Who Will Kill the Commander? / Luis Felipe Rojas

The socialist labyrinth consists of so much injustice that even the functionaries joke about being trapped in it.  The beauracratic skeins of the tropical Cuban creature have been designed to hinder citizens, to make their daily lives harder, but it is not always possible to demarcate the frontier between the most common of passer-bys and bureaucrats, as infallible as they’d like to make themselves seem.

A group of workers from the TransNet Base, dedicated to cultivating sugar cane, have been suffering for months because they have not been paid their salary stimulus which the sugar company owes them for the 2010-2011 pay period.  Today, as the new period is beginning, the correspondent organisms are not complying with the salary they owe.  In the sugar production plant of the municipality of San German, Holguin, the mentioned workers (as fed up as those who protest on streets of the United States) lashed out and deposited their confidence in a social valve: writing to national newspapers.  Only one of them publicly responded- Juventud Rebelde (‘Rebel Youth‘).

For some time now, Cubans tend to their pains by writing to the Open-Letter section of the mentioned newspaper.  There, the colleague Jose Alejandro Rodriguez, whom one can clearly see really wants to break away and carry out a free form of journalism without chains, dedicates himself to dissect the anatomy of home-grown bureaucracy.

In the Open-Letter section of December 18th, the journalist explained the indignation of these workers.  He also mentioned the letter sent by Eliecer Palma Pupo, who was thrown around however they wanted from the transportation base, the municipal union, the organ of Social Security and Work, and all the way to the Provincial Direction of the Sugarcane Industry.  Immediately, the workers were called to testify.  ”Who wrote the letter?”.  They said it would be fixed, ‘damn it’, that was all…

What the Juventud Rebelde Newspaper did not know was that Palma Pupo is a worker, who has worked as a driver for 27 years, and is branded as a counter-revolutionary for speaking the truth.  He has also been locked up in the dungeons of State Security on the 22nd of October 2011 so that he would not hinder the visit of Jose Ramon Machado Ventura to the mentioned factory.

He suffered from fatigue for three days, product of a hunger and thirst strike he carried out from his cell.  But when he was released, he went straight back to his work post to load up a truck for the sugar production process, and his coworkers asked him to denounce the absence of payment for 20 CUC which the plant owed each of them.

Before exposing the case to the independent press and the international press, they opted to send the message right back to the aggressor.  The letter has been read by thousands of Cubans, among them hundreds of functionaries, who although they have not responded have been contested by their own propaganda system which is kept afloat by screams, lies, and acts of mob repudiation.  I have spoken to some of them, with Palma Pupo himself, and although they have not been paid they still feel the sweet taste of vengeance.

Palma told me that they have returned to the Union Direction Center (against them) and even against some workers, who are alarmed by his rebellious condition and fear they will lose more than just the steering wheels of his old sugar-cane loading trucks.

From afar and from outside, one runs the risk of seeing this as something pointless, but these men told me this as if they had been victorious, as if they had discovered that “all as one” they could tear the rags off of the old Fuenteovejuna* commander.


*Fuenteovejuna- A play by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega.  The work of art is about a peasant uprising in a medieval Spanish town. 

Translated by Raul G.

5 January 2011