Cuba: The Shadows That Will Not Pass

Ángel Cuadra Landrove. (Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 21 November 2022 — Recently, a public tribute was held for an exemplary citizen, poet and former Cuban political prisoner, Ángel Cuadra Landrove, an intellectual committed to freedom who never conceded to those who violate it.

In times when we see that creators in general, including artists, do not defend the oppressed so as to avoid becoming targets or simply to avoid losing their audience, it is more than necessary to render tribute to those who risk their lives and end up in prison for 15 years, as happened to Cuadra, who in 1981 was named “the world’s prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International. PEN Sweden made him an honorary member and he was named President of the II Congress of Intellectuals for the Freedom of Cuba.

Creators like him are examples we should publicize. They are pillars of any proposal that has freedom, democracy and respect for human dignity as its motto.

No nation lacks traitors, nor citizens willing to give their lives for liberty. José Martí said it, “Others have within them the decorum of many men. They are the ones who rebel with great force against those who rob the people of their freedom, which is to rob men of their decorum. Within those men go thousands of men, an entire people, human dignity.”

Compliments to those who live up to their country are in order. The life works of those who have sacrificed should never be forgotten. Contrary to the title of a book I read more than fifty years ago, Hartzell Spencer’s Vain Shadow, dedicated to Francisco de Orellana — the explorer who discovered the Amazon — I believe that those who sacrifice themselves in the name of progress and, more so, freedom, will never be shadows, but rather lights that guide and counsel, paradigms for those who share their goals.

Those who consecrate themselves to a cause cannot be dark, but rather a sure presence among those who love justice and liberty above all else.

Personalities such as Cubans Ángel Cuadra and Jorge Valls Arango, Nicaraguan Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal or the young Venezuelan assassinated by Castro-Chavism, Juan Pablo Pernalete, and many others, will always point the way toward the path of justice.

The event, which included the unveiling of a plaque to honor his memory, organized by PEN Club of Cuban Writers and other exile groups, took place at Human Rights Park on the grounds of the Westchester Library, with the support of Commissioner Javier Souto, whom as many know, was a member of the groups that clandestinely infiltrated Cuba in the 1960s.

The poet, as many of his friends referred to him, was a very sensitive man and was always among the first to sign up for any proposal in favor of freedom and democracy in Cuba, which is why he led organizations such as the Ex Club and was one of the founders of PEN Cubano.

Speakers Luis de la Paz, Ángel de Fana, José Antonio Albertini, Commissioner Souto  and he who types these lines focused on different aspects of his life. The honoree’s capacity to deliver was not unique, but it was singular. He was an intellectual who never betrayed his commitment to take on the type of struggle for freedom demanded by the circumstances.

I am among those who feel embarrassed when I hear of a compatriot with creative capacity who is incapable of sensitivity in the face of a 63-year tyranny. Cuadra was never among those intellectuals, he was so voluntarily tied to the struggle for freedom that he sacrificed his creative capacity, as writer José Antonio Albertini has pointed out many times.

Imagine the volume of work our well-remembered friend would have produced had he not struggled clandestinely against totalitarianism and been in prison, had he not been in exile and dedicated most of his time to activism against the dictatorship.

Cuadra, like most Cuban creators throughout the nation’s history, managed to work in exile, but we are convinced that his legacy, and that of others like him, will help rebuild our nation.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez 


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