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gabriel.jpgRSS Gabriel Ángel

Gabriel Ángel is writer and guerrilla fighter of the FARC-EP
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 09:08

The Hand of Che Guevara

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I write this first column of the year in the form of apology.


Apparently I hurt Timo in some way on our end of the year trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. I would like to apologize.

The Cuban revolution has exercised a remarkable influence on me. I was born at the end of 1958, when the revolutionary forces were about to crown their victory over Batista's dictatorship, which makes me contemporary with the triumph of Fidel and his rebel army. Each time I am more convinced that the historical environment of his birth marks in some way the future of who comes to the world.

Of course that cannot be an inviolable rule, but some coincidences reinforce that idea. In the year 92 I was summoned to the Sumapaz páramo by the National Secretariat of the Farc. I was received by Timoleón Jiménez, who was in charge of notifying me of my transfer to Magdalena Medio, where I had to place myself under the orders of a new leader, Pastor Alape.

Some time later, Timo himself made a surprise visit to the south of Bolívar, where he stayed some years before going to Catatumbo. So I worked with him and Pastor as immediate superiors. Curiously, Pastor would also arrive in Havana, as a member of the commission that would accompany the boss to Santiago, so we would make up the same trio, like in the nineties.

Timo celebrates his birthday on January 20, less than two months after mine. And Pastor on June 5, so for that day we three agreed on ages and dreams. That's why it occurred to me to tell them in a night of drinks, that just as there was the generation of '98 or '27 in Spain, we were part of the Colombian generation of the Cuban revolution.

That's why life brought us back together there. To cross Cuba from the west to the east, on a bus offered by the island's government, from whom came the kind invitation, repeatedly postponed on account of the demanding commitments of the peace process, was to travel the paths of the history of the rebel movements of the island, as well as repeat the last day of Fidel at his grave.

The experience was therefore tiring in several ways, and it had to be done in a hurry. The inevitable Karel, an official of the Cuban Foreign Ministry who accompanied us, warned us from the beginning that we had to do all this in a single day. Of the 868 kilometers, starting from Taguasco, you have to take the Central Highway of Cuba, a narrow road favouring accidents.

That is why it is not convenient to drive at night. Santiago is a peaceful and beautiful city, its people behave in a supremely affectionate and helpful way. It has a beautiful bay to which ships from all over the world also arrive. Whoever arrives there has at least three forced destinations, the Siboney farm, the Moncada barracks and the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

The Siboney farm puts forward the audacity of the assailants of the Moncada barracks. It is located on the edge of the road, where a guerrilla of experience would never concentrate its forces and armament. That is why the heroism of those who left from there to disaster is moving. Only superior beings would succeed in converting it, over time, into a great victory.

The same happens with the Moncada barracks, now converted into five schools, where another museum shows us the human quality and the sublime dedication of its assailants. The Latin American oligarchy learned a lot from that revolutionary experience. The protesters had to be crushed to prevent them from repeating that victorious feat, and they did and do it.

Santa Iphigenia leaves one mute, the size of those who rest there and what they represent far too great. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Mariana Grajales, José Martí and Comandante Fidel.

Impressive, brings you to tears, the military parade that sacredly is done every half hour of every day. Perhaps Martí erred, there are glories that do not fit into a grain of corn.

The strength of Cuba lies in its history and in the respect of its people for it. Its formidable monuments say so.

Like Che's monument, that we visited while going back to Havana at night. The tomb of the fallen in Bolivia overwhelms. It is impossible not to feel in the recreation of that venerable crypt, that there lies something immortal, the source of hope for the peoples.

I was too excited about the gigantic statue of Che. The fatigue from the long trip forced me to take the bus at once, to wait for the others in it.

I forgot that they entered to sign the visitor's book.

Unforgivable, a hurt Timo told me later.

Maybe he's right.

But in my inner self I know that Che knows I was there, I felt his hand on my shoulder.

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 09:13