By Pastor Guzmán
Bandit chief Julio Emilio Carretero forced the entire Romero Rojas family to write with their own hands “These people were crashed by the cart wheels” after being massacred in their own household.
Julio Emilio Carretero Escajadillo, anti-Cuban bandit commander, who, seriously wounded could barely vanish, along with some troopers of Chiqui Jaime’s gang from a cerco ambush by the LCB legions during the Limpia del Escambray (The Escambray Cleanse) in 1961, avowed shortly after that event “The Pio Romero will surely pay for that”
The notorious murderer, ex-police officer of the Batista’s overthrown tyranny, was to be obsessed with the killing of José Pio Romero as well as his fellow comrades, because he believed they were Cuban Revolution supporters and also because he said that Pio directly informed the Cuban State Security of all his moves in the area of San José de Caña Brava, where he run his ranch.
THE CRIME IS ACCOMPLISHED
On July 2, 1962, past 8:00 sharp at night, Carretero, accompanied by other 16 terrorist bandits came into the country wooden-wall household of Pio Romero in San José de Caña Brava.
The family had gone to bed. The peasant was ailing by that time from a nephritic colic; his son Bartolo, who was a militiaman, was recovering on a bed in the diminished living room from a bullet wound on his back that he received during a struggle against Osvaldo Ramírez’s gang.
Pio’s wife, Pastora Rojas Fonseca, his sister, Ana Romero, who usually suffered from epileptic attacks and the two daughters of this couple, Paula and Teodora were then or were about to go to bed, as well as Eustaquio Polo Romero, Pio and Ana’s nephew.
Sat down outside the house in the midst of such a deep darkness, Rojas Romero and Eulampio Polo Romero – Eustaquio’s brother – nephews of both spouses conversed.
Soon after Paula, 15, left the house for her dog – which had been forgotten out in the night, those criminal gatecrashers entered and this unforgettable ordeal started. The father burst running to look for a revolver hidden somewhere in the house, but he got pounded down on the floor caused by a wild recoil that fractured one of his scapula.
Carretero and Leonel Martínez, renown criminals addressed themselves towards Bartolo’s bed and put a M-3 rifle aiming to his head. One of the bandits lit his face with a lantern and said: “Hey look, this one looks like a Romero too”. But his mom ran in a desperate rush to where her son was and told them: “No, he is not, he is a ranch worker, he is not a Romero”, she kept crying and repeating this over and over.
Then, they immediately turned around and punched Eustaquio on his face and followed sticking a bayonet right in his chest. The old Pio, who had run where his son was, was dragged outside to the patio, and Paula in attempt to defend him, was heavily hit more than once. Teodora, 11, also intervened but they put a rifle canyon in her mouth, she could untie herself; however, they heavily beat one of her breasts that she is still suffering from.
When these terrorist individuals finally take the whole family to where they should be all slaughtered, Pio, his sister Ana and Eustaquio, Paula – who was then 15 years old – reached for her father’s arm, but a bandit punched her so hardly that she fell upon a tree trunk, breaking her clavicle. On that same moment as I held my mom tightly “I saw these assassins killing my unarmed family. I saw in shock as they machine-gunned firstly Eustaquio and later my dad who was seen exiting from the fire with flames rolling over his back “. One of the bandits fired his M-3 rifle against Ana Romero as another coup d’ graced her.
Bartolo, who had jumped through an open window, ran away under a shooting till the next house, where his neighbor Germán, kept two Czech rifles, but there he merely received indifference and pretexts for not aiding them. Amid his despair, he preferred to continue running away rather than turning back. Few seconds after he felt them chasing him as bullets whistled near his head.
He was able finally to shelter himself in a headland. His strEngths gave up and tenseness and weakness were shaking now his own body.
AFTER THE BLOODSHED… STILL
When in the following morning the young Bartolo turned back to his home. A neighbor told him: “Listen to me, you ought to be strong”. They went to the crime scene. Bartolo, in spite of the lapsed time, does not forget a single detail. “The dead bodies laid down exactly where they fell. Ana’s breast, my aunt, rolled over the ground while my dad’s neck resulted mutilated by three wounds made by a bayonet; in addition to several gun shots. They also cut off my cousin Eustaquio’s head.”
Near the bodies there was a note written with refined handwriting that said: “These people were crashed by the cart wheels”.
THE WORLD IS SMALL
Recovered Bartolo fom his injury, began to serve as practical in the nearby area for Cuban State Security officer Justo Herrera Morales, until they both located and penetrated into the band, made up of Leonel Martínez, Rafael Mindales Torrecilla and Sixto Suárez.
“We ambushed him and I had the fortune to face that murderer. Leonel and I, alone in a plateau. As he shot me, I rushed down on the ground, I opened fire towards him and I got up again, till I finally could made a shot right on his back edge, so he fell down. I shot him again and tore his rifle into halves. But then he suddenly raised his hand with a frightful face. An officer came screaming not shoot him again, and I responded him. ‘No, I won’t, I am not a criminal.’
Bartolo Romero Rojas and his fellow comrades took the injured to the hospital, where few days later he deceased. Months later, Cuban combatant Alberto Delgado’s coordinated an undercover mission with the Organs of the State Security, allowed the capture of Julio Emilio Carretero and all his gang, who responded for this and other crimes before a jury that found them guilty.