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Reflections from Companero Juan Juan

Reflections from Companero Juan Juan / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on February 2, 2015

As the debate continues, visitors come and go. It’s normal and forms
part of the process of re-establishing relations between the United
States and Cuba. Also in this exchange, in a not-too-distant future, the
American government will return to its Cuban counterpart the territory
occupied by the naval base at Guantanamo. And to reciprocate, the
government of the island will accept that finally the imperial eagle
will return to its original nest at the top of the two columns that,
together with the canons, human figures and chains, compose the monument
to the victims of the Maine explosion.

I feel that both these things will happen, and I’m not making up
scenarios in order to encourage a debate.

Time has shown us that, although the present economic environment is
still challenging since there could be negative surprises, as far as the
political structure goes, the Caribbean has been and is one of the most
stable zones on the planet. So that keeping a military installation of
such size in the heart of a place where there are no international
conflicts, not even of low intensity, represents an excessive waste of
time and an important squandering of money.

The Guantanamo Naval Base was established in 1898, when the United
States military occupied the island after defeating in what many
of us know as the Hispano-Cuban-American War. Later, with the signature
of the first of the Republic of Cuba, Don Tomas Estrada Palma,
on February 23, 1903, the U.S. obtained that much-discussed perpetual
lease. It emerged as an historic anomaly and today makes no sense.
Neither military, strategic, or regional.

For its part, the monument to the Maine was constructed in 1926, and in
1961 the man who “reflected” on it* ordered the imperial eagle taken
down from the pedestal, because its figure was warping the new marketing
image of the revolutionary government.

But given present circumstances and the indefinite absence of the
insufferable “reflector,” the eagle means nothing more than the piece
needed to complete the sculpture. I would dare say that because of the
strange culture of rejection that we islanders have for everything that
daily surrounds us, out of the two million Cubans who now live in
Havana, not even 100 of them have bothered to read the inscription at
the foot of the monument.

The return of the territory occupied by the naval base in the
municipality of Caimanera in Oriente will be welcome, as will be the
return of the image of the raptor to its environment on the Malecon.

Both events will be historic, but of no value. Since nothing about this
presses the principle of democracy for a country that requests change
and transformation, from the interior of a tempest hidden below a sea of
apparent calm.

As that Cuban virtuoso said, known for being the king of the tambor**
players and for the charming way he told a joke: “The agendas of
governments are divorced from the people; politics get done in the
street. The others react with the same naivety as an inexperienced mother.”

Translator’s notes:

*’s column in Granma newspaper is called “Reflections of Fidel“

**African drum

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Reflections from Companero Juan Juan / Juan Juan Almeida |
Translating Cuba –

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