Photo: Granma

They had never subjected me to such a long, detailed interrogation: What men had contacted me? Where were they, and what security did they have? I responded that Almeida's group, composed of seven compañeros, plus others who had joined them, among these Pablo Díaz, Arsenio García and the three Calixto brothers, were in a very insecure place, and I gave him the card from Almeida.

Upon informing him of everyone with whom I had made contact, which came to more than twenty by then, he asked me, "And Raúl, you haven't found him? Do you think he's dead?"

I answered, "I know he isn't dead, but I haven't seen him personally. I've heard from the campesinos' reports that some others have passed through, but he hasn't identified himself."

I hadn't contacted him or his compañeros, since when I got there - after hearing the news that they were in Ojo del Toro with the Neno Hidalgo family - they had already left.

"Nevertheless," I added, "I have received reports that he passed through the entire network organized by campesinos."

After that, he spoke to me with great feeling about his brother. He referred to how difficult the landing had been; the surprise and fiasco at Alegría de Pío, as well as the mark the experience had left. He commented on the expeditionaries' fatigue, on the need to overcome this fatigue and impose one's will above all else, just as the mambises had done in Cuba's independence struggle, overcoming conditions which were, at that time, much more difficult. He spoke to me, as well, of the human qualities of the campesinos he had met…

He continued talking about the meaning of what we had done; of how we needed to organize campesinos as combatants, and especially as producers to create the foundation in the rearguard to sustain the guerillas, and how to improve the economy for residents of the Sierra Maestra.

With much clarity, he explained what the Revolution would mean for campesinos; that they must be convinced since the war would be a long one, but one that would surely triumph; that this struggle would free them from poverty, from illiteracy, from the Rural Guard's oppression, and all the evils we suffered at that time…

I had never before heard such clear political or military thinking. Fidel has a penetrating psychology, and extraordinary persuasive power. For the first time in my life, I had such a profound, illuminating conversation on our situation in the countryside, and on the future of Cuban campesinos.

Comandante de la Revolución Guillermo García Frías. An excerpt from his book Un encuentro con la verdad.