‘Manzanita’ the Dynamiter

Erasmo Calzadilla

Jose Antonio Echeverria: “A golden heart full of dynamite.”

HAVANA TIMES — A large billboard has popped up around the city with the smiling face of the Jose Antonio Echeverria and the phrase: “A golden heart full of dynamite.”

Contemplating such flowery summer language, the question occurred to me: What would a visitor who didn’t know our history think? Or those young people that repudiate it for the way the history is canned in school?

They might believe that Echeverria (“Manzanita”) was a kind of good natured dynamiter, one who loved planting bombs that would explode in colorful flowers.

I think it’s necessary to clarify things a little. Echevarria was not a philanthropic arsonist. His dynamite had a precise aim: to overthrow the dictatorship. Clearly that’s the most important, something that shouldn’t be missed in an allusion to him, someone who died trying to execute Batista.

I don’t understand what those who designed that billboard were thinking. Why didn’t they make a reference to that aim? Could it be that they’re expecting the visit of some dictator invited by the Cuban Communist Party and didn’t want to make a bad impression? (An invitation for reasons of realpolitik of course, not affinity).

And now a question concerning participation: If Manzanita were alive, if he were young and attending the university, what would he do? Would he join the ranks of the Young Communists (UJC), or hang out at G Street Park or plant bombs?

I think that he would be writing in a blog. There’s nothing now more powerful right now in Cuba than the dynamite of public opinion. Something major will happen when people perceive their power, which is none other than their own strength. This is why Mobutte never allowed the arrival of the submarine cable from Ugambia.

8 thoughts on “‘Manzanita’ the Dynamiter

  • As usual, questionable values and double standards are on display in what ‘Moses’ writes. Millions of wrongful deaths in Vietnam are old news? Should we apply the same standard to the thousands of wrongful deaths in 911 – more old news? Desensitizing humanity is always a double-edged sword.

    Does doing business with a former foe mean all is forgiven and forgotten? Since capitalism, by definition is competition – between companies and between companies and clients – one would think otherwise. Once you start living by antagonizing everyone, the world becomes a more insecure place, which is why it makes more sense to live cooperatively with our fellow humans.

    One would have hoped the US learned and grew from the Vietnam debacle to not repeat the mistake. Indeed, right away the US military said they learned the lesson – no more gradual escalation of warfare, from now on it would be shock and awe from day one. Wrong lesson learned it seems as the perpetual state of warfare that now prevails threatens to bankrupt the country. Living by the sword has become a way of life. There are other ways to live.

    Cries of ‘you hate me” are the first reaction when parents point out dysfunctional behavior in their offspring or when American dysfunctional behavior is highlighted by those who live outside the American propaganda bubble.

    Movie endings many times are difficult to predict. That Fidel will pass is inevitable. The “peace and freedom” ‘Moses’ expects afterwards, however, are unlikely to be the “peace and freedom” he is thinking of, typical of the aftermath in countries the US invades, occupies or otherwise dominates – peace and freedom for neither the imperialist or its victims. After my stay in Cuba I became convinced the Revolution is too entrenched in the hearts of the Cuban people for its principles to disintegrate at the passing of the old guard.

    If the US truly wants to woo Cubans, it needs to stop demonizing its government and supporting efforts to overthrow it, dropping its ridiculous embargo and acting as good citizens on the world stage, one that treats other countries as equals and not as something to dominate and control.

  • Moses,
    Still wearing your rose colored glasses, I see. Are the ear pieces too tight and restricting the blood flow to your brain?

    “…we are most correctly judged not by the mistakes we made but by the manner and direction we grew after the mistake.”

    Judging by the actions of the US Government in the past 40 years, it hasn’t learned a damn thing! The list of victims of US terrorism and US instigated terrorism, is too lengthy to list, but I will remind you of a few of the worst examples: Chile. 1973; Nicaragua; El Salvador, including the brutal murder of Arch Bishop Romero and the rape and murder of the American nuns, along with the unknown victims of the CIA protected Death Squads led by graduates of the School of the Americas, in the early ’80s; Haiti, several times as we aided Baby Doc Duvalier and his father; and Guatemala; Honduras; Panama; Mexico, Granada; and the continuing funding, training, and CIA support, of never-ending Terrorism against Cuba.

    And that is just a partial list of targets in the Western Hemisphere. If I were to try and list our victims and targets in the Mid-East; Africa; Asia; Europe, et al; my typing would degenerate into gibberish on this lousy lap-top key board, and I’d laps into a prolonged depression.

    It should be enough to point out that what ever Fidel’s sins of omission and commission over the past 50 years, he never scheduled a daily meeting with his top advisers to decide just which individuals should live, and which should die, as Obama does. Possibly he was too busy figuring out how to implement Universal Education and Health Care, while fighting the ongoing US Economic Blockade; The Bay of Pigs; Hurricanes; the collapse of the USSR; and other man-made and natural disasters!

    So, take off your glasses, loosen your tie and straight jacket; and start reading something other than Republican Propaganda out of Miami.

    Think about it…

  • Are you kidding me Lawrence…Vietnam? Are you still talking about that? Do you know who Vietnam’s largest trading partner is today? Yep, the good ole US of A. Seems the Vietnamese have gotten past that part of our history. So should you. By the way, we are most correctly judged not by the mistakes we made but by the manner and direction we grew after the mistake. If you keep looking back to justify your hatred of the US, you will miss the part of the movie where Fidel passes and peace and freedom come to Cuba at last.

  • As Noam Chomsky often states, it’s quite easy knowing who the terrorists are. They are the ones Americans label as terrorists, not ones who didn’t get away with it. Otherwise, the American military, who killed upwards of 6 million Vietnamese and ended up being ignominiously booted out of Vietnam – hardly getting away with it – would be a gross example of state terrorism. How silly of ‘Moses’ not to know that.

  • Jose Antonio Echeverria was a leader of the Federation of University Students, and also of the Student Directorate, which, in 1957, made an attack on the Presidential Palace. They failed in their attempt to kill the tyrant, and he was subsequently murdered by Batista’s police. My friend Pedro Pablo remembrs this well, since he was living nearby when the attack took place, and both he and his parents spent an hour on the floor of their apartment during the ensuing gun battle. Echeverria gave his life for Cuba. The students sought to liberate Cuba from a tyrant, and all those the students sought to kill were themselves killers; Posada Carilles, on the other hand, was directly responsible for the murder of 73 innocent passengers on a Cuban commerial airliner in 1974. I agree with Erasmo, that if Jose Antonio were to be reincarnated today, he’d be blogging. After the triumph of the Revolution, some of the Student Directorate remained loyal to the Revolution, even after it became socialist , while others chose to oppose the Revolution, saying that subsequent events betrayed the Revolution. Who knows what Juan Antonio’s choice would have been, since he was cut down in the flower of his youth.

  • Oh, I get it. Like Robin Hood. OK, well, Robin Hood was still a thief.

  • no double standard. that imply that all things are equal except for the explosions. not so. one explodes for the safety and well being of the many, the other for the enrichment of the few. purpose and context have value.

  • Thank you for this post. I had never heard of Jose Antonio Echeverria. Sounds like he was what we would call a terrorist today. Apparently he wasn’t very good at it In fact, what is the difference between Echeverria and Posada Carriles except that Carriles appears to have gotten away with his terrorism? Sounds like a double standard at play here.

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