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.