The Mystery of Camilo Cienfuegos Death Gets to an End.

The mystery of Camilo Cienfuegos death gets to an end.

Part 1.- Investigation based on the testimony of Commander Jaime Costa Chávez.

Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriarán

Over the years, six decades already, the death of Camilo Cienfuegos became a kind of mystery for many Cubans, and although there are several versions that have come down to us about the fact, the truth is that to date none of them has been able to be demonstrated, which is why I decided to conduct an investigation on my own. For this, I relied on the testimony of someone who claimed to have been present at the scene, the recently deceased ex-commander of the rebel army Jaime Costa Chavez, who was also a close friend of Camilo. Author of the autobiographical book entitled «El Clarín Toca al Amanecer» (The clarion plays at dawn)*, Mr. Costa recount with enough details what happened on the night of October 28, 1959 on an airstrip located in a remote place in the Zapata Swamp, South of Matanzas province.  That is the story that you will find in the previous link, which corresponds to Chapter X of the book and whose reading is essential to understand what is exposed in this work. The fact is that after reading it I was convinced that the man was telling the truth, so I decided that I would do everything possible to identify the place where that airstrip was located in 1959, which would surely have disappeared, but I had the hope that it had left some mark which allow me to find it. There was a debt with our history and so much sacrifice of true patriots that could not be ignored so easily.

Jaime Costa had reached the runway coming from the Varadero airport. According to his account, when he arrived in Ciudad Libertad on October 28, he met with Juan Almeida, who asked him to accompany him on a plane tour because it was said that Camilo was missing, so they flew to Varadero from the military airport that existed there. Upon arrival he found out that Fidel Castro and Osvaldo Dorticos, then President of the Republic, had arrived earlier. It was from there that the group headed south towards Zapata Swamp.

To their surprise, when they reached that track, they found that Camilo was in the place, thus realizing that he had not disappeared, without a doubt something strange was happening. As he tells us, after Camilo took off from the Camaguey airport, Fidel had to have informed him by radio that they would meet in that place, where everything seems to indicate that they had met on other occasions, but what would Camilo’s surprise be when he arrived and found that It was Raúl Castro and Che Guevara who were waiting for him, since Fidel had not yet arrived. You can imagine Camilo’s reaction, since it was evident that they had set a trap for him, precisely those with whom he had fought in the mountains to free Cuba from a dictatorship, but who were now playing such a miserable role. How could that young commander so loved for the people imagine, that that would be the last day of his life.

As I mentioned before, the success of this investigation depended on finding visible marks on the ground that would reveal where that airstrip could had been located, because if the most important figures of the Cuban revolution were involved in that death, it was logical to think that they could not leave traces visible that at a certain moment could lead to discovering the truth of what happened. I did not remember that in that area south of Matanzas there was another track other than Playa Girón, although I checked the Google aerial views well to see if I found any of less importance, but I did not find any. I considered that the runway should be quite far from inhabited places, since, according to Costa’s account, once Camilo and his two companions were killed, their bodies were introduced into the plane, which they set on fire, for what no doubt they wanted avoid attracting someone’s attention.

As for access roads to the Zapata Swamp from Varadero, I only identified the road that goes from Jaguey Grande to Playa Larga, although getting to the coast was meaningless, so I focused on a road that started from the junction at Pálpite, towards the East, advancing to a clear spot that stood out visibly in the middle of that green sea of the swamp, located about 3 or 4 km to the Southeast of a hamlet known by the name of Soplillar, and about 7 km to the South of Tesoro Lake. It was in that place that I focused all my attention. The dirt road that crossed the area continued farther until it was lost in the dense vegetation.

Photo 1.                                                                        January 2014

In the following enlarged photo we see the relative position between the Soplillar hamlet and the place that I decided to investigate, since it had very peculiar characteristics that completely broke with the uniformity of the area, otherwise the place would be covered with forest like the rest of the swamp, whose extension has been considerably reduced over the years as a result of the desiccation projects undertaken by Fidel Castro since 1959.

Photo 2.                                                                       January 2014

Photo 3.                                                                     Altitude: 3,500 mts

By enlarging the image further, I discovered some details that really caught my attention. The first thing was some houses that reminded me of those that Jaime Costa said existed in the place, in one of which Camilo had been killed, but also, there were two very well defined straight lines in the vegetation, forming a kind of Right angle, like the corner of a rectangular figure, which you will see in the next photo in more detail because in this one it is not so obvious.

Photo 4.                                                              Altitude: 1,800 mts

These two lines did not seem to respond to the need for a path with a trajectory that reached a point and turned abruptly at a perfect angle, until it was seen that it was disappearing in the vegetation until it was completely lost, and especially so close to that clear area. That didn’t really make much sense. In fact, two areas could be clearly identified, one interior and the rest surrounding it, although at first glance these did not show visible differences, because if we ignored the presence of these lines, we would agree that the general appearance of the vegetation did not show any change. on both sides of them. It was thanks to a valuable Google Earth resource that I was able to explain the problem, and it was the imagery history, which gives us access to aerial views from previous years, that allowed me to go back to 2002, just the year it began. Google Earth, being able to see in what way the area had changed over time, finding enough evidence to answer the mystery about Camilo’s death, although ignoring that this was only the beginning.

Although in the first photo from 2002 a small cloud appeared exactly covering the corner of the angle, this detail soon became irrelevant, as there was something much more revealing that completely changed the scenario. They were other types of lines, more like parallel stripes, whose color lighter than the dark green of the vegetation, allowed them to be clearly distinguished. This was what gave me the key to what had happened there more than half a century ago.

Photo 5.                                                                  December 2002

As you can see in the following view, taken just a month after the previous one, the first in December 2002 and this other in January 2003, so we can consider it as the same photo, but with the advantage that in the latter we see no clouds, which allows us to analyze our scenario more clearly. By way of comparison, it looked like if the swamp had been patched, with the same color, only with a different fabric, with stripes, that clearly showed what had happened in this place.

Photo 6.                                                                      January 2003

Let us now return to the 2014 photo with which we began the article, -this time without the yellow arrows to make the comparison clearer-, and we realize that for this date the stripes in the vegetation are barely visible, neither change of coloration, the appearance of the trees is such that if it were not for the fact that we already know that these stripes existed, there would be no way of knowing it. The only detail that remained until 2014 were those two straight lines whose existence was what led us to review the photo history, which so far makes them the most important detail in this investigation. I think that thanks to them we were able to discover the best kept secret of the Castro brothers.

Photo 7.                                                                        January 2014

Below are several photos from the historical archive in which you can see the gradual change that took place in our place of study over time, without forgetting the years from 1959 to 2002, of which we have no information.

Photo 8.                                                            December 2002

Photo 9.                                                              January 2003

Photo 10.                                                                   May 2006

Photo 11.                                                               February 2009

Photo 12.                                                               January 2014

For me, the scenario that the aerial view of 2002 showed was enough to reach a conclusion about the death of Camilo, and the conclusion was that only a fact of that nature could justify what had happened in this place, since it was evident that the area in which the vegetation appeared with these strips had been reforested, which represented that the original plain was much more extensive than what we see today, something similar to what you will see in the following photo, in which, with the help of Photoshop, The entire forest area that had been added was removed, although in the extreme north there could exist some discrepancy, something that did not absolutely influence the conclusions about what happened in this place. Based on these facts, I dare to say that the remains of Camilo’s plane are under these trees, we will see if Raúl Castro have a way to prove otherwise.

Photo 13.                                         Dimensions of the original area.

As for those parallel lines that constitute the most striking detail, I think they can only be the footprint left by a network of roads that was part of the irrigation system they used, allowing the passage of a water truck equipped with a pressure hose that allowed to pass watering toward one side first, and to the other side coming in the opposite direction. Although at first glance these lines appear to be very close to each other, scale measurements show that they maintain a spacing of approximately 45 meters, – in the southernmost area -, because as we move upward along the strip that we see to the right side, this distance gradually shortens, as the area narrows in that direction. It is evident that forty years were not enough to erase the footprint that reveals the existence of that network of roads, because since there were no trees in the strips where vehicles passed, it was the treetops on both sides the ones in charge of closing the gap as they approached, but it is evident that this process took many years, without closing enough before being detected. It is clear that for this type of project there were no precedents that would serve as a reference regarding the time it would take to consider the project as finished, that is, when all these marks had disappeared, which as we see happens around 2014, although unfortunately, for the Castros of course, it is the other two straight lines what still remain.

To have a rough idea of what this «Castro’s life saver project» represented, the soil of the original plain, like that existing in the area that we actually see, must have been composed of a layer of firm material of considerable thickness, – since we are in a swampy area -, although the strip where the runway was located had to be prepared following more rigorous specifications, both with a better quality of the rocky material as well as a greater degree of compaction to withstand the impact of the landing of the planes. The area that was reforested and that I have divided into three sectors, A, B and C, had to be excavated until all that compacted material was removed, where it was impossible to plant the new trees, material that was replaced by fertile soil that favored the growth of the trees as quickly as possible, ensuring their survival, which they achieved with the aforementioned irrigation system. This division into sectors, A, B and C, was carried out in order to study the specific role that each of them may have played in this project.

Photo 14.                                                     Reforestation details.

According to the measured dimensions of the area and considering the 1,450 meters in length of Photo 13, the original surface of this plain oscillated around 870,000 square meters, (215 Acres), although if we consider only the area South of the dirt road that traverses the place, (Photo 14), this would be about 725,000 square meters, (180 Acres)72 hectares.  As we can see, this area is large enough to accommodate an 800 mt long runway as shown, assuming that it could have been the same length as the Playa Girón runway, the closest to the place, located about 13 miles towards the SE.

Regarding the sectors, it is evident that sector «A» was in charge of covering the strip where the track was located, although we could wonder why they did not reforest that strip only, since we see that they extended much more, adding sectors B and C to the project. I think the answer is that by leaving a length of only 650 meters free, according to Camilo’s Cessna 310C plane manual, landing at that distance was already impossible, a fact with which they could refute any accusation that arose alleging that his plane would have landed in that place, quite the opposite to the official version stating that it had fallen into the sea. Any accusation that could arise would certainly be certainly rejected. Also, I think I understand why those 650 meters of free space are located exactly in that position and not in another. First, if sector C were located immediately after B, the result would be a rectangular block of forest about 550 meters deep, and those 650 meters without vegetation would be added to the 250 meters that we see north of the embankment, to a total of 900 meters, when a Cessna needs at least 800 meters to land. I think this justifies the way they decided to carry out the reforestation, although we can consider a detail that could have played a much more important role.

Secondly, as we can see, sector «C» fulfills the function of being a kind of protective curtain, like a wall of trees that prevents visibility from the dirt road towards the plain where the houses are located, so let us not forget that Jaime Costa mentioned in his story the existence of some houses, in one of the ones Camilo was killed, which agrees very well with this scenario, although these may be another houses. In addition, something makes me to think that there is a very marked interest in keeping this place as hidden as possible, and I do not doubt that access to where the houses could be restricted. My argument is based on the fact that if we go to the photos from 2002 to 2006, we see that the vegetation in this sector «C» is quite poor, and who knows since when it was in these conditions, however, in those years the lines associated with the irrigation are visible, which assures us that for many years the vegetation of this sector could be as dense as the southern part, only that it was neglected over time. If we see that as of 2006 it appears much denser, to the point where the most recent photos show a compact strip of trees, that means that this particular sector has received special attention from the moment someone realized what was happening, thanks to the fact that Google Earth began to publish photos that gave a sign of alarm to whom undoubtedly still had a special interest in keeping this place as hidden as possible According to the calculations carried out, the reforested area exceeds 40 hectares, equivalent to 40 blocks of 100 x 100 meters, which leads us to think how much this unique project could have cost the country’s economy, which was undoubtedly directed by himself. Fidel Castro, at a time when there was so much talk of economizing to the maximum.

According to the calculations carried out, the reforested area exceeds 40 hectares, equivalent to 40 blocks of 100 x 100 meters, which leads us to think how much this unique project could have cost the country’s economy, which was undoubtedly directed by Fidel Castro himself, at a time when he talked so much of economizing to the maximum. The Cuban people did not receive any benefit from this madness, but quite the opposite, because in every way the damage was irreparable, knowing that all was with the sole purpose of hiding a murder.

The following photo shows the way that Fidel and his companions followed from the Varadero airport to their final destination in Zapata Swamp, about 80 miles.

Photo 15.                              Most likely route from Varadero to the airstrip.

I do not want to end without first expressing my admiration for this great man, Jaime Costa Chávez, whose sacrifice was key to discover the truth of what happened with his friend Camilo Cienfuegos. Mr. Costa is a true patriot, a man of honor, of those who does not need to repeat over and over again that they are telling the truth so that people will believe them, because they simply do not lie.

I believe that what we have seen in this material is sufficient proof that Camilo did not disappear into the sea, but ironically, the creators of that theory, the three most important figures of the Cuban revolution, Fidel and Raul Castro, and Che Guevara, who have enjoyed worldwide prestige, especially Fidel and Che, were precisely those directly involved in Camilo’s death. Will they continue to be recognized as they were before? I don’t know, but I do know that this sad event will go down in our history as one of the vilest occurred in Cuba, because to that death we have to add the deception that an entire people has been subjected to for already six decades. As for the flowers for Camilo, and you compatriots already know where to take them. Camilo deserves justice, and you have voice, only you Cubans can decide if you want to continue being mocked and exploited the way you have been up to the present for this tyrannical regime. You people of Cuba do not deserve to continue living in slavery as you have been, it has been already enough. I trust that at any moment some one will have to publicly render accounts for such despicable actions.

Final comment: This work was initially published in Spanish in July 2016, but in November of the same year Fidel Castro passed away, making his brother Raul the only survivor of this unfortunate event. As we see, Fidel was lucky leaving this world without facing the consequences that could arise if this material were been published in the proper way when he was alive,  although at the present time I cannot assure how is going to be with Raul, the only survivor that could be questioned.

Photo 16.                       Most recent view of ancient Soplillar Airstrip.                     January 2020

From the publication of the aforementioned article in Spanish, Google Earth added three new photos to their collection of the area, the next one is the most recent, from January 23, 2020, that way you can compare to see if you find some difference with the previous ones. As I see, the lower straight line has totally erased, and the remaining one is much less visible. Only a slightly darker color identifies the area where the reforestation took place, which is only detected thanks to the proximity of our observation. This is what Fidel Castro would have liked to achieve much earlier, but unfortunately it took much longer than expected.

More information was found directly related to what back in 1959 was known as Soplillar Airstrip, since it really existed, which forced me to continue the investigation. New articles will be published in the next future whose links will be added below.

Article in Spanish.

Video: Interviews to people who knew Camilo very closely.

Was Camilo murdered?

Fidel Castro himself reveals his Achilles Heel.

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