Raúl Castro’s words on July 26, 2007* were christened by the population as the “milk speech” because of his call to increase dairy production. In the next one, which he made a year later, he aimed lower and only promised to solve the water problems in the province of Santiago de Cuba. Everything seems to indicate that his address from this Sunday will be remembered for the opening lines, “I’m sure that none of you can see me, maybe you will see a shadow; that’s me.”
The general made no notable announcements, nor did he allude to the olive branch he once said he was willing to extend to the American administration. Nor did he detail future projects, nor measures for ending the crisis, much less confirm whether the Communist Party Sixth Congress will be held. He merely limited himself to informing us about the upcoming meetings of government bodies where, it seems, some decisions will be made. The Holguín sun found a place full of white and red T-shirts, presided over by an ancient orator without much to say. The applause lacked enthusiasm and through my television screen I noted the shared desire to finish, as soon as possible, with the formalities of the celebration.
On returning home, the thousands present at this event will have little to say, as it wasn’t a trick of the lighting that made a shadow of someone who never shone with his own spark. This was the speech of the “shadow” because light is something the authoritarians cannot tame, something that disobeys military uniforms. Raúl Castro is right: we can no longer see him, because the twilight he represents lacks, as it has for a long time, any kind of luminosity.
July 26 is the anniversary of the 1953 assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba led by Fidel Castro. This event, a failure at the time which resulted in the deaths of many of the rebels and the imprisonment of Fidel and others, is considered the “birth” of the Cuban Revolution.