For more than five terms, Irma Vera González directed the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) in the municipality of Jesús Menéndez. I still think I see her, in my childhood, empowered at her headquarters on 13th Street, in Chaparra.
Las Tunas, Cuba - When she took over the job, she had already made her way in these roles. However, all of them remained exclusive to her memories, because, in that town of sugar mill dust and memories, Irma is the president of more than one female generation, just that. And that is enough to inscribe her with golden letters in the history of such lovely places.
Now I find her again. She is in Las Tunas to receive the FMC 60th Anniversary Commemorative Seal. I know she deserves it. Behind that laurel is the work of the best years of her life, the sacrifice of the family and also an endless number of anonymous names that equally, through Irma, receive the honors.
She insists that we are not talking about an organization conceived for a group of women to advance and take their steps towards the construction of the dreamed-of society. Of course not, Vilma Espín herself once commented on this, and that illustrious woman from Santiago, as the virtuous patriot that she was, thought big.
"Vilma was a beauty made person. I remember that we were participating in a seminar at the Habana Libre Hotel. She shared with us and at one point she told us that the Federation was not created for a group of women, but for all women. The objective has always been that every day all women in Cuba live better, with more rights".
She speaks of Vilma, of her very white skin, of that mixture of sweetness and strength that made her beautiful in front of her eyes and, while she does it, she does not stop smiling.
"I met her here in Las Tunas, at a business meeting. Then I saw her in what was Juan Claro Key (now Puerto Carúpano) and then we shared in a visit she made to 'Jesus Menendez'. I have in my memory the occasion when she personally handed me the flag of the first place reached when the Third Congress of the FMC, with that smile".
Her eyes get lost among so many memories and when she is about to tell something else, someone announces that we have to take our places, because the activity that has brought us to the Vicente García González Memorial has almost begun. She is about to receive another medal; I, just around the corner, pay attention to everything.
They say her name and I think of my grandmother, who is already old; of Dulce Ramírez, Virginia Ricardo, Margot Montero, Gisela Solís, Luisa Rodríguez and many other women of her time. Most of them from Chaparra, like Irma.
Simple people who for decades walked the same path in the Batey, Salgacero, Laguna Blanca, or Santa María 14. All of them, women who sowed their country in small spaces so that the seed could reach us as fruit 60 years later. The recognition that Irma's chest now shows, I know, also goes to them.