Fidel Castro Was the Main Engineer of the ‘Political Closet’ in Cuba

Soldiers push the jeep carrying Fidel Castro’s ashes that broke down during his funeral procession. (CG)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Manuel de la Cruz, Havana, 6 September 2021 — Back in 2004 my piano teacher said that Fidel Castro had been given a good power to impose himself with his presence before anyone and to do it until the person cried. He supposed that they had given him this power in Africa in the early 1970s, when it was speculated that they made him Obbatalá, because he was Oddúa’s son.

I remember him citing cases where his accusers visibly crumbled before him, where his most critical observers approached him to give him a demand or a letter, in the plenary sessions of the National Assembly, and ended up bowing before his figure.

The same teacher reminded me of what he felt when Fidel Castro was a few yards away from him, at his Art Instructors graduation in Villa Clara. It could not be explained why they cried so organically when they saw him, collapsing against the stands.

In those months I remember an anecdote that a woman who was visiting our evangelical church starred in. On the street she was caught by national television cameras, and offered generous odes to the Cuban Revolution. Then, in a closed circle, she confessed, visibly regretful, that she did not agree with anything he had said, but that the pressure had made her succumb.

I do not believe that these realities come from any power other than that of implanting terror. Cuba is a political closet. Its doors have iron hinges, prison and ostracism, so that whoever wants to leave has to make a sordid noise and a colossal effort. Outside, in dissent, hell burns for the declared. To be a dissident is, thanks to the late commander, to be anti-Cuban.

For all that it implies, which we know very well, millions have hesitated and still hesitate to declare themselves against the system. It is a kind of opophobia — a nervous collapse. There is a system of dire consequences perfectly created for those who let go of the fear of speaking out against it, those who abandon this kind of political glossophobia. Fidel Castro was the main engineer of this work, with or without an Obbatalá crowned in Nigeria; the G2 [Military Intelligence] its most effective and faithful workers.

But this reflection is not born in a moment of boredom, this post wants to lead to a tangible call:

We Cuban intellectuals and artists have the colossal mission of empowering the voice of the people. Not only to support it once it is alive, but to take it out of the darkness of the room, of the joviality in front of a domino table, of the confidence that a 3-year-old bottle offers.

I believe that we must focus on this, with force, with urgency, with skill.

Outsiders should encourage insiders to come out, and use whatever novel and noble way proves to be effective. Let them know that if their parents throw them out of the house, there is a brother outside who will welcome them with pride, who will give them a plate of food if necessary.

The Devil knows more about being old than about being the Devil. After all, there is nothing like coming out of the closet.


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