By Ana Hurtado on May 25, 2023

Biran, photo: Ana Hurtado

To Leidy and the workers of the Casa Museo de Biran.

It was a Lada. I had no idea what a Lada was until I arrived in Cuba. Just as I had no idea about so many other things I had to learn about here, because in my western culture I had been denied access to them; I had not been given access.

I was approaching the place where I had been wanting to come for years on a dirt road, in an old Russian car. I didn’t know if it was real or imaginary. Many emotions were going on inside me.

The truth is that I was arriving to Biran.

And the truth is that I have thought a lot about writing about this fact, although I don’t have much to say, and at the same time I could write hours about the experience I lived in that piece of nature in the East of Cuba.

When I sit in front of the computer and write, I do it with my feelings; with my heart. I am not a journalist who analyzes data. I have never been an academic when it comes to reflection. At least so far. I write with what I have inside me. You have to transmit to people and I always knew that together with knowledge, feelings are the best tool.

When I was at university I had the opportunity to join a research department so that I could stay there later, who knows if I would work in it. But I could not continue. I needed to live. To travel. To know the world. To visit countries. To leave Seville.

And I went out into the world.

And here I am; here I chose and here I choose to be.

And again I repeat: I arrived in Biran. Something I had read so much about. I had been told so much. I had imagined, I had thought, I had dreamed. And that moment was already there, in front of me.

I remember every second of the arrival road. The holes in the road and the horses that accompanied us along the road. Many were ridden by children. There was humility in the air.

There Leidy was waiting for us. She is from the same town, and is a descendant of the workers who once worked with the family in the house. She works as a museologist and it is the only work experience she has had. She started working in November 2004. Nineteen years going every day to the community that Don Angel raised with his hands.

Leidy teaches us everything. She starts with the family pantheon where Fidel’s parents and some of his siblings rest. All in gleaming white marble. And then she gives us entrance to the rest of the house. To the little school, to the huts where the Haitian workers lived, to the bedrooms, to the kitchen.

In my imagination there was Fidel with his brothers running and playing.

Leidy interrupted me in these images that never stopped in my mind to tell me that sometimes when Doña Lina called them to eat, the children had already eaten with the Haitian workers. They really lived in community, with respect and equality.

In this place, which has the physical form and the mystique of paradise, Angel Castro Argiz created a just society. And there was nothing lacking. There was no need to go out because everything arrived there. They had their own post office and even a hotel, since the Cuban national highway of the time crossed the community and Fidel’s father had already thought of this, in case they had to stay there as passengers.

There is no doubt that Don Angel was a visionary. He knew how to make money for the benefit of the collective in every opportunity he saw.

I am firmly convinced that Fidel imagined a fair and solidarity driven Cuba as was the community of his childhood in which he grew up. Because his father, without knowing it, was a socialist at heart and on principle.

In the Castro Ruz family home in Biran I breathed what they breathed in those years. At least that is how I felt on May 5, 2023. The purity of the air in those trees. That fresh breeze that blows is hard to find. The house and its surroundings is a majestic project.

Fidel and Raul come back to my imagination again as children running fearlessly through the grass, their laughter, their learning of a fairer world from the cradle, being privileged but growing up with the children of workers and peasants.

Angel Castro treated them as they had never been treated before. He gave them the dignity that this unjust life takes away from you when you are born. And that did not leave one son, two of them in particular, indifferent.

Moreover, even though they had been educated to defend the interests of the family as adults (in the case of Fidel as a lawyer), he knew that his interests were far beyond those of the family.

His brother Raul did the same.

The interests of both brothers were those of a country. Those of a people, those of a continent. Those of the humble for the humble.

Who would have told Don Angel and Doña Lina that in their home, that in Biran, with their honest work and values, they had brought to the world two of the greatest men of all times. Symbols of struggle, peace and freedom.

Source: Cubadebate, translation Resumen Latinoamericano