Proposal with Regards to the Retirement of a Tyrant
Proposal with Regards to the Retirement of a Tyrant / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Posted on November 16, 2015
Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 12 November 2015 — Recently the octogenarian Raul
Castro again spoke about his upcoming retirement in February of 2018.
For someone who has never not heard the same last name leading the
country during his entire life, this is unusual news, so this Cuban
wants to put a humble proposal to his President, so that he can ruminate
on it over time: I propose the General, when he retires, continue to be
consistent with his career, and have the courage to fully incorporate
himself into the society that he, along with his older brother, created
— something that certainly no one has seen the tenant of “Point Zero”
(i.e. Fidel Castro) do.
To accomplish this the General would have to renounce all the privileges
kept during the last five-and-a-half decades of his life — earlier as
Minister of the Armed Forces and then as President, but always as a life
member of the Council of State and the Central Committee of the
Communist Party — and incorporate himself into this flavorsome reality
as one more retiree.
He would receive no financial support from his powerful son-in-law
General Luis Alberto, nor from his little daughter Mariela, the Lady Di
of CENESEX. So, amid his helplessness, he would be left if he dared with
the consequences of the austerity always demanded by the Castro brothers
for millions of Cubans but never for themselves.
Asking him to return to a certain lost village in east of the country
[i.e. Biran, where he was born] would seem excessively cruel, so we
would start by moving his residence from wherever he is, to some humble
Havana neighborhood — for example Cerro, Marianao or Central Havana —
and issue him a ration book, to which, of course, he would have every
right in the world.
We would then sign him up for a succulent retirement check, let’s say
1,000 Cuban pesos a month — some $40 US — which would be five times what
the average retired Cuban receives — some $8 US a month — and so, in
this way, no one could accuse us of bad intentions.
At this point we would dissolve our undeserved fraternity, and from this
moment would leave the man who is today the President of the Republic,
at the mercy of this picturesque social environment that, for decades,
has surrounded more than 90% of retired Cubans.
After several months of picking up his ration quota — six pounds of
rice, a quarter pound of beans, some eggs, “chicken for fish”* and half
a pound of oil a month — the ex-president’s palate would, gradually,
forget the taste of beef filets, lobster, good caviar and those
expensive wines that he acquired a taste for from his older brothers.
Given the high devaluation of the currency, his checkbook — due
precisely to the erratic policies maintained by both dictators — would
be empty after the first ten days each month and our retiree wouldn’t
have a cent and would start to feel the full rigor of all the scarcities
the rest of the retirees suffer just two or three days after they
collect their money.
The ex-president would no longer have a cupboard filled with select
supplies and would quickly become accustomed to seeing the monotonous
landscape of nothing but frost in the empty freezer, and then he would
confront, without resources, the merciless prices of the food markets
and the brand new “TRDs” (literally: Hard Currency Collection Stores)
which, thanks to the initiatives of the previous government — meaning:
his — continue to exfoliate the wallets of the Cuban people.
He would no longer live amid comfortable air-conditioning, because it
would consume more than half of his income, but instead he would hold
onto some old repaired fan, and he would pray every day to the Virgin
that it would not malfunction, and as for buying a second-hand car at
one of the State agencies with prices fixed by the previous government —
he would understand that it would take seventy years of his retirement
income — assuming he didn’t eat, dress himself, buy shoes nor pay the
electric bill. He would no longer have cars with full tanks of gas
waiting at his door every day, and would be forced to travel using one
of the worst systems of public transport in the world — one of the hot
potatoes inherited by the following government.
Of course, after several months of poor nutrition, health problems would
soon appear, but then the ex-president could no longer access the
exclusive hospital known as CIMEQ, nor “La Pradera,” nor the Cira Garcia
International Clinic — available almost exclusively to the upper
crust and foreigners. But, with lots of luck, he would be admitted to
some stinking room in a crumbling hospital, where there would be no
shower nor working toilet, where he would have to bring his own sheets,
and where there would be a scarcity of medicines and supplies to heal
him. There he would be attended by doctors frustrated after decades of
poverty-level wages and lack of personal expectations, but despite
everything, these professionals would try to attend to his needs as well
as the hostile environment would allow them to.
By then the retired General would have seen his desire to take a coveted
tourist trip to Mexico go up in smoke for good. He would not be able to
travel to that Aztec land nor any other, nor could he even reserve a
room in the lowest category Cuban hotel at the risk of dying of hunger,
because the previous government — that is, his — established that it
would cost an entire monthly retirement check to stay just one night.
It goes without saying that by now our illustrious retiree would have
been convinced that there is no sweet tamarind** nor dictatorship with
any shame, but if he keeps quiet not out of common decency it will be so
as not to expose himself to some of those shameful acts of repudiation
that he still orders today, a risk that cannot be discarded now that his
friend Furry is not long the Minister of the Interior.
However, at this moment if, out of mercy, one would give Raul Castro one
piece of advice, it might be: Never sit in the warm sun at the end of
the day at any peaceful Havana park along with other retirees because if
the dictator showed up there — much to his disadvantage this title is
usually lifelong — he would likely receive his own repudiation rally. He
would know first hand, and not through cold police reports or
insensitive functionaries, how much resentment and pain is harbored in
these old hearts.
He would hear about the irremediable uprooting of their grandchildren,
the youth now fleeing the tyranny in migratory waves across the Straits
of Florida or through the Central American jungles, and he would hear,
with absolute certainty, more than one story of dead rafters.
Only then, under the silence of those trees, would he perceive the
tyranny in all its dimensions and how much hate is held by this betrayed
generation that lost its dreams and its lives in the shadow of so much
* A common expression in Cuba which indicates ration card holders “may”
substitute chicken for their allotment of fish. As fish is virtually
never available to ordinary people, the “may” makes it something of a joke.
**Jeovany is remaking an expression loosely related to the English
expression: “The best X is a dead X.” Among the frequent examples found
on-line is: “There is no good Communist, nor any sweet tamarind.” Other
examples are commonly racist, homophobic, or other forms of hate speech.
Source: Proposal with Regards to the Retirement of a Tyrant / Jeovany
Jimenez Vega | Translating Cuba –