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Arenas’s Last Words

In response to:

No Sorrow Left Unturned from the March 7, 1991 issue

To the Editors:

Those who have read the recent English translations of Reinaldo Arenas’ works The Palace of White Skunks (Viking) and Old Rosa (Grove) reviewed by Michael Wood [“No Sorrow Left Unturned,” NYR, March 7] might be surprised to learn that Reinaldo’s last words, in a letter he mailed the day he took his life, spoke not of despair but “of struggle and of hope.” Following is a translation of what Reinaldo titled his “CARTA DE DESPEDIDA”:

Dear Friends: Due to the precarious state of my health and the terrible spiritual depression I feel because I cannot continue to write and to struggle for Cuban liberty, I am ending my life. In the last years, in spite of my illness, I have finished my literary work of almost thirty years. I leave you then, as my legacy, all my terrors, but also my hopes that Cuba will soon be free. I am pleased to have played a modest part in the achievement of that liberty. I put an end to my life because I cannot continue my work. None of the persons around me are implicated in that decision. There is only one person responsible: Fidel Castro. The suffering of exile, the pain of banishment, the loneliness and disease, surely would not have come about had I lived a free man in my own country.

I urge the people of Cuba, in exile and in the island, to continue struggling for freedom. My message is not a message of defeat but of struggle and of hope.

Cuba shall be free. I already am.” Signed,

Reinaldo Arenas
J.J. Fraxedas
Altamonte Springs, Florida

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