Who destroyed the Tosca Cinema? / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Hardware store where the Tosca Cinema once stood. (14ymedio)
Hardware store where the Tosca Cinema once stood. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 9 November 2015 – In his recent speech in Merida, Mexico, the general-president Raul Castro remembered his first visit to Mexico, recalling that he had sought asylum in the embassy of that country in Havana because he was accused up putting a bomb in the Tosca cinema in the capital and, he clarified, “I still don’t know where that theater is. I believe it exists.”

It wasn’t exactly a bomb, but a firecracker that exploded on the night of 9 June in the little movie theater in the Santos Suarex neighborhood. The accusation against Raul Castro was part of a wider complaint, filed in Case No. 297 of 1955 for Crimes Against the Power of the State. There were 19 defendants, among them José Antonio Echevarría, and even some exiles like former President Carlos Prio.

The Court published the case on Thursday, 16 June 1955 and the next day Fidel Castro appeared at the court to file a written complaint where he mentioned a plan to assassinate him and his brother. It said that the accusations against Raul made no sense because the young man was at the events in Marcané that day, a village in the then municipality of Holguin in Oriente province, visiting his father who was ill. That Friday the Mexican embassy gave Raul Castro political asylum after he had returned clandestinely to Havana and spent some days at the Siboney Hotel, at Prado and Virtudes Street.

To give his complaint continuity, Fidel Castro tried to publish an article in Bohemia Magazine on Monday, with the prophetic title of “One can no longer live here,” but Miguel Angel Quevedo, director of the prestigious magazine, refused to publish it.

Mr. President, with all due respect I must announce that Tosca Cinema no longer exists

On the afternoon of Friday, the 24th, Raul Castro went to Jose Marti Airport to fly to Mexico. He was seen off by his siblings Fidel, Lidia and Enma, along with the journalist Luis Conte Agüero. The immigration law of that time ignored that the Cuban was crossing the border with an accusation against him (one that would now be called terrorism), for which he hadn’t even stood trial. Such was the cruelty of that tyranny.

It seems that at that time Raul Castro was innocent of that explosion, where there was more noise than damage.

Mr. President, with all due respect I must tell you that the Tosca Cinema no longer exists. Only those older than 40 vaguely remember its disappearance. Instead, at number 1007, there is now a hardware store with the name of Brimart, which nobody knows the significance of. There is a surviving bakery across from it, which retains the name of the heroine of Sardou’s drama, immortalized by Puccini in his opera.

(All the historical data mentioned here appears in the book “We Will Fight to the End, Chronology, 1955” published by the Council of State’s Office of Publications, under the authorship of Rolando Davila Rodriguez.)