The Man Who Heard Grass Grow

Joaquín Infante and Jordi Evole in the documentary “Recortando la Revolución”. Photo:

Yusimi Rodriguez

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.”

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Photo: Estudios Revolucion

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.


4 thoughts on “The Man Who Heard Grass Grow

  • ‘Moses’ obsessive posting of negative comments on this website is the most graphic illustration of the nature of the ‘Moses’ franchise – continuous propaganda directed against Cuba and its leaders, promoting values and policies designed to return Cuba to the status of a lackey state of the American empire.

    His long string of Castro-hating comments have likely backfired as he has broken one of the golden rules of psychology – insiders can criticize their own but outsiders suffer the consequences. It’s okay for Cubans to point out the failures of their leaders but when a non-Cuban does it, it’s not appreciated and anger is redirected to the outsider. But then, ‘Moses’ has never shown much sign of psychological sophistication, just brute propaganda dispensing.

    ‘Moses’ has made another error or told an outright lie, either purposefully or the result of ignorance. Either way, would you buy a used car, or a corrupt ideology, from this person? ‘Moses’ writes, “The worst aspects of capitalism, the propaganda, the commercialism, the “infomercials” are always voluntary. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch, listen, or buy it.”

    It’s difficult knowing where to begin writing about this whopper. There are no mainstream media – print, radio or television that you can buy or that is given away – in any capitalist country that does not contain copious advertisements, i.e., propaganda and commercialism. If you choose to read a newspaper, listen to radio or watch TV, there are ways to mitigate the worst of it but you cannot avoid it. It is definitely not voluntary.

    It is common in many mainstream media publications to have more pages containing advertising propaganda than content.

    In the US, most highways you drive down are crammed with billboard advertising. Canada places more limits on billboard placement but is not exempt. The US is the place to go to see what the results of unfettered capitalism have wrought.

    As if this was not enough, marketing propaganda abounds in public transportation vehicles, on the sides of buses and with people foisting pamphlets and free samples on you on every busy street corner. It is impossible to avoid the onslaught of propaganda that hits you from the moment you turn your radio on in the morning to flicking the TV off at night. There is no corner in capitalist societies to escape the commercialism and propaganda.

    As advertising propaganda is so ubiquitous in capitalist societies, it is possible to become desensitized and not notice it. Perhaps this is ‘Moses’ excuse. The 1% class are able to avoid most of it by not having to take public transportation or walk down streets and are able to afford to pay for commercial-free media. This is another possible excuse we can offer to ‘Moses’ for his prevarication. He’s not one of us. It’s the 99% that have to weather the full onslaught of the efforts of a trillion dollar industry that propagandises you from cradle to grave.

    To write that it is voluntary propaganda deserves to be greeted with a giant LOL, or the traditional sign of the cross – Propaganda Devil, get behind me

  • There’s even an explicit statement of your death-wish – “I only take comfort that death will come and with it will come hope for a change in the island’s future.”

  • “It has been commented that I wish death for this despot. Not true. I don’t have to wish that at all”

    Don’t be an hypocrite. The tone – reading beneath your lines on this post and this – – says it all.

  • This is really quite sad. I truly do not understand the longstanding and deeply held admiration for Fidel. He has been a tyrant and a bully. His seemingly noble intentions for the island in 1959 were soon replaced with despotic ambitions and cruelty. His personal paranoia, however justified, have parallyzed an entire culture. His economic failings have turned a once thriving economy into an island of pimps, whores, thieves and liars. People have a right to their beliefs. If one chooses to deify this dictator that is their choice. But no one has a right to force their beliefs on anyone else. The worst aspects of capitalism, the propaganda, the commercialism, the “infomercials” are always voluntary. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch, listen, or buy it. How many millions of Cubans have been forced to drink that man’s kool-aid? It has been commented that I wish death for this despot. Not true. I don’t have to wish that at all. Death comes to us all despite wishes for and against. Nor do I wish a death before his appointed time. I only take comfort that death will come and with it will come hope for a change in the island’s future.

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