We’ve all seen him. With something of the vitality of former days, with a few more pounds, although with an exaggerated girth under the tartan shirt, or with the olive green shirt of a thousand battles. The intense media deployment of TV cameras since last week makes one think that he still decides; that he’s never stopped deciding. He’s returned to being El Comandante and not The Comrade.
His themes: war and the environment. Not even a word about the internal economic situation for which he is wholly responsible. Not even on the subject of the ecology of which he has become a champion, has he thought about environmental nonsense such as that of the Che Guevara Invasion Brigade, knocking down valuable fruit-bearing species in his way between Camaguey and Oriente to sow sugar cane and today taken over by grassland of the invasive marabu weed; the coastal roads, the Hanabanilla Falls converted into a hydroelectric plant that already nobody remembers, but which deprived us of the most beautiful waterfall in Cuba. And fortunately there weren’t resources for the megaproject of draining the Cienega de Zapata, the most important wetlands in the Caribbean.
Time and a succession of illnesses and medical procedures have been cruel to his appearance. I can’t recognize that confident and imposing man of days gone by. I look at him and his sunken eyes leave an impression on me, as do his facial tics and his mouth, where the lower teeth seem to dance; his faint and extinguished voice shocks me; I am stunned to see him digressing and miscalculating.
But what impresses me the most is that he doesn’t even realize what anyone is saying to him.
Translated by: JT