Who Wrote to the Commander? / Luis Felipe Rojas

In a prison just outside of Moscow, the passing hours were shattering the head of the Soviet dissident Alexander Bukosky. The white walls. The cold. The flies on the roof. The prisoners came and went with thousands of complaints and denouncements of violations which the guards were subjecting them to, and he could not last much longer by himself. One day, it occurred to him to recommend two prisoners to write to the district committee, and if they did not respond, to write two, four, or ten more times per week until they paid attention. One morning, one of the superiors nearly begged him to not recommend them to write any more letters because they had no way of processing so many complaints. I am bringing up this story, so luxuriously described in the ‘Wind Blows Again’, in relation to what appeared this past Sunday, May 27th in the “Acknowledgment of Receipt” section of the “Rebel Youth” newspaper.

‘Acknowledgement of Receipt ’ has become a species of social catharsis in our country and Jose Alejandro Rodriguez knows this, as do the bureaucrats and the indolent, as well as the population. Many times the complaints do not go any further than just being published there, but the myth has began to move forward and nothing can stop it. People know that if they appear there is a responsibility which arises. Eliecer Palma Pupo, a worker from the Transportation Base of the Urbano Noris Central, of San German, believed in that, wrote to them, and on December 17th 2011, his complaint appeared on the newspaper. He and various other drivers had not been paid the bonus of the previous period and he was already working during a new season and they were not paying him what they owed. He told Rodriguez, the journalist, of the situation in which he had to drive back and forth, here and there, and all the other tasks he had to complete numerous times. A few months later they paid him his due, but a few days ago, one of the chiefs of the sugar production group AZCUBA mailed justifications and evasive answers to the “Receipt” section of the paper…

Jose Alejandro has once again responded to them and taken up the case, apparently annoyed by the dryness of the technocrat who did not assure that the event, with reprimands and supposed propositions of disciplinary measures against three supposed culprits, will not happen again. I have wanted to point out the opinion he expressed in one of the paragraphs: “The response of an institution to a public complaint made by a group of workers during one period should never stay below the expectations which are created by the denouncement. What is essential is the analysis derived from the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the offense. If we had all of these elements, and the organizational measures which are taken, then we could say that an error like this will not be repeated“.

Every day, thousands of letters from desperate Cubans fill the post offices of the island. Apparently, the sender’s pretensions are to have them published in order to solve injustices which human misery has plunged them into, and later, if they are not resolved, so that at least the army of useless functionaries will not go unpunished. Now, it does not matter if we write to the Commander- instead, it matters who does, because sooner or later they will all respond to a *Fuenteovejuna, sir!

*Translator’s note: Fuenteovejuna– is a Spanish play from 1619, based on the events which took place in the village of Fuenteovejuna, Spain, in 1476, when a commander mistreated numerous villagers. In response, the peasants’ came together and killed that commander. When the king’s men rode into the village to ask who had committed the murder, the villagers responded by saying: “Fuenteovejuna did it”.

Translated by Raul G.

3 June 2012