Lis Cuesta Peraza y Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba

The dictator’s wife

HAVANA, Cuba.- After writing the title I thought that a novel could begin with it, and that it was very appropriate for what could be a long and substantial narrative piece, ignoring, even forgetting, that a few years ago I wrote a novel to the one I titled “Smoking I hope”. In it, he recounted an alleged relationship between the Cuban writer Virgilio Piñera and the mummy of Eva Perón. Piñera was trying, in fiction, to destroy the mummy of the late Argentine First Lady, the wife of Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón.

When I wrote that long piece I had not seen, in Cuba, a “first lady”. By then, only the occasional history teacher mentioned them to denigrate them along with her husband, those “pre-revolutionary” politicians. That time, when I made fiction with the supposed adventures of Lenin’s embalmer, I had not seen an active first lady on this island. And all because Fidel Castro decided to keep his wives and his mistresses out of public life. So the closest thing to that “first lady” figure turned out to be Vilma Espín, the wife of Raúl Castro.

Vilma, without a doubt the most central “lady” in that “revolution”, founded a women’s federation that, more than taking care of their rights, defended the survival of what the communists called revolution. Vilma would be escorted into the communist women’s hall of fame by Celia Sánchez, Haydeé Santamaría and Melba Hernández, and some generals, the others would be pure decoration, backstage on the stage of a very long theatrical piece. The others, those that we never saw on television or in the newspapers, were pure props, and had, still have, the same function as an old chair on a theatrical stage, pure props.

And it would seem that now “things have changed”. In recent months, the wife of the new “president” frequently appears holding on to the hand of her white-haired husband. And I have no doubt that at some point it occurs to someone to write a long story, a novel, with a character that makes readers think of that Holguin woman with huge trifles, who has taken to making herself visible, very “cheaply” dressed .

Perhaps Lis is the most visible, much more so than was América Arias or Marta Fernández, the towering wife of Batista, founder of the National Organization of Children’s Dispensaries, ONDI. Lis could no longer invent “children’s clinics”, but she had to do something that would attract attention, something “outrageous”, and she came up with, she came up with a “party”, a pretend San Remo, in the middle of of national misery.

Lis, going downhill on her ride, throws parties, and to get it she “borrows”, rather stolen, the names of other foreign celebrations, in days of famine and very unjust convictions of brave Cubans, among whom appear a few women to which she does not even give a glance. Lis Cuesta, in a good government or another geography, would have to take care of serious things, really useful for the people. Downhill, I think, should be more prudent and take care of the many children without filial protection, the breakfast of all the infants, and a fair diet for each one of them.

Lis could intercede, with her husband, the “dictator of her heart”, in favor of the many women who are unfairly locked up without being able to raise their children, without being able to wake them up in the morning. That lady, instead of posting nonsense, should amend the inappropriate and dreadful names of daycare centers. Lis cannot be indifferent to the names of those places where the children of working mothers spend their early years.

A “first lady” cannot agree with the idea that a child spends so many hours a day in a room with the name of “Little Lenin”, “Amiguitos del Ché”, “Little communists”, “Cederistas of the future”, ” Los minrexitos” or “Little Friends of Poland”, although not from the Poland of Lech Walesa.

It would be good if that lady spent her time with Alzheimer’s patients, like Nancy Reagan. She should look for a good entrepreneurship.

I don’t know why life insists on bringing her frequently to my head, to my television screen, and I even suppose she is saying nonsense to her husband, seducing the “machi” with cuddles and caresses. Sometimes I see her, rather I guess, very flirtatious and flattering to provoke the “president”, to flatter him and get her favors. I imagine her with her lips glued to the ears of her machi, to whisper to her: “My daddy Führer”, “my Francomacho”, my muse, my little muse, “my Mussolini…”.

And that is how the wives of dictators usually do. Meanwhile, I keep imagining some summit of presidents, and I even look at the photo of the first ladies at the conjectured summit, and I even imagine in that image a Cuban, a man, as already happened at a summit of presidents, in which Gauthier Destenay, the partner of Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, poses with all the first ladies. But for such a thing to happen we must live in a democracy, without Canel, without Lis, without Castros…, without first ladies who boast of having a dictator as their husband, without a first lady who organizes San Remo and who does not care about the disorder of the basic basket and of our lives.

OPINION ARTICLE
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