Tribute to the 37 Victims of the ’13 de Marzo’ Tugboat

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 July 2018 — On July 13, 1994, Cuban government forces sank the 13 de Marzo tugboat, which was carrying 72 citizens who were fleeing the island for Florida; 37 people died, including 10 children.

Betania Publishers is making available to our readers the poems recently published by the poet and writer Liliam Moro (Havana, 1946)  in trubute to the victims.

Journey to Horror

By Liliam Moro

Papi, don’t look, close your eyes!

(María Victoria García, mother of the drowned child Juan Mario)

The earth is bounded by borders

The sea is free.

But in freedom there is also Death. continue reading


Death is not made of numbers,

it is not a quantitative reckoning.

In a single death

there is humanity.

But when Death arrives uniformed

in three boats

and furiously shoots water from cannons

to sink an opponent

–death by water–

and rams and destroys the opponent,

and this other is not one but seventy-two,

and there are ten children among the seventy-two

–death by water–

and it is at dawn

when the sky and the sea merge

in the same brush of blackness

–death by water–

then, to save themselves,

they clung to a floating corpse

and a mother tells her son to close his eyes

so he will not be frightened on seeing Death

–death by water–

when they ask for clemency

and they respond laughing “let them die”

–death by water–

and they begin to count the bodies face down


among them ten children like floating dreams.

How are they, Lord, those who survived?

How are they, Lord, those who shouted

“let them die,”

and now aged so many years later

without the powerful ships, without the water cannons,

with the medals of merit rusting

at the same rate that their souls are rotting?

What god did they blindly obey

whose voice they no longer remember?

How is she, Lord, that woman

who throws candies into the water

every 13th of July?

How are we, Lord, we who remember it

on every anniversary and we foam from the mouth

writing poems

and we cannot tear out that infamous page

from the history books

nor grant them resurrection?


The brutal cannonade of water in the middle of the night

broke to pieces the spheres of the compasses

that showed the cardinal points

of the time to come,

that is called the future;

the glasses shattered

the needles crushed

they could not point to the North.


The bodies no longer float,

they wenty sinking

with the slowness of inevitable.

They didn’t need the ferryman Charon.

they were unhurriedly sinking

like he who finally rests

and abandons himself to the dream where Nothing receives him.

Tangled in the silt

among the blind fish,

they descended to keep company

with old rusty boats

of rotten wood

that have been accumulating for centuries

where the abyss begins;

and down there, in the depth of the deep

so like infinity

lie the beings who tried

to move to another nearby geography.

And they are there still.


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