The last history club encounter for the academic year was set, our special guest would be the internationally respected Cuban intellectual and revolutionary thinker Pedro Pablo Rodríguez who is visiting Belize on the invitation of Sapna Budhrani, president of NICH.
The fact that he was coming to our little history club made the excitement all the more palpable. As the room slowly filled with students, a call came that there would be a slight delay due to traffic. However, the wait allowed for more anticipation to build and when the man from Havana arrived students lined up and started to cheer spontaneously like a rock star was entering the room.
It was pure hype as Pedro Pablo came into sight and stood in front of the young men in white and blue. He leaned over to me and said, “no girls!” He then turned to the art mural that the students had prepared featuring the two icons of Cuban and Belizean Independence, Jose Martí and George Price. He read the names of the students who made the art work and gave a salute to the crowd showing gratitude for such an act of intention and solidarity.
After Pedro Pablo spoke, a group of 3rd form students came forward led by Corbin Wallen. He read a letter to Pedro Pablo that they had collectively signed. One line that resonated across the room full of youths, “we want to thank you personally for taking the time to come and visit a group of teenage students who want to hear your revolutionary thoughts. On many occasions, we are taken for granted or marginalized from public and academic discussions but your visiting is a humbling show of love for humanity and progress.”
Pedro Pablo is the principal researcher at the Martí Studies Center in Havana, Cuba. At the end of the encounter one of our most outstanding History Club members Ismar Andrade gave a vote of thanks. Ismar had spent four years since first form in the front row of all our encounter. I could see joy in the eyes of our special guest.
Pedro Pablo came to Belize to trace the footsteps of Jose Martí, who spent time in then British Hondras in the 19th Century. And I know he felt the presence of Martí in our students, that spirit to never surrender, to live the fight for the people, for freedom and social justice.