‘Thank You Fidel’: Puerto Rican Poet and Ex-Political Prisoner

Rafael Cancel Miranda was part of an assault on the U.S. capital building in 1954 demanding the independence of Puerto Rico from U.S. colonial rule.

I give thanks to life
for my boricua skies,
my soul, nationalist
my belief, Fidelista.

I give thanks to life
for the courage to fight,
for the courage to confront
the imperialist beast.

I give thanks to life
for Isabel and Albizu
and for those friends
who served as guides.

I give thanks to life
for my brave people,
who have honorably
kept their soul alive.

I give thanks to life
for the light on my path,
and for marking my destiny
with that of my country.

Having just finished this poem, I learned of the physical death of compañero Fidel. In order to honor one who honored us so much, I gave the poem the title, “Thank You, Fidel” and in his honor, I changed one word in the poem.

This morning a journalist interviewed me about Fidel’s death, although he has not died in my mind. Fidel will keep on for a good while. The imperialist mafia did its best so he would not reach 50 years old, but being Fidel, his body decided which day he would pass away.

In 1977, I was imprisoned in a U.S. jail when they killed my father. Thanks to the popular pressure, the yankee government was compelled to allow my transfer to Puerto Rico for seven hours so I could attend the funeral. Journalists asked me how I felt, and I responded I did not come to cry his death, but celebrate his life, just as I am saying about Fidel.

Thanks to Fidel and the revolutionary Cuban government, as well as the international campaign to release the five nationalists, we were released from prison on Sept. 10, 1979. They negotiated a prisoners’ exchange, including CIA agent Lawrence Lunte, imprisoned in Cuba.

A reporter asked me if I would go to Cuba, but as you know Fidel, I never accepted the U.S. citizenship imposed on the Puerto Ricans by the yankee congress, and I don’t accept their passport either, a requirement to travel abroad. I will not be able to physically be there, but emotionally and mentally I will be with you and the heroic people of Cuba.

There is much I could say about you, but for the moment I just want to tell you, in the name of Puerto Rico and of all those your example will continue to inspire in the struggle for a better world.

Thank you, Fidel!

Wherever you are, always forward, compañero! Venceremos!


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