Thursday, June 13

The Rescue of Evangelina Cisneros

The events that culminated in the rescue of Evangelina Cosio y Cisneros go to make up a story little less than wonderful. She was only eighteen years old, cultured, talented and beautiful and the cruel fate that made her case stand out among so many wrongs was that she was being persecuted, not for any part she had taken in rebellion against Spain, but for resisting the insulting advances of a savage Spanish officer whose brutality had brought him the well-earned disgrace of being known across the world as "that beast in uniform". It was he who held the life and liberty of Evangelina’s father in his hands, and demanded of her the sacrifice of all a true woman holds dear as the price of her father's safety.
      Atrocities in Cuba had come to be the most commonplace of news. Every mail from the island brought tidings of murders, burnings and other outrages. Even when the victims were women, so accustomed had the world grown to such tales of horror, that little comment was occasioned. At intervals for a period of over a year through the Cuban news ran the story of one Cuban girl, who for alleged complicity in an uprising in the Isle of Pines had been cast into the foul Recojidas prison for abandoned women in Havana
      Evangelina's story was broken to the world by the New York Journal in August 1987 and widely covered by the media over the next few months. She was described as "young, beautiful, cultured and guilty of no crime save that of having in her veins the best blood in Cuba". Her case created international outrage and there were calls from all corners of the world for her release but, embroiled in their battle with the Cuban insurgents, Spain ignored these calls. From the heart of Havana, though, Eugene Bryson, who had first broken the story, together with William McDonald and myself were planning to effect her rescue. We were joined by Karl Decker, a Journal reporter sent to Cuba with a direct brief from Randolph Hearst to do whatever necessary to bring Miss Cisneros back to America.
      Her dramatic rescue was effected in the early hours of October 5th and Evangelina arrived in New York on October 13. Two days later she filed her application for US naturalisation and published in the Journal a Letter to America, which she handed personally to President McKinley.

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