Archive for June 4th, 2003

June 4, 2003


This is another article I read which was published while I was away in El Nacional and is written by Ibsen Martinez who is always irreverent and clever. It was not easy to translate, hope the ideas come across clearly (Note: Gabo is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ nickname, Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Literature prize in 1982).


Gabo and his Schindler’s list by Ibsen Martinez


It amazes me that some people can’t be against George Bush and against Fidel Castro at the same time. “Some people” is really a saying, in reality it happens to be lots of people; perhaps too many.


One of the arguments for not condemning Fidel Castro for his political assassinations –can they really be called anything else?- has Stalinist roots and it consists in reducing any condemnation of the firing squad deaths in La Havana to an inopportune “you are giving weapons to the enemy”.


That is why I am enthusiastic by the press articles written by Carlos Fuentes in Madrid’s El Pais. The main merit is that Fuentes does not place himself in the position of swallowing a live frog-something that happens to a lot of people with the daring opinions of Vargas Llosa- nor forgiving the inexcusable soft opinions in the face of Fidel Castro, like it happens to a lot of people with Garcia Marquez. Fuentes knows how to denounce without shame the imperial Anglo-American barbary in Iraq as well as the tragic autocratic aberration that Cuba is. Don Carlos bats with equal strength right-handed and left-handed.


It is clear that Castro is a master of brinkmanship, a word that Anglo-Saxon political scientists use to designate those that do better when they are at the border of an abyss. Thus, Castro takes advantage of the noise and smoke of the bombing of Baghdad to jail and shoot dead his opponents.


In reality, Castro also shoots at the idea of a referendum, an extremely dangerous idea for him, because it follows from the provisions of the Cuban Constitution itself and because it ha been promoted by unarmed local democrats and not by the loud individuals paid by the Cuban-American foundation, which make careful statements from Miami.


In congruence with that ability of maneuvering at the border of the abyss that he so much admires in Castro, Garcia Marquez, who together with Oliver Stone is one of his main fans, do not take advantage of the occasion of the Havana murders to get off that leftist bus that Teodoro Petkoff accurately calls “pre-conciliation”, something which Saramango and Galeano did in timely fashion.


Garcia Marquez chose to declare himself an enemy of the death penalty, without denying his friendship with a reputed Caribbean twig. And he warned that thanks to that friendship it has been possible for him to wrestle people away from jails as well as shooting squads in Cuba.


In another time, this cynical act of juggling perhaps would have appeared to shine more. But the unfaithful XXIst. Century has already moved along too far-some say it began in Berlin in 1989-and thus a letter to the 82 Nobel prize winner is being prepared in which more than one thousand Cuban political prisoners firmly criticize Garcia Marquez and in very courteous fashion ask him in which moment did he intervene for them, how he knew about their lives, of their guilt and their prison terms and who did he give the list with their names to. They also ask him who among them did he save from the firing squad.

I suspect that those questions will never be answered, because people like Gabo do not conform to answering silly questions if they are not asked, at least, by Susan Sonntag.


Here among us, not one intellectual of the cultural operators of the chavismo and its opinionated periphery dared to sing out of tune presuming to have an independent opinion. They limited themselves to condemning the sure thing: The Iraqi invasion and that’s it.


The truth is that it would be too much to ask that they think like Carlos Fuentes, because condemning George Bush and Fidel Castro is a luxury that can not be afforded by anyone who is in the “cultural” payroll of someone who celebrates even Fidel Castro’s birthday. Those poor souls do not even rate a Saramago.


This reminds me of a patriotic bolero that Daniel Santos used to sing whenever his doctrinarian vain was piqued. Composed on the fly by Santos and the immortal “Davilita” it is entitled “My Creed” and one of its quartets says: “I don’t want to see my country doubled over/under the voracious rule of imperialism/but I also do not agree to give in/ to things because of knowing about communism.


Davilita retracted sometime later –it was the time of the cold war-but the bolero stayed with me from the first time I heard it and I offer the news to my readers because condemning Bush and abominating Castro, without attenuation or relativisms are luxuries that the Bolivarian revolution will never be able to take away from me.