Section A The place and its mountains.
Surrounded by hills in eastern
Here the foothills protrude out of the Sierra as if the fossil head of some enormous dire wolf. These hills bite as if doubled twinned rows of blunted teeth into the vulnerable belly of the rich plains of the Cauto. The road north north-west out of Guisa protrudes through the gaping maw between these jaw-like hills. This road extends to reach for the
The once heavily forested lands around Guisa were frequented by bands of the free roaming Taínos called the Guis. And this site was a major Native American settlement. The Taínos, according to Spanish chronicles, were almost as light skinned as the Spanish. The Spanish soldiers, officers, and crews found it far more exciting that the Taíno, both men and women, went around nude. The Taína women were most attractive and quite uninhibited. These women I would learn much later were secretly in the family line.
The Spanish held these Native Americans in cruel captivity using them for free labor and the Taínas for their carnal pleasures. Thus, as time passed, the descendents of the surviving Guis and other Taínos intermingled with the Spanish, and became almost indistinguishable.
Guisa was “founded” as a Spanish town by Señor Don (José) Antonio de Silva(s) y Ramírez de Arellano, Marquis de Guisa on
Above the statue’s nose, a hole in his great square forehead represents where a bullet flew out from Calixto’s living head. Since in the 1950s the town’s foremost businessmen considered themselves Spanish. These merchants had not forgotten the expensive disasters accompanying my family’s repeated habit of taking this town in war. Thus this bust seems intended to be a site where these merchants could pray for protection. It was a kind of idol, a Taíno Zemí, demanding fearful homage to the ghost of wrathful Calixto. Calixto’s third eye glared at all who passed.
Section B Family ancestry
Honor was very important in
Heroes are not celebrated as much for their victories, but because of their defiance of fate. Family ancestry is important. To be descendent of heroes (ascendencia de estirpe valiente) brought respect in and obligations to the motherland that were difficult to understand and imposed obligations of bravery and honor that were sometimes too great to bear.
Each of my two maternal great grandfathers, Major General Calixto and Colonel Don Benjamín were Mambí officers of the brave armies of Cuban independence who made the wars that first liberated the Cuban slaves and then gave the country independence. After more than thirty years of war and troubled peace, the Mambí set the stage and participated mightily in the defeat of the cruel Spanish in 1898.
General Calixto and Don Benjamín loved one of two brave, wild, part Taíno Enamorado sisters. Both of these sisters, Leonela and Manuela, Enamorado Cabrera became my maternal great-grandmothers and their mitochondrial DNA confirms their native origins. Cabrera is one of the most ancient Spanish names in the area, and since their surnames are of course Spanish they are derived from the first Spanish either by inheritance or Spanish Baptism. Cabrera is the last name of the Taíno Cabrera clan.
Names and the particular cultures of old Latin American honor are tightly linked. In a Spanish tradition of centuries names of ancestors are repeated in their descendents, since as in the Ancient Greek and Mediterranean tradition hidden under layers of Catholicism, as long as one’s name is recalled, one’s shade lives on after death.
Leonela is a fictional personage in Don Quijote. Leonela in real life was also the first name of one of my indigenous great-grandmothers, a diminutive of Leonor and female equivalent of Lionel. It means little lioness. Yet, it is far more ancient than that. Thus, in memory of honor, my mother is Leonela too, as is Leonela Perez her cousin. My cousin Leonela González, daughter of Leonela Perez, is a famed ballet and cabaret dancer. My uncle Calixto Leonel carried the name, as does my brother Lionel. My sister Leonor is also such, in memory of a Spanish great grandaunt who adopted my grandfather to give him the family name, for his father had not had time to recognize him formally. Likewise Aunt Manuela carries the name of her other Taína grandmother, and thus MJ my cousin, was baptized Manuel José.
Don Benjamin has a son called Benjamín but we called him Tío Min and as did another son the illegitimate Taíno we called Ping Ping, he of the three testicles. However, in the Güajiro Culture illegitimacy is no disgrace but great potency, the size of a man’s tool, and the greatness of the dimensions of his gonads are considered a mark of honor and give a reputation for valor. There is even a special two handed gesture to indicate this. In ancient indigenous cultures, Américo Vespucio (circa 1454-1512) writes “”…because their women are lecherous, lustful, voluptuous, lewd, and libidinous, they make the members (penis) of their husbands (or lovers) swell to such a great extent that they seem 'brutally deformed'. They do this with a certain practices and with the help of the bite of certain venomous animals (probably blister beetles)..." (more on this later)
Calixto is a name repeated in my family for many centuries, from the Ancient Kings of Pamplona from the line of Iñigo Arista (the Oak in Basque) and his descendent with the hispanicized name Calixto García Iñiguez. Iñiguez of course means son of Iñigo. You will find here mention of Calixto de Luna, Calixto García Iñiguez, Calixto Enamorado, my two Uncles Calixto Mario and Calixto Leonel, and cousins Calixto those we called Cali Norman, and Calixtín García Iñiguez. In these names of living souls the ghosts of their ancestors survived. Then there is Calixto Sánchez White a distant cousin who died in the Cuban wars of the late 1950s.
Family ancestry part I Don Benjamín Ramírez (de Arellano)
Don Benjamín Ramírez (de Arellano) was descended from the same Don (José) Antonio de Silva(s) y Ramírez de Arellano, Marquis of Guisa. The first Marqués de Guisa was colonel in the Spanish Militia, Lieutenant Governor of San Isidro de Holguín and councilman for life of Bayamo. He was granted the hacienda of Santa Bárbara de Viriviví, in 1716, fought the English at
El Marqués de Guisa apparently was a descendent of Don Juan Ramírez de Arellano Governor of Jamaica who was captured fighting the English in 1655 and died in captivity soon after. Much to the anger of the advancing English, the Spanish living in
The slaves of the Spanish of Jamaica were freed, organized into fighting militias, trained and set loose to fight the English. These militias held fast for long years in the karst strewn strange eerie cockpit country of the hills of
Great-grandfather Don Benjamín, he was always called that, as a mark of much respect. The informal title “Don” is followed as in royalty by the first, not last name, for it is an individual mark of respect for class, dignity and honor but not necessarily inherited. By then the title Marqués de Guisa, had been “extinguished,” because of disputes between the last two heirs to the title, the vast estates between the Cautillo and the Bayamo Rivers were now once again in the
Don Benjamín was almost always grumpy and closed mouthed, thus we do not know if he was fruit of a semi-legal union with enough status to inherit vast holdings but not enough to retain a formal title of nobility. Others say he was Señor de Horca y Cuchillo of Guisa, Lord of the Noose and the Knife. That title would mean he was a magistrate with power of life and death, and the portals of his house could give refuge to all who could touch his door.
Oscar Ros, our family genealogist reports that Don Benjamín’s inheritance came from his first wife Susana Almenares, perhaps La Marquésa de Guisa. He was born in the
What we do know is that Spanish society in
It is doubtful that Don Benjamín, as a medieval European noble might, used La Pernada, the right of the first night. He did however, have at least two Taíno children outside of his marriage. This matter was never discussion, perhaps because in Güajiro-Taíno tradition virginity was neither highly prized nor customary; a woman’s skills in physical love were far more prized than clumsy first fumblings.
In the Taíno traditional marriage the bride was shared by all on the first night. Spanish chronicles relate that thighs shining with spilled seed, the bride would emerge triumphant with the cry of “Manicato! Manicato!” or Victory! Victory! This matter left devout and innocent Father Bartolomé de las Casas puzzling how these very willing Taína women could manage that so easily. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, also reports this; however, being far worldlier and possibly a participant, found the mechanics of these customs quite feasible, and thus unremarkable
In the Ten Year’s war he lead the Regiment of Baire and for a time Don Benjamín was charged with the protection of deposed President in Arms Carlos Manuel de Cespedés. His mother Rafaela left for
Often Rondón is used, albeit incorrectly, as Don Benjamín’s second surname. Once, a woman, I think it was the Taína Indian Conchita Ramos, told me quietly that the surname that followed Rondón was Canao. Canao is perhaps a Taíno (Island Arawak), or at least an Arawak name, for there is a place in
Coronel Don Benjamín Ramírez Ferral (Rondón) left his Genealogy to the family. The surname Ramírez de Arellano did not come from his father, but from his Ursula Tamayo Ramírez de Arellano (circa 1770s Bayamo), (his GGGGreatGrandmother) the line passed on through his mother, Rafaela Ramirez de Arellano. Tamayo is one of the oldest names in Bayamo’s written history, deriving from Rodrigo Tamayo who arrived in 1513 and perhaps his illegitimate, probably half Taína daughter, María Agustina.
What ever Don Benjamín used his mother’s last name which implies either illegitimacy, Taíno inheritance or both. Don Benjamín had lived in Guamá, still a wild Taíno area before the 1868-1878 war.
Legitimacy mattered less than paternal inheritance, since the Spanish term for nobility is
During the Ten Year War, the first big war for Cuban independence, Don Benjamín was disenfranchised by the Spanish for rebellion and his vast lands confiscated. On
Don Benjamín fought on; his lands (inherited from his first wife Susana Almenares) which then extended to the sea, were so large that after he was wounded in an attack on Guisa, he still was able to hide there with his whole family, including the two Enamorado sisters, and his retainers. His mother Rafaela endured what she could during the Ten Year War but eventually left with his brother Juan Bautista Ferral (Rondón) to
From 1868 to 1898, ancestors Calixto García Iñiguez and Benjamín Ramírez, and their numerous clan of relatives fought for independence from
Don Benjamín did not fight in the battles 1895-1898 war but he supported the insurrection from
Family ancestry part 2 Major General Calixto García Iñiguez
Calixto García was also from an older and even nobler family than Don Benjamín. When I was young, I knew that Calixto was important, although then I did not know how important. It seemed strange to see streets named after him, and see busts and statues of him, in common public display. Even the great university hospital in
Calixto’s genealogy, like that of Don Benjamín, is discontinuous and his family’s origins disappear into the fogs of time. Besides the daughters of Caciques, like his grandmother Doña María de los Ángeles González, if they married to a husband of high social status, were considered honorary Spaniards.
The original Calixto García Iñiguez (circa 810-882), a Basque warrior known in Arab chronicles as Wannaqo ibn Wannaq, was king of the Basque city of Pamplona. Whatever his links to ancient warriors, Great-grandfather Calixto, carried the exact same name as that Ninth century Warrior-King.
Great-grandfather’s grandfather Calixto García de Luna e Izquierdo fought in the Spanish armies in
Don Calixto apparently survived being run through with a sword in 1816, and he certainly lost a hand in the final decisive battle in 1821. This was when the Spanish were defeated by Bolivar and the English Troops at the battle of Carabobo. The place name, Carabobo, means in Spanish “the place of the face of a fool.” However, in Arawak, the word may mean the place of the dreaded cannibal Caribs.
Leaving his Indian princess wife and daughters in
This grandson Calixto García Iñiguez inherited ancient American genes from his Venezuelan grandmother, a daughter of a Cacique, a Chief. Yet in Spanish tradition the male line counts far more than the mother’s ancestry; and the children of a Cacique were considered part of the nobility and thus de facto Spanish.
General Calixto’s statues, like Taíno Zemí, like native idols, still stand throughout the land. Of course unlike the explicitly phallic Zemí, Calixto’s statues are not so graphically masculine; that trait is merely recorded in history books (following the customary ancient Greek euphism, see Oedipus (swollen foot) as in Oedipus Rex) as a large foot size; and testified to by the birth records of his seemingly endless illegitimate descendents. Calixto, as was his conceded prerogative, took mistresses during the wars; however he always returned to his armies before the sun rose, since the Spanish never attacked before dawn.
The wound in General Garcia’s forehead is part of his legend. In the Ten Years War, in early September of 1874, General Calixto was surprised by the Spanish who were tracing a cut telegraph line at a place halfway westward to the sea from Guisa, south west of Bayamo. Calixto’s men, fought back at the low wet place of the bagá, the pond-apple tree about five miles from the Spanish post at Veguita and the
There, surrounded, General Calixto’s forty or so escort troops were dead or dying, his foraging armies too far away to help. Honor demanded escape from the disgrace of capture. Calixto shot himself under the chin with his .45 caliber revolver. The bullet traveled up through his head, and yet somehow Calixto survived. In captivity Calixto recovered his damaged voice, and bright tactical mind. Yet even in captivity and exile he fathered children with a good number of women. It is said that his mother stopped him from taking a willing nun who was nursing his wounds.
Wearing a shining jagged silver star to cover the exit wound on his brow he continued to plot and war against
After a number of failed attempts at revolution, war came again to
Now General Calixto arrived in
Major General Calixto García Iñiguez’s first son Calixto García Vélez, brother to my grandfather and to Carlos, had died in the dénouement of a famous love triangle. Leonela Enamorado had provided him with a second Calixto, and so would my grandfather who also would have five daughters and four sons, including one legitimate and one less so both called Calixto. Such is the rich life of these lines of once
Major General Calixto García was designated first President of a free
Family ancestry part 3 Brigadier General Calixto (García Iñiguez) Enamorado.
Brigadier General Calixto (García-Iñiguez) Enamorado, illegitimate son of Leonela Enamorado Cabrera by Major General Calixto García Iñiguez, my maternal grandfather, was also Mambí. He had married Rafaela Petronila Ramírez Enamorado daughter of Don Benjamín. Grandmother and Grandfather were first cousins, so I had both of the Enamorado sisters as great grandmothers.
Calixto Enamorado, grandfather was born in war torn fields of eastern
When the war started fully by 1895 he joined the Mambí forces on March 9th with the rank of a soldier. Calixto Enamorado then 20 would participate in many battles, first under the command of Antonio Maceo, and then his father. Showing almost mad courage in battle, he had arisen from the ranks to become brigadier general at the end of the 1895-1895 Cuban War of Independence.
Calixto Enamorado saw action and victory, amid maddened cattle, barbed wild pineapple fences, a dead Spanish General and a fleeing Spanish Governor, at Peralejo and rode among the flames in the madly charging Antonio Maceo’s war columns, defeating the Spanish armies as they traversing almost the whole length of
Showing almost mad courage in battle, he had arisen from the ranks to become brigadier general at the end of the 1895-1895 Cuban War of Independence. He was one of the youngest generals in that war.
Calixto Garcia Iniguez Enamorado, was small and thin. Gustavo Cardelle, his doctor and father of cousin Leonela Gonzalez that most beautiful ballet dancer, members him as having the energy and power of a giant. Although I only knew him when, old and dying and had once grumped at me because I, not yet being used to Spanish, did not use the honorific form when I addressed him. Grandfather’s friends recall him as been well humored, educated with out vanity or ostentation. He was always helpful and generous. In his strength he showed, great interest in women, a matter to which grandmother objected, but grandfather’s half-brother Eduardo Perez (son of Leonela Enamorado and Eduardo Perez) had shared together. Grandmother was not pleased.
In addition grandfather had been Cuban consul in diverse foreign lands for many years, once member of the Cuban House of Representatives, and leader of a Column of Cavalry in the 1917 Chambelona War. He built his hacienda residence “Entre Rios” (La Casa de los Generales) on a large section of land he purchased from Don Benjamín. Calixto Enamorado, the name he preferred, died on
Grandfather never knew that Fulgencio Batista had once again taken power by force. Grandfather, committed to democracy and Batista committed to power, were longstanding enemies; perhaps since the time when in the Cuban War of Independence, Batista’s father Belisario had served in his regiments.
Sixty years later
The Spring of 1956 Cuban Army Goicuria barracks near the city of
The Fall of 1956 Frank País, leader of the urban guerrillas of Castro’s 26th of July movement attacks the police and army in
The Spring of 1957 By January 17, the attack on the garrison at the mouth of
By the fall of 1957, My sisters Lucía and Leonor, had left our land for the last time; they were safe attending a convent school in
While waiting for the University to re-open I had gone to the eastern
There was much unrest against Batista in the towns, and there was military action far away from us south beyond our land in the very highest ridges of the Sierra. However, in our area apprehension smoldered.
Under its Spanish tile roof, our sprawling country house, the locals called “La Casa de los Generales,” was empty of family. I was there alone, living in another building. Our vast extended family was divided. Mother and stepfather were deep into urban resistance in
Dad was also in
One of my many uncles, Calixto Leonel, had chosen the government side. He with his wife, Aida, was in dictator-controlled Bayamo on the Cauto Plains, staying with Grandmother in a modest house she owned near the Batista Army Barracks.
The family’s mayorales (the word roughly translates to overseers, but the position of mayoral has more status, privileges and obligations), our workers and servants were keeping the farm operations going as best as they could.
My brother, Lionel, alone of the family, was still working our coffee plantation, back lot seven in the southern heights, in the area called Los Números. The coffee was sent down and north on mule trains to Entre Ríos, the northernmost and lowest portion of our lands. I was charged with unloading, stacking, and guarding the precious crop. I slept on a cot among the coffee sacks.
I sometimes went to up to see my brother at his house in the mountains. As usual I climbed the hills and mountains on foot, and as also was usual and wise, I starting the steep climb in the refreshing cool of dawn just before sunrise. After I get there, we talk, and we watch the mountains, and worry. To the south, beyond a valley, high steeply rising mountains of the main ridge of the
My brother now, almost fifty years later, tells me that in those days he had been help extinguish a fire at the foot of the crag of Peña Prieta. He tells it in first person and in the eternal present tense of vivid memories.
“I feel something pressing against my back. Turning around I see to my surprise a
“Sergeant Ortega comes out of the Cuartel, and greets me, asking Cabo Pinto why he is here. Cabo Pinto tells his sergeant that I am a “Fidelista,” a follower of Fidel Castro. That accusation is a death sentence. As proof Pinto states I was carrying a holstered long barreled .38 caliber S&W revolver.”
Of course Lionel was not a Fidelista; as to the revolver Lionel had bought it from Vergel, Uncle Calixto Leonel’s mayoral. To this, Sergeant Ortega responds to Pinto saying loud and severely, words to the effect: ”Don’t you know he, Lionel, is one of the family of the “Generales” and thus untouchable!”
So Ortega invites Lionel for a drink. As they go towards the town, Ortega mentions his family and their need; then he asks Lionel for twenty dollars. Lionel gives it to him; they do not share a drink. All seems to be a opportunity to elicit yet another bribe from the family.
At this point it seems the Batista forces are not taking Fidel Castro seriously. After all Castro’s forces reached land, late and at the wrong place, not only that but they were sick and weak, apparently having survived the trip on “rations” of amphetamines since survivors talk of taking food pills. Batista forces killed or captured, not necessarily in that order, at least half of these dazed rebels who landed with Castro. The rebels’ memories of these times are often incoherent, talking of air attack and fear. Frank País sent agents to help them escape and Batista’s forces made the mistake of breaking off pursuit. Castro under sporadic air attack and paranoid with fear, dealt harshly with spies real and imagined. The next time the Batista Government forces encountered the rebels on the ground was an attack by reorganized rebels on an isolated out post.
Úbero Later things change the war is no longer a mere game. Probably on
The Batista Government troops, wearing full battle dress, tan, not camouflage, uniforms start going downhill on Lot Seven on the sloping ridge that goes straight past Lionel’s house, towards the little river, now falsely know as the “Bayamito.”
These soldiers, although they looked so formidable and well trained, were going towards a losing action. The soldiers leapfrogged each other’s position, the lead man lying prone ready to provide cover, until he in turn was passed. Then they crossed the ”Bayamito” Stream and disappeared in the distance going and up to cross that massive main ridge
On that coast is the little and isolated
Úbero, the place of the glossy wide-leaved purple fruited sea-grape tree, usually bakes quietly in the sun in the dry rain-shadowed south coastal side of the Sierra Maestra. However, this place was busy then, for the Batista garrison there was under attack by Castro’s rebels.
The brisk and deadly action was far from Los Números and Lionel’s house, beyond the massive wall of the main ridge, down on this wall’s southern far side, many steep miles away by land. Some of the soldiers Lionel saw were going to die. My brother would not hear the sounds of battle.
Calixto Sánchez White, was a distant relative according to Mother. Calixto was born in
That year what I did not know was legion. Some of those who escaped the failed assault hid in the lower floors of Humbolt 7, below the penthouse where mother and stepfather Enrique Sanz lived. These were betrayed by a communist member of their group and were killed on
When Calixto Sánchez escaped
However, Calixto Sánchez action kept many Batista troops occupied away from the May 28th Úbero action in the southernmost part of the province. One of the few (three?) survivors of the Corynthia landing Fernando Mirelles (Virreyes) joined with the Che in the Sierra and became a rebel captain. Both Sánchez’s landing and the Úbero attack used weapons intended for the Palace assault.
Frank País the able urban leader of Castro’s 26th of July movement is betrayed by communists in the same organization and killed by Batista troops in
Ana Elsa, Lionel’s daughter, was born
Larry Daley Copyright@2001, revised 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006