Cuba’s Historic Generation is Already a Thing of the Past

If the hypothesis is correct that the legion of the faithful is the human matter that makes up the renowned historical generation, it can be concluded that this group is already a thing of the past. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 12 July 2019 — Although the expression “historical generation of the Cuban Revolution” has been used to define a specific group of people, there is no official thesis through which it can be determined who deserves to be included in that list and what formalities someone must meet to appear and remain on it.

If it were an academic definition without connection to the reality of political power, the title in question could be considered to be defined purely by age and could be applied to anyone born during the first half of the last century with a minimum range of error.

For the “unquestionably young” Cubans born in the 21st century, many of those in the older generation who hold important positions are considered simply old. This is the case for Esteban Lazo, current president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, born in 1944, a man who represents the ‘hinge’ from a generational point of view; as a young man he completed all his tasks and matured among the rugged steps of the intermediate leadership, but he is not included in the political parnassus of the historical generation.

To be recognized as a member of this elite requires at least three additional requirements: to have participated in the struggle against Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship, to embrace the communist ideology and, what appears to be most important, to have a proven loyalty to the top leadership generation.

In his speech to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks, delivered on July 26, 1961 in the Sports City of Santiago de Cuba, Fidel Castro mentioned for the first time in public the idea of creating a unitary entity that would bring together the forces that had fought against Batista’s tyranny: the 26th of July Movement, the Revolutionary Directorate and the Popular Socialist Party.

With this decision, other groups were omitted from the distribution of power, among them the so-called Triple A, which was a derivation of the Authentic Party led by the ousted president Carlos Prío Socarrás, and all those who sought to find a peaceful way out of the dictatorship.

With the entities chosen by the comandante en jefe , the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) would be founded as a previous base for the creation of a narrower political group that would be called the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (PURSC).

Just two months later the process of dissolution of the organizations involved began, but it was not until March 8, 1962 that the National Office of the ORI was presented with 24 members of the three organizations mentioned. After an acute crisis, on March 26 of that same year, Fidel Castro decided not to wait any longer and turned the ORI into the PURSC and incidentally placed himself at the head of the new party.

Finally, on October 3, 1965, a list of one hundred people who formed the Central Committee of the newly appointed Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) was presented. These one hundred protagonists are the only ones with satisfactory credentials to present themselves as the historical generation of the Revolution.

The oldest of the list was a militant of the old Popular Socialist Party, Juan Marinello, now deceased, who was born in 1898; the youngest, a group of five fighters from the Sierra Maestra born after 1940 whose only active survivor is Leopoldo Cintra Frías, currently two years short of joining the octogenarian club, and today the current minister of the Armed Forces.

Of that list only seven other men remain active, 60 percent have died, more than 20 were defenestrated, the rest vegetated in a dark retirement. There are at least a dozen names that do not even have a file on Ecured, “the Cuban Wikipedia.” If the hypothesis is correct that this legion of the faithful is the human matter that makes up the renowned historical generation, it can be concluded that this group is already a thing of the past.

Raúl Castro is still the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, his second in command in this organization is José Ramón Machado Ventura; and the only person behind them who has real power is the vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, the legendary commander Ramiro Valdés. He is also the only one of them who was an assailant at the Moncada Barracks, an expeditionary on the yacht Granma, and a participant in the Invasion of the West. He has a reputation for being a cruel and astute man and maintains an enviable physical form for his 87 years.

If everything goes as planned, in April 2021 the 8th Congress of the PCC will be held. Miguel Díaz-Canel has already been named as a sure successor to Raúl Castro at the head of the Party. From that moment the historical generation will no longer have the physical, mental or legal capacity to sign laws or issue decrees. They will not even have the right to speak or vote.

One can speculate ad infinitum about what might happen in the minds of those who, sitting around the table where decisions are made, look at each other knowing they will all be thinking the same thing: that the historical ones are not there anymore to frown, and a whole nation anxiously awaits a new direction, a different imprint.

But there is not even the certainty that the plan is complete.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the International Yearbook dedicated to Cuba by the CIDOB Barcelona Study Center .


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.