Granma

granma

Today in Cuba they celebrate the day of the Cuban Armed forces.

The holiday celebrates the day Granma arrived in Cuba.  Granma was the name of the yacht purchased by the 26th of July Movement to get them into Cuba.  On Dec 2nd 1956 82 members of the revolutionary movement arrived in Cuba from Mexico.

On board were Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Che Guevara, who later wrote;

We reached solid ground, lost, stumbling along like so many shadows or ghosts marching in response to some obscure psychic impulse. We had been through seven days of constant hunger and sickness during the sea crossing, topped by three still more terrible days on land. Exactly 10 days after our departure from Mexico, during the early morning hours of December 5, following a night-long march interrupted by fainting and frequent rest periods, we reached a spot paradoxically known as Alegría de Pío (Rejoicing of the Pious)”.

The yacht, Granma, has earned a deserved place in the history of the Cuban revolution.  The boat itself is preserved in a glass case beside the museum of the revolution in Havana, and the landing site on the Playa las Coloradas has become a designated UNESCO world heritage natural habitat site now called the “Landing of the Granma National Park” in Granma province.

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Fidel Castro R.I.P.

fidel

Castro has passed away.  In the days to come you will hear widely polarised opinions of his legacy.

On the one hand you will hear that he was a brutal dictator.  A manipulative political adventurer who assassinated his ally and friend Che Guevara.  You will hear that he was a low-budget Stalin, a revolutionary in public and a playboy in private living a high life of prostitutes, rum and cigars.  You will hear that he brought the world the brink of destruction in nuclear conflagration, and that it was only the “sensible” voices of Kennedy and Kruschev who averted disaster.  You will be told how he brought his people nothing but poverty, despair, hunger and want.

On the other hand you will hear that he was a great, brave visionary.  A man who took on the might of the American Capitalist and Military Systems and triumphed.  To his exploited people he gave hope, education, opportunity, equality and a quality of life denied to them under US influence.

As always the truth lies somewhere in-between.  As you listen to the opinions make sure you evaluate the speaker.  In Miami there live many Cubans who were expelled by Castro.  They lost (oft times ill gotten) money, property and wealth.  They will celebrate his passing.  The US Media will be spending a lot of time on the streets of Miami speaking to these people and the children and grandchildren of these people.

Before you make up your mind about what kind of man he was I would suggest you listen to some of the people who cannot speak English.  Listen to the Cubans who still live in Cuba.

Good or Ill Castro is a man who leaves an indelible mark on the history of the 20th Century.

 

Gacela of the Dark Death: by Federico García Lorca

I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
I want to sleep the dream of that child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.

I don’t want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
I don’t want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
nor of the moon with a serpent’s mouth
that labors before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile,
awhile, a minute, a century;
but all must know that I have not died;
that there is a stable of gold in my lips;
that I am the small friend of the West wing;
that I am the intense shadows of my tears.

Cover me at dawn with a veil,
because dawn will throw fistfuls of ants at me,
and wet with hard water my shoes
so that the pincers of the scorpion slide.

For I want to sleep the dream of the apples,
to learn a lament that will cleanse me to earth;
for I want to live with that dark child
who wanted to cut his heart on the high seas.