Criticizing is for Cowards / Silvio Benítez Márquez

I’ve been meaning to write a post about someone I respect and think highly of in my neighborhood. I’m referring to José Quintana y Pérez, that illustrious figure who became submerged in an alcohol addiction from a very early age. As for his reasons, I only know what his drinking buddies have told me, which is that it all started because he was seeking pleasure. Up to now, this mulatto — who already has white hairs and walks bent over — is one of the few who has been able to still uphold the most intrinsic values as a human being despite his bad habit of drinking excessively.

A few days ago, his sincere and plain words once again moved me. He had fallen into conflict with an agent of the secret police due to his fervent activism in the “Voices from the Neighborhood” project.

As I listened to him, various ideas faded away in my clear memory. José has not even remotely been able to imagine how many times I’ve had to defend him from so many hypocritical people who judge him for being such a marginalized member of society. Clearly, all these fools use this subterfuge to hide his cowardice before the civic push which José is so capable of giving in order to confront the future.

Punta Brava, Havana, March 22 2011

Translated by Raul G.