Reports from Cuba: Routine and the Past Star in this 26th of July
Routine and the Past Star in this 26th of July
Very early this Saturday many of us observed a new event for the 26th of July. The strict codes of ritual demanded that the commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the assault on the Moncana Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and of the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Barracks in Bayamo, be celebrated this year with moderate pomp. If the “important” anniversaries are commemorated in style, in Santiago de Cuba or Havana, the intermediate ones happen in provinces with fewer resources.
The choice of the newly created province of Artemisa to host the main event, obeys the fulfillment of this liturgy. Also an experiment has been developing in it to streamline the administrative functions which it has taken on because the Port of Mariel megaproject is in its territory.
In the era in which Fidel Castro had the capacity to stand for four to six hours in front of a microphone, those events were anticipated as time to summarize accomplishments and to announce the news. In 1989, in one of his long speeches he warned of the possible disappearance of the Soviet Union. The last great surprise on the 26th of July was the day in 1993 that the Commander in Chief announced the dollarization of the Cuban economy. Since then, especially after 2007, his brother Raul has had very little to promise and has delegated the speech on several occasions to Mr. José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Communist Party.
This time the opportunity was given to Ramiro Valdes who, besides being a native of Artemisa, is a member of the Politburo, vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, and the only survivor of the Moncada attack who holds high positions in the party and the government with Raul Castro. It’s enough to know the name of the main orator, the hypothesis of a “half-baked” 26th of July was confirmed. Plus the fact that there were no festivals in Havana on the eve of the event, no commemorations in every neighborhood, not even the typical soup that was served on other occasions. Routine has ended up destroying all the excitement around the event.
A speech without surprises or charm, larded with slogans without any news, revelations of critiques
Ramiro Valdez read a speech—badly, of course—based exclusively in the past. He repeated the thesis of the calamitous yesterday that won’t return and declared that in his “vocabulary, the word ‘defeat’ is erased.” A speech without surprises or charm, larded with slogans without any news, revelations of critiques. The man who once called for “taming the wild pony of technologies,” dedicated today to a new diatribe against them, asserting that “the new technologies are used as an element of subversion.”
After the ceremony, when the official announcer for national television said that the cameras and microphones were returning to the central studios in the capital, most of the audience immediately returned to their provincces, while the rest of the citizens, TV viewers or not, regretted that this Day of National Rebellion had fallen on a Saturday, so that one of the few opportunities for a holiday was lost.