About the 20th of October, Cuban Culture Day (considering the date on which La Bayamesa was first sung, which later became our National Anthem), Magazine AM: PM joins the debates of historical, musicological, gender and legal that this work has unleashed, which ultimately is also a Cuban musical piece.
All Cubans know the history. We have read it in the stories of Martí, we have seen it in the illustrations of our primary textbooks: Perucho Figueredo, mounted on his horse Pajarito, gives the final touches to La bayamesa, just in time for the people to sing it and become the battle hymn of the insurgent camps. It sounds good, right? Only, however epic the event may seem, it has little or no historical bases at all.
The composition of our hymn was not the result of Figueredo's inspiring outburst, but of conscientious and patient work. And for that, he counted on the collaboration of someone that probably nobody has ever presented us in the classrooms or in the history books: Isabel Vázquez, Perucho's wife. Yes, the national anthem of Cuba is, as one would say today, a featuring.
The history of the musical work that in the last 150 years has functioned as the main patriotic anthem of the young Cuban nation, swarms with contradictions. It is debated about the name with which it should appear in the official documents, about whether or not Perucho Figueredo was the only composer of the melody, there is a debate about the exact moment when he was intoned for the first time with the epic connotation that the future assured him. There has even been "affronts " and "reproaches " among those who do not agree on the exact order of these two nouns in the second verse of the second stanza.
But less has been written about the fact - practically incontestable according to historical testimonies collected by the press of the time - that Perucho Figueredo is, yes, the composer of the work he named La bayamesa (with Patriotic Anthem as subtitle) as musical score, while the lyrics belong to the authorship or at least to the co-authorship of his wife, Isabel Vázquez. Even ordinary Cubans do not know it, nor has it been properly recognized by History with capital letters.
In 1851, the Philharmonic Society was re-founded in Bayamo, by Perucho Figueredo (who directed it) and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. Among its members were Juan Clemente Zenea, José Fornaris, José Joaquín Palma and José María Izaguirre. "... This foundation became the soul of the Bayamo culture and an important center for the promotion of science, art, and civic values, determining in the consolidation of a patriotic conscience" tells the historian Mario Cobas-Sanz.
In the context of that intellectual climate and the political climate that preceded the first of our wars, Francisco Maceo Osorio asked Perucho Figueredo to compose "La marsellesa de Cuba". Perucho Figueredo titled his hymn La bayamesa. With that name, Martí published it twice in the newspaper Patria. So it appears titled in the only autograph signed by Perucho preserved until today. Any other writing, including everything that was in Perucho and Isabel´s house, must have been turned into ashes in the Bayamo fire.
Isabel and her sister Luz - it has been said that they were twins - shared the beauty and the fine and broad family culture, notorious even in such a cultured and connected world with the Bayamo of that time. Luz Vázquez had been secretary of the Board of Women of the Philharmonic Society in its first stage.
Eulalia, the oldest daughter of the marriage of Perucho and Isabel, married the eldest son of the patriot Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, known as Carlitos. The latter counted for the Veracruz newspaper Diario Comercial, dated November 5, 1897 about the writing of La bayamesa / patriotic anthem: "I remember that one day in March of 1868, we were sitting in the living room of the house of the Las Mangas mill, [...], its owner Pedro Figueredo, his wife Isabel Vázquez, his daughter Eulalia and I, who we already had the music and only the words were missing, that Isabel, his wife, adapted to the incipient bars of Figueredo, who was not a poet, while his wife and my unforgettable mother-in-law, Isabelita, composed very nice patriotic verses, of which some of them still remember , their children. [...] ». As Cobas-Sanz states in a documented study: "If we grant probative value to what Céspedes Jr. has stated, we have to admit that Isabel Vázquez is also the author of the Hymn."
Days before he died, Perucho wrote to Isabel: "Today a court-martial has been held to judge me and, as the result cannot be doubtful, I hasten to write to advise you of the most Christian resignation (...) the last plea, what I do to you, is that you try to live and do not leave our children orphans (...) in heaven we will see each other and in the meantime, do not forget in your prayers your husband who loves you ".
Perucho asked Isabel to try "to live". But today's Cubans have been unable to recognize his life, his history and his co-authorship of the hymn.
Isabel Vázquez died in 1873 and was buried in Key West, United States. Today she is a stranger in Cuba.
The most complete exception that we know of this silence is a thesis of the Faculty of Law defended by the very young and then quasi-lawyer Paloma González Alfonzo in 2011, who intentionally mixes theories of copyright, gender studies, and history - an unusual thing in degree work- to present as one of its most clear conclusions: "Gender stereotypes reserved for Isabel VÁZQUEZ, a place in the independence history only as a wife of Perucho, a patriot like him, who set fire to his house and left luxuries and comforts to go to the jungle that glorious January 11, 1869, who accompanied him in his ideas and actions and gave the country 11 children. She must also be recognized by the Author's Right as the creator of a work in co-authorship, together with Pedro FIGUEREDO, who survives today as the only person in charge of such a great creation. "
The author, expressly and clearly, recommends to the National Copyright Center (CENDA), vindicate the authorship of Isabel VÁZQUEZ as the creator of the lyrics of the National Anthem (sic) and, consequently, request the National Assembly of the People's Power, the modification of article 9 of the Law of the National Symbols, Law No. 42 of 1988, which should be worded as follows: The Patriotic Anthem "La bayamesa", Is the symbol of the nation, whose lyrics and melody were composed by Pedro FIGUEREDO CISNEROS and Isabel VÁZQUEZ MORENO ....