The Real Cuba: Where I Differ From Elio (II)

Alfredo Fernandez

HAVANA TIMES, March 7 — To disregard the opinions of intelligent friends isn’t prudent. Nonetheless, I will try to continue — against the suggestions of my friends — with this discussion with my Havana Times colleague Mr. Elio Delgado Legon concerning his responses to my previous articles “Cuba’s Chemically Aged Kids” and “Where I Differ from Elio.”

Mr. Delgado replied to my questions posed in “Where I Differ from Elio” alluding that I was attacking the Cuban Revolution in my posts, something which he found “unforgiveable.”

Indeed it would suffice to read some of my posts to realize that the observation by my colleague Delgado Legon is true. This is because that for me the Cuban Revolution is a completely exhausted historical act, the result more of the inability of the then young leaders — today octogenarians — to fulfill their promises than due to the United States embargo.

The revolutionary process started on January 1, 1959 — no doubt brilliantly — succeeding in its beginning at being a tremendously popular political event, not only in Cuba but also one that was admired internationally.

Therefore, it is very easy to label anyone a heretic, a right winger or something similar, an annexationist (favoring US rule), anyone who doesn’t remain silent in the face of the mistakes made by the Cuban leaders.

As indicated by his age (75), Mr. Delgado is almost a member of the generation that took and holds power in the Cuban Revolution, the generation that is perhaps the only one allowed to enjoy — without complexes — what Fidel Castro has called “the honey of power.”

One could not conduct a serious study of possible “future Cuba’s” and disregard this generation. Despite how anachronistic its members may be, they still exist. They are as real as their current “updating” of the socialist model they created so long ago.

For this they are turning to measures such as laying off a huge number of government workers, imposing high taxes on self-employed workers, and opening the country to foreign investment while keeping it closed to the capital from the diaspora.

Moreover, “our leaders” give winks with respect to freedom of expression while asking for direct criticism from the people at certain times (i.e. the discussion of the official “Guidelines” reform document) to consolidate the “updating of their socialist model.”

They also released more than 100 jailed political opponents in 2010 and 2011, while at the same time increasing the number of short-term detentions and disappearances of opposition members in the country (at the time of this writing, Gorki Aguila, the leader of the punk-rock group “ Porno para Ricardo,” was reported as missing by his family).

Broadly speaking, this is the panorama being experienced by the Cuban nation, in large part owing to the continuation in power of a generation that has proclaimed itself, for more than five decades, as having the unique ability to direct the destiny of the country.

Although I don’t personally know my Havana Times colleague Elio Delgado Legon, I dare say that he’s not an exception to this generation. This can be discerned based on his comments to my posts, plus a title of his blog entry promising to present “The Objective Truth about Cuba.”

To my knowledge, there are more than 13 million Cubans, with about 11 million currently living on the island and the rest abroad. I’m of the opinion there are as many Cubas as there are Cubans, with each as real as Mr. Elio Delgado Legon’s.

Therefore, I find the conga player from the marginal Los Hoyos neighborhood in Santiago in Cuba as much the real Cuba, as a circumspect and successful scientist from the upscale Miramar neighborhood in Havana, or as the Cuban émigré who can be found anywhere in the world.

All of them bear their share of happiness, sadness, certainty, errors and especially legitimacy when thinking or rather dreaming about Cuba. I think that’s what the generation of Elio Delgado Legon never understood or was unwilling to understand.

With this said, I find it necessary to clarify to my friends why I refused to comply with their request (to not engage). I think it’s no longer appropriate for silence to remain as the option for a generation that, utilizing more than a few very opportunistic members, makes and breaks as they please the social and also personal aspirations of an entire country.

I believe that dialogue is the best way to provide solutions and that Mr. Delgado’s generation made one serious error — among many others — by closing off dialog.

Although I’m not a socialist, it doesn’t bother me that such a government runs the country; in the rest of the world such parties have come to power democratically. What bothers me is that they don’t permit me to speak freely.

The fact that they don’t respect my right to something as humane and as beneficial to everyone as the right to disagree is something for which I will never forgive Mr. Delgado’s generation.



Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

Alfredo Fernandez has 177 posts and counting. See all posts by Alfredo Fernandez

7 thoughts on “The Real Cuba: Where I Differ From Elio (II)

  • I completely agree Moses. I was able to do just that. I spent 5 months in Cuba on an academic visa. I lived like a Cuban. The difference was that I had a life line to my bank account if need be (and of course, there was a great need), and to my country if need be. I recommend exactly what you say. to really know Cuba, you must go there and live as closely as you can to the way Cubans live to see and understand (to our best ability as an extranjero) their situation, empathize with them and feel their frustrations at being led by a ‘peoples’ government wherein they (the people) have no rights or opportunities to change their own situations. I often reflect on the irony that in Spanish there is only one word to describe ‘hope’ and ‘wait’, which has a unique symbolism in Cuba.

  • Agreed.

  • “Finally, I encourage you to travel to Cuba and spend one month there.”

    It is not necessary, Moses. We have one thesis (Elio) and one antithesis (Alfredo). By opposing them both we can build ourselves a synthesis.

  • re: Victor’s “free money” comment Perhaps he is referring to those ubiquitous info-mercials with the fellow in the oversized zoot-suit dotted with large ???-marks who claims, if you but send him $19.99, that he’ll reveal the secrets of obtaining “free money” from the Federal Government (through grants, loans, etc.) Of course up here nothing is free–unless you are a REALLY BIG player–like General Motors, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America–and the only one who really collects the free money (from the rubes) is the charlatan who entertains us in his commercials!
    re: the so-called elected “socialist,” social-democrat, (and even liberal governments–at least the ones which used to believe in a social safety net), the international monetary system now calls the tune to what those states can and cannot do. It doesn’t matter what the people want, or who they elect, the creditors are kings, and they now call the tune. And who suffers? Certainly not those who depend on a paycheque, or a sales commission, for their sustenance; rather, those who receive dividends, stock options, etc.

  • I take Alfredo seriously. He writes from the point of view of someone who does not live with the “history and theory of Cuban socialist revolution” but rather with the reality and inefficiency of the same. I am not sure which Americans you speak of who see our government as a source of “free money” but if someone knows where to obtain free money, I am sure by your remarks you are not interested. Goldman Sachs, General Motors, and Bank of America however would be first in line…again. Finally, I encourage you to travel to Cuba and spend one month there. Three months if you have a Canadien visa and try to live on 14 cuc for an entire month. Try to buy shoes there. Try to use the Cuban internet (not at the hotels). After you have done these things, reread your comments.

  • This shallow, ahistorical rant is so full of erroneous assumptions and biased assertions that it is difficult to respond with a logical, rational statement. The Cuban Revolution did not begin in 1959, unless the legacy of Marti and the many revolutionaries who followed him are ignored. The Cuban Revolution is not some shopping list of benefits that are promises that can be broken. Do you believe that the government owes you everything, yet you seem to refuse to accept any responsibility or duty to contribute? Your mentality is remarkably similar to many Americans who see their government as a source of free money, and refuse to accept any responsibility to be productive contributors to society. To focus on the old people who are now prominent in the Cuban government as if they are dictating every move is simply wrong. Your assertion that you don’t have the right to dissent regarding government policies seems to be contradicted by the fact that your rant is published. Although personally I do not respect the critics of the Revolution who insist on substituting erroneous assumptions and grievances for logical and historical analysis and argument, you seem sincere. Please study the history and theory of Cuban socialist revolution before you expect anyone to take you seriously.

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