By Pastor Guzmán Castro
The “adventures” of four cousins, all militiamen, whose first or second names are Villalobos go far beyond the fantasies of the popular Spanish language radio program from the 1950’s. Fomento-born Angel D. Torrado Villalobos, directly participant of the LCB in Cuba, proves so.
Villalobos, I had heard it several times around the Escambray, but never had the opportunity to meet him. He was something as the central axis of a humble family of revolutionary peasants as his brothers Salvador, José and several cousins who all crossed on the road of such murdering anti-Cuban bandits that killed young teachers, members of the Literacy Campaign and innocent highlanders.
The Lieutenant Colonel (r) Angel D. Torrado Villalobos is one of those surviving relatives of the wars in Cuba as well as in Angola and who now accepts to share some of those memories with the Escambray Weekly readers.
A HONORABLE MISSION
We, the Villalobos emerged in the sectors at the Highland Companies when the Havana Militia arrived by the year of 1960. In the Militias, we listed four of us of the Villalobos family, serving as guides for the 117th Battalion. Firstly, being part of that battalion we enrolled in a heavy cleanse of bandits in the Escambray. We helped capturing nearly 50 bandits.
They usually perpetrated abuses and heavily forced peasants to feed them. If they suspected of somebody and knew he was unarmed, they came abruptly and killed him. If he was a militiaman, they then, were much more careful and tried to ambush him instead.
Preventing that we posted militiamen squads in the peasants’ houses by early 1961, we were unable to annihilate entirely the bands; however, we hit them a lot.
Months later, the Sectors and Regions were created. While being part of the 9th Sector in Jibacoa, under Luis Torres’ orders, the Cuban Campaign of Literacy came to be a fact and we were given the mission of protecting those boys and girls of 12 and 13 years of age. Daily we patrolled the area and visited the young teachers at their positions to oversee how they lived.
IN THE WOLF’S MOUTH
Even in Congo Pacheco’s household, who was a well-known bandit boss, as well as in his brother, Israel, teachers were located.
We outlined to Congo’s wife and daughter that the life of the literacy brigade member was their responsibility. They said he was not necessary for them, but we insisted that they must receive him.
To Pacheco’s daughter was offered to tell his father to surrender and get evacuated along with the rest of the family, but she replied that he would not accept it because he was a “major” and that if we proposed such, it was because we were desperate. By that time we were already organized into LCB legions.
My cousin, Puro Villalobos, was neighbor of murderer Congo Pacheco, who tried ambushing him more than once. When this bandit’s family was finally evacuated, a militiaman, named Nazco, was located in their house. Congo Pacheco pledged to set on fire his own house and those of his relatives, because no communist would live under those roofs, and he attempted it several times.
The last attempt was on April 12, 1962. Pure Villalobos laid on his bed reading a book, when at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, he heard some shots coming from Congo’s house. He and his brothers Salvador and Andrés Miranda, all got up and suddenly ran into that direction, and half way they met with Ricardo Nazco’s wife, who was repeatedly shouting that the bandits had also killed militiaman Nelio Castillo.
Puro told his fellows to go dogging the bandits as he bore the wounded on his back to a save neighboring household. Shortly after Puro ran to join his brothers Salvador, Andrés and José who resisted in a front fire. During this over-one-hour- long combat Congo got injured on his stomach, one arm and one leg, what made him surrender, along with two other bandits. He died days later at the Hospital in Santa Clara. He did not personally kill anyone, but he ordered instead.
END OF REALITO’S “FEATS”
In several occasions we chased Jesus Real Ramón Hernández’s squad, also known as Realito. He was widely-known as one of the most murderous individuals around the Escambray; who on his vast list of crimes were to have set on fire a grocery in Guanayara, then he set aflame another in Cimarrones, and killed its administrator, Luis Lara.
By mid-May 1963, our troops surrounded Realito’s band in Sabana de Maní farm property. Very early in the mourning, our ambush surprisingly fenced the bandits, who backlashed shuffling, running and shooting as they headed straight to our fire line, while screaming they were militiamen, but they deceived none of our troopers, who replied intensifying fire.
The vast majority of the splintered bandits wound up captured, but Realito, wounded in one of his leg, hid himself behind a jagüey tree. Manuel Prieto Labrada, an overnice young boy, dubbed the Gallegito (The little Galician), was ahead and ran directly into that tree, when one of his comrades noticed the extreme danger, repeatedly screamed the boy to back off for him to shut down the jagüey with his FAL rifle.
It was because Gallegito either didn’t listen to him or wanted to, he kept running with his machine gun and when he was before that bush, two blasts were heard almost meshed, as well as the boy’s scream: “I killed him”. When people finally got there, they found the youth apprehended to the bandit’s body and both dead. People cried his death, because he was so young and very much beloved.