Tags: Barack Obama | Castro-Cuba | Pope Francis | William Morgan | American | Executed | Pope Francis

Remains of American Executed in Cuba Closer to Being Returned

By    |   Monday, 23 February 2015 02:55 PM

Cuba is moving closer to returning the remains of an American who fought with Fidel Castro but was later executed for plotting to overthrow the Cuban dictator nearly 54 years ago, his widow tells The Miami Herald.

Pope Francis, who promoted the restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba, is also involved the effort to reinter William Morgan, who grew disenchanted with Castro as he moved openly to embrace communism after the 1959 revolution.

"Everything is looking good, finally, very good," Morgan’s widow, Olga Goodwin, said in an interview from her home in Toledo, Ohio.

"My lawyer went to Rome and got a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to help, and it looks like the pope is going to do it."

Her attorney, Gerardo Rollison, told the Miami newspaper that he is "more optimistic" than he has been in the seven years he has represented Goodwin in her latest effort to retrieve her husband’s remains. He declined to discuss details of his visit to the Vatican.

However, Goodwin released a letter Rollison wrote to the pope, saying the return of Morgan’s remains "would be one more step in the resolution of humanitarian issues between Cuba and the United States."

Morgan, a U.S. Army veteran, drifted to Cuba after serving odd jobs in the United States where worked as a bouncer in a bar and a collector of debts for mobsters.

But in Cuba, he led a dashing, cloak-and-dagger life where his military experience helped energize the Cuban revolution, which was mainly being fought by students and peasants against the professional army of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

His military leadership was so valuable that Castro promoted him to the rank of commander, a high rank held by another foreign fighter, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He became known as the "yanqui comandante" and was frequently interviewed by U.S. reporters covering the uprising. Morgan repeatedly assured American journalists that Castro was no communist.

He married a Olga, a fellow guerrilla, and settled down to raise frogs after the overthrow of Batista. However Morgan concluded that Castro was creating a communist government by 1960 and started plotting to overthrow him. Castro discovered his plans and had him arrested and executed on March 11, 1961.

His widow was also arrested and held in prison for 11 years. She was released in the Mariel boatlift of 1980 and eventually found her way to Ohio, where she later remarried. Olga joined Morgan’s mother, Loretta, in a campaign to persuade Castro to return his remains.

Rollinson, the lawyer, said the campaign met with little success until President Barack Obama and Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, re-established diplomatic relations in December.

"From congresspersons to senators to people in the Treasury and State departments, our efforts have gotten a friendly hearing, and those efforts are still going on," Rollinson said.

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Cuba is moving closer to returning the remains of an American who fought with Fidel Castro but was later executed for plotting to overthrow the Cuban dictator nearly 54 years ago, his widow tells The Miami Herald.
William Morgan, American, Executed, Pope Francis, Cuba
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2015-55-23
Monday, 23 February 2015 02:55 PM
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