The Winter of the Patriarch

The Young People Will Not Fail Us!

This year Student Day (November 17), a celebration inherited from the time of the Socialist Camp, has acquired an exceptional character. There were no classes in the university and pre-university schools of education, and the students had only recreational activities. To mark the date, Fidel wanted to address students, and so he met with a select group of them to talk about the topics he is now most interested in, and which have led him to buy tons for foreign literature, offer all-expense-paid trips to foreign scientists and writers to speak with them personally, and order that his Reflections be translated into various languages so that they can be distributed among the delegations at the headquarters of the United Nations.

But I don’t care to refer to the energy displayed by the 84-year-old leader on the subject of nuclear winter, because it is no longer news. I would like to talk about the young people who gathered to listen to him. Young people who, when they were invited to ask questions, instead of taking advantage of this exceptional opportunity they put a great deal of effort into obsequious and repetitive questions directed to the old man seated at the podium of that meeting. In the contest to achieve the greatest triumph in this regard, one boy called him, “the greatest man of all humanity.”

These students, almost all enrolled in university courses, are supposed to be “the changing of the guard,” of that which they themselves have pledged to complete with the slogan, “It’s Guaranteed.” Is this their design for leading this country? Are these the young people who should be making decisions? Is this the youth of Cuba? This?

Translated by ricote, and “unstated”

November 22 2010

Governor Brewer and My Palestinians*

You already know that I love the news. And these days the news regularly talks to me about the anti-immigrant law approved by the governor of Arizona. I’ve seen the demonstrations against the law, I’ve seen the union leader organizing boycotts, I’ve seen the Latinos, Asians, Afro-Americans and Anglos marching against a law they consider discriminatory and humiliating. And while I was watching all those images, inevitably I remembered how easy it is to see the mote in your neighbor’s eye.

In the capital of all Cubans, you don’t need to be from another country, it’s enough to be suspected of being from another province for some Palestinian police officer (a servant makes the worst master) to ask you for your identity card, and, after confirming your address, it’s off across the borders, as with very little consideration they put you on a transport back to your ancestral home.

I hadn’t had a similar experience, and what’s more I thought it was only with prostitutes (or gigolos), or some other antisocial characters, that inter-provincial deportation was exercised as a punishment. But it happened to the husband of my husband’s niece. They are from Barrancas, a village that doesn’t show up on the maps, and he had come to see a doctor; no explanations sufficed, they just put him on a train. It was a tragicomic experience because my husband’s niece, here in Havana, didn’t know anything about her husband until he called from Bayama, after thirty hours of anguish.

And I’ve only spoken to you about the law; I can’t express to you the envy I feel on seeing a healthy and spontaneous civil society.

(*) Palestinians: In Cuba the word refers to those from other provinces who try to emigrate to Havana in search of better opportunities.

Translated by ricote

Hotel Regina

When I was young I hated my name, I was ashamed to have an unusual name, I got over that complex long ago, thanks to the overflowing imagination of the parents of that elongated generation Y.   But my name comes from a yearning. My parents were married on September 7, the day of Saint Regina, and spent their honeymoon in a hotel that was also called Regina. As a girl, when I stood at the corner of Industria and San José, and my parents showed me the hotel of their beginnings, I found it as ugly as my name; already it was very deteriorated, it had been converted to dwellings in the area below the Capitolio, which had declined.   The Campoamor theater, on that same corner but on the sidewalk in front, so beautiful, was also singing its swan song.

A few years ago in a documentary about the housing situation, I took a new look at the Regina. In spite of its miraculous equilibrium, it was packed with inhabitants defying the danger of collapse because they had no other alternative.  The Campoamor also appeared in the documentary, now without a roof, home to rats, doves, and a martial arts teacher.

This photo of the Hotel Regina is from March 29. I was unable to photograph the Campoamor, for that you need authorization.  As you can see, the corpse of this building is only awaiting its burial.

Translated by: ricote

Questions

I would like my readers to answer:

Who was it who exposed the CIA plan against Cuba signed by Eisenhower?

And the GAL* scandal in Spain?

And that of Rodney King in the United States?

And in the world, what happened at Abu Grahib?

And Operation Condor* in Latin America?

And that the British government knew that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction?

Who provoked the resignation of the American president Richard Nixon?

In which prison is Michael Moore for his documentaries?

Also, I am asking myself: How did the public learn about the sinking of the tugboat 13 de Marzo*?

And the jailing, all for the same reason, of the 75 peaceful opponents?

And Zapata’s hunger strike?

And the dead of Mazorra?

And the indignant people vs. the Ladies in White?

Please, help me with my faulty memory.

Translator’s Notes:
GAL (Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación, Antiterrorist Liberation Groups)  was secretly established and financed by officials within the Spanish Ministry of the Interior to fight and sometimes kill members of the Basque terrorist group- exposed by the Spanish daily El Mundo.
Operation Condor was a campaign of political kidnapping and repression of the 70′s that resulted in the disappearance and death of unknown thousands within Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil.
13 de Marzo was a tugboat sunk by the Cuban government, resulting in the drowning of close to 40 people trying to leave the island, many of them children.

Translated by ricote

Dreaming in Colors

Today my city was blue.  The Industriales played Villa Clara for the championship and although the game is over in the center of the island, with so many people dressed in the color of the capital team, it seemed that they were playing at the home stadium here in Cerro.  I like baseball, I’ve taken up this old love thanks to my son, since my husband has never been interested.

And yes, I root for the Industriales.  I would love it if they win, to the extent that I approached the group at Central Park where an animated discussion amongst the fans of both teams was taking place, it made me smile.   I took a few photos and continued walking.

But what use would it be to root for the Industriales if there were not others rooting for Santiago, or Villa Clara or whatever other team, or those like my husband who doesn’t like baseball at all.

Blue, green, orange, brown, red, and so many others, gives a sense of unity among diversity. I like all colors! In baseball, and in politics.

Translated by ricote