The end of history and the last Cuban

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For three days the newspaper Granma, in its two center pages, inundated us with all the anniversaries that in 2008 have a number ending in a five. Along with the 155 years since the birth of José Martí, we could read about the 125th anniversary of the death Karl Marx and the half-century of the kidnapping of Fangio* by the 26th of July Movement. The act of collecting that data and presenting it as a compendium for successive commemorations and memorials, has made me reflect on the relationship between Cubans and the past; the excessive weight of yesterday in our lives.

All of these references and that which they evoke, contrasts with the little time we dedicate to talking about the future.   The big anniversaries remind us that on this day, many years ago, something happened or someone died.  Most of these events happened forty, fifty or a hundred years back, while there are almost no events from more recent periods.   Those of us under forty  have  participated in almost nothing, but have only been spectators of the glories of the past.  Passive consumers of the fattened repertoire of dates past.

I fear that this tendency to historical “archeology” is filling up the time we have to debate about today.  I want to shake off so many anniversaries and so many golden dates.  I propose that the present no longer be the scene to recap what already happened and that it should become the springboard to launch us to “tomorrow.”

Translator’s note:

Fangio = An Argentine race car driver who was kidnapped and released after one day; he was in Havana to race the Gran Premio de Cuba.

Newspaper headline:  Principle dates commemorating anniversaries ‘closed’ in 2008  [“Closed” = Ending in zero or five.]

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18 thoughts on “The end of history and the last Cuban

  1. YOLANDA PARA PRESIDENTE !!!!

    Se Chile tiene democraticamente una mujer como Presidente de la Republica porque no en un futuro proximo YOLANDA para Presidente en Cuba ???
    Pero para isso es necessario Libertad !!

    Viva La Libertad para el pueblo Cubano.

    Welling Webmaster
    WELLING Inglaterra

  2. I admire your initiative and would like to offer this personal experience of so many years ago.

    I cannot forget when, as a young student, almost exactly fifty years ago, I heard Fidel Castro at a crowded conference he held at Harvard where he promised us free elections within six months. He received an ovation.

    Still searching for an applause, Fidel Castro came to Rome more recently. His visit to the FAO meeting included a private dinner with Agnelli, a symbol of capitalism who is interested in establishing a market for Fiat more than in human rights. Another high point in Fidel’s visit was his speech before fifty heads of State with an indictment against capitalism, charges against rich nations, pronouncements against armed interventions and a declaration against the sale of weapons. From someone who starved his people, allowed deployment of atomic missiles in Cuba putting the world at the risk of a world war, and sent troops to Africa, it takes quite a stone face. Such things one must still listen to. More amazing is that so many critics of other political figures found nothing to say about this dictator who oppresses his own people, violating basic human principles.

  3. Estoy muy de acuerdo con usted ya que la utilización de este para hablar sobre el pasado parece una tontería cuando se debería pensar en el futuro, a los jóvenes de todo el mundo se ponga al margen cuando las generaciones.

  4. Cuando yo crecí en Cuba, la juventud era tan bonita. Ver como ha cambiado y se ha atrasado la cultura, no 50 pero 200 años es doloroso. Quien quiera ver un cambio de ambiente que me escriba, no para cambiar el gobierno. Sino para cambiar de estado de animo. Les mando un poema que escribi para la Señora Elvira Arellanos 2007©Teresa Baeza 305-634-0152

    Hay una extraña paz llegando una derrota, Después de batallar en falsas compañías
    ‘Es bonito inspirar una tranquilidad, Convirtiendo en amor lo que fue guerra fría’.
    Fue que alguien Discernió la Llama de tu antorcha Que te ayudó a buscar, a flor de cada día
    La porfía que cumplía, el lograr tu gran sueño Que aunque fuera por (valiente) merecías.
    Hay mas Savia “en silencios” que en Olivos, que en sus ramas mas fuertes recalcinan
    Que aunque lleguen al sol; por consecuencia, quien parezca mas Frágil’ las derríba!
    Hay mas sal en la arena que en el mar [Lo que no-hay], es álguien que se atreva y nos diga:
    Que la linea que divide el bien/del mal, Las dibujan sobre venas, con el filo de una espina.

    Hay quien sabe jurar que camina en el agua, Para que otros confien que es seguro su andar
    Pero son cuál vacteria que contagian tu sangre, Y aprenden a callarse si conviene callar.
    Son los falsos pastores, engañosos maestros, que endulzan los oídos, de sordos nada mas
    Sumisos compradores de modas y de excusas, Protectores de errores contra la humanidad.
    Pon en tu mano el sueño Que acariciaste un dia; Que yo pueda tocarlo, que lo pueda agarrar.
    Que no termine en llanto la siega en tu doctrina, Que resultó en miseria; no en honra, [a tu pesar..]
    Aunque aprendas a reír última!! Hay que reir primero, Porque se ríe dos veces, si aprendes a ganar
    Que el crujir de tus dientes no empañe tu sonrisa, Para no ser objeto, de un poder popular
    Bendiciones!!!

  5. I think your blog is awesome. It reminds me of a speech done by a man entitled I have a dream. Which serves to remind us that we should never give up. I believe that some day the young people Of Cuba will find a voice. I wonder what it is that scares the government so much that they would deny there people the opportunity to be productive. That they would supress there peoples pride. The essence of god the essence of jesus christ is love. No matter who or what we are. No matter where we are if we practice that principle we have nothing to fear. Cuba could be a sovereing democracy with rich heritage and pride to offer the world. I have lots of hispanic friends many of them cuban The experiences that they have brought me are invaluabe. In your own way in there own way the have changed my life god bless you and thank you

  6. De que historia estamos hablando? Porque si mas no recuerdo la historia que a mi enseñaron en el sistema educativo comunista de Cuba (y me considero parte de la generacion Y) fue una historia dcreada y moldeada. Definitivamente no fue ni en el Granma ni en la escuela gratis donde aprendi lei los versos de Jose Marti que hablan de libertad y de derechos humanos, ni de la musica de Celia Cruz, ni de grandes poetas y artistas cubanos quienes nombres han sido borrados de la “historia” cubana por su amor y devocion a la verddera historia de Cuba, la que habla de independencia, soberania, libertad, e idiosincracia cubana.

  7. I think there is a happy medium. It is important to know about history, and it should be used to make decisions for the FUTURE. Taking all history into account does little if you can’t understand the realities of today.

    Creo que si hay un medio feliz. Es importante saber de la historia, y debe ser utilizada para planear los decisiones para el FUTURO. Pensando solo en la historia hace poco si no entiende las realidades de hoy.

  8. Eduardo,

    don´t think that we don´t know who we are, because we cubans do know it very well and do not forget it ever. Nowadays, I can tell you, all cubans have experienced in 49 years is denigration, no changes, increasement of: miserie, frustration, desilusion with ourselves for supporting a goverment that have only dedicated to fight USA and have used it as a pretext to hide their lack of disposition and capability to improve people´s situation, and even their corruption. They have dedicated to fight people who desagree with their system and no more. The represion is so much bigger than all what you could´ve ever imagined…in all aspects! Exactly because of that, I look up to Yoanis. I belong to her generation and didn´t ever dare to comment on unjustice the way she does never. It is really dangerous! And ask you, together with a lot of cubans, who are really wanting a real revolution, PLEASE OPEN YOUR EYES AND EARS ! We have support the system enough time driven by the our idealism of comunism, and have realized that it doesn´t make sense anymore. Iit has became in a useless dictatorship.
    Greatings!

    Eduardo,
    No creas que no sabemos de historia, la hemos vivido el tiempo suficiente: 49 años! La vivimos diariamente. Tienes que vivir allí para saber de verdad. Todo lo que el pueblo vive es denigrante, no hay cambios, solo hay más miseria, frustración, desilusión con nosotros mismos por haber apoyado un sistema que solo se ha dedicado a luchar contra USA y a utilizarlo para tapar todas las demás incapacidades e inclusive su propia corrupción. Se dedicaron a luchar contra los americanos y a utilizarlos para acomodarse ellos y encubrir su incapacidad para mejorar a situación del pueblo, no han hech nada más. Se dedicaron a luchar contra todo el que no estaba de acuerdo con su forma de gobernar, y ya está.Le represión es mucho más de la que te imaginas!
    Es por eso que admiro a Yoanis, porque siendo de su generación nunca me atreví a comentar sobre los problemas como ella lo ha hecho. Y les pido junto con todos los que están buscando una verdadera revolución que abran sus ojos y sus oídos. Ya hemos apoyado a un sistema suficitemente llevados por nuestros ideales comunistas y nos hemos dado cuenta que ya no tiene sentido. Se ha convertido en una dictadura inútil!
    Saudos

  9. Hello!!,

    Disculpa Yoani pero creo que olvidarse del pasado, constituye la negacion de nuestras raices, aparte de que estoy muy de acuerdo con walter cuando empleo la frase “that people who don’t learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them”, segun tu teoria, Cuba para desarrollarse deberia concentrarse en el futuro y olvidarse del pasado, ahora te pregunto>> Puede alguien en este mundo saber adonde va sin conocer de donde proviene??…. bueno con esto me despido… saludos

  10. Hola Yoani,
    Estoy de acuerdo contigo. La obsession de constantemente estar viviendo en el pasado es contra productivo. Te deseo lo mejor para el
    ano nuevo y que Dios to bendiga.

  11. Obsession with ones history either personal or country I think can be a factor of age. I am over 50 now and find more interest of what has gone one before and before I was born, whereas my son , only 15 cares little of past and has his eyes more on the future. Maybe the older Cubans feel the same, we are all one any way. Thankyou for your perspectives on Cuba and keep writing

  12. You know Yoani I can see where you’re coming from in the sense that we shouldn’t reflect so much on the past but prepare for the future by focusing on the present

  13. Good morning/buenas dias, Yoani –

    Puedo escribir en espanol, pero es mas facil para mi en ingles, y voy a hacer menos errores in ingles tambien…

    I saw those articles you mention here, and yes, you’re right that Cuba’s media seems to be obsessed with the island’s history. I just came back to the U.S. after spending three months down there (actually, only 88 days), and you’re right about that.

    By contrast, here in the United States we’re famous for having little interest in history. A great American philosopher named Henry Ford once famously said, “history is bunk”, and that’s a very widespread attitude among the citizens of my country. (Sometimes I call it “Disneylandia”)

    Someone once said that people who don’t learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them. Was it Santayana? I can’t recall right now.

    So maybe there’s a happy medium which can be found between the two extremes?

    Chao,

    Walter Lippmann
    Los Angeles, California
    (Disneylandia)

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