Eugenio Martinez, Last of the Watergate Burglars, Dies at 98

Eugenio Martinez, Last of the Watergate Burglars, Dies at 98

They were led by James W. McCord Jr., a security coordinator for the Nixon campaign whose confession to the judge just before his sentencing precipitated the revelations of White House crimes and cover-ups that culminated in Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

In 1977, the four Cuban-born burglars each accepted an out-of-court settlement of $50,000 from the Nixon campaign. They said that they had that been misled into believing that they were acting with government sanction on behalf of a White House administration that was concerned about American security and sympathetic to Cuban refugees.

In 1983, after his requests for clemency had been rejected by Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, Mr. Martinez — who, it turned out, had still been on retainer to the C.I.A. at the time of the Watergate break-in — was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.

The pardon, which was granted because Mr. Martinez had been regarded as the least culpable of the defendants, restored his right to vote. Despite the ordeal, he prided himself on one Watergate keepsake — a golden lucky clover inscribed, in Spanish, with the words “Good luck, Richard Nixon.”

Eugenio Rolando Martinez Careaga was born on July 7, 1922, in what is now the province of Artemisa in western Cuba. Before Castro’s rise he was exiled as a critic of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. He later returned to Cuba but left again in 1959 for opposing Castro’s newly installed regime.

“My mother and father were not allowed to leave Cuba,” he wrote in a reminiscence published in Vanity Fair in 1974. “It would have been easy for me to get them out. That was my specialty. But my bosses in the Company — the C.I.A. — said I might get caught and tortured, and if I talked I might jeopardize other operations. So my mother and father died in Cuba. That is how orders go. I follow the orders.”

He is survived by his daughter, Yolanda Toscano, and two grandchildren.

After leaving prison, Mr. Martinez worked in real estate and as a car salesman. He became known as Musculito (or Little Muscle) because he continued to exercise in his South Beach apartment in Miami Beach into his 90s.

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