By Pedro Campos*
HAVANA TIMES, April 18 — On Cuban television right now, they’re showing a series called “He Who Should Live,” which deals with the many assassination attempts made against Fidel Castro over his lifetime as a revolutionary. His life, like that of Raul’s and other leaders of the Revolution, has been and will remain the source of sleepless nights for the country’s State security agencies.
Political leaders in Cuba, like everywhere in the world, are exposed to assaults, kidnappings, etc., especially those who end up being emblematic figures. US presidents, for example, have the “Secret Service,” which provides them security and protects their lives.
But the life of the leader of the Cuban Revolution has always been in special danger ever since he directly challenged the biggest and most powerful empire of all the times. This was because he sought to build a new society only a few miles away on a beautiful island that US millionaires once used as their own paradise for relaxation and pleasure.
The leader of the Revolution will turn 84 years this August thanks not only to doctors and paramedics, but also to those many brave souls of State security. They are the ones who could die to guard the life of “He Who Should Live.” Among them are our five comrades imprisoned in the USA, others who also occupy cells in US jails for the same reasons, those who died —uncovered— at the hands of the enemy, and many others who did or didn’t survive those deadly-lingering-complex-endless wars. It should be said that just because some used clandestine methods, their missions were no less mortal and dangerous.
Of those who never wore uniforms or military stripes or badges on their chests, little will ever be known, even though the heroic pages they wrote and still write —which are well hidden, burned or forgotten— are a substantial part of the pillars of this revolution that remain standing in the struggle for our future.
Due to my work in the foreign service, I knew some of those comrades; they were the most capable, selfless, well trained, studious, self-disciplined, faithful, human, humble, and modest revolutionaries through and through. They dedicated their lives (or the best years of them) working here, there and beyond – wherever they were needed in the complicated tasks of preserving the lives of the leaders of the Revolution, often risking their own.
I know them. After many years of service and direct confrontation with the enemy, they live quite modestly, just like any retiree, working in whatever capacity they can, sometimes having to sell rationed cigarettes and coffee from the bodega to buy soap or detergent.
Nonetheless, they continue, faithful to the ideals for which they struggled. Now old and sick, they serve —in their own way— with the activities of the neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, in local Party cells or in veterans associations. Concerned for the future, their greatest happiness is related to the satisfaction of fulfilling their duties in the hope that the Revolution and socialism will advance and consolidate.
For those who could die, but who continue living, perhaps there should be a series called something like “It had to be in silence.” These would never be documentaries that divulged their first or last names, but I don’t think that would matter to them. Perhaps without intending to, the series “The One Who Should Live” has also brought us the memory of “Those Who Could Soon Die” – those anonymous others who through their effort, intelligence and sacrifices made possible the fending off of all those attacks.
To the few I knew, to the many I never knew who they were, to those who were, to those who continue to be, to those who were always without faces and without names and especially to Antonio, Fernando, Ramon, Rene and Gerardo, I render this simple homage in these few lines.
*Pedro Campos articles can be read in Spanish in the SPD bulletin.