Of Che and His New Man
The formation of the ‘New Man’ has been a sterile task in Cuba. His precursor, Ernesto Che Guevara, was convinced that in the future society they were creating on the island they had to start by designing a human being from the laboratory.
Che, a Maoist and radical revolutionary, dreamed and thought it possible, that the iron fist was necessary to discipline the Cuban populace; yet he had a reputation for being funny, and a slob with a tendency towards laziness, indiscipline.
According to Guevara, these Creoles given to parties and carnivals, promiscuity and sexism, needed a revolution with a dose of repression and terror which would permit the construction of socialism.
The Argentine tried it. During the little time he was minister and an important man in national politics, besides ordering executions in the full and humid moats in the La Cabaña fortress, he imposed volunteer work, moral stimulation, and other methods he read about in his Marxist essays.
Until he realized that fabricating test tube men who were monogamous and didn’t move their hips to the rhythm of the drums was an impossible mission on an island of sun, liquor, and enjoyment. Che had a bulletproof faith. But his friend Fidel Castro was of another nature.
El comandante was a pragmatist with an inflated ego, a narcissist who saw in guys like Che and the communist ideology the best way to design a lasting and effective power. Guevara then went out on his own. To the guerrilla life and the training of killing machines that would annihilate Americans pitilessly in whatever part of the world.
He put his life on the line and died, trying to prove his truths. That was in 1967 in the Bolivian jungle. After his death, he was turned into a giant worldwide marketing operation.
Cuban through and through, Castro knew that modifying the souls of his countrymen, given to santería and not taking things seriously, was a subject for the naive. To dominate for more than a half century, he has used false moralities, fear, prisons, and a pinch of idealism.
Of the ‘New Man’ that Che Guevara dreamed about not even an atom remains. Almost all Cubans steal something from their workplaces, from a light bulb to a piece of paper. When someone starts a new job, they aren’t interested in what it pays, rather how much they can swipe.
Few followers remain. In historic facts and anniversaries of his death, the masks come out and in the morning meetings at their workplaces or in public acts, their voices catch in their throats and they put themselves on autopilot and even get emotional when they speak of Che.
Since birth, young people live under the sign of perennial crisis and phantom wars against the Yankees. Many devote themselves to prostitution or pimping. Or perhaps they’re gays in search of sex, drugs and with luck, ties with a foreigner. A few are opponents of the regime, independent journalists, or bloggers.
For these tired and discredited Cubans, the true New Men are guys like Aroldis Chapman, Kendry Morales, or Issac Delgado, who knew to take advantage of opportunity and are now making money. Speaking of the ‘New Man’ is a joke of poor taste in Cuba in 2011.
January 2 2011