Cuba’s Abakuá Society Honors its Martyrs


Photo Feature by Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — At the corner of Morro and Colón Streets in Old Havana a commemoration was held remembering 13 young Cubans, whites and blacks, executed by the Spanish colonial government on November 27, 1871. The whites were medical students and the blacks, anonymous Abakuá brothers.


Few people know that on the day of the scheduled execution of the students, the five Abakua members between the ages of 14 and 22, organized an attempt to free them. They were bayonetted and shot and their names erased from the public registry and their memory excluded from epic narrative history of the Cuban nation.

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4 thoughts on “Cuba’s Abakuá Society Honors its Martyrs

  • Well, it is a well known fact that history is written by those who hold power. These were obscure historical events in colonial Cuba that are part of the folklore on this particular secret society. There are many others of which, other than oral traditions, there is not much in terms of documented evidence. For the last 50+ years the regime has not been interested in such events since there is no ideological/political angle to exploit.

  • Sympathetic to truth and reconciliation. What is the source of the data for the 13 if they and the event were “erased from the public registry”? Is it Abakua oral history, a particularly family (oral or newly discovered archival) history? I’m the author of one of the only books in any language on the Abakua. I’d like to know.

  • Why is it so much of our nation’s history goes unrecorded, is denied to our children, are rarely honored, but always remembered?

    Is this another expression of racism, a self imposed ignorance on the nation and a failed attempt to erase history?

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