By Erasmo Calzadilla
July 26 is known in Cuba as the Day of National Rebelliousness in homage to those brave men and women who launched the assault on the Moncada barracks to liberate Cuba from one of its many tyrants.
As is the custom, the President gives a speech to the entire nation on that day. On this occasion, naturally the responsibility fell to Raul Castro.
I have to acknowledge that my first impression was of calm and certain joy at the brevity and certainty of his words. They filled me with enthusiasm, especially if I compare them with some of the last July 26 speeches given by Fidel – the country falling to pieces and he dedicating his speech to recounting the evils of imperialism. That really drove me crazy.
Nevertheless, in a second reading of Raul’s speech I took more time going over some “little things” that caught my attention, or, better said, that I didn’t like as much.
To begin, let’s refer to the words with which the Granma newspaper introduces the speech: “Our people have never failed to heed the call of the Nation.” I asked myself: In this expression, who is “the Nation”?
Well, it seems clear that this very worthy and abstract term, associated perhaps with the patriarchs, doesn’t include the people. It could be that this seems like an insignificant detail, but I feel as if these disconnects that abound in the official discourse are intended to reinforce subliminally the idea that the People are subordinate to a cast of government officials and patriarchs who “watch over the Nation.”
Am I exaggerating? Let’s go on to another point.
Several paragraphs later, congratulating those who resisted and recuperated so quickly from last years hurricane damage, Raul mentions the people of Holguin and Pinar del Rio, provinces where the swirling winds passed over. He later went on to note the important work carried out by the top Party leaders in Holguin and Las Tunas.
At 34, I still don’t understand very well how this country is governed. Above all, my doubts revolve around the relationship between those two parallel powers: the Assemblies of Peoples Power, (the elected city councils, provincial assemblies and national parliament) and that of the Party. Which of the two is the definitive government? Because I imagine that it’s not both at once.
And with this in mind, I wonder: Why did Raul congratulate those from the Party in the province, but didn’t mention the representatives of Peoples Power Assemblies? Could it be that they didn’t do their work well, or was it perhaps that the possibility of accomplishing something fell only into the hands of the Party?
In addition, if his words were a tacit confession that the Cuban Communist Party is what governs, then how can it be that an institution not under popular control is governing? As far as I know, those who are subject to public scrutiny, even if only symbolically, are the representatives of Peoples Power. In the end, this becomes a rhetorical question.
Lastly, I want to mention that I am very happy that the marabou (a thorny bush that has proliferated on idle lands) has been retreating due to the efforts of farmers and ranchers, and that Raul has the farsightedness to envision and encourage us to work towards the day in which petroleum becomes scare, a day that I suppose is not far off.