The Wishing Tree

People start arriving before seven in the morning. There is everything: dreamers, the disillusioned, and even provocateurs. They wait under a tree, perhaps a flamboyan tree, to the side of the Central Committee.  They are there because they wish to present their letters, repeat their requests or check, for the umpteenth time, if their pleas have had any effect.  Some of them, from coming so often, know how to interpret the gestures that the guard makes to tell them they can go in.  At  the sentry box they show their identity cards and from within, behind the bulletproof glass, a man takes the letters and gives back a receipt.

To appeal to the “highest authorities” is the hope of all of those who wait there. Many of them have traveled hundreds of kilometers to explore a last chance. They believe that when the “high leaders” know about their problems, they will be solved expeditiously . It is common to hear under the “Wishing Tree” phrases such as, “This happened to me because Fidel doesn’t know about it. If he knows about it, for sure he will solve it.”  With similar utopias they wait to be called into the building.

The lady, with the red pants is here because her house fell down twelve years ago and she lives in a shelter; the old man with the shattered voice demands a pension that bureaucracy and indolence have snatched from him; a young woman claims that her boyfriend is in prison even though he’s innocent.  There’s also a man crouching in the grass who seems to be, like me, from the group of the skeptics. The scene repeats itself every morning from Monday to Friday.  Sometimes the demands raise their tone, mothers bring their
kids to beg as a group and someone appeals for calm saying, “Fellows, shut up and wait, ’cause if you don’t, you won’t get anything”.

On my way home I can see the Wishing Tree, each time projecting its shadow over more and more people. Every day, it is more bent under the weight of the problems.


  1. This last paragraph is very well said. You have a way of capturing the Cuban spirit.

    From here it seems that Cuba is covered with a forest of wishing trees.

    Is there nothing that can be done?

    Life without hope and the pursuit of happiness is not one that I can imagine but I think such a life is common in Cuba.

    Maybe President Lage will change things? 🙂


    For the first time, just before the UN discusses, as it does every year, the project of the Cuban resolution condemning the blockade, the President of the United States announces that he will adopt new measures to accelerate the “transition period” in our country, equivalent to a new conquest of Cuba by force.

    On the other hand, the danger of a massive world famine is aggravated by Mr. Bush’s recent initiative to transform foods into fuel while, calling on strategic security principles, he threatens humanity with World War III, this time using atomic weapons.

    Such crucially important issues are the ones attracting the attention of the representatives of the countries that will be meeting on Tuesday, October 30, to discuss the Cuban project condemning the blockade.

    In elections where voting is not mandatory, our people have just given their verdict, with more than 95 percent of the electorate casting their vote at 37,749 polling stations, in ballot boxes guarded by school children. That is the example provided by Cuba.

    Fidel Castro Ruz

    October 22, 2007

    5:48 p.m.

  3. Please don’t let American media and multinational corporations shape the direction of change which Cuba is about to undergo. It was devastating to the USSR and China and it’s by no means inevitable.

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