CHAPTER XXII
LAST REPORTS

ABOUT 9 THAT night the Army Chief of Staff reported to me that we could not hold Las Villas, for even the seat of the military command of the Province was surrounded by the rebels. He said that Lieut. Col. Carlos San Martín Fresneda had arrived from Santa Clara, having made a miraculous escape at the moment the rebels had seized the airport, their guns firing at his military plane.

At 10, Gen. Eulogio Cantillo Porras returned and went to "Kuquine," my farm, to report to me. Nothing could be done to recover Oriente and much less to transfer forces to Las Villas. Fidel Castro insisted that the Army and Navy forces in Santiago mutiny, or, if that failed, that Cantillo surrender to him the forces under the command of Col. José Rego Rubido of the Army and Commodore Manuel Carnero of the Navy . . . "The situation is serious, Mr. President, and we must make a quick decision." He added that Fidel Castro would enter Santiago de Cuba in a matter of hours, knowing that the troops would surrender when the report had spread. . . .*

____________________
*
"On Jan. 1, at a meeting in Cespedes Park in Santiago de Cuba, Fidel Castro said: 'The agreement with Cantillo was for a mutiny on the 31st, at 3 in the afternoon, with the preliminary cooperation of the rebel troops, unconditionally supported by the Army. At the moment of the mutiny of the Santiago de Cuba garrison, several rebel columns would enter the city and fraternize with the people. The tanks found in Santiago would be surrendered to Castro, not for combat purposes, but in anticipation of the chance that the movement would fail in Havana and make it necessary to place vanguards as close as possible to the capital. He related details of the very different conduct of Col. Rego Rubido. 'Col.

-127-

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