A close friend with whom I usually exchange news and other gossip maintains that Cuba is the only country in the world whose principal newspaper, the official organ of the Communist Party and, therefore, the voice of the government, has the ridiculous name of “abuelita” (granma).* In effect, “Granma,” a word which perpetuates the memory of the yacht that brought so many bad things (though at that time, possibilities) from Tuxpan, is the contraction of the English word “grandmother.”
In this way, Granma, a term that calls to mind the most pleasant and tender memories of childhood, is used on the Island to designate the pages of the supreme mandate, the imposed, that which is not open to appeal. However, with the passing of the years, the name of this newspaper no longer seems so preposterous; for some time its principal menu has been the idle pursuits of Granpa. It definitely does not, not even remotely, call to mind the idea of a Granpa that we all more or less think of; but, however dry, surly, admonishing, or grim he proves to be, however thugish and cold-blooded, he doesn’t stop being a grandparent—so that, at least, it relates the name of the rag to its principal and permanent “collaborator.”
From its lean pages, Granpa tells us stories and recalls glorious anecdotes (in which he himself is the protagonist, prophet, and judge), selecting those that we “grandkids” should know about, and amazing us with the blinding light of his wisdom.
In his most recent entries he has been showing signs of a surprisingly practical sense. In order not to be repetitive, and above all to avoid unnecessary fatigue, he has decided to write his intellectual articles using the simple technique of “cut and paste.” So he accesses the reports published on the internet by numerous press agencies, which many of us have already read, cuts out the fragment he considers relevant, and pastes it into the middle of his personal commentaries. And yes, he always mentions the source, a beautiful lesson in ethics and modesty. In any case, it is precisely his commentaries that are the most interesting part, the crux of the document, the key to its lucidity. If anyone doubts it they only have to go to the first paragraph of what was published en “el Abuelita” this past March 18, 2008, where it reads:
“The cable agencies transmitted rapidly. The news wasn’t laughable, but still, it was ironic. Each one spoke with its own voice. There was competition, that is to say, they competed.” Before this, I only recall one statement of equal sagacity, fruit of the intelligence and the hangover of a famous athlete, who declared something like, “the technique is the technique and without the technique, there’s no technique.”
If a newspaper with international reach publishes a document like this, without making even one correction, then the author, without doubt, is the owner; therefore the Granma newspaper belongs to Granpa.
Taking into account that over the last 18 months his senile efforts, presented under the modest rubric “reflections,” have gotten worse, and that the old man in question writes and publishes with impunity whatever he pleases, and that this, with a few variations, has always been the case, it’s completely justified to rename the newspaper. In the future (and as long as God–Oh, so tolerant!–wishes), the official organ of the Communist Party should begin to call itself “Granpa” (abuelito), so that it would better match the proprietor of the newspaper. I swear that this is an innocent proposal.
This article is a play on words using, in the original, the English words “Granma” and “Granpa” along with the Spanish words for granma, granpa, grandmother and grandfather. “Granpa,” in English, is the original title. While the long play on words creates challenges in translation, the meaning is clear. The source of the wordplay is this:
In 1956, Fidel Castro and his 81 compatriots sailed to Cuba from Tuxpan, Mexico in a 60-foot yacht which the original English-speaking owner had named “Granma,” after his grandmother. After the success of the Revolution in 1959, one of Cuba’s provinces was renamed “Granma” in honor of the yacht, and the country’s main daily newspaper, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party, is also named “Granma,” a word with no meaning in Spanish. The newspaper Granma’s “principal and permanent ‘collaborator’” is, of course, a reference to Fidel Castro, or “Granpa.” “Its lean pages” is a reference to the fact that the paper is a small tabloid with only 8 pages.
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