U.S. Senate Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, of the Committee on the Judiciary.
May 3, 1960
TESTIMONY OF REV. FATHER ROSARIO MAXILLIANO PEREZ
(THROUGH AN INTERPRETER)
Mr. SOURWINE. Father Rosario Maxilliano Perez. I understand Father Perez speaks only Spanish. We will speak with him through an interpreter.
Senator DODD. We will swear Father Perez. Will you stand up and raise your right hand, please? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Father PEREZ. I do.
Senator DODD. Give us you name and your address?
Senator DODD. Speak up, please.
Mr. SOURWINE. You were educated at San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminaries?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. You were ordained a Catholic priest in 1948?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. You were at one time imprisoned by the Batista government?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. You had fought the Batista government for a period of 7 years?
Father PEREZ. For 7 years.
Mr. SOURWINE. Will you tell us something of that fight against the Batista government? And I respectfully suggest that for the purposes of the record, the interpreter explain to the Father that if he will speak a sentence, she can then translate it and then he may speak another sentence and she will translate that.
Senator DODD. Before he begins to tell us about his fight against Batista, ask him this question:
Wasn't your father killed by Batista?
Father PEREZ. Yes; in 1940.
Senator DODD. When you are telling us about your struggle against Batista, tell us the facts about your father's execution.
The INTERPRETER. This was during the election, during the election time. This was during the Father's studies and the election of Batista ensued in 1940 when this took place. His father was a leader of a certain movement which was a movement against Batista. Father Perez is explaining that his father--
Senator DODD. You just tell us what he said. Never mind explaining. You interpret each word that he says in Spanish into that microphone. That is all we want you to do. What did he say?
The INTERPRETER. His father was a leader who was working against the Batista government. His father was opposed to the repression of that military unit.
Senator DODD. I don't want you to think I am critical. Speak in the first person. He must be saying: "My father," "I" Use those pronouns when you interpret. Say just what he said. Don't say what you think.
Father PEREZ. My father spoke against the government and in speaking thus, he was assassinated by someone from the police force. This is the activity of my father as I have said it.
Senator DODD. Tell us about your own experience with the Batista government. Make it brief. Give us the essence of it.
Father PEREZ. Since I knew who Fulgencio Batista was, I knew of the last months which were lacking in authority and there was disorder in the country. But I knew and recognized Fulgencio Batista. He was disordered, and I knew of the bad consequences.
Senator DODD. Were you part of any underground movement against Batista in Cuba?
Father PEREZ. Yes. I was involved in the Movement of July 26.
Senator DODD. So you did everything you could to bring about Batista's downfall, is that right?
Father PEREZ. I did everything possible, even to the extent of endangering my life.
Senator DODD. Batista heard about this, did he not?
Father PEREZ. Yes, he did.
Senator DODD. And as a result you had to leave Cuba?
Father PEREZ. No. I did not leave.
Senator DODD. You never left Cuba?
Father PEREZ. No. Never.
Senator DODD. Were you in any wise punished for your activities, or restricted, I guess would be the better word? Were you restricted in any way?
Father PEREZ. Yes, I was.
Senator DODD. How? Tell us how ?
Father PEREZ. They watched me constantly. They checked my house very often. They would look for my brothers, with arms.
Senator DODD. All right. Now, in any event, it is well established here. You told us on the record that you did resist Batista. Now, did you support the Castro movement when that started in Cuba?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Is this at the present or before?
Senator DODD. I mean when it first started.
Father PEREZ. I served or approved of Castro until I discovered he was a Communist. I was commissioned by the government for 15 days, commissioned mayor of the town by the government for 15 days.
Senator DODD. I think this is a good place to break off for the recess. So we will recess until 2:15.
(Whereupon, at 12 o'clock meridian, a recess was taken until 2:15 p.m., the same day.)
Senator DODD. You have already been sworn.
Mr. SOURWINE. Father Perez, you have told us when you were on the stand before how your father had been killed by Batista, forces. Is it true that other members of your family were molested or injured by Batista forces?
Father PEREZ. I have one sister, brother-in-law--making a, total of three brothers and a brother-in-law who had been more or less molested or to some extent tortured.
Mr. SOURWINE. Did you know Fidel Castro when he was in the Sierra Maestra?
Father PEREZ. No; I did not know him when he was in the Sierra Maestra.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you have any information respecting a proposal to create a national church in Cuba?
Father PEREZ, Fidel Castro proposed to me in airplane the proposal to start a national church.
Mr. SOURWINE. Was he referring to making the Catholic Church the national church of Cuba?
Father PEREZ. He proposed to establish a national church.
Mr. SOURWINE. Not the Catholic Church?
Father PEREZ. A revolutionary church of the Government.
Senator DODD. When did he tell you this proposition-where?
Father PEREZ. Aboard an airplane flight from Cienfuegos to Havana..
Senator DODD. When?
Father PEREZ.. This was proposed the first part of August of 1959.
Mr. SOURWINE. May I ask the interpreter, are you translating verbatim that is word for word, what the witness says, or are you just giving the sense of what he says, or the substance of it?
The INTERPRETER. I am trying to give the substance of it.
Mr. SOURWINE. We would much prefer if you would attempt to translate word for word. Perhaps if you would take just a moment and explain to the witness that you are going to try to do this, let him say as many words as you can remember, have a signal between you, then translate that into English verbatim, and then let him say something else and go on that way. We will then get the record in his own words.
(After a pause and colloquy between the interpreter and the witness.)
Is this now arranged?
The INTERPRETER. Yes,
Mr. SOURWINE. When Castro made you this offer, did he give you any inducements, did he promise you anything if you would do this for him?
Father PEREZ. He asked me why I did not join him in starting this church. He asked me to establish with him a church of the Government.
Mr. SOURWINE. Did he offer to make you head of this church?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Mr, SOURWINE. Did you refuse this offer?
Father PEREZ. Profoundly; yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. Did Castro threaten you in any way because of your refusal?
Father PEREZ No; not in any way.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you know of any other effort to establish a national church in Cuba?
Father PEREZ. I personally do not know.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you have any knowledge respecting a treaty between Raul Castro and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. What do you know about this?
Father PEREZ. A document that President Batista passed through the military establishments, where there was a photostatic copy of that treaty.
Mr. SOURWINE. Did you see this?
Father PEREZ. I have seen it with my eyes.
Mr SOURWINE. And what did this treaty provide, if you know?
Father PEREZ. It related to a mutual help or aid--to accept mutual aid from Russia. And it was a Russian who was sending to Raul Castro instructions and Raul accepted them as such.
Mr. SOURWINE. What were the instructions?
Father PEREZ. I did not see all. I saw the photograph of Raul. I saw the picture of Raul, and with that it was proof to prove that what existed in Sierra Maestra was Communist.
Mr. SOURWINE. I do not understand this. We were talking about a documentary treaty. And now suddenly we are talking about a picture. Can you explain this?
The INTERPRETER. He is trying to say that he had seen a photostatic copy of a picture, with notations indicating that existed in Sierra Maestra-Raul was in communication with Russia. And Batista obtained that document and passed it on to the military establishment.
Mr. SOURWINE. And this is what he refers to as a treaty?
The INTERPRETER. It would just reflect an intimate relationship between Raul and the Communists.
Mr. SOURWINE. Was there a treaty? A treaty is a pact between governments. Was there a treaty involving Raul Castro and the Soviet Union?
The INTERPRETER. No; but relations-interrelations; yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. And the word "treaty" has been misused here?
The INTERPRETER. Yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you know who Jose Santiago Cuba is?
Father PEREZ. Intimately.
Mr. SOURWINE. Who is he?
Father PEREZ. He is president of the First Rical of Cuba.
Mr. SOURWINE. What does that mean--the First Rical?
Father PEREZ. One who has the supreme authority.
Mr. SOURWINE. Is he a lawyer?
Father PEREZ. Yes.
Mr. SOURWINE. Was he president of the lawyers' association of Cuba?
Father PEREZ. I cannot say. I do not know.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you know whether he is a Communist?
Father PEREZ. He was the head of the party known as the Chivas.
Mr. SOURWINE. Is he now the attorney general of Cuba?
Father PEREZ. Still referring to the same gentleman who is the president of this organization of the Chivas-this gentleman went to Russia and returned to Cuba to take up a position or a job with the Cuban Government.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you know what that position is?
Father PEREZ. Well, it would be like a first deputy-to accept the position of first deputy in the Government.
Mr. SOURWINE. Were there Communists in the armed forces of Cuba under the Batista regime?
Father PEREZ. Several military men approached me speaking badly of Batista, at the same time Batista was in power. Today they hold positions of commanders under the revolutionary government.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you know whether these men or any of them were Communist or are Communists?
Father PEREZ. It appears that they are, because they declared themselves to be left. For example, Captain Sierra, who is a commander.
Mr. SOURWINE. Well, declaring themselves to the left is a rather loose phrase. Did any of these commanders declare themselves to be Communists?
Father PEREZ. They declared themselves to the left, meaning they were symbolizing the Communist salute. And they have saluted me that way.
Mr. SOURWINE. Do you have any information respecting the objective of the Castro government as against other countries of Latin America?
Father PEREZ. From the military captain at Minoa, there were some instructions to invade Santo Domingo, and they did it.
Mr. SOURWINE. Is there any other information you have that you care to give us?
Father PEREZ. I was among people and heard of plans to invade other countries.
Mr. SOURWINE. What other countries?
Father PEREZ. Paraguay, Panama, and some demonstrated hatred against Guatemala.
Mr. SOURWINE. I have no more questions, Mr. Chairman.
Senator DODD. Very well. Thank you, Father Perez, you are excused.