The Courage of a NO / Rebeca Monzo

On Thursday night I was watching a program of Latino film that the TV on my planet aired. I never watch it, because of the poor quality of most of the movies and topics chosen, but this one interested me. I was amazed that they showed the Chilean film “NO” on a medium as important as this. This movie was seen on the big screen in one of the recent festivals, but that was barely any exposure. In the movie it shows how a pragmatic dictator, Pinochet, agreed to face a plebiscite on his continuation in power, and even more astonishing, that he acted in conformance with the popular vote.

It was very interesting to be able to see how they undertook the NO advertising campaign despite attacks from the right. What was smart about the campaign  was the making of the advertising “spots” advocating for future and optimistic Chile, without wallowing in the tragic events that followed the military coup, even against opinions of some of the participants of this campaign. They presented the “No” campaign with intelligence and freshness and finally managed to convince the majority.

Another detail that caught my eye was being able to hear throughout the shooting of the film that both proposals, the YES and NO, were granted the same amount of minutes in television space. Something that stands out when we just observed the media manipulation and centralization of Chavismo in Venezuela in the recent election campaign and subsequent voting, not to mention the denial of the opposition’s request for a recount of 100%.

I believe that despite taking into account, and never forgetting that it was Pinochet and the harm he did to his opponents, we have to recognize that in the end, the  dictator obeyed the will expressed in the NO of the Chilean people. I think this is a fact to consider.

Sometimes on television in our country, which is characterized by an ideological monopoly, or “it’s in the details,” or simply someone wishes to escape it.I would greatly like them to continue showing films like this one, which show the two sides of the same coin. In my humble opinion it takes the same courage to say NO as to act on it.

28 April 2013

Centers of Love Become Victims of Apathy / Rebeca Monzo

Colorful Butterflies kindergarten

“Today day care centers celebrate their fifty-second anniversary. These institutions continue fulfilling and improving their mission so that work in education might be more profound and efficient…”

So begins an article published in Juventud Rebelde on April 10 of this year. It goes on to provide a brief history of how the first such institutions began in our country in the early 1960s. It reminded me of how I first got involved in this work through the direct request from a friend.

For a year I did “volunteer work” by myself in a big space in which they provided me with abundant and varied material, making fabric dolls as well as various articles for the home. These would later be auctioned in a raffle which took place on property owned by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce. The goal was to raise funds for a day care center on the ninth floor of a building on 23rd Street where a lot of women worked.

Finally, a year later they were able to bring the project to fruition as a result of many important donations from companies who had entered into negotiations with the ministry as well as my own modest contribution. I also remember actively participating in the decoration of center’s facility.

What I noticed was how this article ignored some of the real reasons for the deterioration and subsequent closure of many of these centers, whose construction had been such a noble goal.

A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with the director of Colorful Butterflies, a kindergarten next door to my house which my two sons attended. I asked her about the visible neglect of the center, and she told me it was due to low enrollment. After reading the article in Juventud Rebelde, it occurred to me that this was perhaps one of many causes, the main one being the lack of resources provided to the these institutions in addition to neglect and lack of maintenance.

“At the moment there are 45,000 applications pending and 46 institutions in the country have been closed — 40 in the capital alone — all for construction problems.”

This is how it was stated in one of the paragraphs from the article in question. We should, therefore, hold the government responsible for the current state of these buildings, which were built in great haste and in excess by people who had no experience in this kind of work to fulfill the usual quotas, not to mention the failure to provide stable funding for their subsequent maintenance.

Additionally, the ever more apparent lack of personnel qualified to work with children has led parents to take their children to private homes which, until a very short time ago, functioned in a kind of clandestine limbo. There is an ever increasing number of self-employed workers who take up this work now that they have a license to do it.

In the face of the importance and magnitude of the problem, since families don’t have sufficient resources to leave their children in private day care, due to poor salaries and not possessing another type of stable source of income, the government has implemented a new type of plan: “Educate your child”, that is being developed in some communities, offering guidance to the family to stimulate and adequately look after the little one, with the objective of achieving integral development and preparation for the start of the child’s school life.  We hope that this plan, like many other before it, will not languish on the road. Ladies and Gentlemen, love must be attended to!

Translated by: Unknown, BW

22 April 2013

Giron or Bay of Pigs: The Same Pain

A couple of years ago I wrote about an event I learned of from someone very close to and emotionally attached to it, about how two Cubans who had fought on opposite sides at the Bay of Pigs, this sad military conflict between brothers, with the passing of time had reunited outside our territory, one as a member of Brigade 2506. and the other as a pilot at Playa Girón, as the event is called in Cuba.  By then both of them were exiles.

These two Cubans melted in a forgiving embrace in Miami and one of them, years later, died in the arms of the other. This is the reason that I decided to re-post fragments of this story because I find it so touching. Some of the offspring of both protagonists live now in Florida.

“One night, during one of the usual occasions when they would get together, as they were all seated at the table having a delicious Creole meal, the pilot became ill and excused himself to go to the bathroom.  A few minutes later, the host ran to the bathroom after hearing a noise.  When he got there, the pilot was on the floor. He gently held the pilot in his arms and watched him die.”

All these events, with the passing of years and the frustrations suffered by each other, have made us reflect about how much we were manipulated and how much history has been distorted. For decades, they tried to “sow” in us a false sense of hatred and resentment, which even if it did exist at some point, was dissipated with our everyday lives, with the disenchantment, and especially with the sad experience of having fought for a “future” that never came, watching ourselves forced to separate from our families and friends, an issue that ultimately has been the most painful, in the balance of all that has happened.

“Many years had to go by, many confrontations, disagreements, misunderstandings and defamation campaigns, so that finally two Cubans who no one should have ever converted into enemies were united forever in an embrace.  Two twists of the same flag.”

Translator: Post quoted was translated by Hank.

17 April 2013

El Cocinero / Rebeca Monzo

That big red brick chimney always caught my eye. As a girl it seemed immense to me. I imagined goblins living there. It aroused great fascination, especially since it was on a route we had to take — leading to the “scary” iron bridge over the Almendares River, which occasionally would open up like a giant wolf’s jaws to allow yachts to pass through — when we went to visit Aunt Cuca in Miramar. It was always one of my favorite walking paths.

With the passage of time and the sudden takeover the country by incarnate deities, these fantasies and dreams of childhood were abruptly ripped out by their roots in order to make way for a “new reality.” The dream-like tower remained, but it no longer sent out smoke signals. Little by little it came to seem more lifeless. My make-believe creatures disappeared along with the gray puffs that no longer billowed from its long neck. The bridge stopped opening; there were no more yachts. Little by little rust covered the iron structure. We were no longer able to visit my aunt either; she had gone to live far away.

Many years have passed since I felt motivated to overcome my fear of crossing the aged bridge. My old red-bricked friend is still there, mute and inert, towering over its continually decaying surroundings.

After learning a few days ago that it had been converted to a restaurant bar, I was motivated to go see it again. I brought along my Nikon to try to get some photos, hoping also to get the back story from some of the neighbors. Luckily, I found one cleaning the street. When he saw the camera in my hand, he approached me, thinking I was a tourist. After I identified myself, he told me the history of the place. He was born and raised there, so he knew all the details.

“What happened was that, after the factory was abandoned at the beginning of the 1960s, a man moved into the base of the chimney. He later got married but after a few years the marriage ended. Since neither of them had any other options, they divided the space, with her living in one part and him in the other. They were ’sharing’ the space like this until a young man came along with a little wine and offered them two apartments in exchange for the big chimney.”

After interviewing some of his friends who knew about this unusual investment, I found out that, given the new opportunities for acquiring licenses to open businesses, three young friends, who were familiar with the place and its history, decided to pool the resources. They “talked to the former couple” and offered them what they so desperately needed.

The first thing they did was restore the chimney, returning it to its former glory and preserving the original painted sign with the name of “old” cooking oil factory, El Cocinero. At the entrance there is now a well-tended garden where antique objects from the factory itself are exhibited like sculptures. A large bell at the gate greets you. A circular staircase rising two floors inside leads you to the roof and a pleasant bohemian bar where a wide variety of tapas and drinks will guarantee you an enchanting and “offbeat” evening. Everything in the hard currency of CUCs, of course. The restaurant has not yet opened.

15 April 2013

Socialism: A Transition Stage Between Capitalism and… Capitalism / Rebeca Monzo

Building for sale.

I was having a conversation recently at a friend’s house about new private businesses, doctors being given permission to travel, the prices and shortages of food, and other issues currently affecting our Cuban planet. One of those present mentioned that she was very concerned about the crisis in Europe, unconsciously repeating what she had been told on television, radio and in the press.

I said that I had just returned from Spain and that in fact this is the only thing that the people and the media there were talking about. When they did this in my presence, I asked them to please “not talk about the rope in the house of the hanged man.” continue reading

Indeed, there is a serious crisis in Spain and other European countries, caused perhaps  by a housing bubble — among other things — which led people to spend much more than they could really afford, but which is in no way comparable to our situation, which has lasted for more than half a century. I personally visited many European cities and nowhere did I observe anyone who was badly dressed, wandering from place to place through streets that were not impeccably clean and pothole-free, in search of a store with toilet paper or toothpaste for sale, much less in “foreign money,” or at least not in a currency in which salaries and benefits are paid.

As I told my friend who is so worried about the crisis in Europe, this does not even take into account the high cost of having gone through a revolution, whose specific goal was to improve the quality of life for the population, but which has resulted in the deterioration and destruction of its cities and inhabitants. Nor does it take into account the high price of familial separation, nor of the ever greater exodus of young people in search of social and economic freedom — the very people for whom all this sacrifice was supposedly made — not to mention the corruption that has dominated and continues to dominate the entire country, apparently “at will.”

The upshot is that now, among other signs of a “new capitalism,” there is a contagious frenzy for selling large and beautiful buildings, which were confiscated from their original owners and family members and subsequently handed over to people of “revolutionary merit.” Their descendants are now asking astronomical prices for them, as though they were an inheritance resulting from some familial sacrifice. There are other crazy things happening, like buying out someone, whose home was once the big brick smokestack of the now abandoned El Cocinero cooking oil factory, so that a private investor can turn it into a restaurant, cafe and bar.

At any rate, these and other questions — quite discomforting, to be sure — cause us to reflect on the fact that the sacrifices made over all these years for “socialism” have served only to bring us back to where we started. There is, however, an additional grim reality. In spite of the enormous moral and material deterioration, which we “carry in our ribs” along with a great many lost years, we have in the end returned to a capitalism, but without capital.

8 April 2013

Medical Shifts / Rebeca Monzo

After having experienced during my stay in France what can truly be called, without any fear of exaggeration, a medical powerhouse, I return to the contrast of our sad reality.

Some doctors, family members and friends to whom I proudly showed the x-rays of my injured hand and its current state after recovery all unfortunately say the same thing: “Be happy you fell down in France and not here.”

Speaking to each of them separately, they have commented to me on the ever more noticeable state of deterioration of health services in our country. They are also in agreement on the lack of financial stimulus in this sector, which is leading to disenchanted young people to forgo medical careers. Then there is the exodus of doctors, now made possible by the “new emigration regulations, which grant them the ability to travel. They are leaving the country in search of better economic opportunities and greater recognition. Some leave only because they want to go exploring, but unfortunately most will not return.

One of the other issues most affecting health care workers at the moment is that, following demands for increases in their salaries, authorities have decided not to raise them “owing to economic problems confronting the country.” Instead, as a humiliating consolation, they have decided to pay two Cuban pesos (the ordinary kind) to doctors for every hour worked, fifty centavos to nurses and twenty-five centavos to all other auxiliary personnel. In other words, after working twelve hours in a hospital, a doctor receives a compensation of twenty-four pesos (approximately one dollar). Nurses receive six pesos, and auxiliary personnel get three. This situation is truly shameful, especially given the shortage of personnel, who are called upon to work more frequent shifts.

It is no wonder that increasingly we have fewer and fewer doctors. At some point we may have to seek treatment overseas, where the services of our excellent doctors are valued.

28 March 2013

Art Deco, Art-kitsch-tecture and Collapsed Buildings / Rebeca Monzo

Now, as the 2013 Art Deco Congress is being held in our country, and invitees and delegates attend its conferences, an average of three residential structures a day collapse in the capital.

The influence of Art Deco, which dates to the 1920s and 1930s, was strongly felt throughout the world in the decorative arts, painting, fashion, sculpture, cinema and graphic design.

The most emblematic architectural example in our country is the Bacardi Building, constructed from 1930 to 1938. The Cuban architects Esteban Rodríguez Castell, Rafael Fenández Ruenes and José Menéndez oversaw its design and execution. It is considered by many to be their masterpiece and fortunately remains in a very good state of preservation.

Examples and remnants of this movement proliferate throughout the city. Among them in the López Serrano Building – a beautiful example of this style, a structure of elegance and a striking design – which has been plundered and abused as a result of neglect and apathy on the part of government officials. It is at risk of being lost if urgent measures are not taken to address these issues. Other examples include the América, Fausto and Arenal cinemas, all in peril as well.

In health care this architectural style finds expression in the América Arias infant and maternity hospital by the architects Govantes and Cabarrocas. A beautiful example of Art Deco, this building has also been abused and it too is in danger of being lost. There is also the Pedro Borras children’s hospital, which has been closed for more than two decades due to structural problems, no doubt caused by nearby explosions during the construction fever of 1980s when tunnels were being built all throughout the city as part of the “War of All the People” campaign. At the time of its construction this facility was the largest example of this architectural style, larger even than similar examples in the city of Chicago.

In terms of military buildings the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba is in a very good state of preservation indeed.

During a wonderful presentation called “The Havana of Today and Tomorrow” yesterday afternoon in the House of Green Tiles in Miramar, the architect Miguel Coyula employed the term art-kitsch-tecture (one he coined himself) to refer to monstrosities produced by people with resources but without the slightest amount of taste who have managed to build new homes or remodel those they already own. In other words, something horrendous.

One of the issues that most caught the attention of those present was the extremely high proportion, close to 90%, of owners of homes, but not of the buildings, leading to the term “no man’s land.” The building has no owner, therefore mo maintenance or services. Every resident solves their own problems however they can, and this further accelerates the deterioration of the building. In addition, there is the increasingly rampant individualism. “To own does not mean to maintain” the speaker said. The owner of an apartment whose salary is 300 Cuban pesos a month, cannot invest 45% of that to buy a gallon of paint.

Another of the most important reasons for the deterioration of the city, according to Coyula, is the aging of the population. The emigration of young and well-educated people, as well as the migration to the capital of residents of other provinces who, for the most part, are not well-educated and who come mostly for economic reasons and settling wherever they can regardless of the conditions, has significantly increased the number of slum neighborhoods and favelas.

This is the current landscape of a greatly overpopulated city; what will be its future?

17 March 2013

Travelling Without Money / Rebeca Monzo

clip_image002From the moment you know that one of the above mentioned wants to invite you, the Odyssey begins: expensive procedures, paperwork and disbursements, occasionally excessive (in relation to our country), insurance policy if you are travelling to Europe, the cost of the visa, etc. Anyway, all these procedures and payments have to be carried out in CUC, the hard currency, which is precisely not what your salary or pension is paid in. That’s without taking account of the fact that the ticket has to be paid for by the person inviting you.

Many people will say to you before you set off on your outbound trip: listen, when you are over there, take the opportunity and connect to the internet, and bring everything you can, because this is your first trip of the year and here you pay on entering in Cuban pesos.

What nobody tells you and what you have to be very clear about is that you can connect when your host lends you his computer, and that the excess baggage which is very expensive is paid for in the country where you board, not where you arrive. And believe me it would be too unfair to also charge this expense to your hosts’ account!

Generally speaking most of us travel with hardly even any change in our pocket, which can be very worrying. You can be sure that you are going to be waiting around at the airport because with what you’ve got you can’t afford a taxi, as well as the likelihood that any rascal, seeing your worried face, will try to take advantage of you.

Once you’ve got to your destination and having had the happiness of seeing faces you know waiting for you, you begin the other stage of your journey: accommodation. You need to accept your host’s arrangements with a smile on your lips, in order not to put him to more inconvenience or expense.

You will enjoy all the meals and outings which they have planned and you will offer infinite thanks for all the presents they give you, even if you don’t like them or they are not your size in terms of clothing, because you are also thinking at that moment of the friends you have left on your planet to whom you would like to take back something.

Among your excursions there will definitely be included a visit to a big shopping mall, and your eyes will pop when you see the great quantity and variety of things on sale. At that moment you will recognise how wretched you feel about not having the funds to pay for something you have needed or fancied for a long time. Try as hard as possible to resist a visit to IKEA because going there could give you a heart attack.

After enjoying yourself like a little kid who is given presents, you come to the moment when you have to go back to your real world. That’s when the big problem begins. maybe three days before your return date you will feel a stomach pain and will feel nervous or stressed thinking about how you are going to fit in the suitcase they have lent you all the things you have been given. You don’t have the money to pay for excess baggage, and it would be very painful to leave it

… because you need it to buy food on your return. At that moment your coat (if you took your trip in winter)

… which they have given you will be very heavy and you will have to wear it going back even though it’s hot.

Finally, when you arrive, you will suffer with a mixture of impatience and relief, the huge line you have to wait in order to get thru Cuban customs, something you have forgotten about, due to the speed with which you got thru in the other countries.

Some good neighbour will be waiting for you on your arrival, with the loaves of bread, which are entered in your ration book and which he has been good enough to keep for you.

Translated by GH

12 March 2013

A Little Bit of Everything

Patch-work of Valle de Viñales.

Thanks be to God who gave me the gift and my family who helped me to cultivate it, aside from being a teacher, I learned many practical things for life.

The year 1959 arrived, and with it, great changes. I lost my job as a substitute teacher but soon afterwards I started working at the Department of Foreign Trade, where I stayed for fifteen years.  Later on I worked at a branch of Foreign Relations and, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I realized it was time to go home and do what I loved and had been doing for free my whole life: arts and crafts.  I was already a member of the Association of Artisans and Artists (ACAA) and that is how my professional life started.

My first works were on cold ceramics, later on embossing copper, but this aggressive material destroyed my hands and it was affecting my health, so I had to stop, even though I liked it so much.  So I started working on patch-work, that is what I have been working on since 1998.  This work has allowed me to have some expositions inside and outside of the country.

The pieces, which I have shown on my posts lately, and which a dear friend has explicitly asked for, are totally handmade.  I have specialized in faces and believe me, it entertains me, keeps my mind fresh, my spirit calm and overall it brings food to my table, because even though I have family outside the country, they don’t send me any help,  first, because they can’t afford to and second, because I never ask.  I feel much happier supporting myself with the work I do with my own hands, and not being a burden on anybody.  I rather wish I was able to send them something that would make them happy.  Also, with this and other techniques I manufacture cushions, bags, angels, table runners and small cases for eyeglasses, cell phones, etc, which I call fast food because they’re cheap and as soon as I sell them I run to the nearest store to buy food.  As you can see, a little bit of everything.

Translated by: Angelica Betancourt

Tribulations

Edith Piaf

July 14th, the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille.  My little homage to France. A portrait in patch-work created by me.

Recently, two Spanish filmmakers I know, commented to me that every time they talk in the street to some native of my planet they comment to them about “the media campaign” of the European Union against our country, and when the filmmakers ask them what this campaign consist of, simply no one is able to explain. I remarked to them, that in general here on my planet, it’s like this. People repeat incessantly what the media manipulate and call news, based on the headlines, but from there to being able to give the details, is a long way! It’s the same whether it’s the Cuban Adjustment Act, the sick people who died in Mazorra mental hospital, or the recent and much-lauded release of the dissidents of the Black Spring, and on and on and on.

With my ears once again glued to the shortwave I heard some news that made me jump to attention. Ingrid Betancourt had withdrawn a demand she’d made to her country to pay her a million dollars. Was it ingratitude or bad memory, I wondered. As far as I know, it was the government of her country itself that freed her from the guerrilla terrorists, who held her hostage for years. To err is human, I have no doubt!

And another thing, here I go again, about the Arizona law. It’s good that the Latin American countries show solidarity when something is wrong in a neighbor’s house, but what strikes me is, no one ever said anything about it when on my planet they go after the native-born from different provinces for being in the capital of all Cubans illegally. There are none so blind as he that will not see!

A couple coming towards me were talking loudly about how nervous they are thinking about the impending war that is looming. I couldn’t help but speak to them, apologizing for having overheard. To reassure them I commented that surely the ones who were really nervous were their respective grandmothers and moms, thinking of the daily war to be waged in the kitchen to put some food on the table.

Fine, that’s enough for now, I’ll say goodbye because I just heard news of the 6.5 earthquake in central Chile (near Temuco), and in truth, what is trembling now is my heart. Remember that I have people very dear to me in that country.

Farewell to the Queen of Bolero

The sad news came through short wave radio during early hours.  After a very fruitful life and at the age of 87, one of the most beautiful voices of our country has left us.  She was silenced for those of us who still live here for more than half a century.

Like I’ve said before, I requested her songs numerous times in the Sunday morning show known as “Memories of Rebel Radio”.  They never fulfilled my requests, they always used the most outrageous excuses.  They became accomplices of an absurd censorship that should have never existed.  Perhaps now that she has passed away, and that her declarations don’t pose a threat to the ideology of ‘the “New Man,” now those of us who knew who she was will have the luck to once again hear her interpretation of “Campanitas de Cristal” (‘Crystal Bells’), which, together with many other songs, became unique when sung by her beautiful voice.

May God keep you in Glory, Olga.

Translator’s Note:  “Bolero” is a genre which hails from Cuba, it is a ballad, a love song.

Translated by Raul G.

New Satisfactions

When I first heard someone speak about a blog I had no idea what it meant, yet I was still interested and decided to attend the classes with my friend Regina.

I recall that my first post was actually published on her blog, for I had not yet opened mine.  I would have never imagined just how far of a reach this would have, nor how much personal satisfaction it would bring me.  Through this, I have found long lost friends, while I have also made new friends like Gustavo and Aracelis.  I just found another one of my very loved friends whom I have not seen in years, but who I still keep very close to me through many cherished memories.  She asks me to please post photos on my blog of all of my work.

However you paint it, we have gained a bit of relief with the positive outcome of the hunger strike of Coco Farinas.  Meanwhile, the World Cup has everyone absorbed.  I am going to publish, especially for Felita and for all of my readers, some photos of my recent works on patchwork.

Translated by Raul G.

It's Never Too Late

Finally something is moving, very slowly, but it’s moving.

It’s very good that the church of our country came out in defense of our unjustly imprisoned compatriots. It has been a long seven years, waiting for them to be freed, and it’s inconceivable that they have been imprisoned for something which nowhere in the civilized world is a crime: thinking and expressing yourself publicly.

We are happy, because they will get their lives back, not only the prisoners of conscience but also their families who have suffered along with those sentenced.

Fariñas says that he will not give up his hunger strike until at least ten or twelve of them have been freed. Time is short. I think that if it only took twenty-four hours to try and incarcerate them, they should be able to free them with the same speed.

From here, I want to express my recognition for those who in one way or another have had something to do with this goodwill gesture.

As my grandmother used to say, it’s never too late.

The Shame of Others

Reading the declarations formulated by Dr. Caballero in the newspaper Granma about the  state of health of the dissident Fariñas, and the attention paid to it, I can only feel pain and embarrassment for others.

How is it possible that a gesture as selfless and courageous as the voluntary hunger strike of this dissident, be talked about as if he had just on a whim decided not to eat?

The only thing that Coco has called for all this very long time has been the release of twenty-five prisoners of conscience who are in poor health, and serving sentences passed down some  years ago, simply because they dissent from the regime, and express it publicly.

Did they not think they could have saved all these costs they’re talking about having to incur to try to save the life of Fariñas, by simply agreeing to his fair request?

The life of this citizen, and the responsibility for his imminent death, as he himself expressed today, rests exclusively on the Cuban government.

Distinguished leaders, time is running out!

Emulating Nostradamus

These days the hysteria on my planet, has spread like wildfire, especially for those fans of the television*.

There are a few who have called me on the phone or have told me personally, about the impending war looming. I have tried in my way, to calm nerves and assure them that the danger is slight, but there are no indications that it is about to be triggered in any immediate way.

It is true that there are many tensions created, with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the incident perpetrated by North Korea against its neighbor to the south, Iran’s insistence, despite sanctions, to develop nuclear energy, the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, and so on. But from there, to simply make people nervous based on hardly any information, is another matter.

It could be that the internal problems of my planet: food, transportation, health, education, water, electricity, hygiene, freedom of speech and travel are minimized or disappear in the face of the danger of a third world war ? Or is it that we have not realized yet that Nostradamus has been reincarnated, this time as a native of my planet.

*Translator’s note: Fidel Castro has recently been asserting, in his “Reflections” column in Cuba’s daily paper, that there will be a global nuclear war before the end of the World Cup in South Africa.