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Marta Abreu de Estévez (13 November 1845 – 2 January 1909) was one of the most influential figures of her time in central Cuba, especially in her birth city and province of Santa Clara. For her constant aid to the poor, her donations to the city and the independent war, she won the title of “the great benefactor”.
Her wealth enabled Marta Abreu to travel Europe and the United States from a very young age which brought her into contact with key figures of her time and allowed her to appreciate the differences between most developed countries and her own, and how difficult Cubans had it, specially in small hinterland cities and towns. She married Luis Estévez y Romero, a lawyer and University professor from Havana who was also kin of the independence cause and helper of the poor; in time this allowed Marta to fulfill her philanthropic dreams. She died at her home in Paris, after having moved to Europe because of her husband's poor health.
Marta is recognized in Cuba as the precursor of Social Services; she greatly loved her city and because of this love today we can appreciate her work in still standing structures all over. But is without doubts more important the huge amounts of money she also donated to every kind of causes; social, civic, artistic, catholic and the indecency against Spanish Colonialism. She donated to this cause only and elevated sum of 240,000 pesos that we know of. In today currency we are speaking about millions of dollars.
Nowadays Marta's reputation has been eclipsed by that of another important revolutionary iconic figure: Ernesto Che Guevara. Santa Clara once literally known as “the city of Marta” was changed to “the city of Che” when in 90's the arrival of the remains of Che and his companions were discovered in Bolivia and brought back to Cuba. Che and his rebel mates were on display inside the public library of the city “Biblioteca Marti” ironically Marta Abreu’s former house and one of her many donations to the city. Once the remains found definitive place on the famous Che Monument local authorities decided to change the motto of the city. Soon after this became a point of discussion with the locals, who love Che but are also loyal to the history of Marta and her city.
- Teatro La Caridad(Caridad Theater) which she built and donated to the city in order to collect money for further donations.
- Santa Clara public library “Marti” her former palace, given away as city hall, today the city’s public library.
- Asilo de Ancianos (Old people’s Home) for the elder care.
- Asilo San Vicente de Paul Asylum San Vicente de Paúl for the poor and homeless.
- El Amparo (The Shelter) another shelter for poor people.
- El Gran Cervantes (The Great Cervantes) school for black children.
- Buen Viaje school.
- San Pedro Nolasco school.
- Santa Rosalía school.
- Santa Clara weather station which she donated with all the instruments and scientific material.
- Santa Clara Firemen quarters.
- Santa Clara electrical power plant.
- Santa Clara Train Station.
- Villa Clara province gas factory.
- Three public laundry stations by the Belico river.
- Santa Clara's University was named after her.
- A bronze statue of Marta on a chair seats in Parque Vidal.
- A room named and dedicated to her can be seen in “Casa de la Ciudad” house-museum and art gallery.
- 1947 Cuba published 4 Stamps for the centenary of her birth (1845)
- Cabrera, Raimundo (1896). Louis Edward Levy, ed. Cuba and the Cubans. The Levytype Company. pp. p345–346.
- Marta Abreu
- "Licencia a Luis Estévez catedrático de Universidad". Archivo Histórico Nacional,ULTRAMAR,168,Exp.8 (S.28079.AHN/18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124//ULTRAMAR,168,Exp.8). "D. Luis Estévez, catedrático auxiliar de la Universidad de La Habana, solicita y obtiene permiso para trasladarse a Europa con el fin de restablecer su salud"
- Historical Dictionary of Cuba. Jaime Suchlicki. The Scarecrow Press. London. 1988. ISBN 0-8108-2071-4. page 3
- Cristobal Garcia, Angel - El teatro La Caridad. (Colección Escambray, PUBLICIGRAF (R),1993)
- Article Monument to Marta Abreu in Webshots.com
Media related to Marta Abreu at Wikimedia Commons