Elio Delgado Legon

Illustración: es.dragonball.wikia.com
Illustración: es.dragonball.wikia.com

HAVANA TIMES — Perhaps not many people would believe me if I said I celebrate two birthdays, having been born twice. My first birthday is June 28, 1937, the date I arrived in this world, in a sad, poverty-ridden country where thousands of children died every year of preventable and curable diseases and where one had to walk dozens – sometimes hundreds – of miles to see a doctor, a journey many sick people did not survive.

I was born in a country where, in order to secure a bed at a hospital, one had to have a recommendation from a politician, to whom one had to promise the family’s vote at the next elections. It wasn’t enough to be sick and in need of admittance, what mattered was one’s political commitment.

It was a country where thousands of children were denied access to education, even though there were around 10,000 teachers out of work, and 30 percent of the population was illiterate.

My life started in a country where the immense majority of peasants did not own the land they worked, had to pay a rent for it and had no guarantee of being able to sell their products; a country where the tens of thousands of farm workers in the countryside only had work three months out of the year, during the sugar harvest. The rest of the year was known as “dead time.” The name says it all.

I was born in a country where the mafia and salaried thugs took the streets or gunned each other down, making life very unsafe for the population; a country where supposedly democratic governments were constantly threatened by coups, particularly when there was any chance that a leader concerned with the humblest could come into power. This is what happened in 1952, when Eduardo Chivas, with his slogan of “shame instead of money,” had every chance of winning the elections. The US embassy, however, had other plans and offered Fulgencio Batista support for his coup. Batista remained in power for seven years, in which time the country was drowned by a wave of murders, torture and disappearances that kept citizens in the grip of fear.

My second birthday – the day I feel I was born once again – is January 1, 1959. To arrive at my home town dressed in olive green, armed, with a three-month beard, to be able to walk around day or night without any kind of fear, was in and of itself like being born again, in a happy and hopeful country this time around.

The changes that took place in the months and years that followed more than justified the joy and hope of the first days of the revolution.

The progress achieved since in terms of health, education, culture and sports, for Cuba and many other countries, has resulted in a country that is completely different from the country I was born in and lived in for 21 years.

Today, we have a new country in which peasants own the land they work, where the poverty that scourged the countryside of all has disappeared. Today, doctors are everywhere, a few blocks away, in both the countryside and city. Cuba’s health system guarantees medical attention, from primary to hospital care, in modern facilities built and equipped by the revolutionary government. Free, top-quality education at all levels and of every kind contrasts starkly with the situation we had before, when us poor could not even dream of enrolling in university or of enjoying culture or sports. I arrived at a completely different country on January 1st, 1959. This is the reason I celebrate two birthdays.


Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

41 thoughts on “My Two Birthdays

  • There are so many inaccuracies in your comments in general and this comment is no exception. Cuba did NOT cause the release of Nelson Mandela. At best, according to Mandela himself, their involvement in Angola contributed to the political calculus, as did worldwide economic sanctions. Mandela was called a Terrorist for leading terrorist activities against the South African apartheid regime. The ANC cause was just but examples like setting black collaborators on fire in car tire tacks is terrorism. The US did not “arm” the South African army. Certainly not to the extent that the Soviets armed Castro’s army. Yes, I am quite familiar with these independence struggles in southern Africa. Apparently you lack all the facts. You should also read up on how these socialist – influenced countries are doing today. In nearly every case, where Cuba went, more poverty and political repression followed.

  • Which other country in the world sends Medical Brigades to the remotest parts of the world to offer humanitarian assistance to the inhabitants of countries which have suffrerd natura or other disasters? Moses, did you know that it was because of the 300,000 Cuban soldiers and 50,000 Internationalists why Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years of incarceration for fighting for the right of the majority of Black people in South Africa, under the Apartheid system to be able to vote> Mandela was deemed a Terrorist for fighting for their right to vote, You see Moses, The multinationals were reaping astronomical profits from the backs of the oppressed people of South Africa. For Mandela to be released, Cuba had to defeat the South African Army which was believed to be invincible and which was armed by America. The defeat of the South African Army resulted in the Independence of Nambia and Angola; Cubaans have done what no first world country has ever done. Where were the Human Rights defenders then? Do you really see the hypocricy or America over the Most tortuos, horrendous dictatortship in the whole of the world? Did you know about this Moses? Kindly answer me correctly!!

  • Ummm always thought it was Che, but I guess it’s splitting hairs to differentiate.

    Here is a link to the reality of Che’s belief structure. Scary reading. Unfortunately most don’t know of this reality, what he would have like to impose on the world if he could .

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/151217

  • Fidel and Raul are dictators. That’s not opinion, it’s a fact.

  • It was Fidel, but “same difference”.

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