English Translations of Cubans Writing From the Island
Two Overused Words / Fernando Dámaso
In my country there are two words, which have been endlessly abused: Before and After. Before, is everything that happened up to January 1, 1959; After is everything that has happened since that date up to today.
In Before, as in a non-returnable deposit, are all the problems: betrayal, corruption, immorality, injustice, fraud, violence, theft, murder, harassment, lackeys, et cetera. All evil, everything that does not work, fits in this six-letter word.
In After, as in a glass display case, also non-returnable, are all the virtues: honesty, austerity, good governance, respect, solidarity, patriotism, brotherhood, dedication, good deeds, and so on. Everything good, everything you need, in one five-letter word.
These are the official definitions. So it has been and so it is repeated to each new generation, for more than fifty years. However, there is a third reality that belies the stubborn reality: both Before and After contain everything. Putting facts in compartmentalized historic boxes signifies more of an interest in politics and ideology than in objectivity, and is not healthy for the nation. It is confusing. These pure divisions don’t exist, and do not allow criticism, everything is ordered and accepted without question, and it becomes a real Pandora’s Box. When it is opened it does more harm than good. Reality has shown this.
Moreover, viewed dialectically, Before and After constantly repeat themselves. In the last fifty years we have seen before and after the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, nationalization and expropriation, the failure of the Ten Million Ton Sugar Harvest, Angola, Ethiopia, Grenada, the Mariel Boat Lift, the loss of the subsides from the former USSR, the passing of the presidential baton, and so on. Pretending that there is a one Before and one After is an absurdity. Many more have yet to come.