I was the soldier UMAP 22 of the “Company” 1, the “Battalion” 23 of the Band 6, based at the Senado sugar mill, of the Military Staff of the UMAP, Military Unit 1015, with headquarters in the city of Camaguey.
The day after I turned 46 I met the Sergeant Major Hector Hernandez Hernandez, then a 28-year-old man from Central Havana, a good man — there will always be at least one good man wherever it may be — second chief of the “company,” who twice saved me.
A memory for him today.
And for Lucas, the clerk for the Libertad farm, from there, of La Anguilla, where he was in “Company” 1. Lucas once gave me 5 pesos.
For Osvaldo Correa, who had a convenience store in the village of the Lugareño sugar mill, who one more cafe me a cafe con leche.
For my brother Luis Becerra Prego, soldier of UMAP 25, who one night thought about suicide.
For the black UMAP soldier Al Capone, of Havana, who was barely visible in the cell where they locked him up and who asked me for pity’s sake to get him something contraband to eat.
For the black UMAP soldier Zulbiaur Angel, from Old Havana, a dawn run away with one of the civilian shirts that I had hidden. Hopefully you arrived at your destination.
For the UMAP soldier Armando Suárez del Villar, who behaved like a man among the many adversities that touched him there more than others, and who taught me not to be subjective.
For the UMAP soldier Luis Estrada Bello, Placetas, who wore a Cross, with a row of cane, too big, too long for his strength.
For the black UMAP soldiers Pinchaejubo and Bamban, of Encrucijada, who amid everything gave us courage and joy.
For the UMAP 28 soldier, Soriano, of Cienfuegos, who was able to survive with one lung.
For the UMAP soldier Bernia of Encrucijada and an evangelist, who did not surrender but never seemed to understand what was happening.
For the UMAP soldier Rodriguito, of Santa Clara, who counted the days and said “three years is not so much, I will work for them for three years.”
For the UMAP soldier Medina, of Cienfuegos, for its parody: The Anguilla, Paradise of Eden Lost / comes every 500 years / and the face of the earth / receives it with a terrible fright.
For the UMAP soldier Manuel, of Lisa, Havana, who evening shared the sweetness of guava.
For the UMAP soldier Pototo, of Havana, who never again heard of his girlfriend and sobbed without tears as he hummed the song do not leave me / after I have loved you so much …
To that girl in the office of the La Paz (peace) farm in the village of the Lugareño sugar mill, who was in solidarity with the 22, despite the blue uniform and yellow boots that she wore.
For The Teacher, UMAP soldier cook, of Santa Clara, for the times we were served a little more.
For the UMAP soldier Jorge Blondín Iparraguirre, of the Washington sugar mill, who was determined to overcome fear and did it.
For the UMAP soldier Manuel M. Rebollido, of Cienfuegos, who did not betray his art.
For the UMAP corporal Nilson Gonzalez, of Havana, a goodUMAP corporal.
For the UMAP soldier Osvaldo de León del Busto, of Sagua la Grande, for his stoicism.
For the UMAP soldier health worker Ricardo Martini, Sagua la Grande, for his love and tenderness to all his peers.
For the UMAP soldier Manolito Valle, of Encrucijada, for his courage.
For the UMAP soldier Rigo, who at age 40, was smiling.
For the UMAP soldier Guillermo Jimenez, of Ranchuelo for his guaguancós [a kind of Cuban rumba].
For the 13 Jehovah’s Witnesses UMAP soldiers, who were the bravest.
And to all others who were good, whose names or nicknames I do not remember, but now their faces are passing through my memory.
And for those mothers who, like mine, wept three days and three nights.
To those who still are, to the descendants of those who are gone, when the time comes, may we have, to those who deserve it, the pity they did not have on us.
As someone has asked me, I promise to keep writing on this subject later. Now I can not, now I am crying.
The Observatorio LGBT (LGBT Observatory), an independent LGBT rights organization, is preparing a weekly bulletin detailing Cubans’ memories of “la UMAP*.” This is the second memory from this first bulletin. Translating Cuba will continue to bring you these memories in translation.
*UMAP – “Military Units to Aid Production” — was a network of concentration camps for “counterrevolutionary elements,” including homosexuals, religious believers and others.