“They Will Be Exterminated”
Borbonio Aybar was baptized on January 19, 1955, while the work was still under ban. After his baptism, he conducted many Bible studies in Monte Adentro and in Santiago. When the ban was lifted in 1956, some of his students were baptized, including his wife.
In mid-July 1957, government officials met in Salcedo to speak against the Witnesses. “Francisco Prats-Ramírez was the principal speaker,” explains Brother Aybar. “Prats-Ramírez stated, ‘In just a few more days, they will be exterminated.’” A few days later on July 19, 1957, the police rounded up all of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Blanco Arriba, El Jobo, Los Cacaos, and Monte Adentro.
“I was among those arrested,” recounts Brother Aybar. “We were taken to the military headquarters in Salcedo. As soon as we arrived there, a colonel by the name of Saladín gave me a beating. His eyes were bulging with anger as he threatened us. Then, we were put in two lines, one for the men and one for the women. The guards began kicking and beating the men and hitting the women with their sticks, all the while saying, ‘I’m Catholic and I kill.’”
“I have read the Bible, and I know that Jehovah is God”
Brother Aybar was fined and sentenced to three months in prison. He continued: “During our time of confinement, an army general named Santos Mélido Marte visited us. He told us: ‘I have read the Bible, and I know that Jehovah is God. You haven’t done anything deserving of a prison sentence, but I can’t do anything for you because the ones behind your imprisonment are the Catholic bishops. The only ones who can cut your sentence short are those same bishops or the jefe (“the boss,” Trujillo).’”
“So You’re the Boss?”
Among those arrested were the daughter and the nieces of Fidelia Jiménez, all of whom had studied with her. Even though Fidelia was not initially apprehended, she presented herself to the authorities to be imprisoned in order to encourage those already in prison. During that time the infamous high-ranking military commander, Ludovino Fernández, known for his arrogance and cruelty, made an official visit to the prison. He had Fidelia brought to him and asked her, “So you’re the boss?”
“No,” replied Fidelia. “All of you are the bosses.”
“Well,” countered Fernández, “you’re the pastor.”
“No,” responded Fidelia. “Jesus is the pastor.”
“Are you not the reason why all these people are imprisoned?” asked Fernández. “You were the one who taught them, right?”
“No,” said Fidelia. “The Bible is the reason why these people are imprisoned. They are practicing what they learned from the Bible.”
Just then, two brothers who had also been arrested, Pedro Germán and Negro Jiménez, who was Fidelia’s cousin, passed by in the hallway. They were being escorted from solitary confinement to a regular prison cell. Negro’s shirt was covered with dried blood, and Pedro’s eye was badly swollen. Seeing that they had been cruelly beaten, Fidelia asked the commander, “Is this the way you treat good, honest, God-fearing people?” Realizing that he could not intimidate her, Fernández ordered that Fidelia be returned to her cell.
Jehovah’s loyal servants had to be courageous in the face of such violent opposition—and courageous they were! Even government officials recognized this. For example, on July 31, 1957, Luis Arzeno Colón, an inspector for the president, wrote to the secretary of state, lamenting: “Although the law recently proclaimed by the National Congress declares illegal the religious activity of the sect known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the majority of its members continue in their steadfastness.”