An American comandante pushed boundaries after the Cuban revolution
By Aran Shetterly Original Print Publication: August, 2007
Cuban Rebels, including Fidel Castro, were already engaged in the fight to liberate their country from
the dictator Fulgencio Batista when in 1958, William Morgan arrived from Toledo, Ohio, joined a nascent rebel outfit in the middle of the country and helped the Second National Front of the Escambray (SNFE) win a series of victories against the Cuban army.
Morgan and the Argentine Che Guevara were the only foreigners to hold the rank of comandante in the Cuban rebel army. After the rebel victory, Castro, on national television, referred to Morgan as a Cuban. By the middle of 1960, however, Morgan, worried about where Fidel was leading the
country, began conspiring against the Cuban government. The Americano, as he was popularly known, was arrested in late 1960 and executed in March, 1961 a month before the Bay of Pigs invasion.
I began researching this book on rians, rebels, journalists and anyone else who could help me put together the pieces of Morgan’s story.
The more I studied, the more the histories of William Morgan and the men he fought with began to reveal a space that had existed in-between the extremes of the Cuban government and the reactionary Cuban exiles.
The SNFE struggled to restore the pre-Bastista democracy of 1940s Cuba. When their march toward democracy failed, most the SNFE’s leaders were killed or forced into exile. Morgan and the men he fought with have been written out of official Cuban history and their participation in the fight against Batista causes discomfort in anti-Castro Miami.
I wrote this book, in part, to offer something beyond the gridlock between Cuba's extremes. I believe that the experience of these Rebels who risked their lives fighting against Batista, but who were left out of Castro's program, are an essential part of a true understanding of the Cuban Revolution and an honest evaluation of Cuba's possibilities for the future.
You can purchase The Americano: Fighting with Castro for Cuba’s Freedom at amazon.com.