HAVANA TIMES — Two weekends ago I saw the Spanish documentary “Recortando la Revolucion,” by Jordi Evoli and Ramon Lara. Though I doubt that it will be shown on national television, it wasn’t a work produced behind the backs of the Cuban officialdom.
In fact, the young man conducting the interviews attempted to speak with someone from the Ministry of the Economy concerning the economic changes taking place in our country.
He was finally sent to the Cuban Association of Economists, where his arrival at that office is accompanied in the film by a somewhat melancholy rendition of “La Internationale,” played by a philharmonic orchestra.
Once there, he asks why he wasn’t attended to at the Ministry. The staff there then explains that the views at the association would be “more impartial.”
This raised a question in my mind: The Ministry of Economy, which is responsible for directing the country’s economy, isn’t impartial?
The truth is that the impartiality of the association and its not having government commitments were things that also left me unclear; especially when I heard the association’s first vice president say those working there were the “holders of an eternal and infinite love of our principles and national values.”
Excuse me but the problem is that throughout my life, since I was in grade school, I was taught to associate patriotic values with love of the revolution, socialism, the leader and the Communist Party… which is to say the Party and the idea of a single party.
Those who didn’t identify themselves with those things and who challenged totalitarian power didn’t have patriotic values, we were told.
But it’s not the director of the association who answered the questions of the journalist, but 86-year-old Joaquin Infante, an adviser of the Cuban economists and accountants. He was also a non-permanent member of the government commission that worked on the development of the proposed “Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution.”
This is a man who calls himself “impartial,” except for when it comes to Fidel Castro – who he describes as a genius. “You know what Raul Roa said? Fidel can see right around the corner, he can hear the grass grow.”
At that moment I saw myself faced with a dilemma: Either this leader (with his vision of the future) had seen the failure of the sugar harvest of 1970, the mistake of planting Caturra coffee, the error of the Revolutionary Offensive and the collapse of the socialist camp, and despite all this he threw himself into (or rather he threw the country into) all those misadventures – in which case, what kind of a leader was he?
Or…he just never was a genius, nor did he have any vision of the future, not even the most immediate. And much less could he “hear the grass grow.”
The most terrible thing isn’t how much he erred, the rights he violated or the families divided for his cause, but after all these years, when the consequences of his mistakes have been seen, when so many bad decisions have had to be reversed (without acknowledging that they were wrong), that someone can continue saying Fidel Castro is a genius.
A year ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he had to admire Fidel for his humility in recognizing that no one knows how to build socialism – not even himself. If I hadn’t personally seen that on the national Cuban television news I wouldn’t have believed it.
I wasn’t amazed that the leader has never known how to build socialism. I was amazed that he had the courage to admit it. Now I think what would be amazing would be for him to apologize to the people for his long string of errors. That would be news.
But after having seen Fidel Castro’s personality cult all my life, I shouldn’t be astonished that someone might hope for us to admire him for his belated confession, after five decades of experimenting with the Cuban people.