It is a fact of life, but losing the iconic leaders of the Cuban exile community is still difficult. Dr. Rosa Leonor Whitmarsh y Dueñas was a scholar, historian, and tireless advocate for freedom in Cuba. The professor passed away on October 15, leaving behind an incredible legacy, but also a void in our community that will be difficult to fill. May she rest in peace.
Dr. Rosa Leonor Whitmarsh, a pillar of the Cuban exile community, passes away
Dr. Rosa Leonor Whitmarsh Dueñas, considered one of the pillars of the Cuban community in exile, passed away on October 15th, in the city of Miami, at the age of 93.
The great-granddaughter on her father’s side of General and Lieutenant of the Liberation Army, Calixto García Iñiguez, and his wife, Isabel Vélez, was born in Vedado, Havana, on May 9th, 1930.
She was a member of the board of the Lyceum and Lawn Tennis Club in Havana from 1952 to 1959, institutions that were pioneers in social work and public libraries on the island. She studied English at the University of Havana and obtained a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Letters from this institution.
In 1961, she left Cuba for Ecuador as a scholar, with the fixed idea of returning to her homeland; a dream she could never fulfill.
From Ecuador, Dr. Rosa Leonor Whitmarsh moved to Mexico, where she lived for 22 years teaching at different universities. She worked as a Professor of Greco-Latin Etymologies and Hispanic-American Literature, among other subjects.
“When I left Cuba in 1961, it was to give time its due. I went to Ecuador and then to Mexico, where I lived for 22 years. Those were 22 years thinking about Cuba. I arrived in that country with a trans-migrant visa. When I landed at the airport, no one had come to greet me. I think the Cuban government sabotaged my arrival,” she once said.
In 1984, Dr. Whitmarsh arrived in the United States where she collaborated closely with the Cuban exile community.
Her intense teaching work and her experience of republican Cuba served to promote the cause of freedom for the island.
She was a professor at Miami Dade College, a member of the Centennial Committee of the Establishment of the Republic of Cuba (2002).
She was also a member of the board of the San Carlos Institute of Key West and the editorial board of the Cuban Cultural Heritage Magazine. She also worked as a commentator on Radio Television Martí and as a columnist for Diario Las Américas.
Read more about Dr. Whitmarsh’s life and legacy in this thread from the Center for a FREE Cuba.