The Cemetery, the State and the Exiles: A Study of Cementerio Colón, Havana, and Woodlawn Cemetery, Miami

Marivic Wyndham
Peter Read


One of the unsuspected costs of exile is the inability to care for the family tombs for which, especially in Latin American countries, one may feel a sharp personal responsibility. The desecration of such tombs renders the pain of exile sharper still. We examine the ways in which the Cuban State has abandoned responsibility for the care of the tombs of the exiles in the island’s largest cemetery, Cementerio Cristóbal Colón in Havana.

Many exiles hope and plan to return to resume life in their former birthland. Perhaps to show their intentions, their cemeteries in the new countries are piecemeal and temporary. Little by little it becomes apparent that their state of exile has passed from medium term to long term to permanence. In Woodlawn Cemetery, Miami, some of the exiles’ dead remain in unworthy graves while the inscriptions on their tombs remind their descendants of the promise of permanent return which they never now will keep.


Cuban Americans; exile; memorialisation; Miami; cemetries;

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