Tempering Dad / Yoani Sanchez

Marino Murillo. Reuters file photo.
Marino Murillo. Reuters file photo.

For Marino Murillo, Cuban Vice President and father
who, a few days ago, saw a daughter leave into exile.

“Daddy, you’re not getting involved in this stuff,” his daughter advised from the other end of the line. The same daughter who a few weeks ago sent him some money and a package with medicine and clothes. She who emigrated a decade ago and who, from Berlin, is the principal support of her family back in Havana. Her father swallows hard every time his firstborn tells him — by phone — not to involve himself in the work of the Communist Party, nor that of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, much less to allow himself to be used in any repudiation rallies against opponents. “Listen, that’s about to collapse and you’re the one who is going to get muddy,” repeats the insistent young woman. Such that the obedient retiree has significantly reduced his ideological intolerance, moderated the rage he harbored for those who were against “his Comandante” and even hidden his Communist Party membership card at the bottom of a drawer.

He looks a changed man. When someone talks about politics he changes the subject to the weather or baseball. To his dissident neighbors, whom he used to refuse to greet, he now offers a wink of complicity. Old soldier’s association meetings now seem so boring, the newspapers so empty, the slogans so false… he doesn’t even turn on the television any more to watch the official speeches. What happened? A mix of frustration, annoyance at his very low pension, the corruption and the indefinite postponement of dreams. But in his case his children have been the main catalyst for discontent, the most emphatic denial his ideology could receive. Most of them live in Europe and the youngest crossed the Straits of Florida on a raft. None wanted to stay and wait for the fruits of the system “Daddy fought so hard for.”

After the departure of his “babies,” he’s discovered a more moderate man in himself, capable of accepting that other people’s children also leave without having to throwing eggs or insults. He doesn’t allow anyone to call his offspring “traitors” and has learned that the English spoken by his granddaughter born in Arkansas is absolutely not the language of the devil. In addition, the vitamins they send are so good, the gel for his back pain of such good quality, the dollars via Western Union so opportune… In short, he is a different man. This October he will fly to the United States to visit his family and he has no plans to return. He will go quietly, without saying goodbye, without even resigning from the only party he belongs to. He will leave without publicly recanting anything, without apologizing to any of the dissidents he insulted, spat on, denigrated, for decades. He will leave.

28 August 2012