Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez

House of Polo Montanez.  Photo: Darko Perica
House of Polo Montanez. Photo: Darko Perica

Omar got a job at the French embassy, but since he didn’t have anywhere to live, he deprived himself of everything humanly possible to gradually build his own house.  He accomplished this feat after six years.  The following year he left for Spain and never returned.

Verdaguer didn’t have a home either.  Though he was a university professor, and not a builder, he was finally able to join a micro-brigade (the work force used for erecting apartment buildings in which an employee leaves their regular job and becomes a construction worker until their residence is completed).

He did this for seven years.  He obtained his house and a year after he began living in it he received a work trip to a Mexican university.  He crossed the border and now lives in Miami.

By leaving, Omar and Verdaguer lost their respective homes through laws whereby the government confiscates properties from people who permanently leave the country.

Such situations always leave a question in my mind: What right does the State have to appropriate a private belonging that was obtained honestly?

Today, each of them lives in apartments they rent in Miami and Madrid.  Selling the ones they owned in Cuba would have alleviated the hardship of exile.


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.

5 thoughts on “Two Among Many

  • I think the “elephant in the room that no one will talk about” is the institution of private property ownership. The long-held Marxian view is that this institution is inimical to social justice, and that it should be abolished by a socialist government.

    The cooperative socialist view is that it is a naturally evolved institution, and that it has a very useful and necessary function in modern industrial society.

    A key theoretical debate going on right now, in Cuba and the world socialist movement, is whether this institution should be shifted from the citizenry to the socialist state, or allowed to remain with the citizenry and used by the socialist state for socialist construction. Few seem to be geared up for participation in this important theoretical debate.

    Bottom line: If the PCC will simply use the institution of private property sensibly–re houses, farms, ranches, restaurants, factories, etc.–Cuba will become prosperous, secure & a model for all.

  • You present an interesting problem. I think it only fair that if they built their homes, and that was part of the agreement, then they should continue to reap the benefits of “ownership”, such as they are in Cuba. But I also agree with Luis that their continued ownership should be contingent upon the property continuing to be farmed or used as housing. Since most of the folks who emmigrate do so for economic, rather than political, reasons, such ownership should also be, of course, contingent upon the payment of property taxes (as up here). Incidentallty, I recently saw a documentary about a city in Mexico where most of the younger folks have “gone North,” for economic reasons. As with Cuba, they continue to send money back to their families, who in turn, build better, and/or additional housing and busineses.

  • Monday morn imperialists..Oh well brothers wake up and smell the cafe..This is the name of the game.
    If familys lost land it would be wise if u asked a few questions before making comments..If u are under 55 you really do not have a clue and if u have not been a freedom fighter in 59 u knoiw even less..So let me fill u in..In 61-63 Land was given to those who fought for our freedom Agrarian system)..It was only given because it had been abandoned by those Criollas and other cowards who worked the poor man to death and paid nothing..it was quasi slavery. Besides the land was not thiers it wasd US Gov land..
    Batista El lindo Mulatto was a brutal dictator who was also a puppet for the US He wrongfully believed that the US liked him when all they did was use him as he oppressed the Cuban workers of all complexions..even his..
    Last , get some knowledge, .Do ur homework and get to the truth..i live here and although it is not perfect it is better than being a slave

  • ‘What right does the State have to appropriate a private belonging that was obtained honestly?’

    It depends on how the property is being used – if it’s a rural property, whether it’s productive or not, if it’s housing, whether it’s idle or not.

    So the question is – are those houses being currently occupied? If so, by whom?

  • Alfredo, you pose the question of the state’s right “to appropriate a private belonging that was obtained honestly.” May I attempt an answer?

    The original concept of socialism, that is, the pre-Marxian concept, respected the institution of private property ownership. The core idea was not to abolish this natural, historically-evolved institution, but for the working people to reach out and make it their own. This included peasants, small business people, and employees of industry and commerce thru cooperative structures of various types.

    In order to undermine the developing socialist movement however, it was necessary for mole ideologues to come into the socialist movement and, with high moral and militant bluster to mask their pernicious work of sabotage, attack the institution of private property ownership.

    After Marxism displaced the original, “true” concept of socialism, the state now had the theoretical right to own everything in sight.

    Does this help?

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