WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to help ensure that Cuba releases the remains of William Alexander Morgan, an Ohio native who was born in Cleveland and raised in Toledo. Morgan helped overthrow the dictatorial Batista regime as a Comandante in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army but was later put to death by Castro’s regime for his continued calls for a free and democratic Cuba. Morgan’s widow, Olga Rodriguez, also fought for democracy in Cuba and was tortured and imprisoned for ten years before escaping her native Cuba to settle in Toledo. She has been fighting to secure his remains for three decades. During Kaptur’s visit in 2002, the Cuban government promised delivery of Mr. Morgan’s remains but Olga Rodriguez and her family are still waiting for the government to fulfill its promise.
“Ms. Rodriguez and her family have waited years to be able to give Mr. Morgan a proper burial,” Brown said. “The Cuban government must honor his family’s demands and return the remains of this revolutionary champion of democracy.”
Full text of the letter is below:
May 8, 2015
The Honorable John F. Kerry
US Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
For fifty-four years the remains of Mr. William Alexander Morgan, an American from Toledo, Ohio, have been kept in Cuba. Several promising efforts have been made, especially in the last 15 year, to return his remains to his family. As relations between the U.S. and Cuba continue to normalize, we ask for your assistance in returning this American’s remains to the United States.
Mr. Morgan obtained international acclaim as a Comandante in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army, and was celebrated as a hero among the Cuban people. His leadership helped bring Cuba out from under the dictatorial Batista regime on a new promise of democratic elections. In fact, it was his commitment to a free and democratic Cuba that led to his execution.
While fighting for a free Cuba, Mr. Morgan married Ms. Olga Rodríguez. She was also a revolutionary who continued to fight for democracy alongside her husband. She endured a decade in prison for her commitment to democracy. While imprisoned, she was tortured and her parents raised the revolutionary couple’s young daughters. Facing international pressure, the Cuban government released Ms. Rodríguez. Leaving Cuba, she travelled to the United States and settled her family in Toledo, Ohio. Today, Ms. Rodríguez continues her 30 year quest to simply bring her lost husband’s remains home.
As the United States seeks to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, we implore you to work with the Republic of Cuba to return Mr. Morgan’s remains to US custody. The Cuban government promised Rep. Kaptur delivery of Mr. Morgan’s remains during her 2002 visit. It is time that Cuba fulfill its promise so that an American who fought and died to bring democracy to our neighbor be laid to rest at home.
We thank you for your assistance in this matter; and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or our staffs.
Sherrod Brown Marcy Kaptur
United States Senator United States Congresswoman