By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – He-who-shall-not-be-named is one of the most powerful men in this country. He is a member of the oligarchy that governs Cuba, whose quality of life can be compared to that of prosperous CEOs of capitalist multinationals. Let me explain: a life of luxury, the best food, the latest technology, cars, yachts, planes, trips and perhaps even a harem of young women.
He makes TV appearances from time to time and spews out four pieces of crap, with that know-it-all authoritative pose. The economic blockade… we have to produce more… we have to tackle incompetence… that the real revolutionary has to be on the frontline of problems… bla, bla, bla and a good handful of idiots believe him.
He calls himself a communist, revolutionary and a convinced Fidelista, above all else. Well, I don’t know if he believes this in his heart of hearts, but it’s what he says at least.
For He-who-shall-not-be-named, Cuba is a condominium, a fiefdom, a ranch, or something similar.
Let’s call the next one Mario. He is the director of an important state-led socialist company. He came from quite humble beginnings, but today he has his own, comfortable house in Vedado, which the State gave him after it was seized from its former owners, who emigrated to Miami in the 1990s.
He enjoys a modern car that he’s been assigned, as well as other basic comforts such as free Internet and cellphone, vacations on the beach in holiday homes for cadres, and trips abroad, sometimes. He is a member of the Communist Party and expresses his loyalty to the Revolution.
In Mario’s eyes, Cuba is a heroic country that has firmly resisted US imperialism with dignity.
Let’s carry on with Yanquiel. He has always been violent; he was raised in one of the many broken homes that exist in Cuba. He has poor cultural knowledge and zero ideology, and he aspires to be a respected, important man.
He re-enlisted during his compulsory military service and now he is an officer of the Special Forces, a black beret. He felt very macho, powerful, when he handed out beatings and arrested peaceful protestors during the July 11th protests. According to Yanquiel, Cuba is… Patria o muerte! (Homeland or death).
Ramon is 60 years old and is one of the few that still believes in He-who-shall-not-be-named. He boasts about being a militia member and internationalist. He doesn’t want to accept another version of reality because that would wreak chaos in his conscience, discovering the painful truth that he has dedicated his entire life to a lie. This is why he clings to his convictions and marches every May 1st, showing off his medals.
Suffering blackouts, food and medicine shortages, his house crumbling around him and not having the materials he needs to fix it, isn’t enough for him. Much less if he manages to get by thanks to a daughter who he scorned for being a “gusana” (derogatory term for emigres) for a long time, but who now tops up his phone and sends some money to him from Miami so he doesn’t die. “It’s the blockade’s fault,” you can normally hear him repeat. Ramon had a lobotomy.
According to him, Cuba is a country that has a higher quality of life than most third world countries, in spite of being under the blockade.
Liborio is a family man who has nobody to send him money from abroad, so he can almost never look in the dollar (MLC) stores, which are the only ones that are more-or-less stocked. Like most Cubans, he must invent every day in order to put food on the table and feed his children. His wages are only enough for them to live badly. He has to compensate the meagre rations he gets at the bodega store with whatever he can find on the street. Liborio is a hunter.
He has never been to Varadero or any touristy cay. He’s never traveled abroad. His life is just stress, work, and unsatisfied needs.
There are millions like Liborio. In his eyes, Cuba is Hell without a future.
Last but not least, I want to talk about Antonio, who lives in Madrid, Spain, in a middle-class neighborhood. You can’t exactly call him rich, but he has his own apartment, car and enjoys the basic comforts that civilized capitalism might offer human beings.
Antonio is an I.T. engineer and he works for a tourist company that sells an image of Cuba that is just idyllic: beaches, rum, tobacco, salsa music and sensual mulata women. He is a Leftist, he’s a member of Podemos.
You can see him defend the Cuban government in a frenzied manner on social media. According to his own testimony, he’s been to the island twice, and he was taken aback by the warmth of its people, its excellent health system and the achievements of a socialism that has resisted under the conditions of a “genocidal blockade”.
To tell you the truth, Antonio has spent very little time here. One time, he came as part of a Cuba solidarity brigade, which is nothing but a group of Leftists who are allies of Castrismo, and the only places they visited were Expo Cuba, the Gentetic and Biotech Engineering Center, the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine, Hotel Nacional and Varadero.
The locals he mixed with were friendly public servants and workers, none of whom had pure intentions: the first were doing their job, the latter were after a juicy tip or an economically beneficial relationship… ah, and one or two jineteras (prostitutes) too.
Antonio’s Cuba is a paradise.
I could go on and write a long list depending on the prism people see Cuba through, but Liborio and I share the same Cuba.