Havana, Wednesday 19 de December de 2018 11:26 am

The handkerchief Fidel gave me

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The handkerchief Fidel gave meOn April 9, 1966, an event marked Miriam Rojas Pardo for life. On that date, the then18-year-old girl received, according to her, one of the best gifts ever: a handkerchief belonging to the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, who gave it to her with his unmistakable signature and the date and place.

Today, this woman, now in her seventies, recalls that on that day she was preparing a student´s activity in her hometown, jagueyal, in the Cuban central province of Ciego de Avila, to mark the anniversary of the April 9, 1958 national strike against the Batista dictatorship.
"I was far from imagining that in the courtyard of my house, in the same lot of land that dad cleaned up a few days ago to plant food, I would see a helicopter descend with Fidel on it."
Miriam comments, full of emotions, as if she were reliving those moments, that regardless of the dust that raised by the chopper she ran towards its shouting: That´s Fidel!
I feel very proud to be the first peasant of Jagüeyal, who had the privilege of seeing and embracing him, I showed him the way by where he could pass and I helped him cross a fence that was in the backyard of my house, I opened the front door and walked by his side to the first collection center in Camagüey, at that time, that Fidel had come to inaugurate in a surprising way, she says.
"Very quickly, the square was filled with people to hear him speak. I stayed in a corner of the stairs, when he finished his speech and among the multitude that cheered him, he put his hand on my head and asked me if I was a pioneer."
When I told him that I was the guide of the pioneers, he smiled and passed his arm around my shoulders and began a dialogue with me as if he had known me forever. I do not forget his interest in knowing the main needs of the community, the functioning of the organizations of the masses, of the youth and the Party. Nothing was alien to him, she says
"I was so excited that without a second thought, I invited him to participate in the act of initiation of the pioneers, he thanked me for the gesture with a lot of affection but had little time and had to be with the macheteros of the battalion of the sugar syndicate that worked very close to where we were."
As Fidel is unique - Miriam says with shiny eyes - in that moment he took out of one of his pockets the handkerchief that he had brought with him and told me: "Look, it's brand-new," and asked me to turn around so he could sign it on my back, I felt that writing on my skin.
"Already face to face, he tells me that he was giving it as a symbol, as if he were present, and encourages me to initiate my best pioneers with the handkerchief and so I did."
Fifty-two years went by and Miriam not only fulfilled that request of the Commander but also with the one of studying and being prepared for the future and always being faithful to the principles of the Revolution.
I was a volunteer teacher for a long time, I studied shorthand, I helped dad in the work of the field and when it was given the possibility I enrolled in the university and became a major in Economics, she adds with healthy satisfaction.
This woman dedicated with love the best years of that profession as head of audit at the Ministry of the Interior, from whom she retired with the rank of Major.
When the Commander died, she was with her mother in the provincial hospital of Ciego de Ávila. I lived through moments of great pain, my old lady, who was 92 years old, survived, but Fidel, who I always saw as my other father, no, and that's what I suffered, she explains with a knot in her throat.
Every now and then, she caresses Fidel's handkerchief, which she guards with zeal and at the same time with sadness for not being able to wash it, so the owner's signature won't be erased.
"I want to fulfill a wish, which since December of two years ago I have: to go to Santa Ifigenia cemetery to tell my commander that I haven't failed him."

 

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