Llerena, Mario 1913-2006

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Llerena, Mario 1913-2006

(Rafael Mario Ramón Llerena, Ara Niemoller)

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born March 5, 1913, in Placetas, Las Villas, Cuba; died December 10, 2006, in Miami, FL. Activist, journalist, and author. A supporter of Cuba’s Fidel Castro before Castro took power, Llerena later became a critic of the revolutionary leader when Castro revealed himself to be a communist. A 1940 graduate of the University of Havana, where he was a philosophy major, he taught elementary and high school classes in Cuba until 1942. Contemplating a career in the ministry, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary, but then decided to become a writer. A Spanish instructor at Duke University from 1948 to 1952, Llerena then traveled to Mexico. It was there that he first met Castro, who was living in exile and planning to overthrow the government of General Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. Llerena became a Castro supporter and wrote a pamphlet, Nuestra Razón, that was published in Mexico and stated the justification for a Cuban revolution. His writing skills and connections in the United States made him an ideal public relations person for Castro; he had his articles published in the New York Times and other newspapers in support of the cause. In 1957, when rumors were flying that Castro had died, Llerena made it known that he was alive and raising an army in the mountains of Cuba. He served as chair of the July 26 Movement in New York, the organization that supported Castro, and he also worked for freedom of speech in Cuba as head of the Committee for Cultural Freedom there. Castro and Llerena fell into a disagreement, however, when the latter participated in peace talks with the Batista government. Castro felt that Llerena had overstepped his bounds and the two parted ways. When Castro came to power two years later, the new Cuban leader made his true colors known. Llerena had thought that Castro would bring democracy to Cuba; instead, he showed himself to be a communist dictator. Llerena remained in his homeland for several years, working as a freelance writer and publishing articles against Castro’s policies. He left Cuba in 1960, however, moving to New York City and then Miami. He was an assistant editor at the University of Miami Press from 1967 to 1972, later becoming chief editor of LOGOI, Inc. Llerena penned books about the Cuban Revolution, including The Unsuspected Revolution: The Birth and Rise of Castroism (1978) and The Myth and the Mirage: Six Essays on Revolution (1995).



New York Times, December 12, 2006, p. A29.