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File photo taken from the archive of the newspaper El Pais
In late December I published a post titled, “The true face of Fantomas” where I congratulated myself on twenty years of being a free man after my firing as an official Cuban journalist. I mentioned there, “a functionary with the name Castellanos, who was second in command to Aldana” who met with me in August 1989 at the headquarters of the Party Central Committee to let me know the results of a lengthy appeal I had submitted months earlier.
Now that twenty years have passed, I see some photos circulating on the Internet, made public exclusively by the program María Elvira Live, where we see Carlos Lage, Felipe Pérez Roque and Rodríguez de Estenoz enjoying what seems to be a lively party. Personally, it seems good that they amuse themselves, dancing, playing dominos and drinking beer, because it makes them more human. Besides, I also like all these things, but the images have been disclosed in association with the fall of these broken gods of the Revolution with the evident intention of contributing to their enormous unpopularity.
In several of the published photos Dr. Raúl Castellanos, cousin of Carlos Lage, appears. At first I didn’t connect him with the impeccable bureaucrat of the Revolutionary Orientation Department who had the kindness to tell me the truth: “Do not defend yourself from any accusation, you are leaving journalism simply because you do not think like us.”
Given the heavyweights involved in the case, no one talks about the insignificant Raúl Castellanos. Who is interested in a third rate official fallen into disgrace after many years in the reflected glow of his boss? To me, this person is very important because it was in front of him that the last petals of my political innocence were defoliated. I brought a secret weapon to that meeting: A bulging envelope containing numerous certificates of journalistic excellence, advanced worker awards, certificates from my advanced courses in Marxism-Leninism, those showing thousands of hours of voluntary work, of multiple mobilizations in defense work, and finally my flawless revolutionary credentials; who would want to unjustly separate me from the ranks just for having written what I thought.
Do you remember, Castellanos, how you ran your fingers over the those yellowing documents to tell me that much of that paperwork had been created in your office and that other people who possessed the same had even been shot? When I admitted that you were right that we didn’t think alike, I told you that my differences began precisely in the detail that to have an opinion different from the party would mean that someone would have to be expelled from the profession of journalism. Experienced in these struggles, you riposted with this masterful thrust: “What I would like to know is not where they start, but how far do our differences go.” It was then that I got up from my chair and almost at the door I said goodbye, telling you, “Me too, I would like to know that.”
They attribute rumors to you that you regret not “having done something” when Machado Ventura was under the influence of anesthesia in an operating room; they say a wall of your house, which was wood-paneled was destroyed by the State Security agents who searched your home and that you cherish the illusion of being rehabilitated when your cousin ascends to the position of number two.
I would give anything to read your appeal.
From General President Raúl Castro’s most recent speech one can deduce that we Cubans are a people eager to live in a sociopolitical system that we haven’t been able to build in 48 years, for which we will let ourselves be guided by a party—the only one permitted—that 44 years after having named itself communist hasn’t even managed to establish in an efficient and enduring way the golden rule of socialism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”
Faced with more than 500 parliamentarians, who unanimously approved two laws and two appointments, Raúl Castro confessed that sometimes he has “the feeling that we are eating socialism before building it and we aspire to spend as if we were in communism.” Faced with the oration I have a strictly grammatical question: Who is the subject? One could also question whether what has been on the plate looks like some of the well-known recipes of the system and if the little we have aspired to could be identified with that idyllic society where material goods flow abundantly.
In another of the unfortunate metaphors used in his speech, when he referred to the complexity of the problems to be solved, the general said that what he was trying to do was “bell the cat.” This time we must wonder about the identity of the indirect object. Who is this dangerous cat that must be kept under control? Perhaps the out of control appetites of the people? Or could he be referring to an old crouching tomcat who neither abandons nor chases the mice?
Again he will convene the citizens to hear their opinions; when I get the call in my neighborhood I won’t lost the opportunity to tell him mine.