The Last of the Worshipers or Moliere’s Orgon

Dariela Aquique

Tartufo. photo: poemas del

HAVANA TIMES, April 10 — For some time I’ve been a passive spectator of the debate flying back and forth between Elio Delgado Legon (a recent writer with Havana Times) and another colleague and personal friend Alfredo Fernandez. Plus, I’ve read the many comments sent in from readers regarding each of the writers’ posts.

As a student of the theatre, all of this has reminded me of Tartuffe, Moliere’s famous comedy.

This play was the victim of ruthless censorship during its opening days, vigorously attacked by the majority, as have been Elio’s points. But this is not where my analogy with the debate lies.

In Moliere’s own words: “One easily bears moral reproof, but never mockery,” just as, “People don’t mind being mean; but they never want to be ridiculous.”

But more than angered reproof or criticism, we’ve seen jeers directed at this writer – who I read with a great deal of tolerance, if not with an equally great deal of compassion.

His resemblance to Orgon (the co-protagonist along with character of Tartuffe) emerges in my reading of his writings. This man of good faith, an ardent and faithful devotee of ideals which inoculated him and that neither age nor disappointment nor reality seems to have cured.

He defends with surprising vehemence and conviction a number of actions taken by the leaders of the country’s political system to maintain themselves in power.

He presents Cuba as idealistic and quixotic – like small David facing mighty the Goliath.

Like Tartuffe’s trickery and subterfuge dazzled the good and simple Orgon, many people like this disciple still strongly believe in the correctness and transparency of Cuba’s social system.

After more than half a century of listening to the same old hackneyed arguments, they end up considering this to be the absolute truth, perhaps due to the repetition or impossibility of hearing other versions of the same events.

Yet with Elio, there’s something that deserves respect. Even with his apologies he isn’t seeking privileges – like so many others do in the official press. He doesn’t generate the nausea from posts such as those by Iroel Sanchez (the ex-president of the Cuban Book Institute, whose Spanish-language blog is La pupila insomne) or the government-paid “essayist” and blogger Enrique Ubieta (La Isla Desconocida).

Elio doesn’t make up what he writes. He believes in it, like Orgon believed in Tartuffe, at least until incredible circumstances showed him otherwise. Let’s hope that in the coming days such faithful devotees will discover the other side of their idols.

There are still many hardcore Orgons in Cuba, but my hope is that the Tartuffes won’t last forever.


Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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2 thoughts on “The Last of the Worshipers or Moliere’s Orgon

  • Your wager has already been taken up, Moses! A couple of years ago a writer for Harper’s Magazine wrote a story about surviving on the equivalent of 20 CUC’s a month. In the end, he had to cheat by accepting payment as a guide, and also a few restaurant meals from some friends who happened to be visiting from abroad. Still, the privations he endured were graphic–and during that month he lost 18 lbs.!

  • If Elio supports the Cuban system all the while living completely within its confines, then while I may differ greatly with his views I am compelled to respect his right to express them. That is to say that he doesn’t secretly have a family member in Miami sending him 200cuc a month. I take issue with those who would defend the Cuban regime but are never forced to drink the chick pea blended coffee it produces. I have read Replies posted on this blog that glorify the “free” education in Cuba yet the writer has never been in an unventilated Cuban classroom and studied from a 20 year-old Cuban geography book or been taught by a 20 year-old Cuban teacher. There should be a rule for all those who live outside of Cuba who wish to support the regime from abroad. They should be required to live with 5 other members of their family in one home for one month in the municipality Cerro on less than 20cuc per person. Just one month. Then I would like to see how much enthusiam remains after that. Just to make it happen, I will put up the first 20cuc. Any takers?

    …one other requirement. The reader must spend two nights for whatever ailment (even one will do) in a Cuban hospital. I am not talking about Ciro Garcia, the hospital for tourist or the one Chavez uses. I am talking about the ones the other 2 million Habaneros must use, like Calixto Garcia or Fructuosa Rodriguez. After, that experience “socialized medicine” will mean something totally different. No worries, I will bring the toilet paper, and fruit juice for you. I may even throw it a 10 cup pizza. Seriously, anyone?

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