Las Tunas.- 74 years after his death, Jesús Menéndez, General de las Cañas, is remembered in the sugar collectives for his important work and contributions to the cause of the workers, tasks to which he gave his greatest energies, and even his life.

Born in Encrucijada, Villa Clara, he was a staunch enemy of injustice and soon began union struggles in defense of workers’ rights, first in his region and then throughout the country. Identified from very early on with the communist ideology, he became, in a short time, the main sugar leader in Cuba and leader of the National Federation of Sugar Workers.

Due to his frontal attitude in defense of the workers, he won the admiration of the people, who saw in him the incorruptible representative of their interests; but also the hatred of the oligarchy, the landowners and the rulers of the day, who put a price on his head.

The battle for the payment of the sugar differential, a measure of broad benefit, would decree the end of his days, and he knew it. To the sugar workers who tried to protect him, he told them before he died: “If they kill me, you are left to continue claiming.”

On January 22, 1948, his fatal design was fulfilled. Nicolás Guillén immortalized him in his Elegy to Jesús Menéndez: “Who saw Jesus fall? No one saw him, not even his murderer. He remained standing, surrounded by rebellious canes, angry canes (…) Jesus is not in heaven, but on earth; he does not demand prayers, but fights; he does not want priests, but companions; he does not erect churches, but unions. No one can kill him.”

The truth is that the work of Jesús Menéndez immortalized him beyond his time, that is why his legacy survives to this day.

Author: Yaimara Cruz Garcia