CubaPLUS Magazine

People and characters: The famous hand of the Macorina

By: Alina Veranes
Nov 24, 2022
People and characters: The famous hand of the Macorina

Somewhat  faded by time, on the jukeboxes of memory and even in the voice of a great singer like Chavela Vargas, the song inspired by the famous prostitute María Calvo Nodarse, alias La Macorina, who at the dawn of the 20th century, she became popular in Havana not only for her trade but also for being the first woman to drive a car and obtain a driver's license.

Put your hand here, Macorina, a piece worthy of the picaresque theater of the time, is a small lyrical portrait of this woman, which ends up being crude, at a time when machismo and patriarchy made that kind of ridicule natural, with the applause and laughter from all.

Her real name was María Constancia Caraza Valdés, she apparently decided to change her real name, at age 15, when she precipitously fled from her family, a native of Guanajay, and went to Havana in the arms of her boyfriend.

She was born in 1892. Being a very beautiful girl, the fugitive was soon dazzled by the pleasant promises she judged the capital offered her and she did not doubt which path to choose. That's why she quickly removed her boyfriend from her life, as soon as poverty tightened the screws on them in the narrow room where they lived.

She was fully involved in prostitution, they say that she had selectivity when choosing her clients among men of the privileged class and with money. If they were powerful, the better. Her successful passage through the so-called bad life was quite long, since it extended from 1917 to 1934.

She led a luxurious life, amassing valuable jewelry, race horses, and the ownership of four mansions. In addition, with the rise of motoring, she came to have nine cars, most of them European, which were the ones she liked the most. Her significant money income, with fabulous figures at the time, allowed her to squander and also help her large family.

Among her regulars and friends were powerful and wealthy businessmen dedicated to politics. The decline of  Macorina began in 1934, with the inexorable passage of time and the country's economic situation.

Little by little she sold her properties and jewelry and she lost everything. She died very poor and forgotten on June 15, 1977, of a heart attack.

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