14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 13 August 2016 – Turn on
the radio and the announcer reads a brief headline: “Fidel Castro, The
Great Builder.” The man goes on to explain that the most important works
of the country have come from this head that for decades has been
covered by an olive-green cap. Weary of so much personality cult, I
decided to watch television, but on the main channel a lawyer was
detailing the legal legacy of the Maximum Leader and at the end of the
program they announced a documentary about “The Invincible Guerrilla.”
For weeks, we Cubans have lived under a veritable bombardment of
references to Fidel Castro, which has increased in proportion to the
closeness of the date of his 90th birthday, this 13 August. There is no
shame nor nuance in this avalanche of images and epithets.
This whole excess of tributes and reminders is, undoubtedly, a desperate
attempt to save the former Cuban president from oblivion, to pull him
out of that zone of media abandonment in which he has fallen since
announcing his departure from power a decade ago.
We have left the man born in the eastern town of Biran, in 1926, in the
past, condemning him to the 20th century, burying him alive.
Children now in elementary school have never seen the once loquacious
orator speak for hours at a public event. Farmers have breathed a sigh
of relief on not having to receive constant recommendations from the
“Farmer in Chief” and even housewives are thankful that he does not
appear at a congress of the Federation of Cuban Women to teach them how
to use a pressure cooker.
The official propaganda knows that people often appeal to short-term
memory as a way of protecting themselves. For many young people, Fidel
Castro is already as remote as, for my mother in her day, was the
dictator Gerardo Machado, a man who so adversely marked the life of my
Followers of the figure of Fidel Castro are taking advantage of the
celebrations for his nine decades of life to try to erect a statue of
immortality in the heart of the nation. They deify him, forgive him his
systematic errors and convert him into the most visible head of a creed.
The new religion takes as its premises stubbornness, intolerance for
differences, and a visceral hatred – almost like a personal battle –
against the United States.
The detractors of “Él,” as many Cubans simply call him, are preparing
the arguments to dismantle his myth. They await the moment when the
history books no longer equate him with José Martí, but offer a stark,
cold and objective analysis of his career. They are the ones who dream
of the post-Castro era, of the end of Fidelismo and of the diatribe that
will fall on his controversial figure.
Most, however, simply turn the page and shrug their shoulders in a sign
of disgust when they hear his name. They are the ones who, right now,
turn off the TV and focus on a daily existence that negates every word
Fidel Castro ever said in his incendiary speeches, in those times when
he planned to build a Utopia and turn us into New Men.
Tired of his omnipresence, they are the ones who will deal the final
blow to the myth. And they will do it without hullabaloo or heroic acts.
They will simply stop talking to their children about him, there will be
no photos in the rooms of their homes showing him with a rifle and
epaulettes, they will not confer on their grandchildren the five letters
of his name.
The celebration for the 90th birthday of Fidel Castro is, in reality,
his farewell: as excessive and exhausting as was his political life.
Editor’s note: This text was published Saturday August 13, 2016 in the
newspaper O Globo of Brazil
Source: Recipe For Forgetting Fidel Castro / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez –
Translating Cuba –