The future according to Mella


I think it was this young man, extremely sensual, in the photo by Tina Modotti, who said, “Every time, the future must be better.”   For years I have returned to this axiom of Julio Antonio Mella, without managing to reconcile it with my life.   I look, I compare, and there is no way the present is as promising as he predicted.  It seems that life doesn’t want to help the one who was once president of the University Student Union.   It’s as if everyone, insubordinate before his words, had decided to make the present a continued and accelerated regression.

The street where I was born is one of the examples that negates Mella’s optimism for the future.  Where there once was asphalt, today lies a rugged area of potholes, dust and rocks.  On the corner, the meat shop shows its rusty hooks, where no meat has hung in a long time.  The winery was handed over to the inhabitants of a solar* that couldn’t stand against the winds of a cyclone, while the playground is just a ball of twisted steel covered with weeds.

The march backwards is even more striking in the people, who laze with an apathy born of marginality and disenchantment.   Each one is moving backwards, not at the same time, but without dreams, values, plans.  For them, the future ended up being what they never anticipated, and finished by showing them that Mella, he was mistaken.

*Translator’s note:

Solar =  A type of single room occupancy housing with shared bathrooms, that can vary from adjoining shacks to an old mansion broken up into single room dwellings.  Whole families may live in one room.  The closest English word is probably “tenement.”

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