Political prisoners in Cuba

The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña

The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña / Cubanet, Tania
Diaz Castro

Cubanet, Tania Diaz castro, 14 February 2017 — Nelson Rodríguez Leiva,
26, was shot in La Fortaleza de la Cabaña in 1971, along with his
dearest friend, Angelito de Jesús Rabí, 17.

Also in the same place, but a century earlier, the poet Juan Clemente
Zenea was shot.

It did not help Nelson that, in 1960 he had been a teacher in the
Literacy Campaign in the mountains of Oriente, or that in 1964 he
already had an excellent book of stories published by Virgilio Piñera,
in Ediciones R, or that his mother Ada Leiva wrote a letter to Fidel
Castro asking for clemency for her son, or that another book of Nelson’s
poems was pending publication.

Just a few days ago El Nuevo Herald in Miami published an extensive
report about the exposition of the writer Juan Abreu, with one hundred
portraits of those executed by the Castro regime, painted by him, and
presented at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels,

Perhaps Nelson’s face was there.

Abreu received the respect and admiration of former political prisoners
such as Pedro Corso, director of the Cuban Institute of Historical
Memory Against Totalitarianism, and the poet Angel Cuadra, who said that
Abreu’s Exposition “… is like making history talk through the faces, to
rescue them and give them new life.” He would have also received the
support of the writer Reinaldo Arenas, a dear friend, who lamentably
died in New York and who always remembered his friend Nelson.

It’s about, said Abreu, “… not conventional portraits, but an approach
to the faces, so often blurred, conserved in old photos.”

Abreu’s project is a history of the Cuban regime, today in the hands of
Raul Castro, who wants to erase, above all, those days when this place
was used for executions after summary trials, to make examples or simply
for revenge or fear of a fierce opposition that arose among all the
political opponents condemned to death. Bringing it to the European
Parliament must be considered a victory.

The number of five thousand individuals shot dead hangs like a Sword of
Damocles over Cuba. The spirit of all these who faced the firing squad
hangs over La Cabana Fortress, no matter how many parties are held
there, no matter who much fun and excitement and hullabaloo there is, no
matter how many books are sold at the book fair that the executioner
government hold every year, for a people who are so busy just trying to
survive that they don’t have time to read.

In this fortress, with a history as dark as the dictatorship itself, the
Book Fair is celebrated, strategic project of Fidel Castro to clean the
blood off their graves, cells, bars and walls, as if history could be
made to disappear.

The two young writers, Nelson and Angelito, were tied up there, their
eyes closed, so as not to see the rifles of the night, close together,
as they asked to die.

Not long ago, someone who knew them, told me that Nelson was very
romantic, that he wept with the melodies of The Beatles, and even
resembled a bit James Dean, the American actor of the fifties and that
Angelito, converted Into his noble page, had the face of a child.

Through the sad streets of La Cabaña Fortress, where Nelson and his
friend walked towards death, today walk the “grateful” who ignore this
story. They are looking for a book to read. Not precisely Nelson’s book
of stories, The Gift, or those pages smeared with tears that someone
picked up from an empty dungeon.

Source: The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña / Cubanet,
Tania Diaz Castro – Translating Cuba –

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