Aurelia Castillo de González: her legacy prevails in Camagüey (I)

Text and photos Lázaro David Najarro Pujol / Radio Camagüey

August, 2020.- A flash of reddish light illuminates one summer afternoon on Cristo Street, in this half-millennial city; road that has the charm of starting with the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral of Camagüey and ending in the Cristo del Buen Viaje church.

The rays reach the colonial mansion where the writer and journalist Aurelia Castillo de González was born on January 27, 1842, publishes the website of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC).

He loved with delirium until his departure for eternity a century ago, on August 6, 1920, the Homeland. Without a doubt, she is one of the most outstanding Cuban intellectuals of the 19th century. His legacy, memories, beautiful and deep prose prevail in Camagüey, once a town of Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe. His home is also preserved in a very important axis from the historical and architectural point of view, as appreciated by the Master of Science María del Carme Pontón, specialist of the Office of the City Historian.

The mansion is also located next to the home of the most notable of Cuban scientists: Carlos J. Finlay, in the historic center of the City of Tinajones, declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The Camagüey woman was ahead of her time “with an unusual thought in her time. A figure misunderstood by the society of the Port-au-Prince of the first half of the 19th century due to the tendency that existed to be “in a golden cage where the bird of his thought got numb wings” “

“At the age of 9 (1851), her teacher Don Fernando Betancourt went abroad for patriotic reasons, which forced her to carry out in-depth research and reach her own conclusions without the help of a mentor,” the local researcher María del Carmen Pontón tells us.

María del Carmen fixes her gaze almost every day on the old two-story house. He leads the Finlay Birthplace Museum and is fascinated by the life and work of the poet, which is why he scrutinizes the pages of the books that Aurelia bequeathed to the Cubans. In addition, she spends important time studying the texts of the author of beautiful prose, which allows her to affirm that the woman from Camagüey read avidly. He thought that he would not have enough time to study the number of books he needed to consult. He always recommended that the book represent the ideal to know the beautiful, the just and the reality.

“Seeing her mother cry the death of Narciso López (Caracas, Venezuela 1796 – Havana 1851, creator of the flag and shield of Cuba) was decisive for Aurelia to strengthen her ideology and patriotic convictions… She was very studious. She was very different from her sister Matilde, who was dedicated to her figure, typical of the girls of the time; while Aurelia did not care about her external appearance but the thought and knowledge that books gave her ”.

The search in the texts of the patriot allows him to assure the local investigator that “she had a balanced temperament. She was very reasoning and insightful. He always lived watching. This gave him skills to write about the gloomy picture offered by the reality of the time: the slavery of the black race.

She not only spoke out against slavery, but also discrimination against women, victims of submission. She asserted that the family was poorly constituted: “Until now, women have been the left hand of humanity. Let’s hope that humanity will one day be ambidextrous. ”

Aurelia Castillo de González expressed in her texts her thoughts on education. For her, training should start from the home, where a series of values ​​is constituted, without minimizing the performance of the school. It also urged the preparation of women and the creation of institutions in which they would learn to be mothers.

The poet of books such as Fables came to suggest what those places should be called: Casas Cornelia, taking as an example and a tribute of honor to the Roman mother who knew how to train the Gracos brothers, even refused a royal crown so as not to abandon the consecration of her children . They were able to end their existence and covered it after the great glory of being good people.

María del Carmen thinks that “the Cornelia Houses can be seen as the precursor home schools that were created in Cuba.” She says that Aurelia defends the female figure above all things. “But she does not defend them without elements, but from arguments that many did not dare to give.”

Aurelia Castillo de González carried out dissimilar responsibilities: president of the Huérfanos de la Patria asylum (founded after the War of Independence) and vice president and treasurer of the Cuban Labor Society (1901 to 1907), with the aim of helping women. (Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez)

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