CIA Operative Who Tracked Che Wins $1 Billion in Lawsuit

Gustavo Villoldo, 73, fled Cuba shortly after the revolution. His father, also named Gustavo, was a member of the upper class Cuban society that eventually came to represent all that was corrupt and wrong with society in the eyes of Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

After graduating from the Wharton School of Business, the elder Villoldo returned to Cuba and opened a General Motors car dealership and distribution center. Just before the revolution, annual sales were nearly $15 million, but when Castro rolled into Havana on Jan. 8, 1959, heralding the ousting of Batista, Villoldo's personal fortune (including the dealership, a waterfront family compound, two other homes and a farm) was confiscated. He was branded a Yankee sympathizer and, according to his son, Che Guevara—recently named head of Cuba's Banco Nacional—began harassing Villoldo and his sons. Villoldo was eventually arrested, interrogated and threatened.

"My father became a former shadow of himself," his son testified, "He was a broken man."

On Feb. 16, 1959, the father killed himself at the age of 56 by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. And this past Friday, a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Adrien awarded his family more than $1 billion, stating, "What the defendants (i.e. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the Cuban government) did was torture this family and tear it apart.''

In a strange twist of fate, after fleeing the island and taking part in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Gustavo Villoldo Jr. became an officer in the U.S. Army, and by direct recommendation of JFK was recruited to work with the CIA. In 1963, he helped the CIA track Guevara in the Bolivian jungle.

"There was a certain amount of satisfaction in burying the man who I felt was responsible for my father's death," he admitted.

This case seems to open a Pandora's box. Tell us: Do you think Villoldo should be allowed to collect this huge sum of money? Should all governments be held accountable in this manner?

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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