Human Rights in Cuba

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December 2016
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Questions After Burying / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner

14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 3 December 2016 — Almost no
one knows how his final hours passed. Did he die suddenly of a cardiac
arrest, did he agonize for several days, or did he suffocate because a
throat obstruction, as rumors circulate sotto voce in Havana ?

Why the hurry to cremate him? Was it that they didn’t want his final
image to be that of a fragile and shrunken old man with a deranged
? Is that why they made the people file past a photograph of
the heroic Comandante on the Sierra Maestra? There is an old tradition
of revolutionary primness. One of Stalin’s last requests was that his
mustache be well combed.

Why did they place the urn with the ashes in the Granma Hall of the
Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, far from the presence of the
multitudes? Did they fear the improbable scenario that passions might

Or did they only want for his old comrades-in-arms, like Ramiro Valdés,
to bid farewell privately to the caudillo and chief who guided them to
victory and turned them into important — though hated and feared —

Is it true that the Comandante’s mortal remains did not in the
precarious jeep that allegedly carried them to their final destination
so as not to endanger them on a pothole-riddled road made hard to
navigate by government neglect? Did the idea of giving Cubans a symbolic
farewell prevail? What did it matter if the vehicle carried sand or the
ashes of another dead man if the act was purely ritual? If Raúl swapped
Hugo Chávez’s cadaver, why wouldn’t he do the same with his own brother’s?

Is it true that they planned to switch the ashes at dawn Sunday, shortly
before the burial? Using a body double was a trick that Fidel Castro
used frequently in life. Was the custom followed after his death? Is
that an example of the revolutionary cunning Fidel boasted of so often
when he inhabited this vale of tears?

Why did no one interview his official widow and the five sons he had
with her? Why didn’t the journalists record the reactions of the other
10 (more or less) unofficial heirs known or presumed to be his? Or the
reactions of the 10 other grieving and presumably desperate women who at
one time loved the Maximum Leader and dared to give birth to his child?

Is it true that between Raúl’s and Fidel’s families there are barely any
channels of communication? Is it true that Raúl’s heirs consider
themselves devoted revolutionaries and see their cousins as contemptible
bon vivants who mindlessly waste the resources given to them in the sins
of the dolce vita, while they themselves aggrandize the legacy of their
elders in patriotic endeavors?

Or is it perhaps the domestic and familial variant of the face-off
between Fidelistas and Raulistas who, according to the well-informed,
has existed deep in the ruling cupola ever since, precipitously in 2006,
Raúl came to power hanging from Fidel’s bowels, severely damaged by

How does Raúl Castro really feels after the disappearance of the older
brother who gave him the ideas, the vital drive, the structure of
values, who made him Comandante, then Minister, then President and
handed him a country he could make or break at will, all the time
reminding him that he was an intellectually inferior pygmy without
imagination, learning or charisma?

Is Raúl a victim of the love-hate and admiration-rejection provoked by
relationships where one party feels he is someone else’s caboose? Does
he resent the humiliations received or does he thank Fidel for giving
him a remarkable life? Gratitude is the most difficult emotion to handle
by most human beings.

Is Raúl aware that the solid juvenile adherence aroused in him by his
brother-hero turned to a critical evaluation of the brother-loony with
more darkness than glow who lived in a universe of unhinged words or
initiatives — dwarf cows, moringa plantations and a thousand other
inanities — that gradually destroyed the material foundation of Cubans’

There remains, of course, the most important of all questions. What will
happen in the future, now that Fidel Castro lies in Santa Ifigenia
Cemetery under a heavy stone, near José Martí’s tomb? That will be the
subject of a future article.

Source: Questions After Burying Fidel Castro / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto
Montaner – Translating Cuba –

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