Aurelia Castillo de González: El Mayor’s close friend (II)

Text and photos Lázaro David Najarro Pujol

August, 2020.- The Cuban writer and journalist Aurelia Castillo de González (1842-1920), the most outstanding of the 19th century in Cuba, became a close friend of Major General Ignacio Agramonte Loynaz. She wrote down her convictions about “that diamond with the soul of a kiss,” as José Martí described him.

The talented and illustrious woman met the Mayor, the patriot of Camagüey that the inhabitants feel the honor that in their province they carry as a gentilicio of “Agramontinos” as an eternal tribute to his memory.

She publishes the digital portal of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) that the local hero was a paradigm for her and she described him as a tall, thin and very pale young man, but not sickly pale. It was a “paleness of strong concentrated energies.”

That friendship is reflected in her book Ignacio Agramonte in private life, in which the author recalls that: “Yes, I have some memories of the hero, and I keep them in my soul, as the miser keeps his gold… no; as beloved relics are kept, that, without having intrinsic value, have it immense to come from whom they come ”.

She testifies that she met him “when he was a law student at the University of Havana. It had been in the Don José de la Luz School before ”. When falling in combat on May 11, 1873, the writer and friend of the patriot, points out that “that was a terrible day in Port-au-Prince. Those of us who witness it can never forget it.

When the Spaniards discovered, thanks to a portfolio and a portrait of their beloved wife, that one of the dead in which they had suffered from the insignificant skirmish was Agramonte, the news flew as if on wings of electricity to the capital of the province, and the volunteers, drunk with joy – they well knew the value of the life that had been cut off! – They seized the corpse and, crossing it on a beast, the beautiful head flush with the ground, they paraded it triumphantly through the main streets of the city, amidst tumultuous shouting, cynical laughter and atrocious insults. As the horrifying procession passed, the doors were slammed shut ”[1]

In the editor’s note the love of Amalia and Ignacio is described: “From an old photo, a young couple tells stories of love truncated by war and death. In other times their romance would have been ordinary. They would have grown old together, watching the grandchildren grow up. But his time was the dust and forest, his time was of brief stays and great absences ”.

In her book Ignacio Agramonte in private life, Aurelia dedicates a chapter to El Idilio, a site to which – stimulated by the work – we went with a group of experts to investigate the exact place where a fascinating love story between the Major General of the Liberation Army and Amalia began.

Perhaps it is not widely known by new generations, much less El Idilio, the place where the protagonists of one of the most beautiful romantic memories of the island met for the last time. It is precisely in Ignacio’s letter that the term where Amalia saw the hero depart on a military mission, on May 26, 1870, during the Cuban War for Independence is described.

And after more than ten years of explorations, the specialists of the territory and the Camagüey branch of the Speleological Society of Cuba verified the place where Major General Ignacio Agramonte and his wife Amalia Simoni took refuge together with relatives of both.

Days before Amalia’s arrest, El Mayor writes a beautiful letter to his mother in which the infinite love for his loved ones is translated: “There is nothing new here worthy of special mention in the family. Amalia is healthy and chubby, she goes through some scares at times, discomfort and deprivation, but she is happy; most of the time she lives in a ranch in the forest with Simoni and Manuelita, while I am out in the field; There they lack an infinity of little things that are not appreciated in the populations due to their abundance, they mend their clothes because there is no facility to replace them. However, she thinks that none of that matters as long as Cuba is free and she leads that life with pleasure dreaming of our triumphs and always worrying about the news of the war with longing. Our Ernesto occupies all his time, she herself and alone raises him, carries him and takes care of him: he is delirious with him. If you saw him, Mama, how you would love him! He is the cutest and most sympathetic, and I do not say precious for modesty. She’s already walking, says Mom and Dad and asks for dad and kisses on the 26th of this month he will be one year old ”.

In honor of that friend of the Cuban writer and journalist Aurelia Castillo de González, the Agramonte Park was erected in Camagüey. The equestrian statue of El Mayor, cast in bronze as its granite base, was made in Rome, Italy, by the sculptor Salvatore Buemi. So the dream was fulfilled son of her friend from youth.

“He must always stand tall before our inner sight, as a symbol and eternal example of moral purity, of civic greatness!”

[1] Ignacio Agramonte in private life. González Castle. Political Editor, 1990

(Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez)



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