Luis Felipe Rojas, 28 February 2016 — Attention, all who rabidly applaud the Obama-Francisco-Castro pact: it is worthwhile to make difficult proposals, ask inconvenient questions, and bother the military beast that has run the Island with the trembling hands of whisky hangovers.
Oh, no? Not in your plans? It must be said again and again, because after the hugs have come the kisses, and who knows what else. Among secretaries of agriculture, lady mayors, aide-de-camps, successful businesspeople, and rock superstars, there must be somebody left with a little shame who will make it known to Raúl Castro that his outstretched hand should go in another direction, he should look the people in the eye and quit posing for a photograph that will take on a sepia tone faster than his egomania can stand it.
Muriel Bowser, Lady Mayor of Washington, visited Cuba last week and said that she wants an educational system similar to that in Cuba for her fellow citizens. Was she including among this the Study-Work method — that she was taken to see — which Cuban instituted to put an end to the family and turn common citizens into robots? Does Her Ladyship know that Cuban children are obligated to shout that they want to be like Ché Guevra, and that from repeating it so much they become so, barely out of adolescence?
Those children who were so excited to be like Ché Guevara left the country to kill Africans that they had never met, and returned bearing all the traumas of war, turned into fat fifty-somethings, who today run a plastics factory or a Rapid Response Brigade (those at-the-ready to shout down — or even beat down — any display of non-conformance with the regime).
Could it be that no superstar, before giving a concert or going out to enjoy mojitos and pork chunks, will ask Castro to disarm the surveillance mechanism that keeps an eye even on the intimate apparel of every Cuban woman? The wizened stool-pigeon of the neighborhood, the “honorary official,” the “specialist” of State Security who controls every provincial cultural center, even the thug who organizes a raid on dissidents — they are all part and parcel of that magic that today enthralls the political tourists when they gaze upon Raúl Castro. He is the criminal with whom they pose and will be seen in the Times, the Washington Post, or the now “spotless” and in-the-running-for-an-Oscar Boston Globe.
It will never be to late to align oneself to infamy. So, start running today to Havana, stroll around sporting your little container of bottled water, take a whiff of that 21st Century dungheap that has been sold to you as the best-educated nation of Latin America. Forget about the penitentiary system, of the fear among neighbors, of the violence that can just as easily decapitate with machetes as take a youth’s life by kicking him until his spinal cord is crushed in the police station at Zanja and Dragones streets.
Go and tell the world that Cuba has changed, that the island is a paradise.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison