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  • John 9:25 am on November 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , execution, fidel, william alexander morgan   

    The American Who Fought For Fidel & Was Betrayed 

    In 1959, Cuba was one of the most poverty-stricken yet beautiful undeveloped countries in the world. The long serving dictator, Fulgencio Batista, also ran one of the most corrupt governments in history, and his people suffered. Fidel Castro and his rebels meant to put a stop to that.

    Contrary to popular belief, Fidel did not initially spew a bunch of communist rhetoric. He needed support from many, and for many different things. One thing he needed was leadership in his rebel army. For this he turned to a few foreigners. One of those foreigners was a handsome young American named William Alexander Morgan. He was a rebel, an outlaw, a womanizer who was court-martialed by the US Army. He would be one of about two dozen Americans who would help Castro come to power, not knowing this would be an error in judgment and that Fidel would turn communist. It was to be a deadly mistake for William Morgan, due to a savage betrayal. It would show the world who Fidel Castro really was.

    What Happened?

    Morgan went to Cuba in 1957. He opposed the Batista dictatorship and led a guerrilla force of the Second National Front of the Escambray that operated against Batista‘s soldiers in the Escambray Mountains in central Cuba.

    In 1958, he wrote a statement to explain his participation in Castro’s revolution, “Why I Am Here”. It said in part:

    I am here because I believe that the most important thing for free men to do is to protect the freedom of others. I am here so that my son, when he is grown, will not have to fight or die in a land not his own, because one man or group of men try to take his liberty from him. I am here because I believe that free men should take up arms and stand together and fight and destroy the groups and forces that want to take the rights of people away.

    In December 1958, Che Guevara joined forces with Morgan’s group and the Revolutionary Directorate guerrillas of the Escambray mountains. Together they captured the city of Santa Clara on 31 December. Twelve hours later, Batista fled Cuba. Morgan and his men occupied the city of Cienfuegos on January 1-2, 1959.

    In January 1959, he told a reporter that “all I’m interested in is settling down to a nice peaceful existence” but worried how U.S. authorities would respond to his military activities in Cuba. In March 1959, officials of the U.S. embassy in Havana warned Americans that participation in foreign military service could jeopardize their citizenship.

    In August 1959, Morgan helped to foil coup attempts orchestrated by opponents of the revolution in Trujillos‘s Dominican Republic by pretending to cooperate and then betraying the plot to Fidel Castro.

    In September 1959, when most of the two dozen U.S. citizens who had fought with Castro’s forces had returned to the U.S., the U.S. State Department revoked his citizenship, a move Morgan promised to contest.

    It is sometimes claimed that Morgan orchestrated the March 1960 explosion of the French arms ship La Coubre, but there is no evidence to support this.

    Morgan being applauded and thanked by Fidel, only to be executed several months later. A very creepy photo.

    After The Revolution Was Over

    Morgan married a Cuban, Olga María Rodríguez Farinas, who was also a revolutionary and together they had two daughters.

    Throughout the struggle against Batista, Morgan was vocal about Castro’s anti-communist beliefs. When asked during interviews about Castro’s political beliefs and where the new Cuban government was leaning, he remained firm in his belief that Castro was not a communist and that Cuba would become capitalist parliamentary democracy.

    As Castro began to reveal his socialist leanings, Morgan became distressed, as did other members of the SFNE, who believed in a capitalist Cuba.

    Morgan was arrested in October 1960 and charged with plotting to join and lead the counter-revolutionaries who were active in the Escambray Mountains.

    Morgan was shot to death by a firing squad on March 11, 1961. He was 32 years old. Two months later, on 1 May 1961, Castro declared Cuba a socialist nation.

    His wife was tried with him in absentia. She was found guilty of co-conspiracy and sentenced to 30 years in prison. She was released after 12 years. She left for the United States during the Mariel boatlift. In a series of interviews with the Toledo Blade in 2002, she admitted that she and her husband had begun running guns to anti-Castro guerrillas because he was disenchanted by Castro’s pro-Soviet leanings. She also said she wanted Morgan’s U.S. citizenship restored and his remains returned to the United States for reburial. The newspaper stories prompted two Democratic members of the United States House of RepresentativesCharlie Rangel and Marcy Kaptur, to travel to Cuba in April 2002 to meet Fidel Castro and ask him to return Morgan’s body and Castro agreed.

    In April 2007, the US State Department declared that Morgan’s US citizenship was effectively restored, nearly 50 years after the government stripped him of his rights in 1959 for serving in a foreign country’s military.

    Moral to the story: Don’t trust a power hungry psychopath.

    Morgan, far right, in the Escambray Mountains with his soldiers.



    The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/05/28/120528fa_fact_grann

    • jkmhoffman 8:11 am on November 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on kjmhoffman.

    • pixie 5:34 pm on March 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting. Sounds like Castro may have tried to be all things to all people in the early days of the revolution. When Che was introduced to him in Mexico before the revolution, it was because Che had Marxist beliefs and the person who arranged the meeting wanted them to meet because they both had the same political leanings. I wonder if intentionally played down those views to Morgan in order to get him to join his fight. I wonder if Morgan’s wife left on the Mariel intentionally or by force.

      • John 8:30 am on March 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Either way, it took 20 years to do so and leave. I want to do a post on the refugee camps that littered Miami in the early 80s. They were crowded into camps under freeway overpasses and stuff, it was surreal. There is a camp scene in Scarface with Al Pacino.

  • John 9:28 am on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , execution, gemonian stairs, tarpeian rock   

    Tarpeian Rock – Infamous Execution Place for Traitors, Criminals and the Disabled 

    “Don’t Toss Me, Bro!”

    The Tarpeian Rock is a steep 75 foot cliff of the southern summit of the Capitoline Hill, overlooking Rome. Murdererstraitorsperjurors, and larcenous slaves, if convicted, were flung from the cliff to their deaths. Those who had a mental or significant physical disability also suffered the same fate as they were thought to have been cursed by the gods.

    To be hurled off the Tarpeian Rock was, in some sense, a fate worse than death, because it carried with it a stigma of shame. The standard method of execution in ancient Rome was by strangulation in the Tullianum. Rather, the rock was reserved for the most notorious traitors, and as a place of unofficial, extra-legal executions.

    A sketch from 1833, by Agostino Tofanelli.

    A photo at the base of the rock from the early 20th century

    The Tarpeian Rock today

    Bonus Post:  The Gemonian Stairs! (sorry I couldn’t find any images)

    The Gemonian Stairs were a flight of steps located in the ancient city of Rome. Nicknamed the Stairs of Mourning, the stairs are infamous in Roman history as a place of execution.

    The condemned were usually strangled before their bodies were bound and thrown down the stairs. Occasionally the corpses of the executed were transferred here for display from other places of execution in Rome. Corpses were usually left to rot on the staircase for extended periods of time in full view of the Forum, scavenged by dogs or other carrion animals, until eventually being thrown into the Tiber.

    Death on the stairs was considered extremely dishonourable and dreadful, yet several senators and even an emperor met their demise here. Among the most famous who were executed on this spot were the prefect of the Praetorian Guard Lucius Aelius Sejanus and the emperor Vitellius. Sejanus was a former confidant of emperor Tiberius (Caligula’s uncle) who was implicated in a conspiracy in 31AD. According to Cassius Dio, Sejanus was strangled and cast down the Gemonian stairs, where the mob abused his corpse for three days. Soon after, his three children were similarly executed in this place.

    Vitellius was a Roman general who became the third emperor in the so called Year of the Four Emperors in 69AD. He succeeded Otho upon his suicide on April 16, but lived to be emperor for only eight months. When his armies were defeated by those of Vespasian, he agreed to surrender but the Praetorian Guard refused to let him leave the city. On the entrance of Vespasian’s troops into Rome he was dragged out of his hiding-place, driven to the Gemonian stairs and struck down.



    Roman-Empire.net. http://www.roman-empire.net/tours/rome/tarpeian-rock.html


    • Kanata 1:30 am on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      The Gemonian Stairs do not exist anymore. You may find some maps where they were located, between the Arx and Tabularium in the Roman Forum, right across the Caesaris Forum.

    • Gayle 9:05 pm on August 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! I would love to visit the Tarpeian Rock and Gemonian Stairs, if they were still around.

    • Ron 2:40 am on September 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place
      ⁠Where Rome embraced her heroes?—where the steep
      ⁠Tarpeian?—fittest goal of Treason’s race,
      ⁠The Promontory whence the Traitor’s Leap
      ⁠Cured all ambition? Did the conquerors heap
      ⁠Their spoils here? Yes; and in yon field below,
      ⁠A thousand years of silenced factions sleep—
      ⁠The Forum, where the immortal accents glow,
      And still the eloquent air breathes—burns with Cicero!

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