Cuban exiles in Madrid pay tribute to Pedro Luis Boitel Cuban exiles in Madrid paid tribute to Cuban martyr Pedro Luis Boitel. Via El País (my translation):

Cuban Exiles in Madrid pay tribute to dissident Pedro Luis Boitel

The biography of the poet and student leader who died in 1972 was presented

Exilio cubano
Writer Zoe Valdés with book author Fernando Gril.- SONY DSC

“Boitel will remain in the pantheon where just persons go,” said today Fernando Gril, author of the biography of dissident Pedro Luis Boitel (1931-1972).

The poet, student leader, and fundamental figure in the island’s dissidence declared himself on a hunger strike on April 3, 1972, and he died 53 days later on May 25. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Colon cemetery in Havana. And for that reason, A Tomb without a Name, is the title of the biography that Argentine Fernando Gril has written and was presented this Monday at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid where the homage was conducted, which writers Carlos Alberto Montaner and Zoé Valdés participated, and also human rights activist Janisset Rivero and a group of former political prisoners exiled in Spain.

He was at that moment the most popular student leader in Cuba. The Cuban writer highlighted today that Cuban political history is, in some way, the history of its prisoners: “You can write the history of the Cuban revolution from its political prisons,” because there have been periods in the country’s recent history where there have been more than 100,000 political prisoners. Montaner remembered that Boitel was one of the first political prisoners to die from a hunger strike on the island, the beginning of a chain of 13 individuals, which has come to the most recent, Orlando Zapata: “The many injustices and the many sacrifices become the emotional patrimony of our society.”



5 thoughts on “Cuban exiles in Madrid pay tribute to Pedro Luis Boitel

  1. It’s good to see that he’s been remembered. I would like to highlight that Pedro Luis Boitel was NOT a dissident… He OPPOSED everything the castro regime stood for… he was an prominent member of the OPPOSITION! There’s a world of difference between the two. The term dissident is mostly used for those who choose not to fight and prefer dialogue with the “other” group. Pedro Luis Boitel was not only a “rebel” he was one of the founders of the MMR.

  2. Boitel, after being a political prisoner for over a decade, died after a 53-day hunger strike, without receiving any medical attention except what little his fellow prisoners could do for him. He was deliberately left to die. Even in a highly debilitated state, he was subjected to physical abuse from prison personnel. There was no funeral. His mother, who’d already gone through hell, did not even get to see his corpse; she was coldly informed of where he’d been buried after the fact. It was an unmarked grave. The ordeal of his agonizing death is far more heroic and dramatic than Che Guevara’s death, but precious few non-Cubans have ever heard of Boitel, while practically everybody has heard of Che or at least seen his damn photo. It’s called fashion, marketing and, of course, political correctness. If Boitel had been an opposition figure who died the same way at the hands of the Botha or Pinochet regimes, he’d be internationally famous and revered as a righteous martyr for freedom and human rights, which is what he was, but that’s beside the point. The point is that he was an anti-communist Cuban, a “counter-revolutionary,” which is bad enough now, but in 1972 it was absolutely the kiss of death. Nobody was especially interested. Just some minor collateral damage, is all. Nothing to fret over. Gotta break some eggs to make an omelette. The end justifies the means. And so it went–and still goes, even if less blatantly.

    In all justice, the author of this book is from Argentina and formerly subscribed to the official myth of Castro, Inc. as a paragon of virtue, till he was exposed to contradictory information, namely, the truth. He still considers himself, apparently, as center-left, but like Zoe Valdes told him, after this book, he’d better be ready to be pegged as ultraconservative, like anybody who’s at all anti-Castro.

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