May 14, 2008   PRINT   HOME

A Mercenary and Dangerous Old Man

By Leonel Alberto Pérez Belette

Havana (May 2008 – Cubanet) Members of the political police harassed an 80 year old opponent in his own home to prevent him from blemishing the festivities of the first of May. 

Alfredo Guilleuma Rodriguez has become a "danger" for the authorities of the state.  So much so that the State decided to place to two police officers and a member of the Committee of Defense of the Revolution (CDR) on his doorstep with the objective to stop him from leaving his dwelling on May Day. 

Guilleuma Alfredo Rodriguez at his home in Havana / photo of the author
Click on a photo to enlarge

According to him, he was told that he would not be able to leave while the parade was being performed.  In spite of their threats, the elder was not scared because he needed to leave to find something for his grandson’s breakfast.  After an exchange of words, in which he was branded a mercenary, the authorities were limited to following him to where he was going.  Earlier, the leader of the police sector had already notified him that he was not going to permit him to moved around freely.

Why are they so infuriated with a grandfather that still needs a cane to travel?  Guilleuma Rodriguez has spent his life fighting against tyrannies and as a true revolutionary.  He fought against Hatchet, then against Batista and now against the ones in charge of Cuba. 

Before the arrival of Fidel Castro to power, Guilleuma belonged to the revolutionary directorate of March 13th  Movement, to the Triple A Movement of the Authentic Party led by Aureliano Sánchez Arango and Dr. Carlos Prío Socarrás.  Later he became involved in the July 26th Movement.  It almost cost him his life on several occasions, especially after the first failed attack against the dictator Fulgencio Batista on 5th Avenue in Havana.  Two traitors betrayed the group by leaking that the weapons were hidden in a hotel in the Caballo Blanco (White Horse) neighborhood, and the tyrant, once notified, deviated from his habitual route.  The friends of Guilleuma that were there were Julián Ortega Thorny, Osvaldo Díaz Sources, Abelardo Rodriguez Melero, the Galecian Lavandero ( a Commander from the Spanish Civil War), Arístides Viera (Mengolo), Sergio González (The Healer), the brothers Montalvo and Machado Amejeiras.  Due to a setback, he did not participate in the Presidential Palace robbery on March 13, 1957, and therefore could not participate in the prison break where Lavandero died.  Instead, he became a prisoner in the Castle of the Prince, in the Bureau of Intelligence (BI), in the 17 station in the Mariano neighborhood and in the ninth police station directed by Esteban Ventura. 

After 1959, he chose to be a simple waiter at the Hotel Riviera.  In 1990, the aging Alfredo retired from his work life and his odyssey began. 

“I was born fighting” he says “against the contradictions of the political system imposed upon this country, but even by then these contradictions were insurmountable and they are intensifying every day.”

Little by little he became a dissident and later part of the opposition.  Already at his age, he says that he had nothing to lose; all he could want for his children and his grandson was for them to not have to give in before any such tyranny.   

He joined the Cuban Liberal Movement (MLC) directed by Pedro Ordoñez, who today lives in exile.  He confronted the figureheads of the state to commemorate the International Day of the Human Rights, in the park Villalón, in 2007, and in 2008; occasions where he was placed under arrest.  Later, he began supporting the Ladies in White.  Various “acts of repudiation” have been carried out against him, but the majority of the neighbors have already refused to participate in such things.  The political police offered him a job helping to pack bags in one of the “divisas” (foreign currencies) shops close to his house; work for which they would pay him some convertible 20 pesos a month, and, more the point, that would maintain his pension.  All of this in exchange for renouncing his opposing activities. 

The state tried to brand Alfredo Guilleuma as a "mercenary being paid by the Yankees" for defending Cuban’s civil rights and their dreams of social justice.  This alleged mercenary is an old man with a young spirit that lives in extreme poverty in a room that includes his bathroom, kitchen and a barbecue in rundown building in Vedado.  His only incomes are the 202 pesos from his retirement pension.  From that he has to pay 57 pesos a month - after buying the only ‘luxury’ item in his home, his refrigerator, on credit, his part of the electricity and his other services.  In the end, this does not leave him enough to eat and to dress himself. 

To top it off, he is responsible for raising his grandson, after his son was threatened with being put in jail for the crime of being "socially dangerous" for not working for the State.

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