Apartheid en Cuba
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    Which Party Owns This Yacht Now? / Reinaldo Escobar

    Which Party Owns This Yacht Now? / Reinaldo Escobar
    Reinaldo Escobar, Translator: Unstated

    It struck me that this yacht moored at the Cienfuegos marina is the same
    one that workers for the magazine Cuba International toured the bay on
    in 1975. That was a courtesy of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in the
    then province of Santa Clara*, in recognition of a special issue about
    the territory, prepared by a group of journalists and photographers,
    that was triumphantly distributed at the commemoration of the XXII
    anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks.

    I could not forget that tour shared with my colleagues, now scattered
    throughout the world. I had told Yoani the story so many times — she
    wasn't born yet — that she could repeat it in all its details: the
    gargantuan buffet, the open bar and, especially, the illusion that this
    privilege unquestionably put us momentarily above the rest of Cubans,
    something which we truly deserved.

    It had to be the same yacht because my fantasy wanted it to be and
    because to board it together with my wife to relive those events in a
    new light was something I didn't want to miss. So we went to an office
    with the suspicious name of "the operation" where we paid the fare and
    they gave us a receipt to give to the captain at the dock of the Jagua
    . A group of tourists (Canadians or French?) boarded the boat
    smiling, while we made our way to the best corner of the upper floor
    from where we could take good photos of the voyage. I remember that from
    there, 36 years ago now, the singer Pedro Luis Ferrar enlivened that
    mythical journey I made with my colleagues from the magazine.

    Solicitous and gallant, the captain asked us our nationality. "I'm from
    Camaguey, she's from Havana," I said, with a touch of pride. The man
    maintained his smile and said something about the drinks being included
    in the voyage. A few minutes later he returned to say that he'd been
    obliged to inform headquarters that there were two Cubans on board, "and
    if gives me great pain to say this," but it is absolutely forbidden and,
    in consequence, "we very much regret" that we would to leave the ship.

    Yoani demonstrated the enormous superiority of not telling me "I told
    you so" and stood up, but not before spitting out to the amiable captain
    something that made him uncomfortable. I managed to offer up a little
    speech in French (my poor and mangled French) to the astonished tourists
    who suddenly felt themselves in the South Africa of apartheid. Once on
    the dock, I asked Ramiro Torres, the official from headquarters who came
    to enforce the order that we get off, if he knew that this had been
    Communist Party's yacht in the former province of Santa Clara, but the
    man was very young at that time and knew nothing of an era in which
    another kind of segregation predominated, one in which this humble
    servant was a beneficiary.

    ?Translator's note:
    In 1976 Santa Clara province was split up into three provinces: Villa
    Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus.

    7 November 2011



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