Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-144 Daily Report 25 Jul 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Fidel Castro Visits Simon Bolivar's Home, Museum

FL2607163794 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2300 GMT 25 July 94 FL2607163794 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Report by Demetrio Villaurrutia, from Cartagena de Indias, Colombia; from the "Exclusive" program]

[Text] Commander in Chief Fidel Castro visited San Pedro Alejandrino Estate, where Simon Bolivar spent his last days, on 25 July. Castro paid a surprise visit to the museum sitting on this historic site, located in Santa Marta, on the Atlantic coast. He met museum employees on Bolivar's final days. Castro was visibly moved and said he was pleased to learn more about Bolivar's life. Castro arrived just before 1200, accompanied by Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina and others. Castro expressed deep feelings and unending admiration for Bolivar in his visitor's log entry:

[Begin recording] [Castro] It has been really moving. You cannot imagine what is kept here, the love that has gone into preserving everything, the care taken to preserve the farm and the house in which he lived and died, the fatherland's altar, the museum of art from countries liberated by Bolivar. I saw the mural. Everything is impressive. I came to see the house in which he died but have been very much impressed with everything else. Everything is well organized and maintained with dignity and great commitment. I asked the museum director about staffing: Only 17 employees tend the entire place, landscaping included, gardeners, maintenance. They have a huge site because [words indistinct] there are 22 hectares. And there is the Hall of Flags. It is very, very pretty. It is one of the most beautiful and moving places I have ever seen.

[Correspondent] Have you read about Bolivar?

[Castro] I have read every book and biographical sketch that I have been able to get my hands on.

[Correspondent] What is your impression following your visit?

[Castro] The devotion I have to Bolivar is reflected in my visit, as well as in the fact that I have read so much and have admired him so much throughout my life. This is why I am so impressed. I know about Bolivar's life, up to the last book by Garcia Marquez. I have read biographies, among the best written. Bolivar is one of the greatest men in history. [end recording]

San Pedro Alejandrino Estate was built in 1608. Simon Bolivar died here on 17 December 1830, following a prolonged illness. Bolivar's personal belongings are kept on this farm, and a monument to his memory was erected by the Colombian people to show their appreciation.