Why in Cuba No One Surrenders
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
A decade ago, Cubans lost one of their most popular and beloved revolutionary heroes. This fact that was remembered with unused patriotic fervor on the West Indian island. On September 11, 2009, Juan Almeida Bosque, a Cuban patriot who had extraordinary merits in the struggle struggle that would have been enough to place him among the most exalted representatives of the Cuban people at any time in the history of the island, ceased to exist physically.
But in Almeida’s case, during his lifetime, the personality and talent of a young man from a very humble family, with black skin and a heart of gold with whom Cubans quickly sympathized. He barely transcended his leading role as part of the contingent that, led by Fidel Castro, led the popular battle against Fulgencio Batista’s tyranny leading to the successful liberation of the homeland from U.S. hegemonism and materializing Cuba’s second and definitive independence.
Some time before, Almeida had been one of the heroes followed by Fidel Castro in the attack on the Moncada Barracks. It was a feat that, despite being a failure in the military sense, ignited the spark that led to the triumph of the Cuban revolution and set the tone for the revolutionary changes that have shaken the continent since that July 26, 1953.
In the middle of 1960, I was working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Ambassador Introducer (Director of Protocol). It was a period in which Cuba, exercising the independence and sovereignty obtained for the people by the victorious revolution, responded as it could to the political and economic siege that the empire intended to impose against it on the continent. Cuba’s task was to develop diplomatic ties and friendship with other nations. I was assigned to accompany the recently-inaugurated Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Poland in his courtesy visit to the thenhead of the Rebel Army, Commander Juan Almeida Bosque.
This was one of the first meetings of the diplomat on the island with authorities of the highest level of the revolutionary government. He was a man who spoke fluent Spanish because he had learned it as a revolutionary fighter in the international brigades that defended the Spanish republic.
During the drive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the temporary headquarters of the General Staff of the Army, on Avenida del Puerto (a building then occupied by the Revolutionary Navy), the European envoy requested, and obtained from me, information about the military and revolutionary trajectory of the then-Commander Juan Almeida Bosque. I had briefly introduced him as one of those whoh had attacked the Moncada Barracks, an expeditionary of the yacht Granma, and founder and chief of the Third Eastern Front of the Rebel Army in the Sierra Maestra and other merits for Almeida’s actions in combat that came to mind.
When I spoke of the bravery, discipline and modesty that made him one of the most beloved heroes of the revolution, I also mentioned, because it seemed important to me, to indicate his sensitive personality, Commander Almeida’s capacity as a musical composer
After the rigorous presentations and offering Almeida a welcome to the Ambassador, he used the word to express feelings of solidarity with the Cuban revolution and gratitude for the opportunity to make contact with one of its top figures.
Using the information recently received, the Ambassador galade knowledge about the political-revolutionary history of Almeida, but, to conclude, with the evident intention of emphasizing his expressions of sympathy, he affirmed to feel “great admiration for the hymns and combat marches that you compose”.
Commander Juan Almeida Bosque, without hesitation, responded by demonstrating his recognition for the diplomat’s declaration of solidarity with the Cuban revolution, and then, with a smile that showed understanding drawn on his face, clarified that although he made war… the musical pieces he composed were all love songs.
The diplomat blushed.
Without going back over the matter, there followed an in-depth conversation about the prospects of the ties between the nation represented by the Ambassador and Cuba, which concluded half an hour later with a cordial farewell.
As soon as we got into the car for the return trip, the Polish diplomat said into my ear: “You were too sparing in your praise. He is an extraordinary man. That’s why he composes love songs.
September 13, 2019
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