As a 19 year-old volunteer for Brigada 2506 (the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters) Cuban-born Felix Rodriguez infiltrated Communist Cuba weeks before what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, organizing underground freedom-fighters, planning the sabotage of key roads and bridges, staying a step ahead of the Castro’s secret police and their KGB coaches. Almost half of his Band-of-Brothers in the infiltration teams died in front of Soviet-armed firing squads, after KGB-tutored torture. Felix knew the odds. He volunteered anyway, along with hundreds of other young Cuban exiles of the time.
After the Knights of Camelot stabbed the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters in the back on the bloody Bay of Pigs beachhead, Rodriguez again foiled the Communist dragnet by slipping into the Venezuelan embassy and escaping a year later to Florida. After the Knights of Camelot stabbed the freedom-fighters again and twisted the blade with the Kennedy-Khrushchev swindle (that pledged the U.S. to protect Castro’s Soviet beachhead) Rodriguez, along with hundreds of his Bay of Pigs Band of Brothers enlisted in the U.S. Army.
On the day he gained his U.S. citizenship in 1969 Rodriguez celebrated the honor by volunteering for combat in Viet-Nam. "I lost the country of my birth to Communism,” he explained. "I know freedom must be protected. And I feel I owe it to my adopted country."
Felix flew over 300 helicopter combat missions in Viet-Nam, and was shot down five times. He won the coveted Intelligence Star for Valor from the CIA and nine Crosses for Gallantry from the Republic of South Vietnam. Later he battled Communists in El Salvador using a helicopter "mobile strike unit" scheme he developed in Viet-Nam. He flew over 100 combat missions in Central America, captured the FMLF's top commander and helped crush those Communist- terrorists decisively. All this was volunteer work.
Later, as a CIA operative, Rodriguez played a key role in tracking down and capturing Che Guevara in Bolivia and was the last to question him. “Finally I was face to face with the assassin of thousands of my countrymen, of hundreds of my patriot friends,” he recalls. But his mission was trying to save Che’s life, to transport him to the Southern Command in Panama for questioning.
Alas, Felix’s Bolivian allies viewed the matter differently. And it was, after all, their nation under Communist attack. So they decided on a policy that has since become a favorite among Americans who encounter (so-called) endangered species on their property: "Shoot, shovel, and shut-up."
Castro really wants Felix Rodriguez’ head and has sent hit-team, after hit-team, after hit-team (including one lent to him by his late chum Yasser Arafat) to murder Felix and his family in Florida. In May 1975 General Joaquin Zenteno, a Bolivian officer who worked with Rodriguez on Che’s capture, was murdered on a Paris street.
“You’re next,” heard Felix Rodriguez when he picked up the phone a few days later. “Click”
“When you get to Miami,” Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez heard from one of his jailers the day of his release in 1987, “tell your friend Felix Rodriguez his days are numbered. It’s one of Fidel's top priorities.”
But Felix Rodriguez has foiled all of Castro’s murder plots against him, and until last year served as the proud President of The Bay of Pigs Veterans Association.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.