On May 3, at about ten o'clock in the morning, neighbors and people who were walking around the park Victor Hugo, on streets 21, 19 and H in El Vedado, Havana, were surprised by the sudden appearance of a white van, from which a large group of men and women got off. A couple of elderly, chubby ladies were doing exercise around the park, running a few meters after a young brunette with a sculpted body that seemed to inspire them.
All were paying attention to this surprise visit. In no time, the newcomers took down a bundle of garden tools and a few minutes later they were engaged in sweeping the dry leaves, collect branches and wash and polish the monument in the eastern corner of the park. Five beautiful women, dressed in sportswear, drew the attention in the group that could be estimated at twenty.
From the white van, they had also taken down some plants, wrapped in greenhouse bags, and several among them, shovel in hand, were digging the earth with the evident intention of planting them around the monument. The gardener in charge of the place talked to them and helped them with several buckets of water to clean the monument and sprinkle water on the earth to dig the hard summer ground more easily.
As if they were ants that had to fulfill their task, the unexpected visitors were in a rush to finish their work. Soon, the neighbors came closer to ask what it was all about. That was how they learned that they were Colombians, FARC guerrillas, headed by old Ricardo Tellez, from the National Secretariat. The girls were Camila, Nasly, Mery, Sarita and Antonia. What a beautiful guerrilla women, sir!
The park is an extraordinary place. Not only because of the large trees, which provide freshness with their huge branches. There are also many mamoncillos, ceiba trees with their proud trunk rising to the top, and palms of all kinds with its abundant leaves reminiscent of the jungle and the sea. But it is not only the nature. In this park converge prodigiously a sum of stories, characters and struggles, which speak of many peoples and dreams.
The gardener explains that the park is a tribute to the great French writer, author among other great works of Les Miserables and Notre Dame. But that is not why they pay tribute to him there with a portentous monument since 1937, or at least not only because of that, but because Victor Hugo was a lover of the cause of independence of Cuba from Spain, an apologist for the fight of the “mambises” and the justice of their heroic war.
And he invites us to check it out on the north corner. A bronze plaque bears witness that the park is dedicated to Victor Hugo, defensor of our independence and son of France, universal homeland of culture and democracy. On one side of the sculpted face of the French master, there are some of his quotes, like No nation has the right to establish its grip on another, In this conflict between Spain and Cuba, Spain is the insurgency, to discover an island does not give anybody the right to torture it.
That is why Cubans love Victor Hugo. Just as they love Martí, who in his wanderings through Europe could meet him before the French poet died. Precisely in the southern corner of the park, there is a preschool institute, The Black Doll, for the story of the Apostle, in which Piedad, an eight-years-old girl, prefers Leonor, the black doll with a braid, over the blond, blue-eyed doll with a silk suit her parents gave to her.
On the children playground, an old black-haired teacher is teaching children a poem of the Cuban poetess Julia Bustos, The greatest punishment. Next Sunday will be Mother's Day and something has to be prepared. The children repeat the verses recited by their teacher, The worst punishment for being naughty be will not forbid me to play, or sending me to bed or leave me without dinner, but if you say “I don’t love you anymore“ then mommy, I'll cry.
A little behind the nursery is the monument to Francisco Pi y Margall, What colony rises against the metropolis more worth and which had more enlightened men in literature and sciences and the arts? I’ll be sorry to die without seeing her free and independent. 1900. The plaque describes him as the head of the Masonic Lodge Pi y Margall in Havana. Masons emerged in the fight against absolute monarchies, centuries ago.
A little bit towards east another monument pays tribute to the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu. A verse reminds his spirit, If after death there is no reward, make sure in this world you are given the right side. Equality for all, live as brothers! Further up, in front of the eyes of the usual intrigued park visitors, those belonging to the FARC are working. In the monument they are trying to clean up, a plaque contains a phrase of Fidel Castro.
The stubbornness, intransigence, cruelty, insensitivity shown by the British government to the international community in addressing the problem of Irish patriots on hunger strike until death, are reminiscent of Torquemada and the barbarity of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages. Tyrants should tremble to be in front of men who are willing to die for their ideas, after sixty days of hunger strike! Next to that example, what were the three days of Christ on Calvary, symbol for centuries of human sacrifice? It's time to end this horrible atrocity, by denouncing and pressure from the world community!
Yes, what the FARC-EP did on May 3, was polishing the monument to join the world deserved tribute to the memory of the North-Irish patriots who triumphed in the end in 1998 with the signature of the Good Friday Agreement. Ten of them died on hunger strike against the government of Margaret Thatcher in 1981, and thirteen more survived after the ordeal. Bobby Sands, the IRA's commanding officer was the first to die on May 5.
Hundred thousand Irish men and women accompanied his body to the grave and his death sparked massive nationalists protests in the North of Ireland. Twenty-six days before Sands had been elected by popular vote as a member of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The British government labeled his fight as criminal and terrorist. The martyrs of the H-Block prison will never leave the heart of the people who love the cause of justice.
Internationalism is one of the greatest values that inspire the struggle of the revolutionaries. Just as Victor Hugo Park in Havana, whose utmost care and attention the alarmed neighbors demand, revealed in its plaques the love of all peoples for freedom. The FARC-EP, led by Timoshenko, will place a wreath at the Irish heroes monument soon. We just wanted everyone to know.