“Nothing better protects a human being against the stupidity of prejudice, racism, religious or political sectarianism, and exclusivist nationalism than this truth that invariably appears in great literature: that men and women of all nations and places are essentially equal, and only injustice sows among them discrimination, fear, and exploitation.”–Mario Vargas Llosa
In the picture below, Borges, Carlos Rangel, Sofia Imber: I owe my understanding of Castro-Guevarism to the great Venezuelan political thinker and commentator, Carlos Rangel. Together with his wife, Sofia Imber (my father’s fist cousin), Carlos ran for many years one of the most influential talk shows in Latin America, “Buenos dias, Venezuela.” His book, “Del buen salvaje al buen revoluticonario” is a classic of lucid interpretation of the love-hate relationship between Latin America and the giant… in the North. Sofia founded the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas which carried her name until Hugo Chavez decided to drop it off as a retatiation against her staunch criticisms of his demagogic policies, including support for Castro, PLO, Iranian theocrats etc Born in 1929, Carlos passed away in 1988. Sofia is still alive and, at over 90, active in the struggle for democracy. The photo is from the Sofia Imber collection donated to the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas.
On the World Poetry Day, let me pay tribute to a poet who defended the honor of the Cuban letters in one of the world’s worst despotisms. Blessed be the memory of Heberto Padilla (Born: January 20, 1932, Consolación del Sur, Cuba; Died: September 25, 2000, Auburn, Alabama). As a reviewer in TLS memorably put it: “All Padilla’s qualities–irritability, skepticism, broad reading, intellectual curiosity, restlessness and a suicidal outspokenness–were bound to exasperate monoman…iacs like Fidel and Raul Castro.”
Now I am determined to forgive everything
In order to cleanse my tired heart,
Open it only to love’s fatigue.
And so, those who are directly at fault
For my furies, the determined craftsmen of my sorrows
Are declared innocent once I finish this poem.
(“Sorrow and Forgiveness”)
En la foto estamos Heberto Padilla, Roque Dalton y yo (Guillermo R. Rivera). El mar que ves detrás es el de Varadero. Es febrero de 1967 y estamos conmemorando el centenario de Rubén Darío, con el auspicio de Casa de las Américas. Heberto tiene 34 años, Roque 31 y yo 23. No tenemos ni idea de lo que nos espera.
Banks and police, including intelligence services, are part of our lives, whether we like it or not. But they need to be monitored, as anyone who saw the movie “Big Short” realizes. Left alone, they can create havoc. Banks have a Gargantuan appetite for enrichment, police entities have a surveillance instinct that can reach dangerous proportions. In 2001, Adam Michnik published his seminal article “The Montesinos Virus”, translated by Elzbieta Matynia, in the journal “Social Reseach.” The argument is clear: when the secret police amasses inordinate powers, a democratic order is in danger. I am not going to engage in polemics with those who resent Michnik. It’s their right, as it is mine to appreciate him, even when we see some things differently. The Peruvian experience, my friends, is a good warning about the risks associated with too much unchecked power granted to intelligence services. Yes, I know, in order to get information, one needs thse eavesdroppings etc In other words, we fight the crooks with their own methods. Forgive me, I can’t endorse such a vision, and even less, such practices. Some people say that the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) is not the Securitate. Of course it is not. But all secret services have an irepressible desire to overstep their rights and boundaries. And this desire must be held in check. I respect the Constitutional Court and I would have expected others to do the same…