José Rafael Montalvo

* 1943

  • “You get out of jail ... I left with the intention of starting my life again, renewing it, picking up where I left off and then my concentration was not on continuing to fight against communism. My thing was to go rebuild my life. I went back to Georgia Tech, I didn't have a scholarship or anything like that. In other words, I went to Georgia Tech, had three jobs and paid for my studies. Before leaving I was a terrific student, I loved my field, I was enthusiastic. When I returned, I had lost all of that. He had no interest in studying. What I wanted was to graduate and be able to move on with my life. So I went back to Georgia Tech and graduated. The last year of my studies I got married, and the day I graduated my son was born. I mean, that was ... and I had three jobs. My wife worked from when we got there until the day before we had our son. It was a time when we sacrificed a lot. I always say that I was hungrier than in jail, because we really didn't have a penny. "

  • “The whole time in prison was an incredible experience. It made us united, the Brigade really got closer together. Every day we had the enemy in front of us. We debated it every day, from morning to afternoon and sometimes during the whole night as well. We went against them however we could. Our spirits didn’t weaken the entire time we were in prison. The Brigade became united."

  • "And then the lieutenant gets in the way and says, "Don't touch him." And he starts asking me questions. And he says to me: "Who are you?" - "I am a rifleman from Battalion 2." And they all laugh and say: "You are the first who is not a cook." - And where is your rifle? " - “I threw it away, I don't even know why. I ran out of bullets. " - "So, you threw us away?" And I: "Yes, I did. And I killed you too."

  • “My plan was to stay alive somehow, to stay alive and also little by little the anger that I had went away and turned into an immense sadness, it was turning into an immense sadness for what had happened. Entering the mountain, this sadness worsened, because a Fidelista plane machine-gunned us. There was a group of farmers with us. They did not hit us with the machine gun, but a two-year-old boy was hit by a twenty-millimeter cannon, so then the hole was exactly this size. That happened next to me. The father picked him up and he looked destroyed. His whole life was gone and that for me was sadder than anything else that had happened there. Not only had we not achieved our goal, but we had caused things like that to happen."

  • "At that time, the entire highway was full of corpses, as far as one could see ... destroyed tanks, trucks, everything ... I mean, it has been a huge disaster for them. When my squad arrived on the beach, we received orders to withdraw. We couldn't believe it, because we had stopped them, we had zoned them, we had zoned them well... we did not understand why we were going to withdraw. When we started walking towards the trucks to get out, we started singing the Cuban national anthem. And it was very, very exciting. We started to tear up. We liberated Playa Larga. I was free."

  • “As you grow older, especially emotionally, you realize that you are not a spectator, but a participant. This change from spectator to participant happened to me while I was in Atlanta at Georgia Tech. Among the students there was a large group of Cuban students, there were about sixty. Well, we would meet and talk about it (the situation in Cuba) all the time. And the moment came when it became a very serious question whether we should do something, participate or not. In December 1960 they were training the frogmen and they invited me, because I had been a swimmer and all that. I accepted and wanted to go, but my father came from Cuba and ... I was 17 years old ... he did not give me permission. I had to go back to Georgia Tech, where all these conversations continued and eventually a group of us made a retreat in Conyers, Georgia, where Virgin Mary later appeared in a Trappist monastery. We stayed for three days and the Trappists did not speak, so we were silent for three days. And I personally came to the conclusion that because of who I was and because of my family's history I had to fight."

  • “I had to leave Cuba in '58, I had not finished high school yet, because one day, when I was coming home from a party, from skating, I ran into a group of people from the Batista's Military Intelligence Service. They were looking for some neighbors. They stopped me, interrogated me and pushed me and when they pushed me I hit them with the skates I had with me. Well, it caused a problem, my parents sneaked out of the house. The next day they sent someone to tell us that it could not stay this way and that they recommended getting me out of the country. They got me out, so I went to study in England. The change of government hit me hard. When Fidel Castro entered, I was in London. I had to drop out of school because we couldn't withdraw dollars and I went to work. I was 16 years old. So I was working as an illegal immigrant at Fish n 'Chips and I lived in a house of prostitutes, which was the only room I found.”

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    Miami, USA, 10.06.2021

    délka: 01:38:52
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memoria de la Nación Cubana / Memory of the Cuban Nation
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I came to the conclusion that, because of who I was and my family‘s history, I had to fight for Cuba

José Rafael Montalvo, 2021
José Rafael Montalvo, 2021
zdroj: Post Bellum

José Rafael Montalvo was born on January 7, 1943 in Havana. His ancestors played an important role in the struggles for Cuban independence. He studied at the famous Colegio de La Salle. However, in 1958 he had to interrupt his studies in Cuba due to a confrontation with the authorities of the Batista regime. He spent a few months in England and returned to Cuba after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. He turned down the offer of a Leningrad University scholarship and opted for studies in Georgia in the United States. Thanks to the conversations with the other Cuban students in the American university, he decided to enter the training camps for the invasion in the Bay of Pigs, despite the rejection of his father. He landed in Cuba and fought on the coast against Fidel Castro‘s troops as a member of Battalion 2. After President Kennedy‘s decision not to support the combatants in Cuba, he was caught and transferred to Havana, where he was imprisoned in El Príncipe prison. There he spent more than twenty months until the exchange negotiated by the governments of the United States and Cuba took place. Together with other prisoners, he was able to go to the United States in exchange for money, clothes and other materials that the Castro regime requested. In the 1970s he tried to negotiate the release of more Cuban prisoners. In America he finished his studies and later became a successful professional. He retired in the late 90s.