By Victor Llanos

Translation by Rogelio Madrazo Serra

What follows is an unauthorized translation of the article "Gallegos Contra-Revolucionarios" by Victor Llanos published in "La Nueva Cuba" on September 1. My reason to translate this article to the English language is to reach an audience that deserves to learn about the place the author calls "The Island of Fear". I do not do it with any hope to open the minds of a large number of English speaking people, as they as it is the case with the rest of the world, do not give a damn about Cuba or the Cubans, unless there is possibility to make a buck, or in the case of politicians make hay to further their political agendas.

I do hope that through the words of Mr. Llano, I may touch "a" heart that will feel the agony of the Cuban people under its tyrant and will stand up and be counted in the defense of the rights of the people of Cuba to be free!

Here is the translation:

Another summer is ending and nothing has changed in the Island of Fear. Maybe because I escaped from it in August of 1969, in my sub-conscience I have always expected that it will be summer when, that barbaric state of affairs should disappear. But I am becoming convinced of my error, summers past and Cuba remains unchanged. Only the fear persists. For twelve years I lived there, and although they were not many, it was long enough for me to still remember the fear with which I lived. If ones infancy is the one that defines for men his motherland then my motherland is fear. Fear to be called a worm (gusano), fear of my classmates making jokes about me, fear of having my father detained and taken away far from me, fear of not getting from the government permission to leave the country, fear to be humiliated in public one more time, and be forced to wear the red scarf symbol of the communist youth organization, fear to be ordered to a truck and be confined to one of the rural schools, and be left without a friend, fear to have someone accuse my family of being counter-revolutionaries from Spain.

I have lived in Spain for 34 years, in all that time I have never experienced fear like I experienced in Habana. Cuba is a beautiful country, and the Cubans in general are agreeable people, and quite smart, but if I had to explain with one word the years I lived there, that word would be fear. Years go by and the fear persists in me. Those vile and vengeful people that ruined my parents lives, not only robbed them of their hopes and the labors of the best years of their lives, but in me they left a lasting impression like a shadow that has always been with me since I had the misfortune of meeting them. Anyone could have been an informer, all sorts of affronts were possible. We lived with uncertainty and in a perennial state of anxiety. The worst could have happened at any moment without any hope to remedy the situation.

I have almost forgotten the taste of milk diluted with water, the poverty, the never ending asphyxiating propaganda, the discrimination at school, and the feeling of living in the most absurd of lies, but what I can not erase from my mind is the terror I lived in for the fear that, in any minute they will knock at the door and take my father away. One afternoon two plainclothes policemen came to the house opened the door and walked the long hallway; they showed my mother some sort of identification and asked about my father. When he arrived a few minutes later they put him in manacles and without allowing time to change into clean clothes, he was hauled away to a police station. It was four days before we saw him again. It was not him,! who had stolen money from the bar where he worked. God had mercy on us and the real thief confessed its crime before my father was confined to the penitentiary. But in the police station he was subjected to an intense interrogatory and threatened with being put away for a long time and not seeing his family again. I will never forget those four days and the sadness and desperation of my mother. I am conscious of the fact that our misery was minor when compared with the suffering of the majority of Cuban families.

Some of my friends ask me why I do not write about the beauty of the Cuban beaches, about the sculptural "mulatas", the many rhythms of its music, or the virtues of the "mango" or "papaya". I do not know how to answer them. I do not think I am capable of making them understand that I am not capable of tackling the subject. Their good fortune is that they do not have the memories I carry with me. Their fears are easier to carry. My friends have not had to leave their country, they have not had to see how their parents, long in years, were robbed of the little they had. To my friends Cuba is a pleasant island; to me is a large prison.

My father will not return to Habana, and I doubt my mother will be capable. It is already too late for them. As I told you in another occasion in which I told you something about my family, their torturers forced them to return to Spain, eighteen years older, poorer than when they left Spain to settle in Cuba and with a twelve year old boy. It was not much, but they lost everything they had. They will not return. Even for me it is late. But if one day I could return without the fear of having cocaine planted in my suitcase or being accused of working for a foreign enemy power, I will return and to please my friends I will to write about beaches and idyllic sunsets. I know that nothing will be like I remember. My father has been dead for twelve years, his fears are now my fears, and even though I hear that the situation in Cuba gets worst everyday, and a regime change is imminent, I remember 1966, when they took my father, the imminent fall of the regime was predicted then. Today my father is safe of any harm, but with thousands of Cubans in Castro's jails, I judge to be indecent to be talking about Cuba's natural beauties.

I hope that there will not be another summer before I could get there, but in this afternoon I find no reason to feel optimistic. Excuse me for writing about my family for the second time in two years, perhaps it has been unfair, as the majority of the Cubans have suffered much more than we did. Today I am more conscious than ever that the things that take a long time to happen, happen too late, it has not been my intention to transmit my pessimism. Us who have been born in Castro's age have no recourse but to keep on waiting. After so many years we can do nothing else. I beg forgiveness of my friends. They must wait. I will not forget Cuba or the suffering of the Cubans. I can not. Otherwise, I will be betraying the memory of my father and could not confront the fears of my youth.


September, 2003

Esta traducción y excelentes artículos de Rogelio Madrazo aparecen en la REVISTA GUARACABUYA con dirección electrónica de:

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