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(Tony Cuesta Leaves Cuba)

[Reference: Personal papers of Tom Dunkin. Pages 3-5 only]

[NOTE: This seems to be an account of Tony Cuesta's release from a Cuban jail in 1978.
              Dunkin and Cuesta collaborated on numerous occasions]


October 21, 1978.  The chartered Eastern Airlines jet was scheduled to leave Havana at 2PM for the flight to Miami, but, to my surprise, we did not head straight for the airport.

General Enio Leyva drove Eugenio Zaldivar and me through the Havana traffic.  He was a surprisingly high-level escort for two men who had been languishing in prison for a dozen years.

I nudged Eugenio.  "Tell me what you see," I whispered.  "Tell me what streets we are driving through."

As Eugenio described the points of the passing landscape, I realized we were heading in the direction of the government offices.  Why were they not taking us directly to the airport? I thought I knew the answer.  There was someone who wanted to meet with me before I left Cuba.  The same man who 12 years ago refused permission for the operation that probably would have saved my sight now wanted to see me–even though I couldn't see him.

"Let's stop a minute here.  Let's walk a second," General Leyva said softly.

I was assisted out of the car.  Holding my right hand against Eugenio's shoulder, using him as my eyes, I followed the general into an office building.  When I felt the rara cool breeze of central air conditioning, I knew with certainty where we were.  I knew who wanted to meet with me before I flew away to exile.

I nudged Eugenio, as if to say, "Just you wait."  We were led to a comfortable room and seated on a deep-pile sofa.  Someone thrust a huge cigar into my hand and lit it for me; someone else brought me a glass of scotch on the rocks. The treatment as well as the liquor was dizzying.  I steeled myself.

Suddenly I heard General Leyva stand up quickly as someone entered the room.  Instinctively, following the good manners taught to me by my parents, I stood also.  General Leyva muttered the words, "El Comandante en jefe."  Then I heard the voice of my enemy–not pouring forth the shrill, angry demagoguery for which he is infamous.  He had engaged the charming, charismatic side of his personality.  He spoke in a low, soft, sweet, gentle tone.  If he had not chosen politics, he could have been a hit on Broadway, capitalizing upon his melodious voice.

Now I was forced by circumstances to shake the hand of the one man in the whole world whom I most wanted to kill.

Nothing could blind my memories.  In the eternal darkness of my mind I could conjure an image of the man.  I could see the bushy beard that so complimented his appearance, hiding a weak, receding chin.  He was 6'3 ˝" tall, a giant as far as most Cubans go. I stiffened my spine, taking advantage of the phenomenon that had always galled him.  I was a half inch taller.

I knew that he was studying me, too, measuring the effects of prison upon my will, moreso than my appearance.  I kept my eyes closed, lest he see darkness behind the shaded lenses of my glasses.  But I did not hide my left arm and the stump above the wrist.  He knew I had lost the hand in a last attempt to kill him.  And he knew that I would have sacrificed my entire being in exchange for the success of the mission.  The only reason he had not executed me 12 years ago was his fear of my power as a martyr.
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