My Passion for Cuba

Francisco Castro

Havana photo by Ihosvanny

Today I’m writing because I feel an overpowering need —one that has turned into frustration— to proclaim to the world my passion for Cuba.

At the moment I’m doing four parallel readings.  In the morning it’s Obra Poetica by Fina Garcia Marruz, along with Poesia Completo by Jose Marti.  In the afternoons I’m going over Volver sobre mis pasos, selections by Mirtha Ibarra of the written correspondence of Tomas (“Titon”) Gutierrez-Alea.  And before going to bed I’m reading Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad.

Apparently this reading has exacerbated my patriotic sentiments.

Of all the authors, only the Polish writer Conrad seems to sing somewhat out of tune.  Nonetheless, his flash-back narration of the adventures of young Jim, who’s trying to find a place in the world where he can be useful, is a kind of golden brooch for my day, especially when he puts into the narrator’s mouth sentences like “Youth is insolent; it is its right – its necessity; it has to assert itself, and all assertion in this world of constant doubts is a defiance, is an insolence..”

The Cubans, for their part, exhibit three Cubas to me out of the so many possible ones.  One is a daydream, of dearest memories, scents of the countryside and the city, a mixture of sound and visual images that form a soft, deep whispering island.  Another is of pain and mourning, chains and shackles, and at the same time a sonorous river and clear light, virtuous women and gallant men, also a dear and longed for memory.  The third one, which is all of that at the same time plus a tremendous scandal of the agitated multitudes, revolutionaries, in a constant clash with another multitude (smaller, but powerful) ingrained with outdated values, with attitudes that block development, certainly counter-revolutionaries.

My country is very grand, because its men and women are very grand – it is their doing.

It is the knowledge of that giant work that expands my passion for Cuba.  And as my passion becomes greater, so does my pain, caused by the counter-revolutionaries.

So, I would love to be able to turn into a whirlwind —the one that Silvio Rodriguez asked for— and to raze and clean the body of the island with one chop, freeing it of the parasites that bleed it.

Therefore, I would like to be Titon.

But as is evident, I can’t be the fabulous whirlwind —the hurricane— that Titon was.  I therefore have no other choice than to try to at least be a tropical storm.

I want to proclaim in all directions, through my work, my passion for Cuba – as was done by Titon, as after passing on he still does through his movies.  I want to defend the right to existence of all Cubans, as well as their peacefully coexisting and enriching controversies.  I would like my work to be impregnated with the pain of that absence, with optimism for a great and healthy future.

But my work is still in mere outline form; and until my talent, my capacity and my sensitivity are ready, I won’t be able to realize it.  That’s why I am determined to support this effort that has charged itself with revealing the various passions that exist for Cuba.

That’s why I am attempting to jot down a few lines in this magazine whenever I can, in those that tear within me to the point of pain in the attempt to express the truth, an exercise that has made me to grow and strengthen infinitely, something for which I will be thankful for a lifetime.

From here I take advantage of this chance to shout my love for Cuba, today that I know it a little bit more thanks to my readings, and I demand my right, my need, to defend it as I am able, as I know, as I would like to.

4 thoughts on “My Passion for Cuba

  • Francisco, you are a kind and gentle person. Stay strong and continue to share your incredible journey.
    Peace to you and all who surround your presence.

  • Such passion! Such poetry! Such yearnings and desires! I hope you remain true to them throughout your life, even as you grow older and wiser. Such love of–and for–wisdom is what Socrates hoped to inspire. Keep reading as much–and as widely–as you can. For many years I read mostly non-fiction. Now, in my old age, I realize that poetry and fiction contain more Truth (with a capital “T”, but which is often the agglomeration of many, many smaller truths with lower case “t’s”).

  • Francisco,
    There is a narrow line that defines clearly the border between actual patriotism and chauvinism I have some vague idea after carefully reading your essay on what side of the border you fall but I hope to be wrong!
    People from any country with limited information outside of their immediate realm may get a wrong impression of self importance. Truth be told, that is not a situation of your own choosing.
    Maybe I should follow your own quote of Joseph Conrad and understand your “Youthful insolence” 🙂

    You need to open your mind to a Cuba that can not be contained within the narrow walls that circumscribe your definition of “revolutionary”. Yes, there is such thing as a Cuba before and there will be a Cuba after the revolution.
    As the English Oscar Wilde wrote once “To define is to limit”
    So please, do not limit Cuba. Let her be free, do not reduce her to just be a revolution.

    Francisco, do not take me too seriously. I could not avoid teasing you.

  • Beautifully expressed! I especially like the part about three Cubas, out of many possibilities. I can quite clearly understand what you are saying, even though my visits to lovely, intriguing Cuba have been limited. I commend and support your spirit.

    In the broadest meaning of a borrowed word, I wish you “shalom.”
    Jenny Cressman

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