He was wearing a cap pulled down over his ears, but I still recognized in his face the features of the former vice president. Carlos Lage passed in front of me at the intersections of Infanta and Manglar streets with that gait typical of the deposed, a cadence fallen into when all hope of vindication has been lost. I felt badly for him, not because he was walking in the sun when so recently he had had a chauffeur, but because everyone looked at him with that punishing silence, with a look of revenge. A woman passed me and I heard her say, “Poor thing, look who had to do all the dirty work and in the end they did this to him.”
A year and a half after the dismissal of Carlos Lage and Felipe Pérez Roque, we still haven’t learned what led to their political demise. In an unusual display of discretion, the video shown to Communist Party members — explaining the motives for their sudden fall from grace — has never filtered out to the alternative information networks. Nor did they convince us with those photos where the two of them are at a party drinking bear and smiling; if that were cause enough to lose your position there wouldn’t be a single minister at his post and the presidential chair would be vacant. The phrase written by Fidel Castro in one of his Reflections — that both the foreign minister and the vice president had become addicted to “the honey of power” — seems more like the confession of someone who knows all too well the royal jelly of a government with no limits on the explanations of errors committed by others. So we are left without knowing why, this time, Saturn devoured his children, with that aftertaste of someone who is eating the final litter, the generation that might replace him.
I felt compassion for Carlos Lage, seeing him with his cap pulled down over his face as he hurried past to avoid being noticed. I had the impulse to call out to him to say that his expulsion had saved him from a future of ridicule and made him a free man. But he went by too quickly, the asphalt gave off so much heat, and that woman looked at him with such mockery, I only managed to cross the sidewalk. I left the ousted one with his loneliness, but believe me, I wanted to sidle up to him and whisper: don’t be sad, getting the boot, in fact, is what saved you.
October 25, 2010