Sergio the “Problem” Delegate

Irina Echarry

A slice of Havana. Photo: Caridad

“Sergio wound up being elected again,” area residents commented, but this time there was not so much excitement in their words – at least not like in the previous 2007 election.

Two years ago in my voting district, there was an act of popular autonomy.  Someone in a meeting stood up and proposed Sergio as the delegate.  They had previously asked him and he had agreed.  Immediately a host of hands rose in support.  Sergio is a simple, friendly man; an expert on the neighborhood and its people.

Another proposal (made by an old party militant) announced the name of a woman.  Even with the qualities she possessed (a professional and staunch party disciple), she didn’t end up being much competition for Sergio.

Party officials began to worry about this man’s charisma and went to the homes of other party members to find out their opinions of him.  The coordinator of the local Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) came to my house to speak with my mother.  The visitor insisted that Sergio was “good people,” but questioned “Would he be a good delegate with all his problems?”

When my mother told her she didn’t see him as having any problems whatsoever, the woman relented, saying that what he needed was “help”.

I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve known Sergio for years and he knows how to get by on his own.  The party’s concern was that Sergio is a homosexual and a believer in the Yoruba religion.  Those were the little “problems” the coordinator was implying, still at this point in the 21st century.

At the market or the bakery people asked each other, “Who are you going to vote for?”  To which many responded, “For Sergio of course, the other one’s from the party…”

Over the years that I’ve voted, I had never seen anything like it; there was a mini rebellion.  People wanted to elect the person they really wanted.

Some of the more recalcitrant ones didn’t understand why that “fag” Sergio was so popular.  “What the hell has happened to us?” they wondered.

As it turned out, Sergio ended up being elected by an overwhelming majority, though before the balloting two women spoke up praising the young party candidate, trying to influence the voters.

It’s necessary to add that Sergio, over his two years as delegate, was greatly concerned about the problems of the neighborhood.  He has even lost friends because of his demanding answers from them, which never came, despite the people’s needs.

What happened was that Sergio was not a magician.  He himself couldn’t fix the potholes in the streets, or the leaks in buildings, or get a garbage truck to come by daily.  He was not even been able to get the drivers at the bus stops to stop honking their horn at all hours of the morning.

So people began to lose the faith in Sergio at the same time the party confirmed that he was no problem for them – to the contrary.

This year Sergio had said that he wouldn’t run again; he was tired of fighting with the different bureaucratic mechanisms and not solving anything.  Still, the party suggested that he run.  They went to the homes of the party militants, this time so that they would vote for Sergio, “who has done a good job.”  Sergio finally stepped forward and accepted the nomination again.

We know that he won’t solve anything in this term either, and to me it appears that he won’t even try to this time.  But on Election Day a couple weeks ago, he was out in front of the school greeting his people, content.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.



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