Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — The experiences I am publishing as diary entries aim to show, in broad strokes, what the life of a revolutionary was like during Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship (from 1953 to 1958) and the first years of the revolution.
These stories do not have an autobiographical aim. They merely narrate incidents that could be of interest to readers, not because of the person telling them (who, ultimately, is uninteresting), but because of the facts themselves.
That said, I find it necessary to go back to an earlier time. I was born in June of 1937, three years before the constitution of 1940 (the least respected of Cuban constitutions) was approved, and four years before the start of the Second World War. In Cuba, these were times of extreme hunger, particularly for those, like me, who were born in the countryside.
Hunger, the cause of many illnesses, coupled with a shortage of medical doctors, was the cause of numerous and perfectly avoidable deaths, of the kind that still take place today in most underdeveloped countries and even in some sectors of developed countries.
Cuba’s child mortality rate was around 60 for every thousand live births, and life expectancy was only 62.3 years.
There wasn’t a single government – not since achieving independence from Spain and until 1959 – that made an effort to improve the living conditions of the people. All were corrupt and struggled to get to office to become richer at the expense of the people.
Money that could have been used to develop quality education for all or improve medical services ended up in the bank accounts of politicians. The same thing happened with the budgets allocated to public works, which ended up costing to or three times their real cost, as the pockets of many politicians had to be fattened in the process.
Another ill I had to endure in my early years, until 1958, were gangsters, who enjoyed impunity or were employed by the authorities. Many such gangsters went on to be police chiefs under Fulgencio Batista.
The Cuban people had grown tired of politicking, false democracy and the so-called multi-party system, which served only to put corrupt people in government. Politics was a very profitable business, at a time when the people lacked what was essential to them.
That’s why it was necessary to take up arms and lead a revolution, to sweep away all of that filth. Though some dream with returning to that past will never see this come true, for, even though most Cubans today were born after 1958, everyone has received schooling and the study of history affords them enough to conclude they ought not be seduced by the siren-song of capitalism.
Nor will we allow ourselves to be deceived by anarchist formulas, which were proven unviable in their time, even though a backward-thinking lot attempts to present them as the perfect solution to all our economic difficulties. Difficulties magnified by the detractors of the socialist revolution but which are, in fact, less significant than those faced by underdeveloped and some developed countries, even though none has to endure the harsh blockade that the United States has imposed on Cuba for more than 50 years.