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La Colmenita in Washington: With Tony, on his birthday (+ Photos)

By Carlos Alberto Cremata, La Colmenita Director, Special to Cubadebate

Photos: Bill Hackwell, with captions by Alicia Jrapko

Photo: Bill Hackwell

Today, October 16, was another beautiful day in this tour of the U.S. capital.

We had the enormous pleasure of visiting the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum where we had many moving experiences, among them the unforgettable Planetarium, the Apollo 10, and the first flight of the Wright brothers.

Afterwards, we visited the White House. There the children engaged in a spirited dialogue with Concepción Martín (“Connie”), a Spaniard with U.S. citizenship who has held a peaceful vigil in front of the White House since 1981!!! Thirty years, twenty-four hours a day in Lafayette Park, facing the White House, “suffering” as she told us, “prohibitions, cruelties and incidents, temperatures below freezing in winter and extremely elevated in summer, rain and snow. Why am I here? To make the people who visit the White House understand that we cannot live under the continual threat of global nuclear war that would mean the end of humanity. I am here for peace, because at the end of the day there’s nothing more important.”

Later the children went on to enjoy themselves, play and interact with friends from the Cuban solidarity movement, in a warm house in Maryland, and just when they were playing with their balls, bicycles, and were at the height of their games, once again there was a cry: “Guys! Tony Guerrero is calling…and it’s his birthday today!” We immediately passed the telephone around and quickly improvised a “Happy Birthday” chorus which turned into an infectious conga in the La Colmenita style, imitating Los Papines [a Cuban percussion group]. Afterwards we had a lovely conversation where the story was repeated about the group of children who dedicate themselves to lifting the spirits of those who suffer the unspeakable, and become re-energized with a stronger and more serene initiative than ever.

Tony told us that he’d spent his birthday with a visit from his family that had made him extremely happy and that “Imagine, now I’m talking with all of you…”

In an attempt to calm the moment down, Carolina Fernández began to sing a song to Tony that has become very popular among the members of La Colmenita whenever a beloved has a birthday, and she sang softly into the receiver the tender song “Besitos” [Little kisses], by our friend David Torrens. Our brother Tony was so moved that he said to Carolina: “You can’t imagine how I’ll sleep tonight after having received all these little kisses from all of you”…and later he told me very quietly: “This conversation with your kids is one of the gifts that I had kept for myself on this birthday.”

Carolina is the same girl who plays a leading role in one of the scenes from Abracadabra, when one night, after one of the first rehearsals while she is sleeping in Muma’s (the teacher in Abracadabra) house, in the middle of a power blackout, she says that she can’t sleep because of the heat and mosquitoes. After a long silence, Carolina, a child who at the time was only ten years old, asked quietly, “Muma, how will the Cuban Five sleep? …Will they be hot? Do their cells have windows?”

Days later when by chance that question reached Tony’s family, they sent a message to La Colmenita: Tell Carolina that Tony saw his first window in these twelve years… last May.”

This is one of the lines spoken by Carolina, playing María Silvia, in our Abracadabra.

La Colmenita in Washington. Photo: Bill Hackwell

La Colmenita in Washington. Photo: Bill Hackwell

La Colmenita in Washington. Photo: Bill Hackwell

"In the evening when we were at the house of a friend in solidarity, enjoying their friendship, a call came from Tony, who after talking with Tin and some of the children and with a bit more time left before lockup, told him that this was the birthday gift he'd wanted. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to him and a little bee, with all the sweetness in the world, sang "Besitos," disarming everyone. It was unforgettable." - Alicia Jrapko. Photo: Bill Hackwell

La Colmenita in Washington. Photo: Bill Hackwell

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