This Has A Name, It Only Has One Name

Reinaldo Escobar holds Fidel Castro responsible for all the ills of the Island in this text for Castro’s birthday. (Marcos Evora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, August 13, 2021 — I heard your voice for the first time when I was eleven years old. It was 1958 and Radio Rebelde (Rebel Radio) broke the censorship that the brief dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista imposed to keep what was happening in the Sierra Maestra Mountains from becoming known.

In January 1959 I imagined I saw your face in each of the bearded men who paraded through Camagüey, and from whom we children asked for a “balita” [little bullet] as a souvenir and as a symbol that peace had arrived.

I keep one of those projectiles.

I learned that “Triumphal March of the Rebel Army” by the Indian Naborí and I knew how to lower my voice to recite the verses where it was said “and this has a name, it only has one name”* and then came the cataract of your speeches, from which I got to memorize phrases that I repeated aloud while I slept.

Little by little disappointment came: over Prague; over the failure of the sugar harvest; and one good day in 1970, as a university student, I had my first and only discussion with you where I indicated to you my sincere disagreement, and I could no longer remain the same.

I cannot pinpoint the exact date when you entered my past, “in the past of my life,” as the tango says, but I can say that I finally had to give in to the arguments of those who preferred to demonize you. Always, out of academic petulance, I preferred to put all the blame on the system, which it has, and it cost me a lot of work to understand the dose of personal evil that was hidden behind each of your decisions.

Cuba owes you its misfortune. This country should have saved you from coming into the world on a day like today 95 years ago. It will not be possible to describe our sad reality without putting all the blame on you.

I hope this gets to be told one day, and that afterward you will be forgotten, and that no one will remember your name.

*Translator’s note: This is the penultimate line of the paean to Fidel, “Triumphal March of the Rebel Army,” by Jesús Orta Ruiz aka “El Indio Naborí.” The next line of the poem is simply: FIDEL CASTRO RUZ

Translated by: Tomás A.


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