The Caballo de Mayaguara(1) (the Horse of Mayaguara) he is a son of the wilderness and an old dog in the mountain. He says: “The Belgian-made FAL is my bug, and my favorite gun is a 45 “. May I see your gun, I handled it. It´s cold Colt, number 272 448, American government´s brand. He had it since the guerrilla fight against defeated Batista´s tyranny; exactly, in Santa Clara’s battle.
This gun has nothing special. Tuned and greased economically by who knows a lot about weapons; its surface steel in the trigger and hilt was faded by overuse. As I said, there is nothing special with that gun, unless it is the gun of the Caballo de Mayaguara (The horse of Mayaguara) and that this 46 year-old man is who sent more bandits to the Celestial Kingdom.
The Caballo under first lieutenant rank of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and his real name is Gustavo Castellón. But none knows him by that name.
The clear orders of the Staff came to me this way: “Strictly confidential. “To comrade and first lieutenant, Caballo de Mayaguara, in the Escambray.”
Caballo is a soldier. He has well-steeled woman: he knows each part of her body and what part of her body she likes him to touch the most. “Her kisses burn”, he says as caressed the FAL. He himself baptized it as: la Yegua (the Mare). “How many bandits have you killed? I asked him. My question annoyed him and he replies: “I only kill them in combat”. Later, a trusted source told me: “They are over the 200.”
In combat, the Caballo de Mayaguara used to tighten his beret over the nape, as catchers like doing in a ball game. He loads la Yegua and puts it into automatic position. The Caballo prefers shooting stood on his feet, with the legs opened, firing his weapon widespread.
That’s his technique because he knows well the technique of the bandits. When these bandits run away, they usually open fire back aiming his gun to no direction.
Then cazabandidos (Bandit hunters) suddenly desire to grab their press by themselves.
Caballo is not upset: he knows his Yegua (Mare) can burn to up to farther than a kilometer. Caballo draws the disordered frontal shooting of the enemy andleans his rifle on his left arm, separating him some inches far from his thorax as he fires in long blasts, following the row of bandits’ fallen bodies.
The Caballo is a 6-foot and well-built. His legs are made of the same oak wood of this mountain range. He bears his gun in a black-leathered cartridge holder and a commando knife on the left side of his waist. He also bears a machete during military operations.
On himself he says: “It’s my way, boy. I’ve lived so much! “The Staff Higher officers have been more than once concerned about “the Caballo’s personality”. But he laughed: “What I might do about it, if I ‘m the Caballo of Mayaguara! “.
His troopers, all of them tiger puppies of 17 years of age, stopped immediately when their chief raised his right hand during an operation. “He already smelled bandits are around”
This crew was made up by children heroes of the Escambray. He is each soldier’s father and so he calls them in such a way: “They are my ponies”. But the ponies don’t see him like a protective father. For them, the Caballo is their brave chief, their combatant number one, the fiercest cazabandido.
There were tough times of shortage of boots and shirts. Then, they turned into the image of the world’s dispossessed people, but still they fight in this rough land. They chased bandits barefoot, but their rifles twinkled
Only the Caballo was 100 meters ahead from the whole troop, “to hear well, because I have skilfull ears “. He seeks for some clues on the grass, on broken limbs or watchwords on stones.
He smells them this way, with his own experience of living banned in the wild once in the past.
From that time and during the guerrilla fight, this Canary Island-rooted poor peasant started to be a legend, when one morning he knew that dictator Batista’s troopers have cut up with their machetes his godfather Maximiliano Reynoso, member of the Communist Party, “believed to be involved in setting on fire several sugar canes plantations”. After that event the Caballo swore himself to kill as well.
For three months he strolled through the Mayaguara area, until he finally decided joining Fidel Castro-led guerrilla movement.
When peasant Gustavo Castellón, 39, passed away, it was born this wild animal and excellent gunman. So wilderness and injustice become then parents of the Caballo de Mayaguara.
(1) Gustavo Castellón (the Caballo de Mayaguara) died on April 22, 1991, with the honorable rank of Major of the Cuban Armed Forces (FAR).
(Passage taken from Norberto Fuentes’ book “They Imposed Us Violence”, Letras Cubanas publishing, Havana, Cuba, 1986)