HAVANA TIMES — A respectable elderly gentleman is enjoying his retirement in Cuba’s city of Sancti Spiritus in a very peculiar manner. Aramis Arteaga Perez says that, since retiring, he has spent the better part of his free time (which, we can assume, is all the time) re-reading speeches, interviews, reflections and articles by and with Fidel Castro over time.
Delving into Castro’s political literature, our devoted reader has become impressed by how many of the predictions and warnings made by the former leader have become reality. He is so enthused by Castro’s alleged clairvoyance that he has approached Granma to suggest that they celebrate their 50th anniversary by publishing pamphlets of the illustrious retiree as part of efforts to provide the population (especially the young) with political and ideological instruction.
An Active Imagination
“This proposal would be well received by readers and it would be a nice gift from Granma to Cuba’s youth, who have just held their 10th Congress, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary,” Arteaga explains in his missive, published in the newspaper’s “Letters to Readers” section.
Arteaga does not reveal the profession or trade with which he previously earned a living, but there is no doubt he’s been – and continues to be – a very willful and imaginative man. The gentleman from Sancti Spiritus, however, may require a better guide to review some of the Comandante’s speeches from 1959 on.
He should start with the gem of a speech delivered on July 26, 1959, at Revolution Square: “Under no circumstances will the people go hungry, because, after we’ve used every last inch of soil to grow crops, after our factories are working at full capacity, the people will not go hungry, for we will have cassava, plantains, yucca, rice and all of the food the people need.”
Or perhaps this statement from October 2, 1963, made at Havana’s Chaplin Theater: “We have to develop an agricultural system that has nothing to envy those of the most developed capitalist countries, we have to do even better. The advantage of socialist production, where all resources are in the hands of the State and can be destined correctly, cannot be matched by any private producer.”
And let us not forget this other treasure from February 1, 1964, during the opening of the National School for Soils, Fertilizers and Cattle Feed. “Our livestock industry can produce even more profits than the sale of 10 million tons of sugar. In 10 years, we can produce more than 30 million liters of milk a day and slaughter some 4 million heads of cattle every year. We have the conditions to achieve this in our country. If we reach these goals, the value of that milk and that beef will be more than the worth of 10 million tons of sugar, even if it’s sold at six cents a pound. That’s what the livestock industry can mean for us.”
There is a whole slew of similar, sterile “predictions” made by this tropical Nostradamus, everything from the drying out of the Zapata Swamp to the Energy Revolution that was to be brought about by electrical generators and more efficient cooking utensils, to say nothing of the Third World War he dared predict, convening parliament, when he was already a sick, paranoid man.
That Granma should have decided to publish such a proposal makes one think that there is more than one ideological strategist thinking about how to please the Comandante, who will turn 89 in a few days.
For the old and patient Arteaga is going to continue reading and discovering new things, and his passion for speeches, political mobilizations and writing letters to Granma appears to have no limit. We are talking about a regular contributor to the newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party, an expert in the pamphlets issued by the power elite, as one can easily confirm through an Internet search.
On March 21, 2014, he wrote to quote a speech by Raul Castro and express dissatisfaction over soap shortages: “After reading the magnificent address delivered by the First Secretary of the Party’s Central Committee, Army General Raul Castro, and following the debates held by the work commissions aired on television, I confirmed that every problem has a solution or at least an explanation. This is why I dared write this column again, to reiterate my concerns and proposal in connection with the dissatisfaction most of us feel about the sale of washing and bathing soap in Cuban pesos.”
What his letters show most of all is that we are dealing with an inveterate dreamer, a strange version of the man committed with the revolutionary project. Arteaga is part of Sancti Spiritus’ Jose Marti University for the Elderly, which organizes competitions on historical dates. Most of its 154 members are also part of a committee of mothers and fathers who called for the release of the Cuban Five, and held cultural activities and visited schools and workplaces every month, demanding the release of the three spies who remained in US jails, until Obama returned them to Raul Castro in exchange for Alan Gross on December 17 last year.
By the looks of it, Arteaga’s pension is more than enough for him, for, in a letter he wrote in March of 2014, he publicly suggested that part of the expenses had by the University for the Elderly be financed by the “contributions that retirees make to the union.”
There is no question whatsoever that Arteaga is an ingenious man, a patriarch from Sancti Spiritus with a knack for political invention, a more than blessed mind set to the task of continuing to spin the yarn of Cuban socialism. See for yourselves in the letter below, which suggests republishing the spiels of the Comandante (a.k.a Mr. Moringa) on a daily basis. It’s no joke.
FIDEL’S PREDICTIONS AND WARNINGS
In an interview published by this newspaper on June 27, young Elian Gonzalez told journalist Lissy Rodriguez Guerrero that he enjoyed reading Fidel’s writings very much. I was happy to read this because it demonstrates that we, the elderly, are not the only ones interested in studying the political thought and prophetic statements of the Commander in Chief, to continue defending our socialist system – that there are other sectors of the population who do the same.
Since retiring, I have been devoting most of my free time to re-reading the speeches, interviews, reflections and articles of the revolution’s historical leader, and I am very much impressed to see that many of his predictions and warnings have come true.
Recently, the press recalled his speech during an open tribune held in the Havana municipality of Cotorro on June 23, 2000, where he spoke of the unjust sentences imposed on the Cuban Five and, with the self-confidence that has always characterized him, said: “I will only say one thing: they will return.”
I could quote hundreds of similar predictions and warnings I’ve come across. Some are currently being divulged in the Round Table program on television, as Granma did years ago and should do again, to contribute to the political and ideological education of our people, particularly the young, who haven’t had the opportunity to hear or read these materials, part of the history of the revolution and what we ought to know to defend it.
I write this column to propose that the editorial staff of the newspaper consider this proposal, which would be well received by readers and constitute a nice gift to Cuba’s youth, who have just celebrated their 10th Congress.
Aramis Arteaga Perez
305 Frank Pais St.