Ernesto Fernández Travieso

* 1939

  • “We were clear on presenting our movements as social, not political. We were demanding change in the country’s social institutions. We wanted to talk openly about what our society needed, about the corruption present both during Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and other previous administrations. We wanted to purge our country of it. Nobody in the government was interested in it. Nobody. We were the only ones to talk about the necessity of social change, a change that would bring justice and peace. And suddenly they clipped our wings and let a lot of us know they would incarcerate us and put an end to our movements. So we took to the streets to unite with other movements that were, like us, against the new socialist-communist ideals.”

  • “At that point it was clear to us that the revolution was by far not what we had imagined. We realized there wasn’t going to be any revolution. There was one leader only and the revolution would be imposed on us by a small group of people. The communists weren’t against Fulgencio Batista the dictator. They came later, and they actually praised him. There’s this famous letter they sent to Batista, asking for forgiveness. That was after the attack on the presidential palace that so many students took part in, a lot of them were killed because it was them who wanted Batista’s end. Actually there were several letters like that, from various communist institutions, and they even appeared in communist press. They were pleading Batista to forgive the students for this insult to democratic ideas to get on good terms with him.”

  • “And that compelled us to react, because we were seeing clearly that we weren’t contributing to a revolution on our own will, that instead we were taking part in a revolution imposed upon us by a totalitarian regime and by Fidel Castro who had a very dark past, he’d gotten involved in a lot of trouble, and his presence in general wasn’t really to Cuba’s benefit. At that point the international movement had already formed. It came to be because of the Bogotazo riots in Colombia. He was involved in so many things, and then he went to Mexico where he met Che Guevara (Ernesto Guevara de la Serna), who had a really bad reputation all over Latin America’s history, and he started to campaign for those ideals of his; meanwhile, people who meant well, and there was plenty of them, young students mostly, were completely pushed aside.”

  • “Well, my family had always supported the liberation movement, and when Fidel Castro started giving signs of what his plans were, we found the things he and the people around him wanted to be a bit strange. There was plenty of people who knew what democracy means in Cuba, a lot of students who were against all of that, against Batista’s dictatorship, and who didn’t want ideas that limit our thinking and conscience to get to us. We realized it pretty soon, because in the beginning we all wanted to take part in the revolution, hoping it would change our thinking, but definitely not this way.”

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    Miami, USA, 11.06.2021

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We knew we weren’t assisting the revolution of our own will; we were taking part in a revolution imposed on us by a totalitarian regime

Fernández Travieso Ernesto, 2021
Fernández Travieso Ernesto, 2021
photo: Post Bellum

Ernesto Fernández Travieso was born on July 28th 1939 in Cuba. His family originated from San José de las Tajas, which is now in the Mayabeque province but belonged formerly to the La Habana province. He and his two brothers did not want to follow their father’s footsteps and become doctors, so Ernesto enrolled in Social Sciences and Diplomatic Law at the University of Havana. During the Batista regime, he took part in demonstrations against Fulgencio Batista organized by students of the university. He saw the repression of demonstrants at these protests. On January 1st 1959, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, he opposed the communist regime Fidel Castro Ruiz wanted to install in Cuba. Because of his opposition to the new regime, he had to live in illegality. As his situation worsened, he then left Cuba through the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and headed to the US. 15 days after the Bay of Pigs Invasion, he returned to the island illegaly. He was a member of the Student Revolutionary Directorate. He went back to the US and joined the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits. He studied there and was later ordained. Currently he lives in the United States.