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The Abakuá Sect and its link with the events of 1871 in Havana

Abakuá the ñáñigos

´´Places like men acquire a certain celebrity and renown, due to the events in them or because of them, that history should not do without mentioning´´ (...)

With these wise words from Máximo Gómez we evoke the 13 souls of young Cubans who were deprived of life through fire and the sights of the Havana Volunteer Corps.

While the University Student Federation makes a pilgrimage every year that starts from the steps of the University of Havana and ends at the mausoleum erected in honor of the eight medical students, the ñáñigos go to the intersection of Morro and Colón streets in Havana Old in order to pay tribute to the five Abakuas fallen in this same place, who tried to prevent with their own blood that the infamous act was consummated through a small armed rebellion.

The names of the Abakuás still remain under anonymity, not being their value and their spirit of justice.

It is known that among the future doctors there was a white ñáñigo, it should be noted that this type of membership was granted to few men of that skin color called: Alonso Álvarez de la Campa y Gamba, who belonged to the game Akanarán Efó Muñón, a fact demonstrated thanks to the research of the prominent historian Serafín Quiñones.

The other medical students involved in the incident were named Anacleto Bermúdez, Eladio González Toledo, Ángel Laborde Perera, José de Marcos Medina, Juan Pascual Rodríguez, Carlos de la Torre and Carlos Verdugo, who were in the prime of youth.

This crime is collected as one of the saddest and bloodiest events within the Cuban idiosyncrasy

The seeds of the fury of the Volunteer Corps took place as a result of the Cuban independence uprising unleashed on October 10, 1868, which unleashed a wave of brutal repressions against the people.

Years later, this military group was in charge of starring in the Villanueva Theater massacre that took place on January 22, 1869, an event that left dozens injured and four dead.

On November 23, 1871, the young doctors went to the Old Cemetery of Espada, in order to wait for the next shift change, since the professor who was supposed to give them the class session had not been able to attend the university that day, April 4. They took the cart that transported the corpses through the interior of the cemetery to the anatomical dissection room, one plucked a flower and the other two simply toured the place.

The youths were subjected to a military court martial. The crime they were accused of was the desecration of the tomb of the Spanish journalist Gonzalo de Castañón.

The defense of the defendants ran at the hands of Federico Capdevila, who not only proved his innocence but also managed to make the sentences attacked against them light.

The Volunteers, not happy with the verdict, called another council to be tried again.

Eight students were finally sentenced, of whom three were chosen at random, condemning them to the death penalty by firing squad, among them was Carlos Verdugo who was not in Havana on the day the events took place.

Another 35 students belonging to the same faculty were sentenced to various prison terms, among these was Fermín Valdés Domínguez who reflected years later this bloody event in a book which he used to do justice to the memory of his fallen classmates, this being also the person responsible 16 years after the murder, of finding the bodies and burying his classmates.

The intervention of the ñáñigos marked a before and after in history

On November 27, 1871, minutes before the firing squad took place, five armed Abakuás stormed the scene in a bold attempt to prevent the fatal outcome of such a dire situation.

Despite the fact that the ñáñigos were only 5 men against a firing squad and other officers, history recognizes that they were outnumbered and outgunned by the Spaniards, but never in courage and humanity, these great Cubans fell along with the eight students of medicine in an act of sublime sacrifice, honoring his manhood and his unwavering promise of brotherhood.

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