Castro y Chávez, taxidermistas / Héctor Silva Michelena

Castro and Chávez, Taxidermists

The knot of the Cuban dictatorship begins to be a noose’s knot. The VII Cuba-Venezuela Mixed Meeting recently took place, in which a contract was signed for the construction of eleven processing plants and the development of sugar cane production in our country. Before that, Chávez spoke with Fidel on the telephone and said: “The idea of using food to produce fuel is tragic, it’s dramatic” (El Universal, 03-02-07). Why then, was such an agreement signed? Because Castro’s spectral voice continues to guide Chávez. But there is an economic motive: bilateral trade went from $902 million to $2,640 million dollars between the years 2000 and 2006. Plus there are other motives.

Fidel’s invisibility in politics has become a media extravagance. Along with the need to offer proof of life, the island is beset by the anxiety of changing a half century of dictatorship. The way in which the heirs (Raúl, Chávez, Morales, Pérez Roque, Alarcón...) express themselves is symptomatic: it is a matter of preparing to govern, not with the leader’s vital presence, but rather under his spectral symbol and image. They calculate what political benefit they'll gain from such a famous corpse. Castro’s absence, even when it’s due to a grave illness, is difficult to accept for his idolaters: Raúl has said that even if he isn’t seen or heard, he governs the island via telephone. Chávez has declared that “at night he walks through fields and villages.” All these phrases speak of the apparition of a specter. The dilemma that Cuban politicians now face, particularly among their closed elites, is what type of burial will to give the caudillo when his biological end arrives: if it's as the patriarch who can walk alone, his symbolic gravitation over the successor will be minimal. But if he's gilded as a martyr and mummified, the result will be the fabrication of a living corpse, a political specter.

These taxidermist practices have a long tradition in Latin America. Unlike Zapata, Che or Evita. Fidel won’t die as a martyr, but instead as a long-lived statesman. In this case, the corruption of the specter is more difficult though not impossible; it can be presented, whether true or false, as a “victory over imperialism,” which failed in his liquidation.

Fidel and his disciple Chávez have been producers of political specters: that is what Castro’s Martí and Chávez’s Bolívar are, no more and no less: founding fathers turned into tutelary geniuses of political systems they couldn’t visualize. What does a 19th century republican like Martí have to do with a Marxist-Leninist single party? What does the Panama Congress have to do with Chávez’s coarse anti-Yankeeism? And what do the “Letter from Jamaica” or the “Angostura Address” have to do with the formation of a United Socialist Party? Such a party is the prelude to the single party. Thus, they will create the monster of the Party-State-Nation, like Stalin did. How can one forget that machine of terror and death collapsed completely with no shame and no regrets? Goodbye, Berlin!

{ Héctor Silva Michelena, TalCual, 26 March 2007 }

No comments: