From the Wolf, a Hair* / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Photo: Marcelo López Bañobre

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

Like many compatriots, I sat down to watch the appearance of General of the Army Raul Castro during his recent speech before the National Assembly of People’s Power.

I talked with other lawyers about his words before that forum and, unsurprisingly, some were interested in certain aspects of his speech, while others fixed on different details.

Personally, he caught my attention when he said:

We have to have the Party Congress set the course to update the Cuban economic model and to achieve a sustainable and prosperous socialist society, a less egalitarian but more just society .  . .”

It’s with regards to …”a less egalitarian but more just society”that I want to reflect about.

For many years we have heard of a justice that meant a classless society, and we were witnesses of how those who departed from this scheme were persecuted or segregated.

I remember very clearly that one of the elements that was always reflected in the investigation of a person was their standard of living — whether they had relatives abroad, received outside help, etc. A positive finding of those details was an aggravating factor for their situation.

Until recently, the following paragraph from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was, for the extreme champions of the EGALITARIAN society, a dead letter and condemnable:

“Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of living in larger freedom . . .”

Social progress? Better standards of living? That smacked of ideological deviation.

But time passed, “and an eagle passed over the sea. . .”**

Things change by inner conviction or because there is no alternative. But in the midst of the stagnation that has gripped the country for half a century, the fact that the current head of state speaks in favor of less egalitarianism, may mean that it is already happening somewhat, though still far from what we would want.

But like my grandmother used to say: from the wolf, a hair.*

Translator’s notes:

*The Spanish proverb “Del lobo un pelo, y ése de la frente” can be translated, roughly, “From the wolf [take] a hair, and this from the forehead,” and means, roughly, when you can’t expect to receive good from someone, take whatever little you can.

**From “The Pink Shoes”, a poem by Jose Martí

Translated by Tomás A.

16 April 2013