The Lifelong Wait For Freedom... A Four-Part Journey Through Cuban History - An Exclusive Interview with José de Jesús Castaño Fernández

The Lifelong Wait for Freedom is an exclusive four-part series interview with José de Jesús Castaño Fernández, hosted by Lourdes del Rio-Valdes, a first-generation Cuban-American woman. The series is an educational journey through Cuba's history beginning with the pre-Batista years. The personal experiences and first-hand accounts of Castaño Fernández "bring light to what his father, José de Jesús Castaño Quevedo, dedicated his life to protect - Cuba’s freedom!" (A few translated quotes from each interview segment are featured below).  

The Lifelong Wait For Freedom Part 1 (with English Subtitles)

"My name is José de Jesús Castaño. I am now 78 years old. I am one of the youngest that were part of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. I was a paratrooper. We trained in Guatemala and from there left to the Bay of Pigs. Prior to the Revolution I was a young boy... I was a Boy Scout and named among one of the best Boy Scouts in Cuba." At the age of 14 years old, José represented Cuba at the Boy Scouts conference in Washington, D.C.  

 "Che Guevara becomes minister (of industries). Castro is in power already. Things were taken away from people. e.g. houses, building... In one day, Che Guevara confiscated 5,0000 companies. I remember one of the names...I remember asking myself "But why the Bank of Boston?"    

"(Fidel) He begins to take power and to instill fear... his thing was to instill fear in the people (with) firing squad executions. If someone tried to escape they would be killed. An example of this is when he disappeared The Second (in command) of the Revolution, Camilo Cienfuego..."  

The Lifelong Wait…For Freedom PT 2. Our Man in Havana, CIA & BRAC Gather Intelligence on Communists 

On the differences between Communism and Socialism....
"Well, we have (for example) the word Dictator, like Fulgencio Batista was in Cuba; but he was a soft Dictator. As long as you didn't speak badly of Batista, you could do whatever you wanted. When the problems of the revolution started; however, Batista became much tougher. That's when the tortures, beatings and exiles started.  But they (the Communists) are the ones that created the problems."  

"For example, the Communists targeted my boy scout troop; they grabbed a boy scout, ordered him to set off a bomb at the school at 12 Noon. But these same communists would then call the police and tell them that a boy was going to bomb the school. They would then run to the school with their dogs. They shoot and kill the boy. Then on the next day at the boy's funeral attended by everyone from the church, school and boy scouts, the communists show up and 4 or 5 of them  'experts' turn the funeral and the city upside down.  That is part of (how) Communism (operated) in the cities."   

On being asked about his participation in the Bay of Pigs invasion... "There was no choice. I was sent to Guatemala in an unmarked plane.  We were given military uniforms...We arrived at Retalhuleu Air Base... received air force training with US  aircrafts (B-26). While there I found two fellow boy scouts."

"I said to myself, 'We are in trouble. We can't do anything, here!' We couldn't radio; there was no communication... I filled up canteens of water to survive there. We were stuck there in the mud waist-deep for three days until the battle was over."

Regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, "The (Khrushchev-Kennedy) treaty was signed and Kennedy made a mistake that has lasted 60 years."  

On being asked about the embargo... "Che Guevara confiscated 5,000 U.S. Companies in one day without paying a cent.  So Congress agreed to impose an embargo if Cuba didn't pay.... But there's no such embargo...They (Cuban Govt.) has relations with countries like Russia and Venezuela simply, as Cubans like to say 'Pa Hoder' (English meaning includes "screw") this country, US... Cubans here send money to their families in Cuba. It benefits them (Cuban govt.) to say there's an embargo because the revolution has been a failure!"  

When asked by Lourdes, "What are two things that stand out in your memory that you have done in the U.S. to continue the fight for freedom for Cuba?" he responds.... "When the famous Juanita Castro left Cuba... I brought her to Los Angeles and introduced her to various television programs and newspapers....  we later created a radio show called La Voz de Cuba.  We were a 12 person team with a 30 minute show that aired in Latin America."  



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