Congratulations, Daddy Colonel!

Isbel Diaz Torres

Graffiti on a wall in the Havana neighborhood of San Agustin. Photo: Isbel Díaz.

HAVANA TIMES — If your dad is a colonel in the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba, no doubt your family had a great Father’s Day. I say this because the husband of a neighbor with this elevated title, around that date received some of the usual privileges they give the military elites on our island.

The FAR gave the officer a case of beer absolutely free, sold him for only US $ 2.50 a bottle of exquisite Havana Club Añejo rum, plus a reservation at Los Doce Apóstoles (TheTwelve Apostles) restaurant in La Cabaña tourist resort.

I am not too sure if the dinner at Los Doce Apóstoles was for Father’s Day because the Colonel and his family go quite regularly to this expensive restaurant to eat at subsidized prices.

In short, all the rewards they deserve for the sacrifices they have made in life.

These perks are of course only a selection of the long list of privileges they receive. For example:

– They give him free 15-day trips every year to the very expensive resort of Varadero.

– When he has health problems, they send him to recuperate in a luxury hotel in the paradise of Topes de Collantes, in the mountainous center of the island.

– As a rule he gets a monthly package of food, including a carton of eggs, chicken, and every two months a gallon of cooking oil.

– Twice a month if he likes he can go and dine at the Casa Central of the FAR, reserved for officers.

– Every year they offer him domestic appliances or furniture for the house, at ridiculously low, subsidized prices.

– From time to time they offer him  “brand-name” perfumes, expensive briefcases, backpacks, blankets, etc …all at give-away prices.

My neighbor the Colonel lives in a fully furnished home given to him by the FAR. However, just in case his family gets bigger, he always has the right to exchange it for bigger one, regardless of the millions of Cubans desperately in need of a place to live.

These last few days the colonel has been looking a bit distressed. The last time they handed out the domestic appliances at work, he refrained from asking for another TV, because he is holding out for one of the modern flat screen TVs (LCD) they said were in the pipeline.

I hope it doesn’t take too long to find a solution to this very serious problem of his. A distressed officer could jeopardize national security.

Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.


7 thoughts on “Congratulations, Daddy Colonel!

  • July 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm
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    I’ll go with that.

  • July 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm
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    I Believe they had good intentions but like @griffin well says “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  • July 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm
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    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The Cuban people have no rights to defend themselves against the overwhelming power of the State. There are no limits on the powers the State may wield against the people. Under such a system, it is inevitable that evil will thrive. Anyone with that kind of power will do harm.

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:02 am
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    The ‘system’ was invented by these ‘wrong and evil people’ so they are one in the same. Doing away with the Castro oligarchy and leaving the state-sponsored acts of repudiation and one-party electorate and government-owned media in place will not resolve the problem. Cuba needs a complete makeover.

  • July 4, 2013 at 10:01 am
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    This is how the regime “defends the revolution”, by lavishing perks on the upper ranks of the military. Keeping the officers fat and content ensures the longevity of the rulers.

    The Cuban revolution resembles an inside-out watermelon: red on the outside and green on the inside.

  • July 4, 2013 at 8:57 am
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    I like this snapshot of the life and privileges of a FAR officer.

  • July 4, 2013 at 8:35 am
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    I know an airline pilot with Cubana Airlines. His brother is also a pilot with the national airline. Both are Captains and fly on the left side of the plane. Because the airline is a part of the military, both pilots hold the rank of full colonel as members of the Cuban Air Force. You should see the perks this guy gets! He lives in beautiful two story home Santa Fe which is just west of Havana and a stone’s throw from Punto Cero, where Fidel lives. He has a two car garage and a swimming pool. He has a legal satellite dish and high-speed computer connection (he needs them to monitor weather around the world, hmmm?) and flat screen TVs (at least three). He regularly flies to Europe and South America, so needless to say, all the goodies that the Castros don’t just give him or allow him to buy for pennies on the dollar face value, he is able to somehow buy for himself abroad and bring back on his own plane free of charge. OK, if he worked for United Airlines in the US, he would be making $250k per year and living the good life as well so I don’t begrudge him anything. He is also the nicest guy and has always been a perfect host to me and my wife. Still, all communists should have as good as this guy.

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