended plenty of people who were arrested there. She was a very good lawyer but they practically wouldn't let her speak in the courtroom. All of us were handcuffed in one room along with other accused people from our group. They were given away by a person who provided us a house and who was an informer. I never trusted him. They called my name and asked whether I knew any of the people who were in there. I said I didn't. They told me not to play games. How could I not know Alfred Sánches who was arrested alongside me? I told them that I knew Alfred - a friend of mine - but none of the others."

  • "Based on your experience, how would you define communism?" - "Communism is an unfulfilled promise to the impoverished; already back in the Soviet Union it turned out to be impossible. One can read it in the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This book was even published in Cuba but instantly taken off the shelves... Already back then had we known communism was a failure. The end to freedom. It meant destruction of all opponents. The way Stalin did it: liquidate the same people who were in the frontline of the October revolution. We knew all of that; it was no secret. That is why we decided to fight against it. We disagreed with communism." - "How come that after all the 20th century experience, these ideas are still attracting a number of people?" - "Many people are drawn to it because they reject the status quo and people living next to them. It is the result of their hatred towards the others. It is a method to get higher on the ladder, which they fail to do in a free society where it is determined by one's efforts. Communism means that whoever is a bigger communist, gets more rights. That's why many people become communists. This is their way up in the society."

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I will always fight the people who take away our freedom. But I don’t feel no hatred towards them

Pedro J. Fuentes Cid
Pedro J. Fuentes Cid
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Pedro Fuentes Cid was born on 6 January 1939 in the city of Holguín, Cuba. His family was wealthy, owning farms and cattle, producing meat and milk. They also ran a sugar cane plantation. After the 1952 coup d’etat by Fulgencio Batista, Pedro’s family moved to Miami, FL where he attended a high school. In 1956, he met Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl in the US, which they visited to form the 26th of July Movement. As a seventeen-year-old he became active in the resistance group Auténticos and underwent guerrilla training in the Dominican Republic. Following Batista’s flight from and the formation of Castro’s revolutionary government in 1959, he returned to Cuba. He worked at the tourism police and studied diplomacy at a university in Havana. After Castro’s joining of forces with the communists, he became active in the resistance once again, obtaining weapons for guerrilla units. In a 1961 shootout with the government soldiers he was arrested. He was at risk of receiving death penalty but in the end got sentenced to sixty years in prison. He had spent close to sixteen years in prisons and labor camps, undergoing much suffering. He worked both in a stone quarry and at a plantation. After his conditional release, he helped political prisoners escape Cuba via Venezuela. He himself left the country in 1978. He graduated from a law school in Miami and became an attorney.