August 8, 2003: Inter-American News Service, Buenos Aires

Ann Ball: Rogelio Gonzalez Corso and the Cuban martyrs

Gonzalo Guimaraens

The North American writer Ann Ball has launched a book about contemporary exemplary Catholic figures in which she has included an emotional chapter on the young Cuban martyr Rogelio Gonzalez Corso, member of the Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria, shot by the communists in the prison of La Cabaña, La Habana, in 1961 ("Faces of Holiness - Modern Saints in Photos and Words", Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, Indiana, Toll-free:1-800-348-2440).

Rogelio made his secondary studies in the Colegio de Belen, run by the Jesuit Fathers, and later he graduated as an agronomist engineer at the University of Havana. During his university studies, he entered the Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria, where he was an exemplary member, taking communion and reciting the rosary daily, and noted for his devotion to Our Lady of Charity del Cobre.

In 1959, when Fidel Castro took power, Rogelio occupied for a brief time an administrative appointment in the Ministry of Agriculture. He abandoned this when he perceived the pro-communist and anti-Catholic direction of the new regime, and became a clandestine leader of the resistance of a group of young Catholics. About this decision, Ms. Ball comments, "Rogelio decided then to offer his life to eradicate communism and to recover for God his beloved homeland." The 18th of March, 1961, he was arrested by Castro's forces. After a summary and secret judgment, he died in a wall of bullets on April 20 of the same year, crying out "Long live Christ the King! down with communism! Viva the Agr...." He was not able to finish saying "Agrupacion Universitaria" because the discharge of bullets ended his life.

Rogelio Gonzalez Corso sent a letter to his family written a few hours before his death that constitutes a true spiritual legacy, with courageous principles that serve to illuminate the Christian reconstruction of Cuba.

After I wrote a modest article, "Cuban martyrs: not for oblivion" (Diario Las Américas On Line, Nov. 12, 1998) in 1998, I was contacted by Ms. Ball, soliciting more information. I am a witness to her patience and tenacious effort to obtain from the exiled Cubans unpublished documentation about Rogelio Gonzalez Corso and other young Catholic martyrs of the island. One magnificent result of this deposit is this chapter of her recent book.

Ann Ball has overcome the obstacles of the passing of time which obscures, with the intent to attract us to the inimitable and heroic witness these young martyrs have given.

The North American writer has also referred to the historic and brotherly petition, "Holy Father, rescue from oblivion the Cuban martyrs, victims of communism!" signed by five hundred of the most representative personalities of the Cuban exile. This document was carried to Rome by Sr. Sergio F. de Paz and Dr. Enrique J. Canton, who delivered it into the hands of a high dignitary of the Secretary of State of the Vatican on October 14, 1999. This dignitary signed a protocol showing the receipt of the document in this act.

Dr. Armando Lago, in his book in preparation "The Human Cost of the Social Revolution" mentions in a brief manner, but fundamental for the recovery of the historic memory of Cuba and the church, the practically hidden history of two Cuban religious that died in the Castro jails: Sister Maria Echevarria, detained and assassinated by the government police in Santiago de Cuba in 1961; and Sister Aida Rosa Perez, prisoner for several months in dependencies of the Security of the State in Pinar del Rio, who suffered a heart attack during a brutal interrogation and died without medical assistance in 1967.

Silence about works of this nature only serves the partisans of Castro and those who have an interest in saving the wreckage of his dire regime.