To The Editor:
Today the Cuban government will celebrate another anniversary of the attack against Batista's army barracks by young revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro 35 years ago. This date marks the start of the Cuban revolution, and, as in previous years, some American journalists will attend the celebrations and are likely to meet with Castro.
It will be a pity if those journeying to Havana fail to ask about another hero of the Cuban revolution: Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, a young revolutionary wounded at Castro's side during the attack. After the revolution, Arcos became Cuba's ambassador to Belgium, but later he was recalled to Havana and sent to prison for his political beliefs.
While in prison he divorced his wife so that she could emigrate from Cuba with their two sons. In 1981 she was living in Florida when Gustavo, Jr., was critically injured in a motorcycle accident by a drunk driver. At the time, Arcos, who had been released from prison, applied for permission to emigrate to join his family.
In spite of repeated appeals by influential public figures, including then-U.S. Sen. George McGovern, Castro refused Arcos the required exit permit. After learning that his son was in a coma, and that there was a slight chance that he would regain consciousness if his father were at his side, Arcos attempted to flee Cuba in a boat. Caught by the police, he was again sentenced to prison. While he was in jail without visits or correspondence, the Cuban government convinced his wife to return to the island, offering to provide special medical care for her son.
Early this year, Arcos was again released from prison -- but he is now a virtual hostage in Havana. He is refused permission to leave Cuba, and the political police closely watch his every moment. Castro is reported to have said that Arcos cannot leave Cuba because he is part of Fidel's "personal history."
At the celebrations in Havana, Castro will recall the heroism of his young comrades that early morning 35 years ago. Would any of his American guests go beyond social niceties and dare to suggest that Arcos has suffered enough? Will Fidel, this 26th of July, let Gustavo Arcos go?
© 1996 The Miami Herald.