Fidel and Franco, two gallegos

Fidel will die and thousands of Cubans will pay homage. Fidel, the beloved! The leader! O, now we are orphaned. It won't be like the death of Franco, when, the legend goes, you could here the pops of the cava bottles being opened all over Barcelona. Newspapers around the world will print long obituaries. Novelists and experts on Cuba will weigh in. But before long things will change, and so too will opinions of Fidel. Soon, it will seem that almost no one had ever believed in him after all. Things will get better. There will be little nostalgia for the old days. But there will be some of a very predictable kind. People will say, "with Fidel this never happened". Crime, corruption, scandals of all kind. In fact, all those things did happen, but they weren't reported. Kind of like with Franco. The other day I was reading Granma, Cuba's official state newspaper, run by the Communist Party. I read an article about energy shortages and energy rationing. The double speak is fantastic. But not all the reporting is like that: some of the articles do seem to "play it straight" and now and then you can even find something that's critical. In any case, it can be interesting once in a while to get a glimpse into a rather different world. I guess I'm thinking about this because this past week I read two excellent autobiographies by Cuban writers who were imprisoned and tortured by Castro: Reinaldo Arenas (Before Night Falls, published in 1992) and Heberto Padilla (Self-Portrait of the Other, published in 1990). Both writers include detailed descriptions of their hellish experiences with Cuba's "State Security" apparatus. I can complain about the cold and snow, but I'm not really complaining. If I were really to whine about anything it would be worse than an embarrassment. I wouldn't be able to hold my head up.