Calling for austerity while living in opulence has been common practice for Cuban leaders for more than half a century. Demands to “tighten one’s belt” are brandished about by officials with fat necks and ruddy faces, who for decades haven’t known what a refrigerator with more frost than food looks like. This contradiction undoubtedly annoys those who have to divide rationed bread with a family member, or cleverly cut up a bar of soap so it will last for several weeks.
The popular unease before the contrast between words and deeds could have led the journalist Alexander A. Ricardo to publish a metaphorical but accurate text in the opinion section of the Havana Tribune*. Under the title The Travels of Gulliver Junior, the opinion column refers to someone who “is seen in giant enjoyment of the shores of the Mediterranean, or as a dwarf adventurer without a problem in his life, in his visa.”
The allusion in the column was published some months ago when Antonio Castro, one of the sons of the former Cuban president, was discovered by a hidden camera while on vacation in Bodrum, Turkey. A place he arrived at from the Greek island of Mykonos on board a 150-foot yacht, and where he stayed with his companions in luxury suites.
It is hard not to relate the opulent life of Fidel Castro’s son and the calls for savings being launched today by his uncle from the dais, with the ironic phrase of the journalist: “Once he gets home he says nothing, He deceives his countrymen with stories about shipwrecks.” The similarities between the symbolic history and the real-life story have made the article go viral, and it is spreading via email within Cuba.
The coincidences grow when A. Ricardo writes, “he returned to weigh anchor, this time for the north, where the cold climate distanced him long ago,” which coincides with the onward journey of the ex-president’s son to New York, where he was also photographed, sheathed in sportswear and with a teddy bear in his hands.
“Thanks to his father Gulliver Junior travels quite often,” reads the text appearing in the newspaper of the Cuban capital. That is, because of the precarious economic situation imposed on millions of Cubans by his progenitor, now he can give himself luxuries that exceed what could be paid for with the retired father’s pension. But the Lilliputians are also getting tired. Could this journalist’s article be a sign of that indignation not at all diminutive?
*Translator’s note: A newspaper published by the Provincial Committee of the Cuban Communist Party