The Country That Travels to the Cemetery / Henry Constantín

Whoever travels to Cuba and doesn’t go to its cemeteries forgets the place where, inevitably, all journeys end. In them lie the tears of the entire island.

The infinite Colon cemetery and its mausoleums of millionaires and politicians, La Milagrosa, half the country’s history buried in niches, the tunnels and two-story buildings, the tomb of Cecilian Valdes and that of the capital general, of the soldiers who died in Angola and the desolate of the ABC, the workers and employees close to president Menocal and the minister Carlos Miguel de Cespedes, the Masonic lodges with the monks and Cardinal Arteaga: men great and humble, friends and enemies, men of God and atheists, all placed, mourned, buried, remembered there side-by-side, with no great differences than that the miners guard the rest. There everyone goes, even those who kills, with the difference that the latter have their niches, and flowers from family and friends, and the others drier that they shower with hate.

On the western side of the bay of Santiago de Cuba below the cemetery, that of La Socapa and Cayo Granma, watered their graves on the steepest hillside, as if they were all sliding into eternity; in Bayamo the tombs of the once powerful cause panic, in their outrageous chapels of stairs under the level of the earth and skulls leaning out of the niches; on an intricate hill at the bottom of the land of Najasa, in Camaguey, there is one nearly invisible, of Spaniards who once went to try their luck in these parts; in Manati there still remains that made by the Marquis of San Miguel de Aguayo so his workers would not end up under some tree along the railroad tracks or in the middle of a cane field; in my Camaguey there are two special tombs, that of the cadaver of General Agramonte, burned by the hatred of the Spaniards over a century ago, and that of the Creole Dolores Rondon, famous for the poems that a lover of her youth redid every day on her grave, and also, there are the ghostly graves of those executed in the sixties, whom no one was allowed to inscribe in the books of the dead for fear that their names, noted there, would continue to conspire against the government that executed them.

But now, also, you have to visit the Santa Clara cemetery with gladioli and bitterness, because in this country they will continue to kill those who ask, with their voices alone, for a more just island. After the police beating almost on Mother’s Day, Juan Wifredo Soto, a humble man, one humble man more! has died. There is a mother in pain. There are many tense Cubans.

On the island there is the small of martyrdom, again.

May 8 2011