A Leader Where There Are No Others?

Regina Cano

Lázaro Expósito.

Recently I heard a story that is becoming legendary in Cuba.  It’s perhaps an example of what the government wants for its people, exemplified in a single person.  This is a man who represents the Party in our country and who holds a high position of power in making decisions at the provincial level.

His name is Lazaro Exposito Canto, who has gone from being a leader of the Communist Party in the towns of Villa Clara and Bayamo, and more recently in the city of Santiago de Cuba.

This man has become the hero of the times, a St. George battling dragons.  This is because after coming to each place, the results of his leadership have allowed him to win the respect and trust of his constituencies through tangible improvements in their daily lives.

The changes led by Exposito are reflected in improvements in food services (quality, selection…), fair prices, greater quantities of agricultural produce and other staples for sale…

The Cuban Communist Party —so needy of leaders and citizens with this capacity, disposition and dedication— also “trusts” him, so much so that it doesn’t allow him to “warm the nest” or generate a track record of continuous service over time in any one place.

Certainly, to find a leader at the intermediary level who is “unblemished” —as his accomplishments demonstrate— has transformed this figure into someone who has achieved the impossible, at least in popular belief.  However, it’s necessary to look at the particulars and the particular circumstances.

He’s not the savior

I don’t know him personally, nor do I know who this gentleman will become in Cuba tomorrow. But people! – it’s obvious that a single person cannot fix the flaws or correct the character of a poorly operating social structure; he is not the savior who by divine intervention can solve everything.

This is similar to the success of “El Zorro,” (The Fox) a short story adapted for TV shown here and written by Julio Cortazar.  The author’s work was well received, so he was asked by people to write another book.  He responded by asking himself, “Why not?”  He therefore went ahead and wrote a second book, which was as equally well accepted; so they asked him again, why don’t you write another one.  It was here that the writer of Zorro wondered —with distrust, of course— “Could it be that they waiting for me to fail?”

I don’t believe that this was a case of people hoping for Exposito to fail, it’s that all humans have limitations: just as we’re good, we’re also bad; just as we’re efficient, we possess a certain degree of inefficiency.

It can happen that one day (one sole day is enough) that we become so wrapped up in our daily ups and downs —our own abysses, our systems of beliefs, external pressures, misinterpretations and dissatisfactions— that we irreparably explode, just as much internally as outwardly.

It’s a very old occurrence among humans that those who shoulder all the responsibilities are those who stand out, while others take a step backward more than ahead.

If there exists a person capable of achieving something like that, it’s because there are lots of people in that same place able to do the same.  I’m not speaking of leaders, who are always few, but of everyday common people, all of whom are responsible for the existence and survival of what has real value and who will provide improvements in our lives with justice.

One thought on “A Leader Where There Are No Others?

  • Hi Regina,
    Please keep writing ..I enjoy reading your stories which give me greater insight into life in Cuba. I live in Bali, Indonesia…another small tropical island… but even though we are supposed to have “democracy”. In Reality, with poor leadership and massive corruption beginning at the top and even in the judicial system, we do not. So let’s support those people with talent and leadership abilities who are willing to try and change the status quo for the better.

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