Nothing is as instructive as history, or as truthful as life itself. In recent months, we Cubans have been experiencing if not an outright awakening, at least some cracks in our dreams. The lack of faith on the Island’s social project that had begun to take over the general opinion has started to give way to new questions that signal a defining point in the current Cuban reality: people are finally questioning the system. For a lot of Cubans, what the government and its press say are simply falsehoods. It’s enough to just listen to the talk on the street to understand that the capital of popular confidence that the government was counting on to remain in the arena indefinitely is reaching its end. It’s taken us half a century to attend to the unusual phenomenon of turning inward and begin discovering that we placed all our bets on a losing horse, and, in addition, that some cheating has gone on.
Cuba’s economic collapse, the dispersal of families and widespread poverty are only part of the closing balance of such a risky gallop: not even one of the many races the homo-equine ran was ever crowned with success. The results are all there, of economic macro plans, of dozens of failed experiments, of exported wars, of political intrigue at the international level, of bad alliances and of good but unrealized prophecies, which are the hardest lessons for Cubans. At this juncture and in these crucial circumstances, there is no point in masking our reality behind the misfortunes of others, as the servile government press tries to do: neither the catastrophe in Haiti, the “coup” in Honduras, the global economic crisis, the alleged capitalist decline nor the eternal and worn-out evil of American imperialism may hide the unquestionable truth about the failure of this system.
In the triumphant era at the beginnings of the Cuban revolution, the quintessential leader per excellence of this adventure was coined in popular parlance as “The One”, equivalent to the figure of the horse in the Cuban charada.* When “The Horse” was mentioned, no name or rank had to be specified, it was about – beyond doubt – the number one in Cuba, the idolized one, the feared one, the undefeated commander-in-chief. For a very long time now, nobody seems to remember that nickname. In truth, today it would amount to a sick joke to assign the moniker to the formerly proud sorrel, among other reasons because we have learned that races are not won merely by simply neighing. Today, the accumulation of too many defeats and Cuba’s total decline does not leave even a small share capital with which to cover the bets.
*Translator’s note: Distinct from game of charades, the Cuban charada, with its roots in Cuba’s Chinese population, is a simple numerological system of dream interpretation used for the divination of numbers in gambling and all sorts of basic popular cryptography. Each number, from one to one hundred, has a name assigned to it. Number one is the horse.