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I know when it was because it was after that May Sunday I’d watched, from home, the TV broadcast of the Mother’s Day celebration where Ramoncito Veloz (the son) sang in front of the cameras wearing his Conrado Benítez Brigade uniform. I know when it was because it was before my fourteenth birthday, which I celebrated on July 10, 1961, with the Núñez family where, among others, I taught the two young farmers who are with me in this photograph to read and write.
Half a century has passed since that imprecise date on which I worked on the literacy campaign at a place called Aguilar, near the coast in the Camaguey municipality of Santa Cruz del Sur. I’ve never again visited that place, nor have I again milked a cow, which was the most wonderful thing I learned from them, along with horseback riding, hunting hutias, and swimming in the river.
What I would really like to know is how many books have my students read in this time? Do they live in Cuba? Do they remember their scruffy teacher? Have they surfed the Internet? Luis, to my right, who rode the fastest mare in the territory; Néstor on my left, an enviable shot with his slingshots. It was beautiful. Those were days so full of hope that it seemed there was never room for any other feeling.
For ordinary mortals in Cuba who are informed about what happens in the world through the newspaper Granma, the Roundtable TV show and the Television News, it appears that in Spain capitalism is facing its imminent demise. For many, even the ghost of the Fifth Regiment seems about to rise from the Republican ashes. The signs that were raised in the Puerta del Sol left no room for doubt, the images were worth more than words: the cameras took pains to focus on the youngest people and, I say it without shame, the most lovely, those who danced most beautifully and chanted the slogans of the Madrid May.
But this morning we learned that in the local and regional elections the Popular Party (those rightists!) had wiped the floor with the Socialist Party (PSOE) and that the Spanish electorate, for whom the exercise of democracy is no longer a novelty, had gone to the polls if not massively at least in a higher proportion than five years ago.
Adding to the confusion for Cuban readers of the official newspapers and television viewers, they warned us that the anti-system popular rallies had been called using social networks that rely on the new technologies of Twitter and Facebook, the same ones, as they have explained to us, that imperialism used to try to overthrow the regime in Iran and to oust the Egyptian president.
Now, those who won the elections hope to definitively liquidate Zapatero and his team, invoking, among other arguments, the demonstrations that from an irate left demand, in public plazas, the end of the government. I can can assure you that our commentators classify this demand as political opportunism or something similar.
Something is missing in the explanation that allows us to fully understand what happened. Will Spaniards suffer the same kind of confusion about what is happening in Cuba?
23 May 2011
Two weeks after the conclusion of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, they have not yet published the definitive version of the guidelines which, according to their own report, are the fruit of the reformulation during which 68 percent of the population discussed the project. However, on the TV news report about the May Day March, the journalists extracted from those they interviewed expressions of support for the “acts of the Sixth Congress,” as if anyone knew for sure what had finally been agreed upon.
I wonder if those who run this country see this blind loyalty, deaf, mute, and even stupid among their followers as a good thing or a bad thing. For how long are they going to be proud of such nonsense?
3 May 2011