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David A. Shefferman

was born on 24 July 1909 in Santiago de Cuba. He was the last of five children born to Flora Crombet and Gustavo Lachatañeré, who was killed by one of the family’s farmhands shortly after Rómulo’s first birthday. His family names mark his roots within the unique Franco-Creole culture that emerged in eastern Cuba during the 1800s following the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). Like many in those communities, his paternal grandparents—the Lachataignerais line—adopted Hispanicized spellings, while his maternal lineage included Francisco Adolfo “Flor” Crombet (his grandfather) and other important figures in Cuba’s nineteenth-century independence movements. After earning his high-school degree in 1926, Lachatañeré moved from Santiago to the island’s capital city to begin studies in pharmacology at the University of Havana. He received his degree on 18 November 1929 and began work almost immediately as a laboratory technician in the government-sponsored Institute for Venereal Diseases.

Lachatañeré remained in ...