[Together with] Franqui, Carlos. El libro de los 12. Havana: Guairas, Instituto del libro, 1967. 8vo (7 3/4 x 5 in; 197 x 127 mm). Half-title. Folding map. Illustrated endpapers. Illustrated boards (rubbed at corners of spine). Signed and inscribed on half-title: “Aunque no te ilustres entre estos doce camaradas y hermanos nuestros de lucha, siempre Teté estará presente como así lo ha sido. Para ti, Revolucionariamente: Fidel Castro Diciembre 21 de 1967.” (“Although you are not included among the 12 comrades and brothers of our struggle, you will always, Teté, be remembered as if you had been. Fidel Castro, December 21, 1967.”)
A powerful association, and a moving pair of inscriptions to the woman who played a key role in launching Castro’s revolution, only to later break with him and denounce his police state tactics. The article in Humanismo is inscribed just days after the flight of Batista: “A la infatigable e inquebrantable compañera de combates e ideales, Teresa Casuso, mi cariño y agradecimiento por su culto y puro halago, te dedico mi primer saludo después de la victoria ya que tu contribuiste de manera especial con tu gran aporte desde la tierra hermana que un día nos forjó como puros revolucionarios que somos, hoy día de la libertad conquistada mereces con sincero y puro reconocimiento un lugar especial y primordial en nuestro puesto de sacrificados. Fidel Catro Enero 12 de 1959, ‘Año de la liberación.’”
(“To the tireless and unbreakable comrade of struggle and ideals, Teresa Casuso, my tender thanks for your fine and pure praise, I offer my first salute after the victory to which you have now contributed in a special manner from your sister country, towards the humane land we will one day forge like the pure revolutionaries we are. Today with the liberty we have won, you deserve sincere and pure recognition, and a special and leading place among those who have sacrificed themselves. Fidel Castro, January 12, 1959, ‘The Year of Liberation.’”)
Teresa Casuso Morín (“Teté”) (1912-1994) and her first husband were activists in the opposition movement against Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado during the 1930s. Her husband was killed fighting against Franco in Spain, and “Teté” was forced into exile in Mexico City. Their she thrived as a writer, translator and actress. Fulgencio Batista's seizure of power in 1952 rekindled her youthful political passions, and the urge to fight for Cuba’s freedom. In 1956 she read in the newspaper about the detention in Mexico City of a group of Cuban revolutionaries, and she went down to visit them and their leader, Fidel Castro, in the jail. In her essay in Humanismo, Casuso described “my friend Fidel” as someone who exuded great warmth: “I immediately wanted to get to know him; I felt protected, immensely protected. This is one of his most attractive features, his ability to draw people to him, people want to be with him.”
It began a period of intense support on Casuso’s part, in which she raised the money for the group to buy arms and—crucially—a yacht, the rickety Granma—to make their clandestine return to Cuba in November 1956. Upon his victory in January 1959, she named herself “de facto” ambassador to Mexico on behalf of the new revolutionary government. For a season, she was one of his favorites—as these emotional inscriptions show. Casuso eventually grew increasingly disturbed by what she saw as his obsession with dictatorial power. She hoped to have a private meeting and present her anguished, emotional, 16-page letter of resignation to him at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem during his famous October 1960 visit, but after waiting for seven hours to no avail, she decided to announce her resignation—and defection—to the press, telling journalists that Castro “has to be at war with everybody—with the world—because he is at war with himself.” Remarkably, Castro never lost his fondness for her. In his inscription to her in Carlos Franqui’s The Book of the 12, a collection of biographical sketches of 12 key figures in the revolution, Castro writes, “Although you are not included among the 12 comrades and brothers of our struggle, you will always, Teté, be remembered as if you had been. Fidel Castro, December 21, 1967.”
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