There are certain elders to whom the carefree attitude of the youngest produce burning and regret.  They are those who intuit that those who follow will wash away everything that for them is “holy.” They are right.  Nothing is more fearsome than a teenager who wastes his time and threatens to “change everything.”  And these are the seniors who, at the first opportunity, throw back in their grandchildren’s faces the diapers washed, the eduction offered, the breakfasts served and and even the medicines bought. 

A wave of that rancor came in the dismissive term “jovenzuelo” [youngster] launched by Fidel Castro in his penultimate reflections.*  The broadside on “dirty clothes” was motivated because a Cuban (maybe Yuniesky, Yohandry or Yasiel) interviewed by a foreign news agency declared that he didn’t want to talk about socialism.  With a determination typical of the young, he earned a virulent reaction from the Head of State himself, who dedicated almost a paragraph to him.  

The whole story of the fed-up youngster and the severe “grandpa” reproaching him, transported me to the years of Glasnost and to the magazine “Novelties from Moscow,” where a young man warned the sixty-somethings who were stopping the changes, “You have all the power, we have all the time.” Of course, we have to color that phrase with the knowledge that even for Yuniesky or Yohandry the years pass, and every day they have less time.  

I have the hunch that I’ll be a rather punk old lady. I’ll allow the kids of 2050 to make fun of my pictures and of the ugly hairdo that I’ll have had for more than three decades.  I’ll let them tear down, one by one, everything that for me now is “untouchable.”  I’ll do it gladly and approvingly, because I know that they not only have the time, but that – without their knowledge – they also inherit the power.  A huge power that allows them to choose between “waiting or doing something.”  

*Translator’s note:  “Reflections of Fidel” is a regular feature in Granma, Cuba’s morning newspaper. 


  1. Cuba will remain a slave island until the Cuban people understand what collectivism is and totally reject it. We have many exiles in America who are collectivist as well yet sadly most do not realize it.

  2. I wish you peace and freedom – and may you have both soon. The people of Cuba must come to the realization that true democracy is hard to achieve and hard to keep. In America, we must fight against facism always to protect the liberties of the people. Fascism is always on the march. Communism was a failed attempt to counter fascism.

    As you and those of your generation – and younger – face a new tomorrow, make sure you protect the rights and freedoms of the individual while keeping the sense of community that you have. We must all be free to pursue our dreams, but as a nation, as a community we have responsibilities to care for the less fortunate as well.

    May God bless and keep you and help you with your fight for freedom and democracy. Americans want Cuba to be free. I am not sure that our government is always your friend but I am sure that our people are! We love our cousins in Cuba.

  3. Thomas…

    Collectivism comes from the word collective as: “formed by collection, uniting”, “of or characteristic of a group of individuals taken together”… I don’t think about the collectivism as a bad thing, as “we the people” is the first words of US constitution, it’s a group of people isn’t it?

    Democracy is about the people, not one person or a small part of privileged. But for all of people. How would you name it, Communism, Capitalism, etc. if you have minority taking advantage of the majority unfairly, the system is broken. I don’t see US as an example of fair society; neither have I seen USSR as such. I wish there was an ideal that you can use and it will work every time, but it doesn’t, it’s a “work in progress”, as many will say. It’s that different countries are in a different closeness to achieving that ideal.

    I lived the both systems. My friends who left joke that we were Peoples Republic, until all the “people” disappeared; now they live in Republic in which there is no people and nobody cares about them. People are statistics that have to pay and vote. That used to be a sunny small nice eastern European country. Now it is sad, even smaller country with very unhappy, free individuals who follow the US example. Do I like it? No, not at all. What will happen to Cuba…? I wish, not what happen to my little country.

    Advantages may and are taken even in international relations. Countries are punished just because certain regime is not likable by the main players in the world politics. Who is to blame? Do we need dictators, as strange it may sound we may actually do need them, as they are the people who have the guts to stand and dictate what will happen. And it may actually be for the good. Freedom doesn’t always bring good effect, free evil and you’ll have more of it, more evil. By choosing what freedom you wish you have to be very specific or you may go wrong and all your good intentions collapse.

    There is an old saying, much older then me, it goes “God help me with my friends, I know how to deal with my enemies”.

  4. PS. Exiles in America are called Cuban Community, and that gives them power. Being together for the good, helping each other, that is good thing, its family. Trying to recreate your own country abroad is very hard thing. As you are not at home, consider that.

  5. I have read your thoughts on Cuba for a while, and just wanted to thank you for letting us know the truth about what is happening both on the island and in your heart.

    I hope you can comment on the recent “retirement” of Fidel and what you can expect from Raul Castro.

    Thank you again for your spirit.

  6. Now that El Comandante is retiring, I think that he should start charging for his reflecciones. People when they retire in Cuba have to go to all extremes to make extra money so they can afford to live. So Comandante do not work for free and demand they pay you for your honest work.

  7. Fidel’s folly

    When Fidel Castro took power in January 1959, his country was among the five most prosperous nations in Latin America.

    After 49 years of his brand of socialism, it ranks as one of the poorest in the region. Cubans today live on a minimum wage of 225 pesos or just over £5 a month, while national wealth has barely increased in decades.

    According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Cuba’s centrally planned economy is one of the least free in the world, exceeded only by that of North Korea.

  8. In January of 1959 while Fidel was making noise in Havana, Raul was killing people in Oriente. He started the reign of terror by killing hundreds at a seating and all of them without the benefit of the law. Is he a pragmatist?. Yes he kills you a lot quicker.

  9. Congratulations Cuba. Now you have a new president. It is curious that his troops in the Army call him LA CHINA. It could be because of the Mirabal genes or perhaps because other reasons.

  10. The new vice-president Machado Ventura does not like Chistmas trees in Cuba. NO MORE CHRITMAS TREES. YOU HEAR.

  11. When Raul talked to Chavez in Halo Presidente last Sunday, he was drunk and incoherent. He sucks the Jutia’s tail.

  12. I lived in Cuba during the 80’s for about 5 years while going to school there. I know exactly what are you talking about although as a foreigner in a country that provided me with a free education I just can not trash it for free.
    I had mixed experiences while I lived there , I got to know many friends and classmates whom which we used talk about freedom and the virtues of capitalism and the free enterprise with its shortcoming of course and for the most part they expressed me their desire to go somewhere else because in Cuba they would be ostracized, on the other hand I have had the pleasure of having many friends that I met on the streets , on the beaches, on the bars, pilotos, baseball games, even on the long lines of the posadas…. although they were also educated , some were doctors, engineers, teachers, and simple workers they were in almost complete accordance with the revolution and with Fidel.

    Therefore, it is hard for me to really make a clear distinction or have an understanding of the current situation in Cuba, I left the isle just at the beginning of the glasnost in the URRS and I know many things have changed for the worst since then because the Russians provided a huge aid program and subsidized many things and perhaps whole industries in Cuba. I know how hard and difficult has been what they call periodo especial but now I realized that the periodo especial has been a way of life in Cuba for the last 4 decades. I remember that at times there was not soap of tooth paste even though we as students had almost guaranteed these items.

    As you can tell I have mixed feelings about Cuba a country that I love so much, I want to see it free and prosperous but I do not want for it the fate of the most unscrupulous imperialist country where there is little regard for the simple people …..funny thing is that now I reside in the USA….indeed the world is small….

    Good luck

  13. If Fidel had support then how do you explain that Cubans risk their lives just to get out of there. It is not fun dealing with the sharks. Can you undestand that they pay you with a cuurency that is wothless while the Cuban government gets good money for your services?. I am Cuban born but when I went to Cuba I could go to places where my cousins could not go. For some reason people do not like to be exploited and humiliated and on top of that the ruling class live like feudal lords. ES UN ASCO.

  14. As one that left the island in the early 60’s I can only imagine what the type of life the people now have. I recall my dad returning from Havana on a bus, something he had never done. I recall my mother upset because the state would take over the house that they lived in. I also recall the first thing that Fidel placed great emphasis on during is speeches. He would always say “La revolution is of the PEOPLE” as if this would actually turn to be the truth. We have learned as years go by that the people do not have much, as they cannot buy groceries when they please, they cannot use the internet, or read a newspaper published in any other country, after all if is all for the good of the people, just as he said in 1959. He was lying then, and now his brother is lying for him, as he is the puppet, and Fidel is pulling the strings. One can say what they please about democracy, or the United States, but in my eyes one thing is true. Democracy is the best system on this world, as people actually choose who their leader will be, not just a choice of two people that have ruled the island for over 49 years.

  15. “O senhor Fidel é objecto de um obituário aguardado com grande expectativa” – Quitéria Barbuda in “O Fim de um Patife”, Revista “Espírito”, nº 24, 2006.

  16. Biggs wrote “When Fidel Castro took power in January 1959, his country was among the five most prosperous nations in Latin America.”

    What are you talking about. Cuba was ruled by a dictator and the Mafia. Castro continue as another dictator with communist help.

  17. I think its great that you guys are doing this, if communism is overthrown, I would love to see open trade between u.s., and cuba

  18. Hello, I recently discovered this blog after seeing the New York Times article about “cyber rebels” in Cuba. Very glad to read such an inspiring story.

    I have recently discovered the joy of true folk music, and my most recent song is deeply inspired by that article and this blog. I would be glad for all to listen — and know that my song is open-source and free to all to use (and even change) in any way they please — just make sure you share it along!

  19. Dear Yoani

    I wonder if you realize that in the USA your email would be read by ‘ The Bush Administration” with the blessing of congress!

    You think $3.00 per half hour to use the internet is expensive, then just do some research on the cost of health care insurance in the USA . The last figure I read is there are 45 million people uninsured.

    Who has your Government invaded with shock and awe recently (like the USA did Iraq) .

    Fidel and the Government of Cuba are to be commended for standing up to the USA and surviving the embargo all of these years.

    If you think you are suffering an injustice do some research on prisoners incarcerated at ‘Gitmo’ by the USA . Many have been there 5 years without a trial. One canadian was 15 years old when he was arrested. ** That is USA Justice**

    I love Cuba, and the people I met there. I travelled among the common people and I saw poverty, but I also saw happy people with hope.

    Read what USA Foreign Policy has done in the world before you continue with your complaints about the Cuban Government and Socialism. I think you will find some things you seem to be unaware of in USA Foreign Policy disasters in Iraq, Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemaala, Dominican Republic etc.

    One final thing. I would love to see the
    arrogant, ignornant ‘Bush’ debate Fidel !

    Peace Sister

  20. Don’t worry about it. The young will inherit it all anyway and then you can do what you will.
    This happened in the US back in the 80’s and 90’s as a huge swell of post-WWII kids came of age.

    We screwed it up but good!

    Hope you guys can do better.

  21. Felicidades en lo que estas haciendo. Tienes mas “c..” que Antonio Maceo. Not te dejes influenciar por la pila de estupidos que creen que Fidel es un Dios, ninguno de ellos viviria en Cuba ni 5 minutos. Todos atacan al presidente de los EU, y todo lo que tiene que ver con los EU pero por que no se van a Cuba, Korea del Norte, Venezuela, etc. Degraciadamente en este paid (EU) la educacion historica y politica del pueblo es mala / pobre. Ellos no entienden el valor y la desesperacion que hay que tener para montarse en una balsa y echarse al mar.

  22. It is ironic that we dare to use the USofA as a role model to a democracy or to imply that the Americans love the Cubans in Cuba. In fact the Americans do not love the Cubans in the USA or any other immigrant that dare to escape communism or substandard living conditions. It is an atrocity that our brothers and sisters risk their well being by crossing deserts and open oceans to encounter an institutionalized oppression. They come to better themselves hoping not to get sick or not to get stopped while driving without a license, hoping to survive many years without the kiss and hugs of their families. We have millions of minorities dying because of lack of health care and poverty, we have immigrant living in fear on a daily basis because of the threat of stiff immigration laws. We have capitalist companies exploiting immigrants and becoming richer while these poor people are forced to hide. This institutionalized communism and racism is what we called the American way. But don’t mind me I am just here to read!

  23. The following is from the central intelligence agency:

    Trafficking in persons:
    Core says:
    “Cuba! What so you want? Do your children want unlimited Money? Drugs? Fun? Sex?

    Or do you see as the world sees, that Castro has given 50 years of his life for protection from a much greater evil than you’ve ever experienced. That is, until you come to freedom, and what a price a small island of people will pay – pollution, inflation, hedonism, exploitation, brother-against-brother, sister-against-sister, and all in between!”

    The following from the United States CIA on Cuba:

    “current situation: Cuba is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced child labor; Cuba is a major destination for sex tourism, which largely caters to European, Canadian, and Latin American tourists and involves large numbers of minors; there are reports that Cuban women have been trafficked to Mexico for sexual exploitation; forced labor victims also include children coerced into working in commercial agriculture
    tier rating: Tier 3 – Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so”

    Are we to believe Castro and his ‘govenment’ was/is unaware of this?? Please-his reign over the people of Cuba is the reason the perverts of the world can/do and will continue to travel there under the mask of ‘tourism’ with the intent to sexually exploit young innocent children-WAKE UP WORLD!! Where is this ‘government’ and ‘protection’ when some filthy scum bag is sexually assulting someone’s 14 year old daughter….or son??? Desperate people will resort to desperate measures…it’s a matter of survival!

  24. Radicalism doesn’t work. If we learn from the older people, we can use our time in this earth better.
    If we try to do it all ourselves from 0, we will end living experience after experience and never accomplished anything.
    I was 23 years old once and I wanted to change the world as you do. It caused me and my family so much suffering that it wasn’t worth it.
    Now at 52 I see life different in a more compassionate and spiritual way.
    Every generation have to struggle with they own generation to live something better to the ones that come behind us.
    Remember for example, that if it weren’t for the feminist movement women wouldn’t have the opportunities they do now. Same in literature and art.
    I am not sure if the fruits of a wrong moral education could be trusted to change the world. And they are young.
    I will think more individual than general. It takes a good leader without arrogance and egomaniac thoughts to make the changes in the nations.
    Congratulations to you for the Spanish Ortega & Gasset Prize.

  25. Why don’t you move to capitalist Haiti or Honduras querida opportunista? Of course, you won’t recieve a stipend from the CIA , NED or anyone else to criticize those “democracies”, but you may realize how ridiculous your blog appears to those of us who have seen Cuba and the rest of Latin America for ourselves.

  26. I find it fascinating that even as Castro the younger moves closer to Chavez and his Petrocaribe bolivars, he is starting to plant the seeds of economic reform by shifting control of Cuban agriculture from Havana to 100 local councils and allowing individually owned specialty farms. I pray this plays out toward increased economic freedom.

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