Perico was a donkey who lived in Santa Clara, Cuba, between 1914 and 1947. He walked freely through his hometown neighborhoods feeling safe. In the 1940s, he became famous at home and abroad when his antics were told and retold. He was featured in The New York Times, Life and The Evening Post. And in Cuba, La Bohemia, El Diario de la Marina, El Mundo, El País, El Crisol, Prensa Libre and Habana Post.
In Cuba, Perico was not forgotten by one man, Arnaldo Artiles Quintana, who collected stories about Perico, wrote a book and sculpted a statue of the folkloric icon in Santa Clara.
For the first time in seven decades, the story of Perico is published and told outside of Cuba through a newly published book, Perico: The Fabulous Burro, which is a dual language book and now available through Amazon.
Sixty years after leaving Cuba, local Valrico resident and author Susana Mueller (pen name Jiménez-Mueller) got to visit her family in Santa Clara. During that visit, Quintana introduced her to Perico’s life story.
The book instills cultural values and unites families across stretches of time and space—from the shores of Cuba to the beaches of exile countries. It was important to tell his story as the memory of Perico began to disappear. Stories similar to Perico’s vanished from the collective memories of Cubans in America and throughout the world as families dealt with the imminent needs of coping in exile.
Mueller fell in love with Perico and felt a social responsibility to adopt the project and bring his life-story to readers outside of Cuba.
“If we are lucky, once in a lifetime, we have the opportunity to add to the story of a People through storytelling,” Mueller said.
Mueller’s trip to Cuba in May of 2019 provided her with deep cultural connections, not just with family but also with her hometown’s rich history.
“I imagined Perico walking on Santa Clara’s cobblestones and wondered if he ever knocked on my parent’s door,” she said. “For me, bringing Perico’s story to America is a project of love.”
You can find more information at https://soundcloud.com/user205688454/perico-the-fabulous-burro or https://www.facebook.com/susanasbooks or purchase on Amazon.