Friday, February 26, 2021

The Crime of Loving Liberty

Senior photo of Luis Torroella '55A few weeks ago, we facilitated an event at the invitation of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. The Rauner session was one of many events and activities planned by the Center for its 'Round the Girdled Earth program that will run through August of this year. For the months of January and February, the program made a virtual stop in Latin America and the Caribbean, and so we shared some of our materials from the archives and rare book collections that were relevant to that region.

Among the items we shared was the alumni file of Luis Torroella, a member of the class of 1955 and a Cuban national. After graduation, Torroella joined the Cuban underground in an attempt to overthrow the corrupt Batista regime in his homeland. Reports vary as to whether he was an employee of Batista's regime while fighting against it, but it is generally acknowledged that after the revolution he became the Assistant Minister of Finance in the new government. However, his love for Cuba ultimately proved to be his undoing. When Castro and the revolutionary government embraced Communism, Torroella openly opposed the change and eventually resumed underground resistance.

Luis Torroella was arrested by the Cuban government on June 7th, 1961, on charges of working for the Batista regime, fleeing the island in 1960 to promote uprisings, and being the leader of a group of twelve men who were planning to assassinate Fidel Castro. After being moved from La CabaƱa prison in Havana to Puerto Boniato prison, Torroella was shot to death by representatives of the Cuban government on October 31st, 1962.

After the news of Torroella's execution reached the US, the Washington Daily News published an uprecedented editorial titled "A Friend Dies." In their brief but moving address to their readership, the newspaper editors asserted that "Luis' crime was that he loved liberty, and all of us who enjoy freedom can never repay and must never forget our debt to those who, like him, die for it." Eleven years later, his daughter, Cynthia Torroella, followed her father's footsteps into Hanover as a member of the class of 1977.

To learn more about Luis Torroella '51, ask to see his alumni file.