Some time after completing his autobiography, months before his death. R. A. gave several handwritten, sealed copies of the letter below, addressed to his friends and newspapers, to D. M. K. for mailing at the appropriate time. It appeared in major U. S. papers and abroad.
Due to my delicate state of health and to the terrible emotional depression it causes me not to be able to continue writing and struggling for the freedom of Cuba, I am ending my life. During the past few years, even though I felt very ill, I have been able to finish my literary work, to which I have devoted almost thirty years. You are the heirs of all my terrors, but also of my hope that Cuba will soon be free. I am satisfied to have contributed, though in a very small way, to the triumph of this freedom. I end my life voluntarily because I cannot continue working. Persons near me are in no way responsible for my decision. There’s only one person I hold accountable: Fidel Castro. The suffering of exile, the pain of being banished from my country, the loneliness, and the diseases contracted in exile would probably never have happened if I had been able to enjoy freedom in my country.
I want to encourage the Cuban people out of the country as well as on the Island to continue fighting for freedom. I do not want to convey to you a message of defeat but of continued struggle and of hope.
Cuba will be free. I already am.
TO BE PUBLISHED
From Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas, translated by Dolores M. Koch © the Estate of Reinaldo Arenas and Dolores M. Koch, 1993. Published in the U. S. by Penguin Books. Image: Fidel is Dead in the Bowery by J. M. Alvarez