Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Cuban Child Rescues Martí's Bust from the Mire

This photograph was taken by Yander Zamora in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and is undoubtedly the most important and symbolic of these last 58 years: portraying the reality that Cubans live and the hope of a better one in the future. I do not quote Martí's famous words about children because I know they are on everybody's mind. Before this photograph, the most emblematic one about Cuba's fate also featured a child: Elián González. It symbolized betrayal and hopelessness, which have also been part of our reality.

Everyone will read this picture according to his own history and draw from it what drew him to it.

For me, it means the hope that someday it will be possible to restore Martí to his pedestal, not only the plaster bust that the child is carrying, but the man and his ideas, and that he will again occupy the central place in the national pantheon, without offensive comparisons to those who dedicated themselves to destroying his legacy and enslaving his people.

And what about the child who represents the innate and indestructible dignity of that martyred people? Without losing the nobility and simplicity proper to his years, his face is marked with deep pain and steely determination, as if he has learned the lessons of the past and knows that he holds the promise of the future.

Fidel Castro's followers suppressed every trace of rebelliousness in their children, terrible fathers who emasculated them so that they could never occupy their rightful place in the course of generations, allowing them, the "historical architects" of the revolution, to rule forever without ever yielding their place to them.

But this child and all his generation are not within the reach of those diabolical great-grandparents. They will grow up without fear and confident of themselves and will be the ones who put an end to tyranny someday. Perhaps, they will even teach their fathers and grandfathers what it means to be men, that surely it is not to look passively while their children are enslaved with their same chains, to ignore their cries of hunger, and to accept a future for them that is not worthy of the human condition.

Click on photograph to view a larger version.