Garrincha’s Talons / Luis Felipe Rojas

Raul: Now go and tell the people why they are going to be laid off. Labor Union: I thought my job was to defend the Revolution, not explain it.

I was born in 1971. My generation grew up under the imprint of “Revolutionary” humor. I never knew about the Comics, except for those by Cecilio Avilès and Blanquito, the weekly Palante, and the late DDtè. I didn’t enjoy the ones by Quino and Fontanarrosa until I was over 20. I couldn’t see the magic behind Charlie Brown. After I was 25, my passion became Garrincha. I did not enjoy the lombricillas, little worms, that appeared in the military magazine Verdeolivo (Olive-green), but I began to collect every one of their comic strips from the Cuban newspapers starting from the beginning of the ’90s of the twentieth century.

I think we lost them from our national life about two years ago and later found them again in the graphic opinion section on Cuba posted on Miami´s EL Nuevo Herald. Garrincha is a character who exudes the best of humor from all sides. I think that he has, in abundance, the sarcasm that the Cuban press has lacked for a very long time. The lombricillas, his depressed men, super-light women, “cool dudes,” “hot chicks” and bureaucrats are the best of creole satire since Castor Bispo, Gaspar Pumarejo and the best of Enrique Nuñez Rodrìguez when he wasn’t being professorial or excessively pro-Castro.

Every month someone sends me the Garrincha vignettes from that Florida newspaper, and though we know that living in a village like San Germán in Holguin province might cost me my objectivity — given the apathy of the major media that surrounds me — my joy in good Cuban humor remains. Neither far-right and vulgar, nor from the center, nor moderated by luxury, it is simply him, humorous, sarcastic, and without loyalties to dull his sharpness. I celebrate my ignorance in front of my readers: I imagine he has a website or collaborates with various digital publications, but for now I’m content to know that every week I can expect to see him, re-posted from the press, copied on CD, or in some newspaper that managed to slip through the bars of the General Customs of the Republic of Cuba. This is good enough, while this mischievous boy who answers to the name Garrincha sticks out his tongue at the stiff-necks who think themselves safe from a good “raspberry.”

Just what we need to begin to be a real country.

December 24, 2010