Funerals

At times, here, one breathes in the aroma of a funeral. On the television news the images of funeral ceremonies have become common, almost monthly: a bugle note calling for silence, twenty-one gun salutes, soldiers marching, tears and words of farewell. They initiate new mausoleums and restore existing ones. Added to this is the fevered mania to commemorate anniversaries of some event, to sing the praises of what previously occurred on these days marked by obligatory celebration. The senile worry about preserving memories has displaced the restless creativity of youth.

The Cuban population has aged, in part due to the low birthrate, the steady emigration of the youngest, and rising life expectancy. But the graying is accentuated among those at the country’s helm. Perhaps because of this, analysts are increasingly inclined to use the word gerontocracy to define our form of government. The definition may seem inaccurate if one looks at the average age of the deputies to the National Assembly, but it is just the opposite if one considers that it has been more than a dozen years since there has been rejuvenation within the Communist Party Central Committee. There are a good number of ministers still under sixty, but the largest share of power is concentrated in the hands of septuagenarians and octogenarians.

Instead of accelerating forward progress, these veterans delight in looking back at the stretch traveled and demand appreciation for the achievement. As they prepare for what will undoubtedly be the most spectacular funeral in the history of Cuba, or what some call “the biological solution”, the mournful saga that floods the television programming seems like a dress rehearsal. The noise of the ceremonial cannons doesn’t allow them to hear the new generation knocking at the door, coming like a whirlwind to dismantle everything. Sweeping away—in passing—the odor of dried-up flowers we sense all around us.

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42 thoughts on “Funerals

  1. About the preocupation that exists with the ideas that “el caballo” comes up with …
    I think he is a great manager, able to pick his people & apply their talents where he can use/manipulate them the most.
    Take guevara, “the symbol” …
    While guevara was alive, in his arrogance his opinion of the Cuban people was that “they” were of low class & ignorant so … he would show them the way … since he was the “brains of the revolution …
    His intellectual superiority was made manifest (to him) by how well he could b..s..
    his way into anything, he was an expert at everything …
    The problem was his b … s… was belivable (specially to himself) for a while.
    Once fidel realized what the reality was … he got rid of him.
    So what was his value?
    So … what good ideas does fidel have ?… who cares!
    He’s out of the picture, his brother is “in” but … age is catching up with him.
    The young wolfs are niping at his legs … his time is short and he knows it.
    All it takes is a push, like Yoani and the unheard others are doing.
    It is our job to support their push, to diseminate the message, to push, just push a little longer …

  2. Concubino

    Cuando te pasen esos arrebatos hal lo que you hago, mojate la mano y coje un cuchihho de mantequilla y metelo en un tomacoriente, un tipo de auto-electroshock treatment … y ya tranquilo.

    Oye papo fuera de tema, una pregunta. Mi español tiene muchos huecos, cuando leo estos blogs, el de Yoani, Claudia veo muchas referencias a trols or trolles. Que quieren decir con eso? Cuando muchacho hablando con mis amigos y alguien mencionava trole nos referiamos a la cabilla, la pinga … estoy confuso, ayudame papo.

  3. Andy #22

    There has been plenty of discussion concerning what country Cuba most resembles in its social/political condition and in what form the eventual political change will manifest itself, will it be violent or non-violent. I don’t believe, at least I hope, that there will not be a massive blood-letting. But there has been much abuse. We all know what the government has done on a large scale to deprive the country of its rights and to repress the people. The score settling or the pursuit of justice against the big dogs in the regime will hopefully take place, but the score settling I am referring to is much more personal. I am referring to the abuse that has been going on for 50 years in every neighborhood, in every block. The abuses perpetrated by the chivatos, the repudiators, the little tin-horn dictators appointed by the government to spy and persecute their neighbors. The local cops who have been throwing their weight around for years at the expense of the common folk. The guards in the prisons who have collaborated with the regime in abusing political prisoners. Many of these bad actors won’t be able to “blend in” to the crowd, no chameleon-like disappearing act will be possible. For many of the victims it will not be possible or tolerable to let bygones be bygones. This will not be change ala the GDR, USSR, Spain or even Chile.

    Cuba is not a European country, it is not part of a continent sharing a common border with other countries, it has a common link with other Latin-American countries in its unfortunate tolerance, some might say preference, for caudillos, strong men/dictators. I’m not trying to oversimplify because it is much more complex than what I have stated but this makes Cuba a unique case and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  4. John Two,

    The air-conditioned cows is one example. I think it was Concubino who posted the Youtube video about the F1 cows and all the milk they were supposed to produce. Another I remember is something I read in Armando Valladares’ book “Against All Hope.” At least I think it was there.

    Apparently, there was an incident when Fidel visited a newly-constructed hospital on a tour of some sort. When he saw the structure he asked, “Why does this building have only two stories?” Of course, everyone was too frightened to tell him that the building was designed that way. So when he demanded that a third story be added to the building, the whole thing collapsed.

    I have also heard weird stories about hybrid stawberries that were supposed to be very big, but turned out to have no taste.

    Is all of this craziness chronicled somewhere?

  5. Hank, I’m not seeing any bracketing.

    In reply to #33, and speaking of Fidel’s crazy ideas, check out Claudia Cadelo’s latest posting.

    Someone gave Claudia some old photos from the 1960s of a Castro “brainstorm” that air conditioning the heads of cows would make them give more milk.

    Memo to Fidel: That’s not the sound of the Cuban laughing with you. It’s the sound of the Cuban people laughing at you.

  6. John Two,

    Sorry for bracketing your post with mine. Did not mean to do that and as I am not sure if there is an etiquette here that I may have breached, I hope you’ll forgive me. The Obama speach was a real inspiration, I hope it is somehow heard in Cuba, by Cubans.

  7. The reason I ask is that once the funeral is over, the revisionists will immediately try to change the story of the last 50 years in Cuba. We are seeing it already with people like Chicamacha, who goes by the odd name of “Machetera” in her postings. Revisionists are nothing new – here we are over 60 years after the end of World War II and we are still dealing with Holocaust deniers. They should not be allowed to get away with it. I am sure they will try.

  8. Yubano, democracy and freedom should not be taken for granted in any country.

    However, your post reminded me of the speech President Obama recently gave in Ghana. Obama’s words to Africans apply equally to the new democracies of Latin America (and hopefully soon to Cuba).

    “In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success — strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples’ lives…

    “Across Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny and making change from the bottom up. We saw it in Kenya, where civil society and business came together to help stop postelection violence. We saw it in South Africa, where over three quarters of the country voted in the recent election — the fourth since the end of apartheid. We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person’s vote is their sacred right.

    Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

    The entire speech, well worth a read, is available here:
    http://gachara.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/text-of-president-barack-obamas-speech-to-africa-from-ghana/

  9. Is there a single source that lists Fidel’s insane ideas and failed initiatives in chronological order? I have read bits and pieces here and there, but have not seen a single compendium that simply lists them. They must be so numerous as to fill volumes.

  10. This conversation sounds like the movie “The Boys from Brazil” which was a 1978 thriller film made by Lew Grade’s

    “The film follows the attempts of aging Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier) to discover and thwart a plan by surviving Nazi death-camp doctor Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck) to resurrect Adolf Hitler through cloning.”

    In this case Fidel as Hitler, which is not a strech for him!

  11. Youbano,

    Entre el post de Yoani que se llama Funerales ,los cuenots de horror y misterio del columnillo que esta por alla abajo,las patentes de biotecnologia de Hank, Candido hablando del diablo en una fiesta, Andy hablando de Burma , Cambodia y Corea del Norte arriba de eso yo me pongo hablar de clones.
    Na’ asere, que por poco me da un ataque epileptico.Estaba echando espuma por la boca , y de repente me dio por cortarme las venas con un bisturi que tenia cerca.Si hubiera tenido una soga me me colgaba del poste de luz mas cercano, y si aquello no salia bien todavia tenia el bisturi…
    Na’ ecobio que por suerte esta jodedera es virtual.
    Y lo que hice fue cerrar la computadora me fume un cigarro de marihuana. Me tome un par de cervezas y aqui estoy de nuevo.Que bola?!

  12. Yubano,

    Maybe if Fidel had been born somewhere with 100 million people he’d have fallen by the wayside — overrun by everyone else.

    Seriously… there must be a million “Fidels” alive today… people who are intellectually brilliant, dangerously charismatic, and complete psychopaths with desire for power and grandeur. We will never hear of 999,962 of them. The others will impress themselves on the world in some way, small or large, mostly very small thank god, but with unquestionably ill effects for their victims.

    It is not only their own actions that determine their futures… but the RE-actions of everyone around them. I used to be interested in the psychology of the tyrant. But now I am more interested in the psychology of the people whom the tyrant is able to tyrannize, whether it is people who freely join a cult, or the citizens of a country who, at some moment that cannot later be reclaimed, cede their lives.

    This is an important, a truly critical question. Because Fidel is not the first and he won’t be the last. We can see it right now in Venezuela. Can it pull itself back from the brink of Chavez? Or is the country doomed?

  13. Five xeroxed Castros scattered around the world, what a concept, kinda like a latter day Manchrian candidate. All kidding aside, as much damage around the world as Castro has caused (Africa, the Americas, Spain with the Basques)with his revolutionary schtick, can we imagine what this guy would have done if he had been born in a major country. Cuba’s misfortune is the rest of the worlds fortune…

    Concubino

    Que bola papo vas a terrorizar a todas estas gentes con tu cuento de cinco castros, jajajaja…..

  14. Concubino… please clarify. What are you saying about these embryos? Are they real? Doesn’t Fidel already have something like 14 children?

  15. #23

    Yubano,

    Yes, I agree, it is strange that cloning came up in this context. I was as surprised as you were. It may have been raised because of the conversation carried over from the previous comment section under the broad category of property rights (more specifically intellectual property rights). Still, that was a rather bizarre twist and I am glad I am not the only one to have noticed.

  16. So Human Cloning…..

    Lets pretend that Castro is in fact cloned.There is five Castros already out
    there is one in Luanda,(Angola), another in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) , another in Miami in USA (Juanita has the embryo in her pharmacy), there one in Sidney (Australia) and another in Oslo (Norway)

    Not in Cuba please we certainly don’t need another Castro.

    What is going to happen?

  17. PRESS RELEASE: PODER-ABC* Business Awards Celebrates Leadership Excellence in the Americas

    Yoani Sanchez wins Americas Freedom of Press Award

    “PODER magazine in partnership with the America’s Business Council Foundation (ABC*) last night honored nine distinguished guests at its annual Business Awards dinner celebrated at the Viceroy Hotel in Miami, FL. The awards ceremony celebrated leadership excellence in the Americas by men and women who are producing systematic change in their own communities in the areas of social entrepreneurship, sustainability and peace”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/poder-abc-business-awards-celebrates-leadership-excellence-in-the-americas-70295227.html

  18. Interesting how the issue of cloning came up on this forum considering how far removed it is from the central themes of this blog. It is also interesting how reality and fiction, in this case science fiction get thrown together. I am not an expert on cloning but did spend 30 years in the medical field and have in interest in the subject. As was pointed out in a previous post a clone is essentially the same thing as an identical twin. I may be wrong in this but I don’t believe we will be seeing an epidemic of “identical twins” walking the face of the earth. I believe this technology when perfected will be not be generally used to create entire human beings, but to create spare parts. In other words a sample of your DNA will be taken, probably at birth, and it will be used to regenerate vital organs (lumgs, heart, liver, kidneys, skin etc.) that could then be used to replace non-functional ones later in life. Organ rejection will no longer be an issue because the organs will be “manufactured” if you will, from your own tissue.
    This capabilty already exists and is being used in limited fashion. The organ replacement part is still a little bit down the road. Foretunately not yet available to those in Cuba who would like to “renew” the revolution.

  19. Yubano,

    You raise some more interesting points. Of course no country is like any other country and I am continually trying to figure out what are the best analogies for Cuba… where it should look for ‘lessons learned’… especially when it becomes a “former communist country”… or you might say the more critical starting point: when it becomes a former totalitarian state.

    Like Russia? No giant empire.
    Like the Eastern European satellites? Not occupied by a foreign power.
    Like Spain? Fidel is not going to open the door for change… ever.
    Like China? Nobody is like China!
    Like Vietnam?
    Like North Korea?
    Like Burma?
    Like Cambodia?

    Too much bad blood? Too many scores to settle? When you have time I’d love to hear more of your thoughts.

  20. Andy

    Thanks for your comments, we are in basic agreement. My concern about a “peaceful” death regards the possibilty that the dinosaur will somehow be “canonized” as a truimphant historical figure further muddying the waters and delaying the change that is urgently needed. I realize my thinking on this subject is pretty much a moot point. The time for someone having killed the bastard has probably passed. Nevertheless I would have preferred to see him go out ala Mussollini, hanging from gas station post and spat upon by his countrymen.

    Concubino

    I hope you are right about the transition being a peaceful one as what took place in Spain. But I don’t believe that will be the case entirely. There is too much bad blood in Cuba, too many scores to settle. As far as your comparison of the Franco regime to the one currently in Cuba I have to say, respectfully, that is not a good comparison. There are many points to bring out in that regard but will leave that conversation for another day. I will say that Franco saw the end coming, knew that Spain needed a change and began that transition by re-installing the monarchy. I do not see any possibility of the Cuban neanderthals taking similar measures.

  21. Columnillo#19
    That’s why we are looking for alternatives sources of energy. To keep the fire of hell burning until the end of days and beyond.Just to keep Castro there forever…

  22. Can anybody tell me what kind of fuel keeps the flames of Hell burning?

    I know there have been eternal wars for oil in the world and in Cuba is very expensive and scarce but when castro and all those evil ones go there, the eternal fire might run out of supplies.

    For this I am also concern that they can suck all the juice out of those flames. I don’t think there are ration books or monthly gas allowances wherever Hell is located.

    I think I am a little religiously catastrophic today.

    My apologies cause of this.

  23. You`re wrong. I disagree with you. If you are believeing that young succesors of old men will bring to you freedom and dismantle everything, you`ll be dissapointed. Youth at communist goverment will be more cruel and they will have more desire to hold sway over the country than C&C (“Castro and Company”). Cubans have to fight for their future, not sitting at home but fighting on the streets. Remember – power`s inside the crowd !!!

  24. ***
    Yoani Sanchez and the brave Cuban “bloggers” are Cuba’s future. I like the old Mexican maxim, “There is no disease that can last 100 years–or anyone who can withstand it!”. It will be good to watch Fidel’s funeral some day–he looks more dead than alive now.
    ***
    Yoani Sanchez y los valientes “bloggers” Cubanos son el futuro de Cuba. Me gusta el viejo “maxim” Mexicana, “No hay un mal que puede durar 100 anos–ni ninguno que puede sorportarlo!” Estera bien a ver el funeral de Fidel una dia–parece mas muerto que vivo ahora.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  25. I have no idea what motivation Castro has for funding biotech research in Cuba and seeking patents. I doubt if human cloning is the reason, but as we all know, the guy is completely looney tunes.

  26. A note on human cloning. Identical twins are basically human clones… the same DNA… and look at the vast personality differences there are between them.

    It does give me a small amount of ghoulish and unkind pleasure to agree with those who say Fidel will naturally revert to the religion of his childhood on his deathbed.

    As for myself, I don’t think St. Peter or Satan will be waiting on the other side of death for him… from dust he came, to dust he will go… nothing more. But my pleasure is in thinking he’s just a LITTLE BIT tortured in his own final days… wondering if ‘his maker’ is going to buy his justifications for the horrors he has inflicted… wondering if he’ll be allowed the filibustering speech of all time… not hours but days and weeks and months of floods of words… all trying to save himself… and he knows it won’t work. To think that he fears meeting God, that gives me a little bit of pleasure.

  27. Yubano,

    Two things in your post I would like to respond to. First, I completely agree about the danger of Cuba becoming like Russia, if it does not acknowledge and deal directly with the misery of the last 50 years. That’s something we’ve talked about a bit in this blog comment section and need to talk about more.

    On the other hand, at this point I think the “biological solution” is the perfect one. (If you’d asked me ten years ago… I’d have said no, Cubans can’t wait that long… can’t suffer for another decade or more… but here we are… ten years later… still waiting.)

    I thing the biological solution is the perfect one for creating a new Cuba, a free and democratic Cuba, because it’s the one that essentially makes it NOT ABOUT FIDEL. He dies. He goes away. For the future, his only relevancy is as a casebook about what not to do, what not to allow happen again.

    If he were removed at this point in some more forceful way… it would still be all about him. It would be about the coup or whatever. (I guess I just don’t believe in Cubans peacefully taking to the streets in their millions and changing everything… not while the old man retains consciousness.)

    It’s not about him any more. The new generation is knocking at the door… and in the first moment, they will come in like a whirlwind and sweep it all away. What a gorgeous and powerful image.

    It’s as if “the most spectacular funeral in the history of Cuba” — that itself will be the cleansing. The burying of the miserable and tortured pass.

    The sun will rise the next day and the future of a Cuba will begin.

    Yes, it will be a little messy, for sure… but the past will be underground with the corpse.

  28. Youbano#11 Patially agree,as part of the final solution , we may have to accept that.Franco died in his bed. We have to move on and hope that the changes that happened in Spain after Franco happens also in Cuba.

  29. Comment#4 (Candido) Funny!!LMAO!.

    Comment #5 (Hank) Scary!!. The only thing we need about this guy(castro) is a mask for halloween.Not even a clone is gonna match his evil.That kind of egocentrism and megalomany come once in a lifetime.I’m reading the book of his sister ,Juanita, and even his sister has no regards for him at all.

    Candido#8 agree.

    Columnillo#9.Men, please, genetic enginering Science is in very early stages even when there is some success in cloning some animals. It is a very difficult thing to do with humans.A Korean scientist claimed to be the first to cloned a human being was proved to be a hoax.Although is a technology of the future. There is so many ethical implications in human cloning that it will be almost impossible thing to do.Basically you can do it with dogs, sheep cats and some other domestic pets. But doing that with humans will be doing God’s job and for that and only for that reason it will never happen. Your comment by the way seems to be taking out from some horror history.Very well written btw

    Candido, Hank: In a more of serious note.In my opinion the Cuban problem is going to came to a conclusion with the biological solution.As macabre as this might sound that is gonna be the “Final Solution”

  30. Even in English translation, what a beautiful and well-crafted piece of writing. The images the words evoke literally jump off the page.

  31. In an imperfect world I am all for a “biological solution”, any solution at this point would be a welcome change from 50 years of repression and misery. Although I must admit in a perfect world a biological solution would not be my first wish. Change in Cuba must include a repudiation of the current regime if it is to move forward in a decisive manner … in a clean departure from all the pseudo-nationalistic and ersatz revolutionary claptrap. Without a clear separation from the past it will be difficult to establish a true democracy in the short term. I fear that a biological death will not be helpful in that regard. A change without a calling-to-accounts for those responsible will result in a similar situation to what we are seeing in today’s Russia. A country who is unwilling to admit or atone for the monumental sins of the USSR, and in many cases is returning to its old repressive and undemocratic habits. And on a more visceral level it bothers me to contemplate that the Cuban megalomaniac who has destroyed so much and caused so much pain will die peacefully in his own bed.

  32. All political systems of this world will finally come to an end including castro’s dictatorship.

    Biological solution could be D solution to free Cuba but there is always the chance that this ( Can’t call him son of satan because we were created but God) human being who not even gave his soul to satan for free but also decided to embrace evil forever could think of saving some blood and/or skin and body tissues to clone himself to try to regenerate himself back in a more deadly version.

    For this, I am concern.

  33. Hanks:

    Although I have no concrete evidence to show, but, after so many years where I felt on my skin, into my psyche and my spirit the brainwashing, the repression and the terrible nightmare of having lived under the Castro regime, I can assure you, that all what the murderer in chief did, with regard to biotechnology, pursues a single goal:

    “Damaging the image of the U.S., to physically harm the U.S., putting the U.S. on a map of criminals against humanity, in short, anything that harms the U.S. and thus can justify the millions of mistakes and abuses committed by Castro and his revolution is valid for him!!!!,,,he does not cares,,,he just wants to put himself in top of the lost causes,,,he wants to be “The Robin Hood” of the world!!!!.

    Castro is sick -always was-!!!!,,Castro is a megalomaniac, Castro is the worst thing that could happen to Cuba in its history, but, history will not forgive and always, sooner or later put each in its proper place,,,, then, for sure the Castro’s place will be the “dump”!!!!!!.

    Candido

  34. On one of my trips to Cuba I attended a funeral for a baby who died because there were not enough doctors available. Many of their best doctors have been sent to other countries to boost Castro’s international credentials. On that same trip I took a picture of a billboard that said: 10-MILLION CHILDREN IN THE WORLD DIE OF AVOIDABLE ILLNESSES. NONE OF THEM ARE CUBAN. I talk more about this in my blog:
    http://talkingcuba.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/sicko-the-cuban-version/

  35. #4 and #5

    Concubino and Candido,

    Maybe that’s why he is spending so much money on biotech research. The most recent patent to issue to a Cuban entity in the US is assigned to the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas (CNIC) (Havana, CU). The patent issued on September 22, 2009 and is entitled “Vibrio cholerae with improved biological safety features in freeze dried form.” The patent number is 7,592,171.

  36. Concubino:

    Exactly!!! after I read that “image” (Biological solution),,,the meaning,,,the scope,,,immediately brought to my mind an extraordinary message, for that reason I think that is the crux of this new commentary Yoanis

    I hope that anything related to “clone” something about the murderer in chief, will be stuff of science fiction!!!!, or that the experiment done by creating some kind of clown, to which, we all could see him in a cage and throw bread crumbs to keep him from not starve!!!!but,,,,for long,,,long time!!!! some kind of repay way!!!!! for everything he has done!!!!!

    Candido

  37. Candido

    The phrase “Biological Solution” got my attention in such a powerful way.How well said is that .In my opinion that is the best part of this post.For a split second I started thinking about horrible things where the word “solution” was used by some other people last century..

    This post is not just magnificent but so real. We are mortals even when Chavez and Castro think they are not.Check this out..

    http://www.cubaencuentro.com/es/cuba/noticias/chavez-castro-seria-capaz-de-hablar-una-o-dos-horas-en-la-proxima-cumbre-del-alba-223340

    Pay attention to the last two paragraphs. Chavez is talking metaphorically of course. But is just the mentality what is really bothersome to me.
    In the first documentary of Oliver Stones interviewing. Fidel Castro was reflecting about how long different species live. He was amazed about the fact that marine turtles have a life spam of 300 years.
    I’m telling you if cloning techniques genetic and manipulation were advanced enough, this Castro in his megalomaniac state of mind will paid any amount of money just to get a shot of turtles longevity genes.

  38. Further to my post in the previous section on the subject of patents, here is a link to the United Stated Patent & Trademark Office website. There are currently 67 issued US patents that identify Cuba as the country of the assignee. The vast majority of these patents relate to biotechnology.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=0&f=S&l=50&TERM1=cu&FIELD1=ASCO&co1=AND&TERM2=&FIELD2=&d=PTXT

  39. The end is coming soon to Castro’s gerontocracy. It is crumbling little by little.

  40. May God hear you!!

    Biological Solution?,, I think it is a very good image!!!!!, anyway, I think when that happens and “The Murderer in Chief” will meet with Lucifer!!!!!! (sure thing,,,no?), both together spend a few hours of partying and drinking before the Devil himself be ” removed from his duties” and he will be totally depending on the mandate of the new government that replaced him “!!!!!.

    Candido

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