Aureliano! The most wanted man in Cuba, his picture on the front page of the newspapers and his powerful-sounding name, with almost as many syllables as letters, flying the flag of revolution and symbolizing the promise of retribution—the talk of the town. Where was he? What was he up to? When would he march on the government? He seemed to be the only one challenging Batista, and his name was beginning to take on mythical dimension. Everyone seemed to have known him—when he was a leftist student leader, when he was in jail, when he was a professor at Havana University, when he was a minister in Prío’s government. A multiplicity of qualities were attributed to him without any accompanying evidence, and references to him were made in low voices and with serious expressions; a legend was emerging—a legend-on-credit, based on deeds to come, but a legend nevertheless—and this was just what was needed to keep the anti-Batista spirits up. The police were looking for Aureliano, the press speculated daily about his whereabouts, the street was full of rumors on what he was planning—and I was on my way to meet him.
The meeting had been arranged by Raúl Roa, dean of the School of Social Sciences at Havana University and an old revolutionary firebrand from the 1930s, to whom I was directed by a former teacher of mine and political activist of the Roa generation, Asunción Díaz Cuervo, after I had gone to her for advice and assistance in getting in touch with Aureliano’s people. It appeared as if Aureliano was the only one willing to confront the government, the only one engaging in action proper to the circumstances. The Auténtico and Ortodoxo parties had lost total relevancy by failing to respond adequately to Batista’s challenge, although their