Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Fascination in the Labyrinth of Power.

“Contemporary man has rationalized the myths, but he has not been able to destroy them.”

                            Octavio Paz

Light and darkness in a process that begun with a light of hope in every heart and soul in Cuba, the first day of 1959. It probably was a transcendental moment to many Cubans, and itThe Fascination in the Layrinth of Power was a turning point in history in this part of the western hemisphere.

Half a century after the light is fainted, we are all plunged into the darkness, literally. Words, promises and gestures were drawn over worthless scraps of paper lost them after the first blows of the newborn revolution. The myth of the Cuban Revolution started in Sierra Maestra with Fidel Castro and his guerrilla, and jumped into the world when the first American journalist managed to slip away from the Batista’s troops and interviewed the bearded leader: a new kind of stardom begun.

Through the years, Fidel Castro has been the star of journalists, artists, painters, movie stars, Hollywood legends and intellectuals around the world. Nobody had escaped that fascination with the charismatic endless speaker. In her late book “Auditions”, Barbra Walters talked about his interview with Castro and offered a portrait of the tyrant. She says, talking about her second interview in 1992, just after 25 years since the original:

“He was as charming and funny as I remember him – and just as good a short-order cooks.”

Later on, she adds:

“Whatever you think of his politics and ideology, he has cut a huge figure in modern history.”

If this is not fascinations, what could it be?

Since his beginnings, Castro has played with that soft and charming side that journalists, intellectuals and even politicians had found on him. A long list of Hollywood royalties has passed through his office in Havana, from Gregory Peck, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Harry Belafonte, who is a long time friend, to reach new generations of actors like Sean Penn. All of them had felt the unexplained attraction for the figure of Cuba’s ruler.

But the list doesn’t stop there. Big names in literature, Nobel Prices and western politicians had felt under the charms of this pathological liar. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been a faithful friend of him since Castro overthrew Batista from Havana. He is the one who introduced the ruler to read bestseller novels provided by Gabo.

It would have been more useful for the people of Cuba if among all those bestsellers Garcia Marquez would have provided the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the ruler, and asked him a little respect for them. But our liberal writers and artists have short memories, and we have more than one whose memories don’t last too longer.

Jose Saramago, Nobel Prize in Literature, one of the greatest talented writers of our time, wrote a short note in protest for the repressions of the 75 political prisoners in Havana in 2003. At that time, Saramago declared publicly: Up until now! This is it!

Well, it wasn’t. Two years later in Havana, a smiled Saramago confessed: “I am a friend of Cuba in any circumstance and I have always been.” There is nothing more dangerous to those leftists than come too close to their sorcerer, especially if that wizard is named Fidel Castro.

The fascinations take especial effect, of course, when the proximity is not enough longer to produce the natural repulsion that any liberal organism feels against dictators. Neither Garcia Marquez not Saramago has been too long and too close to the figure of Castro to feel the shadows surrounding them. Others hadn’t been so luckiest, even when they hadn’t even been close to feel it like Vargas Llosa or Pablo Neruda. Neruda, especially, felt the pinch of Castro in 1966 when the poet participated in the PEN Club Congress in New York, and around one hundred Cuban intellectuals wrote a letter against him. We all know those letters and we all know how there have been written, signed and for whom. In a rare interview, Neruda as clever as clever could be, said:

“It would be difficult to find any writers who signed that letter who could compare in dedication to revolutionary work, who could equal even one-hundredth of what I have done and fought for.”

Neruda was one of the most important supporters of Cuba and his leader. Fascinated by him, he wrote a poem, but fascinated with Stalin he also wrote another poem to him many years before. It was a case of complete political ignorance, I would say. Ignorance of the concrete situations, components and facts surroundings those leaders what made Neruda to write those poems, which he also regretted years later.

But, what is it that makes too many intellectuals feel fascinated by Castro?

His flamed and fluent oratory? His charms as Barbara Walters said? The fascination to know someone who has been part of world history in any way?

Every time one of those big names in movies, literature and media get close to Fidel Castro are getting tangle up in a labyrinth of exponential inconsequence with their public social position toward our society and people in general. It is an inconsequence that Sean Penn wants to be involve with a politician who ordered the creation of UMAP (concentration camps to dissidents, gays and political opponents) and, at the same time, throws a thunderous speech in Oscar night against gay’s hatred in US.

The question is: what about Cuba gay’s community? Does it exist to Sean Penn?

The same happens with Alice Walker, Harry Belafonte and part of the Black Caucus in US Congress, who visited Cuba recently, and claimed a massive praise about Cuba. They are tangle up in a labyrinth of inconsequence, denials and contradictions which is part of the labyrinth of power created by Castro in 1959.

Castro knew that. His cleverness was to use their stardom to incorporate Cuba’s system to it and entangled them together. They are trapped between their political positions and the figure they admire, between faith and believes and a tyrant who shows charms and pathological convictions about his role in Cuba’s history.