Deep Cover / Shallow Graves: Stories and Flashbacks


Seated cross-legged on the jungle hut’s dirt floor, singing a fiery Latin song, was a beautiful young Cuban girl, the lady saboteur.

Silently, sneaking like a black cat, I approached her and concealed myself near a darkened doorway. Hiding in the shadows, I watched her slender body rhythmically sway back and forth to the music. Her dark Cuban eyes sparkled, reflecting the nearby firelight. Her music, to me, spoke of love. It was passionate, alarming. Her firm breasts expanded with each breath. Her hands, delicate as they were, continued their task. I can almost feel her touch; I hear her voice whispering to me. 

I watched from the doorway and wondered what it would be like to make love to her. Reluctantly, I brought myself back to reality. I continued to watch as she, holding the duct tape, delicately wrapped the four sticks of dynamite, then cut the red wires. I silently counted:

‘One-two-three-cut, strip. One-two-three-cut.’

I watched as she secured the wires to the fuse. Her movements happened in one continuous motion. There was no doubt she knew what she was doing. I surmised she had done this many times before. Intrigued, I continued to watch as she went about her task. She appeared to be unaware that I was watching.

Unseen, I moved from the shadows, but she sensed my approach. Startled, she quickly rose, turning toward me, fire raging from her dark Cuban eyes. In one swift clean motion, she pulled a knife from somewhere in her tight-tight pants. Screaming like a Comanche warrior, she charged wildly toward me. 

Suddenly she stopped her approach, her knife inches from my throat. She smiled.

“You shouldn’t sneak up on a person like that. You might get hurt.” She winked at me, laughed, a warm, heartfelt laugh, then slipped the knife back into her tight pants.

“I saw you watching me—from over there by the doorway.” She pointed toward the shadowed doorway from where I had come.

“I knew you were there.” She delicately placed the explosives into a backpack sitting near the table. She heaved the pack onto her shoulders.

“Perhaps, someday, I’ll see you again.” She smiled, turned, and quickly left the hut—disappearing into the thick underbrush of the jungle trail.

I watched for a moment, then tried to follow. Only a sweet captivating scent, drifting here and there along the jungle trail, was left behind.  

A tropical bird, flushed suddenly from the vine-tangled path, screeched an alarm. It quickly flew away, disappearing into the approaching dawn. For a moment, I thought it was my friend, my new lover, the lady saboteur, but I was wrong. She was gone.

My memories of the ‘Lady Saboteur,’ the jungle hut, and my desire to have her, still today haunt me.      

Background — Context of the Times (1957-1959)

The Sierra Madura mountains for hundreds of years had been host to an assortment of Cuban revolutionaries. Castro’s rebels were no different than many other revolutionaries who had roamed those hills and valleys, hiding out in those hostile mountains from government authorities. Fidel Castro’s crew, a mixed band of rebels from many walks of life, knew about the hide-outs that were scattered throughout the Sierra Madura.  Most of these hideouts were established long before Fidel Castro was born.

Castro’s rebel guerrillas were smart. They used the mountains to their advantage.  In slyness, unannounced, they would quietly and quickly hit Batista’s patrolling army, then run to the Sierra and hide out until the next planned attack on Batista.

It was during Velma Espin’s time while fighting in the Sierra Madura mountains of Cuba with Fidel Castro and his July 26 Cuban revolution, a movement to overthrow President Fulgencio Batista President of Cuba, that Valma, ‘The Lady Saboteur’ met Raul Castro the brother of Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban revolution.

At the time, Velma used the rebel assigned code name, “Deborah”. One night at the rebel camp, Deborah was singing a familiar fiery Cuban song. Her passionate singing and her beauty caught the attention of Raul Castro, the brother of Fidel Castro who was the leader of the July 26 revolution.

As Deborah once told a group of Havana reporters who had asked her how she first met Raul, she replied.

“I was 28 and had never had a lover…”. She pointed toward Raul Castro who was standing next to a doorway. Raul was never far away.  “He said I had bewitched him with my singing”. She laughed, then pointed toward the doorway.  “I love him”.

VELMA ESPIN (code name; DEBORAH) a.k.a. “The Lady Saboteur”

See photo below. The photo at left was taken in the Sierra Madura mountains of Cuba, 1958.  

(ref; Life Magazine July21, 1958 ‘Inside Rebel Cuba with Raul Castro’)

* * * * *

Background — Why Vilma was Considered “First Lady” of Cuba (Fidel was divorced)[1]

”Vilma Lucila Espín Guillois (7 April 1930 – 18 June 2007) was a Cuban revolutionary, feminist, and chemical engineer. She helped supply and organize the 26th of July Movement as an underground spy, and took an active role in many branches of the Cuban government from the conclusion of the revolution to her death. As an adamant feminist, Espín helped found the Federation of Cuban Women and promoted equal rights for Cuban women in all spheres of life.

Velma Espín married Raúl Castro, the former First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, who is the brother to former First Secretary Fidel Castro. Their wedding took place in 1959, only weeks after the 26th of July Movement had successfully overthrown dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Velma Espin (rebel code name Deborah) and Raúl Castro had four children (Deborah, Mariela, Nilsa, and Alejandro Castro Espín) and eight grandchildren. Her daughter, Mariela Castro, currently heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, and her son, Alejandro Castro Espín, is a Colonel in the Ministry of Interior.

Vilma Espín was an outspoken supporter of gender equality in Cuba. Her involvement in the revolution helped transform the role of women in Cuba and in 1960, Espín became the president of the Federation of Cuban Women, and remained in that position until her death in 2007. The organization’s primary goals were educating women, giving them the necessary skills to seek gainful employment, and above all encouraging them to participate in politics and support the revolutionary government.

In 1960, when sugar mills and cane fields were under attack across Cuba shortly before the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Federation of Cuban Women created the Emergency Medical Response Brigades to mobilize women against counter-revolution. The Cuban government and the Federation encouraged women to join the labor force, even going so far as to pass the Cuban Family Code in 1975, a law mandating that men must help with household chores and childcare to lighten the workload for working mothers.

[1] See Wikipedia article here:ín

Navigate To Other Tosh Articles . . .

  • Page 1: Growing Up Fast: Two Events I Witnessed
  • Page 2: The Cubans and an Old Power Plant (1958)
  • Page 3: A Cold War Incident
  • Page 4: “A Mechanical Monster”
  • Page 5: The Day Before that Dreadful Day
  • Page 6: The Lady Saboteur
  • Page 7: The Gringo and the Worms
  • Page 8: The Death of a Reluctant Skydiver
  • Page 9: A Bogey Over the Florida Straits
  • Page 10: I’m Too Young to be Shot
  • Page 11: The Last of the Mohicans
  • Page 12: Two Good Friends: A War Story

To Go to Tosh’s Novel Page “Thinking That is Out of This World” Click HERE

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