Multiplied by zero

The latest Reflections* of Fidel Castro have ended my patience. What annoys me most is not the rehabilitation of Milosevic, condemned by history and by men, but the total indifference he shows to our problems in continually focusing his commentaries on international themes and his leading role.

Why not reflect about the discouragement and dissatisfaction that becomes more evident every day in Cuban society? Why not involve himself in the major profound issues before they touch him, personally. If he willingly accepts the glory for each achievement, why not assume the blame for the errors and the failures? Or doesn’t Fidel Castro bear most of the responsibility for how we live today? Attempting to escape, to get away from our problems, to theorize about things that happened thousands of miles away, or many years ago, is to multiply by zero the demands of a population that is already tired, disappointed and in need of measures to alleviate their misfortunes today.

What can be the importance to us now of an exchange of letters between heads of state that happened eight years ago, when wages don’t stretch far enough to even let us live badly; corruption “cuts like a knife”; the country loses a thousand people a month to emigration; the health system crumbles; and the schools use television screens to teach our children?

It is pure political frivolity to be reflecting on heads of state, referring to diplomatic correspondence, and talking about a bestseller written by ex-leaders. Our reality asks for shouts that open spaces for listening to public opinion. How long will we use the few pages of the national press to satisfy the personal vanity of a politician who doesn’t represent us, who doesn’t echo our demands, and who doesn’t even mention us?

*Translator’s note: “The Reflections of Fidel” (Reflexiones de Fidel) is a regular column in Cuba’s daily morning paper, Granma.

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