My Kitty Vinagrito

To the memory of Teresita Fernández.

Why did that song of the kitty Vinagrito touch our souls so deeply? I don’t think the answer is the children’s visual wasteland we experienced in the seventies and eighties, filled almost entirely with the productions Made in the USSR or other Eastern European countries. Nor is it found indirectly in the human search for recognition, already so brilliantly described in The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. No, it wasn’t just that, although these, too, could be enumerated as some of the reasons to repeat the catchy chorus.

The story of Vinagrito, the cat rescued from the street, had that sweet sensitive side missing from so many socialist camp cartoons. These were sober, tragic or instructive enough, but they lacked the melodrama spiced with touches of humor and ridicule that define the Cuban identify. With his name alone — a diminutive of the vinegar used in cooking — the crazy-haired feline already made us love him and mock him at the same time. There, we found a story of rejection, redemption and transformation. Vinagrito managed to become what no one expected of him: a beautiful and happy pet, calmly dipping his whiskers in his milk.

It was hard not to identify with the “ugly and skinny” guy picked up off the street, when so many of us also felt that the “outside” represented a loss of self and the end of the individual. Vinagrito returned — instead of us — to a home with the warm embrace of a family, surrounded by attention. He was rescued, while we were lost. He ended up at home, while so many of us were leaving for a dorm, a camp, a platoon. He meowed to the moon… while we chased an ideological mirage.

It was nice to have his tail and his taste for the fish, without him everything would have been so much more boring.


63 thoughts on “My Kitty Vinagrito

  1. Humberto, please, spare me.
    Castro will die soon and how am I going to pronounce your DIAZCANELFASCISTS?
    No way! Too difficult! Try something more simple, please.

    HAVANA TIMES: Cuba: Prosperity for Whom? – Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

    With the triumphalism that characterizes the Cuban press (a tone that today evinces hints of a reformist demagogy), the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde recently published the partial results of the census conducted in our country last year.

    Had the title been a bit less pretentious, there would perhaps have been no reason to write the criticisms gathered in this post. The fact of the matter is that a good many indices and statistics presented in the article cannot be brandished as a sign of wellbeing, not without a very high dose of cynicism, at least.

    At most, we can perhaps talk about a slight improvement in the precarious situation of many Cubans, of the many, for instance, who, 60 years after the proclamation of the Moncada Program, still do not have decorous housing and are crowded in shelters without private bathrooms, or those who lack such basic utilities as water and electricity.

    When I read that there are 0.78 color TVs per home (and 0.2 black and white sets), I ask myself whether that is a true indication of prosperity or, on the contrary, a figure that attests to the precarious situation we live in. Because, what this number ultimately indicates is that, no matter what the type, there’s less than one television set per home. The same holds for refrigerators.

    I know there are countries that are doing far worse. What I don’t accept is being told we have the lead in anything. If we look at the numbers on telephones, be they land or cellular lines, we suddenly plummet to the lowest levels you find around the world, to say nothing of automobile statistics (even though I am not exactly a fan of this means of transportation, such figures are still an indicator of material prosperity).

    The saddest part of this is that, back in the days of capitalism, we were the envy of some European countries (such as Spain and Portugal) when it came to such indices.


  3. Assange’s stock-in-trade is stolen secrets, grow the hell up and admit the truth. Many, many people were put in harms way by the information that was published, Assange himself has admitted this fact.

  4. Mentioning Julian Assagne in this context is quite legitimate.

    Julian Assange did not smugggle anything.
    Julian Assange did not steal anything, especially any secrets.

    Julian Assange has bult a platform (a server + open source software) for whistleblowers.

    Whether the material on Wikipedia is about whistleblowing or just does damage national security can only be decidad case by case.

    If I find the private address of Obama’s cook on Wikipedia, I will say this is a criminal publication.

    The material on Dick Cheney’s war crimes, on the other hand, is whistle blowing, good for all Americans. But you can only judge the person who released the docs, not Julian.

    As soon as the Revolution will win in the United States my private address will be 80, Julian Assange Street, just two blocks away from Edward Snowden Boulevard.

  5. Trevor,

    Nick better hide his computer. If the CIA storms his house and finds he was looking at Granma, it’s 20 years in Guantanamo at least.

    Yes, Big Brother is watching his every move.

    If 99% Nick releases the real truth about good example Cuba, it could bring down our whole fragile capitalist world run by the 1% lizard conspirators.

    Don’t worry Nick, Cuba will survive. Socialism is the wave of the future. Others will carry on your work, even if you disappear into the American Gulag.

  6. Sorry to bud into the “conversation” between a deluded Brit sitting on his socialist armchair and the Cuban agent calling itself Marabu, but uncontrolled communication is the right of every American and Canadian.

    Only communist governments outlaw natural communication between people. Just having a shortwave radio in Cuba can get you thrown in jail. Just like under Stalin and Hitler and Mao.

    These socialists used to shoot people for listening to the wrong radio station. Whereas I am free to listen and watch to whatever I want from the communist world.

    What parallel universe do Nick and Marabu live in?

    I would like to visit one day and see what it looks like. What drugs should I take?

    Speaking of medical care, maybe the Cuban spy who was released should pay back the US government for his medical care?

  7. @Nick,

    I really like your idea of making Gross pay for the medical care he received in Cuba.

    So what are we going to do with this old felon (no, it is NOT a typo, I did not mean fellow)? Here is my plan


    Send a cuban citizen to the USA smuggling satelite equipment which would allow US citizens to communicate with chinese, russian or even european satelites without knowledge of the US government agencies.

    The Cuban will be arrested and get 10 to 20 years.

    Then swap the Cuban for Gross. Equal crimes, fair swap.

  8. @ Marabu,

    You are correct in saying that the equipment that Gross was trying to smuggle illegally into Cuba was way beyond normal internet related materials.

    He was being monitored throughout by Cuban Intelligence.
    He was naïve in the extreme to think that he was ever going to get away with this plan.
    It was not a case of ‘if’ he would be picked up by the authorities but ‘when’.
    His paymasters knew of the probability that he would be apprehended when they sent him on this totally inept attempt at stirring up contra-revolutionary activity in Cuba. He was like a poor little lamb being sent to the slaughterhouse.
    All along the overwhelming likelihood was that he would be arrested for his crime.
    He himself knew the risks, knew what the (US taxpayer funded) pay-out would be and took the chance.

    Marabu, I understand your ‘if you do the crime; you do the time’ point of view.

    However, in this instance I must disagree.
    I think this fool has now learnt his lesson and it is time for the Cuban leadership to appeal to the Cuban Justice System to have him released on grounds of compassion.

    He should then be sent back to his long suffering wife with a good solid kick in the pants.

    I also think I am right in saying that whilst in custody he was treated for a medical condition.

    Before being allowed out of Cuba he should be made to pay the bill for this treatment as a good old US boy should.
    No free healthcare in USA so why should Gross get free healthcare in Cuba??

  9. @Nick,

    Release Gross on compassionate grounds? I disagree with your suggestion.

    The lie Florida spreads about Gross is that the equipement he was smuggling was purported to provide access to internet. False. Anyone who has money can accesss internet in Cuba. And those who financed the operation (he was paid 200 grand as far as I remember) had a lot of money.

    The goal was to deliver uncontrolled communications, not some pages of Miami Herald. Every government on this planet has the right to watch suspected persons. Sending the satelite equpment was meant to transfer this part of cuban sovereignity from the Ministry of Interior in Havana to the satelite owners (they sit in Maryland). A great felony indeed.

    Dias Canel and President Raul should not seek cheap publicity by releasing that felon.

  10. There are certain rumours surfacing on the internet (seemingly based on some recent Obama remarks) which suggest that the current US President will actually bring a degree of honour to his position as the so-called ‘Leader of the Free World’, and draw a line under this pathetic and vindictive colonialist US policy towards Cuba that is so miserably out of step with the vast majority of the global public opinion.

    For the sake of basic, common human decency, lets hope these rumours are true.

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