Once during a particularly hard recent time in Cuba, a friend of Machetera’s reminded her that no matter what, the times would never be so bad in Cuba again as they had been during the “Special Period,” the time during the early ’90’s when the ex-Cuban political machine in Miami moved the U.S. government to tighten the screws on Cuba, hoping that in combination with the loss of Soviet support, the Cubans would suffer enough to finally fall to their knees and welcome their tormentors home.
To understand where you are you have to remember where you’ve been.
I’m accustomed, in events such as this one, to writing down my impressions during the speeches, and when the event is over, realizing that they are of no value, tearing them up. This time, I feel obliged to say something and inasmuch as nothing else occurs to me, I’m going to read the notes I wrote while listening to your speeches.
I have read all the documents from this Congress at length, including those from each commission and I have no doubts in describing them as profoundly revolutionary and therefore, critical.
I’m satisfied with having dedicated a few hours of my time to come here: to listen, to learn. It has been useful for me to hear new ideas and other not so new; it’s been useful for me to hear concepts that seem correct and others, that I need more time to think over. I distance myself from the pessimism of a few – luckily only two or three – I identify with the optimism of many, the huge majority.
I understand everyone’s impatience because it is ours. I am encouraged by the faith of many, the great majority, or everyone. I’m worried by those who think that low prices and high income are the outcome of bureaucratic decisions and therefore impossible.
Nothing can be understood nor criticized with the necessary rawness if we forget our recent past, if we forget from where we came.
We came from a dramatic absence of food and medicine, from deserted streets, from dark nights, from a dual currency that was like having two flags, with the extenuating circumstances that both were our own.
We came and in some measure we are still coming, in a historical period almost two decades long in which we intended to sustain an ideal of justice that was already impossible to defend. And we did it, to everyone’s surprise, but also our own. Why? Because we believe in what we defend. Because we’re not afraid. Because we’ve had Fidel.
The double standards, the prohibitions, a press that doesn’t reflect our reality the way we wish, an undesirable inequality, a deteriorated infrastructure; they are the wounds of war, but a war that we have won.
I am convinced that the Revolution is stronger than ever to find the answers to questions and solve problems; including the questions and the problems that spring from the fertile and lucid minds of the delegates to the Congress of Cuban Writers and Artists. We shall do it.
I feel today, I tell you sincerely, prouder than ever of Cuba’s writers and artists.
Thank you very much.
April 3, 2008, Convention Palace, Havana