A horizon for our island: Words to Eusebio

Dear friends*:

I want to thank everyone for coming to this meeting at such an early hour. And without further ado, I am going to share here a brief profile that Fina wrote about Eusebio. Maybe some of you know her:

“I found him one day in Old Havana, with a very sharp tired look and a sad expression, momentarily turned towards himself. The work that time implacably destroyed, the one that he tried to restore with daily labor, was misunderstood, attacked by sterile enemies, whom he had had to fight for years, not out of care for his own person, but out of silent loyalty to the city. beloved. In his humble sacrifice, in the tenacious dedication of his hours, in the Promethean vehemence with which he loves Havana, Eusebio Leal, as in so many other things, is where his mark is. When men forget it, the stones will still remember it.”

If anyone doubts that we have been formed in the image and likeness of a Creator, that is, that we are all creators too, take a look at this garden, read the names engraved on the graves, and see how death finally forces us to sign our work, revealing that, consciously or unconsciously, we were creators of our own work.

If someone wonders where to find their work in the world —how to recognize it or invent it— a simple answer is inscribed on the threshold of Casa Eusebio Leal: “the hand executes what the heart commands”.

Our eyes are usually resigned to forget. For being creators also means that we are made to forget: forgetting is necessary so that everything can be created anew, and so that a good habit does not corrupt the world. However, as the Quran says, “the heart does not deny what it believes.” has seen”. The heart tenaciously remembers and affirms what it has seen. For this reason, the heart does not and cannot do anything other than bear witness, with acts, or with words that are acts.

The sweeping voice of what the heart has seen destroys the paralyzing myth of fitness. We do not do things because we are trained to do so. We know well that we are not up to what is fair and necessary to do. We do it because there are not, and perhaps never will be, enough hands to carry out what the heart commands. That is the great motivation, the appeal that silences our doubts and leads us to persevere in our work, to try to improve ourselves, the same with the wind in favor or against.

The tomb of an illustrious Cuban of our time, one who completed so many beautiful works, and dreamed of many more for a long time without being able to materialize them, is not the place to come with words that are only words. I have by nature an aversion to words that do not become acts, or that are not acts themselves, and, on the other hand, who among us is not tired of living under a fatal torrent of words pronounced by virtue of false or vain commitments?

Recognizing our insufficiency, and at the same time the necessity and the inexorable beauty of our circumstance and our common task, I will dare to tell you the following.

“Come, my friends, it is not too late to create a new world, even if we have to sail in search of it beyond the horizon. Great have been the losses, but much also what we still have left. And although we are not today that force that once could shake heaven and earth, we are resolutely what we are: a temple of heroic hearts, worn by time and fate, but strong in our efforts to fight, to seek, to find, and don’t give up.”

These are the words of Ulysses to his fellow travelers in a poem by Tennyson. But isn’t this something that Eusebio has always told us? For expanding the horizon of our island, for encouraging us with his example to defend it, enrich it, and enjoy it, let us thank our Eusebio Leal. With words, actions, with the whole life. Cuba deserves it.

* Words by José Adrián Vitier, director of Casa Vitier García-Marruz, in front of the tomb of City Historian Eusebio Leal, before the Evocation of Fina meeting at Casa Eusebio Leal Spengler, on February 7, 2023.

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