Cuban, Student Who Traveled to Cuba, File Assault Charges After Incident
Violence between a Cuban refugee and a Brandeis graduate student who traveled to Cuba last summer broke out after a meeting of the Harvard Radcliffe Socialist Club at 2 Divinity Ave. Friday night.
Carlos Alfonso Prado, a member of the anti-Castro 30th of November Revolutionary Movement, and Martin Nicolaus, who had addressed a previous Socialist Club meeting on his trip to Cuba, filed charges of assault and battery against each other.
A group of students who had been screaming encouragement to Prado were cleared from the building, along with the 100 others who had attended the meeting, by Cambridge and University police.
Nicolaus, who had not been a speaker, left the meeting early, Prado left the audience immediately afterwards.
Nicolaus' Glasses Broken
In the lobby according to Prado, Nicolaus shoved him, and he responded by hitting the student. Nicolaus glasses were knocked to the floor and broken.
Nicolaus denied that he had touched the Cuban and stated that Prado had hit him without any provocation. He said that the Cubans had threatened him with violence at previous meetings. Prado, he said, had approached him in the lobby end "called me a few names. I was about to say, 'I can smell the liquor of your breath' when a blow hit my head."
After the scuffle, students emerging from the meeting jammed the lobby. A group began to yell at Nicolaus, "Kill him," Kill the Communist," and "He's a traitor," and then broke into the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Ten people told police that they were eyewitnesses in the case. Seven held that Nicolaus had struck Prado first, including Jose Martines, chairman of the Revolutionary Movement, and two Harvard undergraduates, James J. Gaffney '64 and William N. Rudman '65.
Martines said that Nicolaus, "a very excitable man," who "hates to be called a Communist, which is what he is," had shoved Prado violently after an exchange of insults, and that Martinez had then slapped him in the face.
Gaffney, the chairman of the Quincy House American Table, and Rudman attributed Nicolaus' "shoving" to "pure hatred," uncontrollable rage," and an effort "to provoke Prado." Both Gaffney and Rudman urged that Nicolaus be committed to a mental institution.
Another Cuban, and three girls from local colleges, who were dates of students who came with Gaffney and Rudman, agreed with Prado's story.
On Nicolaus' side, Victoria Ortiz, a Barnard sudent who made the trip to Cuba this summer, said that she had been standing next to Nicolaus and saw Prado hit him without provocation. She said that Prado had also threatened to hit her.
Two students who asked that their names be withheld, one of whom called himself a friend of Gaffney's and one of whom left the meeting with Gaffney, disputed Prado's version of the incident. One of the undergraduates told the CRIMSON that "those guys [Gaffney, Rudman, and their friends] arrived after it was over. They didn't see what happened." He gave his name to police as a witness for Nicolaus but said he might be unwilling to appear in court. Rogello Reyes, teaching fellow in Linguistics, agreed with his story, saying that Gaffney had entered the lobby after the incident.
When the police arrived on the scene they cleared the building and took all who claimed to be eyewitnesses into a room. They asked the witnesses which version of the story they supported, took their names, and asked no further questions.