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    Fumero, hero of silence

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    Fumero, héroe del silencio

    Look at the hills with nostalgia. He says that it is not necessary to see them with the clarity of before. He imagines them in the distance, there, far away, where he walked trails, crossed streams and met each bird of the mountain by singing: "That's a tocororo," he says, sitting in the doorway of his house, wearing a white guayabera, a blue jean and the medal of Hero of Labor of the Republic of Cuba pinned on the chest.

    Fumero (Félix Balbino Fumero Expósito) went down and up the hills at the speed of a deer, almost always against the air and with the black face of the night falling on him; he stopped, observed, sniffed and discovered where they were with the precision of any jíbaro in the bush.

    «The insurgents hid anywhere. Where least one thought, there you heard them: inside a cave, on top of a tree, inside the bushes. They walked night and day. I never let myself be seen, because if they saw me it was certain death.

    «I knew of intimacies and secret work within many gangs in the area of ​​Los Ramones, Marroquí, Tamarindo, Venegas (where he was born), Jicotea, Jíquima, Guano Cana, places from which I was evicted four times, until Fidel invited us to Havana to the old man and me and they gave us the land. After Fidel's triumph, I fulfilled many tasks related to the land and to the care of my Revolution.

    «I love my revolution and the land so much because I suffered a lot from the eviction and the offenses of those caciques and bosses who believed they owned everything and dominated with the help of figureheads, closed-minded people who did not believe in supplication or forgiveness; Not even their mothers.

    Fumero, when he was a child he had no toys: no balls, no spinning tops, no quimbumbias, no wooden horses, no "yoy of oxen" with bottles tied to the yoke to wing with a cord.

    It is not an exaggeration to say that Fumero was born a boy-man.

    «For toys I had horses and oxen, but the real ones to work the tobacco field. With 10 years, I worked like the most. After the old man broke his leg, I had to take care of the family, because behind each coin earned with sweat, there were 10 mouths that opened and closed, waiting for me to arrive with the little money. I even had a brother who paid for his studies so that he could advance. He was a leader and was always integrated into the Revolution. That was good for me, because the road never twisted.

    Because if he did, for Fumero it was a betrayal. This is how he sees it now, after sleepless nights and walking through the mountains with convinced passion and seeing the work that he also helped build.

    «Betrayal and not telling the truth is what bothers me the most. I do not admit the lie, because when the person lies only once, I can no longer believe him in life.

    There was no work that a human being could do in agriculture, or anywhere else, that this man sitting across from me, with a good memory for his age and speaking slowly, did not do, because a lot of memories hurt, especially the ones from before January 1, 1959, when hope appeared on the eastern hills.

    Fumero stopped leaving the limits of several kilometers around and flattened himself in Mamonal; later he did it in a place near Las Pojas, where together with 24 peasants from the area he founded the Roberto Carvajal Agricultural Production Cooperative, for many years, the best in the country in the cultivation of tobacco.

    «I dedicated my best times to tobacco and gave it my life. I feel like it's not the same now. The tradition of the new cigar makers has been lost. I do not know what's happening. Well, to tell the truth, many things happen, from the lack of resources, of the technological package that previously arrived complete and on time, to the unwillingness of new people to go to the countryside, because of the education of the parents, of computers, of modern telephones with cartoons and games inside. All that is better than tilling the land. I know it from my own grandchildren. I said that back in Havana on one occasion.

    After he stepped down as president of the cooperative, he returned to field work, "as a common soldier." At 87 years old, he was still. Moreover, he didn't get tired.

    «More or less around that time my left eye burst and I continued working like that. I took out my handkerchief, cleaned it and continued, without giving them a chance to see me. Until they found out and Gonzalo —his replacement and current president of the CPA— and part of my family took me to Havana, to the League against Blindness and they operated on me and checked my eye. It was a bit funny, but it's my eye. Nothing cost me and I even slept with air conditioning and everything. Too much luxury for a humble peasant.

    "Did you know many rebels?"

    —Sure, but I can't give you many details.

    —Fumero, and why were you named head of the CPA?

    —I think because he is an honest and revolutionary man."Would you like to go back to the mountain?"

    Of course, I'm sure it would cure my ailments.

    —A sad moment in the fight against the bandits and in his life.

    —The loss of some brothers and my wife. When Isidro Piñeiro was killed, back by the Ramones. He went around womanizing, as I did on occasions. That day he ignored me and lost his life.

    —Reasons that make your life happy.

    — My family, my revolution. When I met Camilo and he gave me the shotgun and when President Díaz-Canel gave me this Labor Hero Medal. It was the only time I've felt a chill like that, like a tremor. I still can not believe it. I have the medal here, but the shotgun was picked up one day and they still haven't returned it to me. I want to have it to give it to the museum and for the boys and young people to see that here 'there were' many humble people who fought hard to defend the rebels who freed this great revolution and us from slavery.