On November 7, I like to visit Lenin Hill in Regla. Regla is a little sea town in Havana that is reached crossing the bay. The Virgen de Regla is the patron of the city. Consequently, when we arrive she receives us flirtatiously, with her blue dress, announcing the certain victory of the Industriales, her baseball team in the coming championships.
Lenin is higher up. In 1924, a communist mayor decided to build the monument as a beautiful Cuban tribute to the leader of the workers. I think that it is the first one dedicated to Lenin outside the USSR. I insist that Cuban nationality is adorned by brush strokes of love that fosters a new internationalism. Blessed be my compatriots of Regla! These days, mostly after November 2, Lenin and the Black Virgin must have chatted quite a bit. She, fearful for the fate of the Cubans and the poor of the world. He, concerned to see if we communists are capable of overcoming the last blows of the enemy.
The flowers for November 7 are bought in front of the church. The beautiful Virgin always offers the freshest ones to her comrade up on the Hill. Let no one be confused that the interests of this compañera lie in the pitiful phrases from Rome nor those of a Pole holding up a cross. That certainly has nothing to do with the spirit of that Palestine who died by the hands of the Zionists for defending the poor of the Land. No, the Caribbean Virgin, undoubtedly, blesses these hundreds of children who should be able to live every year in their country and those elderly people who should not die of hunger.
The port can be seen from the Hill. For more than ten years, those who called themselves heirs of the man of the Hill, decided, with a brush stroke, not to help Cuba or the Virgen de Regla, or the children, or the elderly. In the name of freedom, they decided to put us in the hands of imperialism. They failed in their purpose. My country not only saved itself of all and with its virgins, but Cuba saved the honor of the October revolution. During those hard years, the words “Socialism or Death” found those Europeans who sought refuge in this little island.
That is why, today, the best festivity of the communist was evident. No! It was not the words of His Excellency, the Russian Ambassador to Cuba. This man cannot know how to talk of the October Revolution. Rather he could talk of the history of the Czars and the Orthodox Church, never of the Bolshevik revolution, nor of the flag of the proletariat. They lowered the red flag in that embassy. I think there is no celebration without that color. If there is a flag that lowered the flag of the communists from many places on a November 7, it is the flag of the Russian Republic. To tell the truth, in all parts except Coyoacán where Leon Trotsky guards it.
The anniversary of the October Revolution was celebrated in Havana in the Council of State and Ministers: On the 6th, in the evening, Comandante Chávez decided to visit his injured colleague. During those eight hours of visit, in a warm embrace, the world revolution fused for a second. At that moment, under the silent notes of the International, Lenin again raised his voice to the workers and the red army again shook the world. Its legendary head was also included in that embrace, although he was 126 years old. The red flag of Coayacán unfurled its wings seeing the two best revolutionaries of the world. In that embrace, there was the first little piece of hope. That hope that seemed to disappear this past November 2.
This is what happened: Hugo Chávez appeared at the door of the office, fresh as the sea, with a light colored shirt and sneakers. This color highlighted the intense bronze of the skin in complicity with his wide smile and eyes that revealed an original beauty. He greeted with the right hand in a frank military salute. He walked slowly over, smilingly and moving his head from side to side, in a familiar gesture. The open smile that turned into open laughter. Fidel was there. Fidel was seated. He had seriously injured his knee and right arm on October 20. Fidel greeted his comrade with the left hand, with his favorite hand! Chavez approached, bent down and with both hands on the shoulder of the legendary guerrilla repeated a familiar phrase “You’re all right Fidel, all right” And yes he was! Even with his leg stretched out and his right arm in a sling, he was overwhelmingly happy. But, how strange was Fidel? For a moment, I didn’t understand. Fidel wasn’t dressed in his military greens. Fidel was in red. A deep red that projects optimism to the very stars seeing their young comrade. In red. Why was he in red?
It is the color of the Bolivarian revolution that had won a popular victory on October 31. Coincidentally it is the color of the world revolution, the color of the October Revolution. Fidel was expressing to Chavez, with that color that he, together with all of us, had participated in the elections of October 31 where we were victorious.
These elections were, undoubtedly, a deepening of the ones of August 15. Chávez made no shady deals, he deceived no one, did not have to resort to personal gossip about his adversaries, he did not have to invest hundreds of millions of dollars. His campaign, colored in red and sincerity appealed to the truth. That truth that endows the best revolutionary of Venezuela to be the legitimate president. He resorted to his allies of the past. Che who he considers an “infinite and immortal revolutionary”. The revolution in Venezuela is willing to “be real”, as Che said in his farewell letter to Fidel. Therefore, in the Bolivarian revolution “we conquer or we die”. In his victory campaign Chávez did not talk of what Venezuela had achieved, he spoke of what had to be done. “The deep problem of Venezuela is the exclusion and poverty and even more, the dire poverty”. He unleashed a battle with no quarter given to bureaucracy and against the large land holdings. He asked each Chavista governor elected “to become ... the head of the struggle against the large land holdings”.
“Now Venezuela is entering a new stage, the Bolivarian revolution must be deepened, it must be more a revolution every day, more authentic, truer, the structural transformation of the economy, society is the grand challenge we face now”, Chavez says. “Poverty, misery, exclusion will not be solved with lukewarm cloths. Simon Bolivar said clearly “The political gangrenes are not cured with palliatives; I could add: the social gangrenes are not cured with palliatives. The only way, the true way, we must accept it thus, understand it thus: each day more of us could lead our country in the full social and economic revolution that is through a full revolution, an integral revolution, a revolution that must assume the economic; in other words a revolution should be, in addition to political, social, economic in depth. I will say it now, we must leave behind the capitalist model that ruled in Venezuela for so long; within a framework of the capitalist model, the economic capitalist model is not the solution to the serious problems of society, of poverty, of misery, of exclusion”.
Che would have said it with fewer words: “Socialist revolutions or caricatures of revolution”.
Perhaps this revolutionary does not know that José Martí said in his radical speech Insufficient politics: “Remedies are important when the relationship of the diseases are not analyzed with strength and urgency ... Politics is a guilty occupation when they hide from it ... the deep poverty and dire misfortune, the dire poverty and misfortune of the people”. The policies of Chavez are more than enough. “Homeland or death” is the slogan of the Venezuelan commandant. But José Martí said, “Homeland is Humanity”. In Cuba, another necessary word was added to make it true: Socialism. This slogan that, taken to its utmost consequences, is the slogan of the world.
I’ve been wondering how two peoples with barely two days difference can choose such opposites. The US people subscribed to war; the Venezuelan to revolution.
Nothing much can be gathered from television and, however, two men were observed who, in spite of a cool November, it was very clear on camera. Chavez bowed to greet him and ratify his commitment. Fidel proudly pointed to the two small flags of the two countries embroidered in his pocket.
They spent eight hours together. I don’t know what they talked about but as you and I can imagine they talked of: The great victory of October 31; the victory of the Frente Amplio whose true victory must now be observed with concrete actions; the recent Rio Summit; where, in fact, President Chávez announced a “strange” observation for those planning to fight poverty and hunger in the south of my continent. His words were, more or less: “I don’t know how it can be done through a capitalist economy”. And, above all else, they must have talked of the triumph of reaction in the United States. A good agenda for a November 7.
At the end, in front of the TV cameras, Chavez dons a beautiful shirt... a red one his comrade had given him, after receiving a painting of Bolivar by Valdés, an artist of the westernmost province of the Island.
It is now November 7 and Chávez will have to leave but not forgetting with that small acute look that Fidel and he were “sharing the soul” as a journalist commented.
I looked at Fidel again. I thought of those years of infinite struggle swimming against the current. It still goes on and his wounds are from combat. It wasn’t an accident in the home working in the garden, like many men of his age, but winning more battles of ideas.
José Martí said: “When there are many men without honor, there are always men who have the honor of many men. Those are the ones who rebel with a terrible force against those who steal freedom from the people that is to steal honor from men. In these men there are thousands of men, an entire people, human dignity.”
And in this point in time, on November 7 of this year, human dignity multiplied in this meeting of love.
Then I did not suffer much for not having visited Lenin in Regla. These two men in red gave me the perfect celebration and my November 7 renewed my desire to fight. The first battle we will wage will be to morally teach the US people that they are being bewitched by an evil of so many years.
We will fight with all our strength, happy, knowing that the red flag now flutters over a new peoples of South American in a permanent revolution. And that color will extend throughout the continent and leap across the Atlantic and reach the beautiful Europe where we have so many comrades who are red inside and go down to Africa and reach the poles. And the Land will again turn in the right direction in relation to the sun.
I recalled with warmth and relevance Trotsky’s slogan: dum spiro spero (while there is a murmur of life there is hope).
And still, I am asked in many places: what will happen when Fidel goes. Fidel will not go for me. I believe that Chávez is only about 50.Translated by Ana Portela for CubaNews