May 18, 2006
A service of Radio Progreso Alternativa’s Havana Bureau
The Round Table, where President Castro challenged Forbes magazine to present any evidence that he has bank accounts abroad, was watched by practically the entire country.
What do Cubans think? Do they relieve that their president has become a wealthy man?
“Yeah, he’s an honest man, but he has a defect: he sees money as something bad, evil… and well, hoarding too much of it is not right, but you have to live... but no, I don’t believe what that magazine printed.” Those were the words of Juan Peña, 61, a retiree, while we sought refuge under a balcony from the first downpour of May.
“He wants to go down in history as one of the greats, and you can’t achieve that with money,” says Pedro Fernández, 23, a refrigeration technician. “Look at Jesus, always poor. I’m not a believer, but people still worship him.”
“I have nothing to say, I’m not with him (Castro) or with Socialism. All I want is a small business of my own and I can’t have it,” he answers with a grunt. He doesn’t mention his name and goes his way under the downpour. Maybe he hopes the May rains will improve his life – or at least his mood.
“He loves glory, that’s why he doesn’t care about money. Look at Martí, always poor and there he is,” says Gloria, a waitress at the cafeteria where we are sheltered from the rain.
“Listen, that man has flaws, like anybody else, but a crook? No way!” says Roberto Espinosa buying a pack of cigarettes. He offers me one and while he waits for the rain to stop, he says that he “saw the whole program and I was moved by Eusebio Leal and his comments.”
Espinosa mentions the story told by City Historian Eusebio Leal that in ‘91 and ‘92 Fidel Castro gave away all the presents he had received, some 11,000 of them.
“I don’t care about that. I only want to live,” says a man who refuses to give his name while improvising an umbrella with a Granma newspaper. “You see? There are no raincoats and no umbrellas, and if I want to buy them I need ‘chavitos’ (convertible pesos).”
“What do you think about last night,” I insist.
“F…, man, don’t press me… OK, well, I don’t think that he has money. I’m not with this, but that’s not his thing.”
“What about Che?” interrupts a Black man that has made a rain hat out of a nylon bag. “Those people are different, they don’t steal.” He goes out in the rain.
While May’s waters break, which we need badly, Cubans comment about the stories that they heard on TV the previous night for the first time.
I don't pay much attention, or give much credence, to what Forbes magazine wrote. In that hyper-capitalist rag sheet of the worst kind, if you don't have lots of money you are a 'nobody.' Jesus of Nazareth and Ghandi were very poor. Their philosophy has accomplished more that is good, than Steve Forbes ever will.
And let us not forget that Jose Marti said "With the poor people of this earth I want to share my fate."
This is probably another misinformation campaign paid by our taxpayer's money, via a CIA check. They think that if they repeat it thuosands of times, some of the gullible crowd that lives in Miami will propagate it and repeat it.
They hate the big [bleep]nes that Fidel Castro has.