"Lay Space" Arrives Late But is a Must Read

The last issue of ’Espacio Laical’, which is dated 2018, didn’t arrive until the spring of 2019.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio,  José Gabriel Barrenechea, Santa Clara, 1 Aptil 2019 — Perhaps to keep us in suspense, as usual, Gustavo Andújar and Jorge Domingo Cuadriello again bring us their magazine, Espacio Laical (Lay Space), at least in its paper edition. But the resource works, because when it finally appears, the accumulated impatience is such that one can not read the new number in one sitting, literally.

However the delay this time is unfortunate, since there are some articles and summaries of panels devoted to the constitutional reform process that happened months ago, that are late. For example, we would have preferred to read, before February 24 — the day of the referendum — or even before the draft became a project in December, the articles with which this number opens and in which two Cuban bishops, Dionisio García Ibáñez and Willy Pino, opine about the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, recently endorsed in a referendum.

We also regret that the transcription of the panel (by the way, very badly assembled) on the draft constitution that was held on September 28, 2018 at the Padre Félix Varela Cultural Center has not been available to the readers of this magazine. In it two respectable jurists were moderated by one of the most brilliant intellectuals and Cuban politicians of the moment, Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada. As expected, the panelists and the audience itself serve only as an introduction to the frequent interventions of someone who, by its nature, is more likely to need moderators than to moderate. José Antonio is the whole panel, and in fact, we recommend that you save time and just read what he said. It will create dependence.

There is much more of interest in this magazine but I will comment on just two items: The murder of Professor Ramiro Valdes Daussá, by Paul Llabre Raurell, a historian living in Miami; and Aracelio Iglesias: the story, the legend, by the narrator and folklorist Tato Quiñones.

In the first one you will find a narration of the death of Ramiro Valdés Daussá, one of the most interesting characters of the Revolution of the 1930s. Thanks to the thoroughness of the author you will find that there is something more here than the description of a murder that occurred on a distant night in August 1940.

This article is a brief history of the emergence of university gangsterism, el bonche. Remember that in Cuba very little serious historiography has been written about the phenomenon of political gangsterism of the late 30’s and the 40’s and that, in any case, the works of Newton Briones Montoto or Aguilar stand out, but, to make matters worse, the same is the case in the mature phenomenon, from the assumption of the Auténticos to power, not in its very origins under Batista, both as colonel and president.

A very well written work, the author has armed himself with the support of abundant interviews with significant personalities, for example, Antonio Morín Dopico and Mario Salabarría, key actors with Emilio Tro of the Events of Orfila.

There is also, by the way, a brief look at the beginnings of Manolo Castro, the one whose 1948 death some contemporary press blamed on, among others, Fidel Castro who at that time was taking pictures with leather coats and Edward G. Robinson poses.

The second article is part of a controversy. It is the answer to the one published by Newton Briones Montoto in the previous issue of this magazine: The Murder of Aracelio Iglesias: Approaching the Truth.

Article that is somewhat extensive, and that Newton could have reduced to one or two pages, revolving around a campaign of electoral propaganda that seemed to demonstrate the membership of the communist port leader to the Abakuá sect, a topic that has always been a subject of discussion among historians and Cuban politicians for its obvious implications on the consequence or not with which the Cuban Communist Party (PSP) respected its supposed dialectical materialist philosophical bases.

Quinones gives us an admirable work, very documented in interviews with Aracelio’s colleagues, in which he tries to prove otherwise. His key arguments in this case are another flyer, also written in bríkamo (the secret language of the sect), but supporting the Matancera candidacy of the liberal Carlos Miguel de Céspedes, who supposedly was not Abakuá either; and what was said to him by Domingo Cárdenas Valdés, an important member of the ñáñiga sect.

According to this “if they had sworn, Aracelio would have entered into commitments of brotherhood with members of his power that would have put him in the difficult situation of (having to) privilege them over other workers,” which in the long run would have affected the undoubted leadership that he had and retained among Havana dockworkers and Cubans in general.

However, if Quiñones almost convinces us that Aracelio Iglesias did not belong to the ñañiguismo (Abukua secret society), on the other hand he reveals to us that as of 1937 the communist had become a babalawo, with which he puts us back to the theoretical origins of the controversy: the party He did not respect his philosophical principles when doing street politics.

The new installment of Espacio Laical also contains the gloomy predictions for the Cuban fifties of Lourdes de Armas and the positions of the director of the publication, Andújar, on gender ideology. The magazine can be found in the Father Felix Varela Center and is available on the website of Espacio Laical.

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.