Ultimo inning / Elizabeth Araujo

Last Inning

Not even Hitchcock could have written it better. The suspenseful script that's drawing journalists and political analysts to scrutinize that 110,800 square kilometer island, begins to look more and more interesting to many people.

But, why so much anguish if the inevitable has just happened? That today, Tuesday August 8th, 11 million Cubans have woken up in their first week without Fidel is enough to sense that the "socialist paradise" Hugo Chávez wishes for Venezuela is about to shatter or, in the worst case, about to enter that unknown region where truth is scarce and rumors abound. It barely matters whether Castro is lying in bed at his private clinic or, as an affable Carlos Lage recently announced in Bolivia, "he is recovering surprisingly" from the intestinal operation or whatever it might be. It's not necessary to know if he's alive or if they're preparing his funeral, to understand that the transfer of power is in itself the best news.

Everything else is part of the mysteries one sees in horror films, entertaining at times and frightening at others. That Cuban television, usually so solemn in its efforts to stuff the population with communiques, inexplicably remains silent. That the usual pathetic quality of Granma's front page barely has room for a declaration from an anonymous friend of the comandante who swears he visited him and found him "strong as a tree." That what if it's just another trick, as he tends to do, in order to reveal the faces of traitors and continue governing. That president Chávez pulled his brother, the ambassador, out of Havana faster than he did with his financial attaché in Israel; or that his messages to his ideological mentor barely last a few seconds. This whole chain of speculations will keep rolling until the informational darkness is dissipated and reveals the only possible reality: Cuba is preparing for a transition.

Would it be so extraordinary if a convalescing comandante were to appear on a stage to offer greetings? What sense does it make to celebrate his birthday, surrounded by unconditional acolytes, if in that way he accentuates that he no longer has the capacity to brandish the iron fist with which he established a society based on fear? Even when Raúl, who is indistinctly said to be dogmatic and casual, assumes the reins of power, Cuba will no longer be the pebble in the shoe that annoyed the empire so much, just like it won't be the "beacon of light" that guided the Jurassic leftists who are still suffocated, at their age, with stickers of Che. It's here, the ninth inning. Like the Héctor Lavoe song says, "Everything has its end, nothing lasts forever..."

{ Elizabeth Araujo, TalCual, 8 August 2006 }

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