From My Archive / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Taken from ""

The contractions of the womb “favored” María del Carmen Peña with her birth on January 1, 1959, the same day the guerrillas led by Fidel Castro came to power. I met her in seventh grade and we studied together through the tenth.

Her classmates and teachers knew that every year all those born on that day met with Castro, took photos, and received multiple and expensive gifts that were not available in the entire network of stores nationwide.

Once she rejoined us in early January displaying a fat Rolex on her wrist that had been presented at the most recent annual meeting. We all admired the generosity of the leader of the revolution, who was more generous than the Swiss manufacturer, randomly rewarding some young people with this symbol of authority, which was only worn, at that time in Cuba, by leaders of the upper echelons of real power.

It was the misuse of office to reward at will because he was master of everything, he had and could do everything, and disposed of the resources available to him as if they were his own.

She lived in Santos Suarez and I have not seen her since. Years have passed, the Mariel Boatlift, the Cuban emigration maintained and growing, the domestic human rights movement and opposition … and I wonder if the Rolex survived the Special Period, or if it was converted into a savior in that painful period and perhaps helped — exchanged for paper money — to “warm the plate” and diversify the family table for a few days. But what then?

From the early stage to the onset of the ’70s we did not grasp the signs of arrogance coming from power. This was just a tiny sample of the encyclopedia of disasters they have brought us and the rights they have taken away. It was cheap and broken watch that we are still paying for, that they left we Cubans who did not have the ’privilege’ of being born with the new year when Cuba was turned into a feudal fiefdom by a group of guerrillas.

January 31 2012