By Carmen Rodríguez
As simple as his own name by which everyone knew him, was the life of Eliodoro Rodríguez Linares, a peasant murdered in San Ambrosio, alongside the voluntary teacher Conrado Benítez. Unreleased testimonies ever before reveal some details of his death.
That soil, sooner or later would have to blossom something, for rolling tobacco leaves there would be always time enough, it was better to avail of each land portion at the property that guerrilla Commander Che distributed to him and many other Cuban peasants around those hills.
With those thoughts haunting his mind, this man, still young, short and with solid built body, and burning face due to constant effort kept cutting open through rainforests, urging to wind up this stage and to begin planting malanga seeds.
He could almost feel them, just raising his sight to make sure of the eminent presence of intruders that seemed to be unmistakable anti-Cuban bandits; harbored in such a deep wilderness by those times. So, he did wait for them holding his machete as convinced as who faces deadly peril.
Some days later the dead bodies of Eliodoro Rodríguez Linares and Conrado Benitez were found in the area of San Ambrosio, Pitajones, in Trinidad mountains. To those who knew him, it was merely Erineo, another victim and almost nameless of such murderous gangs in the Escambray.
The story still vividly fusses in Eugenio Carpio’s mind. His memory twists, leaps distances, but from the outdistance of four decades ago, facts foreground freshly as this peasant witnessed them long ago, who also shared days and nights together with Erineo.
“We both received our land properties together. Isidro Moscoso showed up over there; I recall that day I had bought a livestock and while heading for the Sierrita, Osvaldo Ramírez himself approached me on the road. Firstly he asked me about the livestock and then about where Erineo might be cutting rainforest. It was clear that he knew that information ahead of time. He sent Isidro for him, who went and stepped on top of a hill and after threatening Erineo to give up his machete, told him about a set up that was prepared for such a chief bandit near 24th rural community, and then sounding knowingly he sketched for the peasant what he would do if facing Osvaldo; Erineo did not hesitate and replied: ‘I will chop his ass into four pieces myself.’
“As soon as this lackey Isidro met with Osvaldo, he completely reproduced his conversation with the peasant minutes ago, what made Osvaldo backlashed punching him savagely, and taking him as prisoner. Some days later Osvaldo killed Erineo.
As no flash news came, Mapio, Boliche Broche and I went to see a peasant, but when getting closer to 24th community those armed bandits opened heavy fire towards our position. As we headed down through the wide savanna, we found the corpses. Their dead bodies laid down on the ground, all covered by straw and near the trap where their executers held them as prisoners. It was January 7, the same day that militiaman Pablo Pis was killed. It was nearly 10 in the morning.”
For Adela Sánchez (The Negra), Erineo’s beloved wife, her memories of that day are very vague. The separation seemed to be unavoidable, while he was plundering the earth, she took care of the seven-month-old fruit of that couple.
“Erineo was a tobacco roller. We got married on 1959 and moved to Ciego Ponciano. He was from the little town of Quemadito, near the Fomento municipality, and since I first met him, he always proved me enough to be a good man.
“For what I was told, a Isidro approached Erineo with the pretext that Félix Torres wanted to meet with him, that came to be the bait for assassin Osvaldo to hook him. One day a man called Fulgencio Fondón came to see us at our house alleging to have been sent by Erineo Tobacco for his coat and some other stuff. Days later I knew that all that I gave them ended on those bandits’ hands. By that time I did not even know that he was a prisoner. Erineo himself let me know it secretly by a minuscule piece of paper inside a cigarette box, where he also wrote that I must come to expect anything since Osvaldo had grabbed him. Then, I knew, he was no longer coming back home..
“Conrado Benítez, I met him once and I volunteered myself to wash his clothes for a while. I recalled now that I delivered his last change of clothing, wrapped with my boy’s sheet of canvas and shortly after that event I heard of their deaths from the revolutionary Militia.”