Without You?…Not Yet, Fidel!
“Intimate Canto No. 12” by Celia Hart
[This “canto,” written on August 1, was posted on the Madrid-based web site www.rebelion.org on August 3, 2006. The translation for Labor Standard is by George Saunders and Eduardo Quintana.]
Yes, I know, comrades, I already know: Life has nailed down certain limits for us within time—and time keeps up its unforgiving beat with cold consistency. Until the sun itself will be extinguished, irremediably, and this whole marvelous adventure could be lost in the ashes of light.
And yet, I always wanted to think that Albert Einstein with his special theory of relativity had given us a light-footed hope that Fidel would be so fast-moving that time itself would expand in connection with some special system of reference for revolutionaries.
Most of us Cubans yesterday made a thousand conjectures regarding the announcement made in the afternoon [of Monday, July 31] about a (forthcoming) message from our Commander in Chief. There were wagers and guesses, the most optimistic being that our five brothers arbitrarily being held in North American prisons would be freed; other, more pessimistic guesses were that Israel and its murderous army had carried out some new maneuver, more horrendous than ever, for example, that they had threatened one of our diplomatic missions in Beirut.
We called each other on the phone before the “telenovela,” trying to guess what the message would be, just as we always do. And all the while we were expecting to see the kind of story we already know is going to unravel in a Brazilian “TV novel” (or soap opera), where the good ones kiss and love each other and the bad ones end in ruin and death. In the same way we always gather before the TV screen with the aim of having something to chat about with the neighbors the next day. But this time the good were weeping and the bad were filling their greedy purses and sending balloons into the air.
And the truth is that reality outdoes by far even the most elaborately worked-out plot. We expected to see Fidel with his lean visage, his talkative hands, and his eyes sparkling with hope and combativity. That’s how he had been on July 26 [in the two lengthy public speeches he gave a few days earlier]; that’s how he had been in Córdoba [Argentina, a few days before July 26, at a meeting of members and observers of Mercosur (the South American common market)], where without his presence the significance of that meeting would have been just one more in an endless round of meetings; and that’s how he had been on the visit to the house Che had lived in as a youth [not far from Córdoba; a visit made by Fidel together with Hugo Chavez].
And so we came together again to see him [in his perennial guerrilla uniform of green], with the green cap firmly planted on his head, and to hear him exposing and refuting, with that special timbre of his voice, the stupid threats of the enemy.
But no…before our eyes there appeared, so alone, the companero Carlos Velenciaga, chief of his despacho [Fidel’s secretariat], with a little piece of paper in his hand [which he began to read].
From the very first lines I felt some air missing from my lungs. Poor comrade Carlitos! Fidel had called him by that name innumerable times during endless sessions on the television screen. He could not have been the bearer of worse news.
The avatars of Fidel’s permanent battle without sleeping, trying to make use of the enormous amount of time God has given him as a revolutionary, finally caused his health to break down. His intestinal system had been injured, and he had to undergo a delicate operation that would be followed by weeks of rest. This was unbearable! Although Fidel had fainted several years ago at a public hearing, a “people’s tribunal” [?] at El Cotorro, and as recently as October 20, 2004, he had tripped and fractured a leg and an arm, there was no comparison. On those two occasions Fidel himself had correctly addressed us, immediately and in person. Now there was just a piece of paper [from which a message was being read].
I remembered that when he tripped and fell at Santa Clara [on October 20, 2004] the Comandante spoke these words: “I ask that they [the students graduating at Santa Clara that night] pardon me for having fallen…The only thing that pains me is the bad timing, the possible suffering that this could cause for them.”
Yesterday we could not hear his voice. We only knew that there was internal bleeding as if a bullet had entered his intestines. (So many such bullets had been wasted in attempts to assassinate him.) I couldn’t believe it. At that instant I hated good Carlitos more than anyone. I wanted the electromagnetic waves to swallow up his image, which had made one more last-Monday-of-July the most horrifying of my life. The other was July 28, 1980.
[Editors’ Note: It was on July 28, 1980, that Haydée Santamaria, Celia Hart’s mother, committed suicide].
Then I looked at the face of the messenger: it was pale, and he was speaking with a somewhat broken voice. But he was not to blame. Poor Carlitos. Undoubtedly he was suffering more than I was.
Could it be God that was to blame?
Of late I have not been on good terms with this “Lord” in view of the
populations being slaughtered and the wanton killers on the rampage in the
But Fidel has been injured in battle! God could do nothing about it. Fidel has taxed himself to the utmost in his last years in order to leave us with a cleaner house, and his inexhaustible good health has been worn down by the extreme demands.placed upon it. But it is an injury, nothing more. A combat injury, that’s all.
It’s true, as they say, that the human body is made up mostly of water. But I had no idea there was so much as [the tears] I poured out on this first day of August—a month which we had hoped would be full of optimism and good ideas to be carried out
Because Fidel has
been the symbol of the most radical of revolutions for more than half a
century. At his side we succeeded in recovering from the loss of Camilo [
Now we have to breathe deeply and prepare ourselves for the possibility, at any moment, of having to continue without him. I know that the enemy is waiting like a burglar behind a door, hoping that he will leave and that the flood of tears on this island will be so great that we will drown ourselves. I know that the enemy has no pity for the human race, and that imperialism and capitalism create only automatons whose sole mission is to make money at all costs, so as to accumulate more money, so that the capitalists’ offspring can in turn make more money, and so on in an endless chain of stupidity that nature is not going to tolerate. Can it be that the taste for the great adventure of life, and for transcending it, is not recognized by many people and that they don’t understand that since Jesus imparted the Sermon on the Mount to us we are beings intended to do something more than steal, lie, and kill.
But my generation, the one that has been saved from all that [capitalism and imperialism], has remained together with Fidel in order to make the Sermon on the Mount into a reality. Karl Marx has told us about the scientific foundations necessary for that Christian sermon to become a reality. Fidel is the synthesis of all of that put together. That is why we need him a little bit longer.
The abilities of those compañeros who for the first time, temporarily, are carrying out certain political and administrative functions have been tested. Their strength and honesty have been proven and verified, but it is you, Fidel, you who are the only one who can make us hear exactly what the Sermon on the Mount would sound like, with Jesus trying to bring happiness to all of humanity.
One thing is for sure: the so-called “dissidents” are so banal that
they only know how to lie and to infest us with the puffed-up inaccuracies of
the worst yellow journalism. Raúl Rivero,
who they say is a “poet,” ended up with nothing better to do than write a
parody of Fidel. While those people, the gusanos (no
disrespect intended to that small creature, the worm, which really has nothing
in common with these renegade pieces of excrement)—while they are jabbering
about “freedom fighters,” political prisoners, and people being persecuted,
thousands of other Cubans are traveling all over the globe in medical brigades,
offering health, eyesight, and happiness to their fellow human beings.
They’re running around happy over
Fidel’s illness, but for now, they better not come up with any act of
imbecility (not even a peek out the window), because today I am disposed to go
out into the streets like an enraged, wounded beast and pounce on those enemies, just to hear their
mouthpieces exclaim that I am a “terrorist.” And how many more, just like me,
there are in
Now is not yet the time, Fidel! We still need you a little while longer! So that’s what you must tell your neurons; tell them to give orders to the cells of your intestinal system, that they have to bear up for some time more. Give us a chance to swallow these tears—so that the putrid enemy will not be able to take advantage of our grief. You have recuperated so many times already…this is one more time.
And we tell you this: as you bear up we will also bear up. This revolution will not end by being destroyed or shattered, and we will have the opportunity to correct our multiple deficiencies. Tell this to your health, the most revolutionary state of health of all those in the world.
We will see each other in sweet December.
[Editors’ Note: In the announcement about his illness and planned operation, Fidel asked that the timing of public celebrations of his birthday be rescheduled to December 2006, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the December 4, 1956, landing of the Granma, the yacht on which the guerrillas led by Fidel traveled from Mexico to begin the revolutionary war that achieved the overthrow of the Batista regime.]
During these months we will all have learned much more. The Good Lord is with us; who can be against us?
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…Comandante
Onward to victory, always…Comandante