Ivan couldn't defeat Fidel
by Celia Hart
[From Juventud Rebelde and Rebelion.
Translated for CubaNews by Ana Portela.]

September Thirteen

Three days of anxiety. An entire country in activity ... and without a prayer. The invincible Ivan had destroyed the fragile islands of the Caribbean. These islands are forgotten unless an event of nature is reported by the managed news media of the West. Ivan, history reminds us of the sordid stories of Czarist Russia. Gale winds of 250 Km per hour with a perfect and "a well balanced" structure, that make our specialists shudder. Ivan was born in the eastern Caribbean, touched Venezuela, hit Granada, Jamaica and any piece of land on its way. The island of Cuba borders across the Caribbean with its thin and tranquil form. She must be asked permission to cross onto the Gulf of Mexico. Geographically she is the queen of the Caribbean ... somewhat like the stories of Salgari who made us cry in our adolescence.

This Friday it was approaching Cuba from the south, "bucking" like a bronco with a rider on it. Our scientists have an impressive skill. They have to prepare models and must convince a public that is acquiring the skill day by day.

In my neighborhood there was great commotion and propositions to go to someone's house, advice on what food to prepare to withstand a lack of electricity, gas and water. Trees are cut, windows protected and Dr. Rubiera was today's Robert Redford. There was no meteorological report that the public did not hear, absolutely the entire populace. Telephone calls, messages, clues to go to the shops. By Saturday the city of Havana was a beehive. The neighbors cut tree boughs, boarded up windows, placed in safe high ground kitchen appliances.

Six o'clock in the afternoon and for three consecutive days a president forgot all official responsibility, followed with his people the rumors of Ivan. We felt that Fidel was at home. Fidel gives that impression: he makes us feel at home when we begin to lose heart.

My little son is not very interested in what Dr. Rubiera has to say. On going to bed he says in that soft little voice that gives wings to the angels, he says: "Mama, Is Ivan coming? And if he comes, do I stay home to play and I don't have to go to school? ... Anxiety clouded my pupils overflowing with tears at so much innocence to confront a monster. "No, son. You'll see, you'll see that everything will be all right. I looked around the house that had so much glass; I looked at the kitchen in which I would not warm his milk in the mornings for lack of gas. I was overcome with tears and desperation. I listen to a voice on TV ... that voice that dries tears and opens hearts. Fidel dressed in his olive greens calmly expressing interest over every detail of Ivan. And the winds and the radius of the rains and what direction is it following, and if the radar of San Juan is enough, and if more resources aren't necessary to follow hurricanes, what could help our nature threatened islands ...As if it weren't enough, the oblivion to which human nature condemns us.

Dr. Rubiera satisfied him calmly and patiently. Fidel wanted to know everything and for six hours led us down the road to security ... It was as if Fidel were "the man of the house" who sealed my windows.

I asked myself: "Why does Fidel worry so much of the seasonal hurricanes? If we survive this one it would be a miracle and he is concerned of the future. This warrior who has overcome thousands and thousands of times continues in campaign. "That the two thousand and more little schools that have solar panels shouldn't have an electricity problem, that are placed in safety during the storm. That we must improve the radars, how much do they cost and more, that if we must take into consideration the hurricanes for the plans of the battle of ideas, etc. I overcame my desperation, confidently sealing the windows.

Fidel spoke of Cuba as if talking of a barrio. His proverbial knowledge of statistics reached unheard of heights this Saturday. The colleagues of the government and Dr. Rubiera were submitted to a constant test. "We must carefully watch that zigzagging movement that does from north southwest to southwest. We cannot be confident".

I don't know who signs official papers these days, who would receive ambassadors or who would take care of the internal details of my country. Fidel is in vibration with his people. I felt that Fidel guided me and gave me confidence and prepared me for what was coming.

I know that for many, including those of good faith, think that these are not his functions as the President of the Council of State and Ministers, that for this we have a very efficient army of the civil defense and the Institute of Meteorology. But in Cuba there is a rare miracle of resonance with Fidel. Everything is tuned in; the radio and television wavelengths, the entire people and Fidel, who is not willing to fail to participate in the vicissitudes of his people by the mere fact that some European, centuries ago, had invented the Three Powers or because the world is chock full of insensitive presidents that glue themselves to papers, votes and servility.

On Saturday then, Ivan was moving along the Grand Caiman Island and its trajectory dangerously threatened us. But Fidel took us along a committed security, with his smile and his many expressions in his sights.

I don't know if there is a president in the world who stops his functions to go with his people, or if a television station stops transmitting infamous commercials and changes the program to make this a means of connecting the people confronting a natural disaster.

And Ivan was approaching the south, threateningly with its beautiful white spiral, threatening the fragility of my coasts. If this hurricane hit Cuba we would definitely be devastated. One thing I never understood is how there could be talk of recovery. And the supply of water, food and fuel were safe and that the chickens were protected and that the roof tile factory was making more ... For a foreign observer this seemed to be completely crazy. But in Cuba and with Fidel "this lunacy" is the greatest sensation. All expectant and sure with the chuckles of the Comandante placed on that hope that Ivan would not destroy our efforts.

Sunday, Ivan decided not to hit Cuban lands. It would take to the Yucatan Strait. Of course, the westernmost point of the island would feel the hurricane winds. Almost all hurricanes hit Pinar del Rio. Fidel made them the "Owners of the hurricanes."

A blessed anticyclone in the north behaved bravely and I think we should give a name to that anticyclone. What comes to mind, for example is ... Vladimir? Through that region of the country, to the most dangerous region, personally checking all the safety measure, we had another anticyclone: Fidel... who, for 45 years, we have had the fortune of living with his skill and courage.

The eye of Ivan looked carefully and decided that this was not the right moment to confront the old gladiator, Fidel Castro, who is not even afraid of the winds and rain and like lilies here there is a rare group of persons who know how to rise up. For the Cubans, standing up is a trade. A trade against hate and arrogance. And they talk of democracy! I don't know, but I don't think there is a greater democracy where a president sits to talk directly with his people over the television. Without fearing to say something foolish, fearless of being seen with gray hairs or wrinkles or that his mike falls. He has to be with us in every hard moment.

There Ivan will go, near the United States to unleash its fury because the island of Cuba is untouchable. Because it is the island of the world.

And then they deny the permanent revolution! Those who have seen Fidel talking of the plans for emergent teachers or computer clubs or the vicissitudes of a hurricane will be seeing the authentic permanence of an unending revolution.

Now, today is a calm Monday with a slight drizzle, melancholically thinking that Fidel is not enough to make all the misfortunes of the world more bearable and that solidarity is the only alternative ... But I have just heard that Comandante Chavez has donated a million dollars to the small Grenada that was hit by Ivan.

Yes, it is posible that this new style of government is contagious and my continent will gradually be governed with commitment, love and truth.

Iván no pudo con Fidel
Por Celia Hart

Tres días de angustias. Un país entero de pie... y sin rezar en promedio. El invencible Iván había destrozado las frágiles islas del Caribe. Estas islas de las que nadie se acuerda a no ser que un acontecimiento natural las mencione en las noticias maquilladas de Occidente. Iván nos recordaba las historias sórdidas de la Rusia zarista y un tantico más allá. Vientos de 250 kilómetros por hora y una estructura perfecta y “equilibrada” que hacía temblar a nuestros especialistas. Iván nació en el Caribe Oriental, rozó Venezuela, Granada, Jamaica y cuanto pedazo de tierra halló en su camino. La isla de Cuba atraviesa despampanante el Caribe con su silueta delgada y reposada. Para entrar al Golfo de México hay que consultarla. Geográficamente es la reina del Caribe... algo así como en los cuentos de Salgari que nos hacían llorar en nuestra adolescencia.

Este viernes Iván se acercaba a Cuba desde el sur “corcoveando” como bestia con buen jinete encima. Nuestros científicos tienen una pericia impresionante. Deben sacar modelos y deben convencer a un público que se hace conocedor día a día.

En mi barrio todo era algarabía y proposiciones para ir de una casa a otra, consejos de cuál comida hacer para soportar la falta de fluido eléctrico, de gas y de agua. Se cortaban árboles, se apuntalaban ventanas y el Dr. Rubiera, jefe del Departamento de Pronósticos del Instituto de Meteorología fue Robert Redford en estos días. No había parte meteorológico que absolutamente todo el pueblo no supiera. Llamadas telefónicas, mensajes y palabras cómplices al ir a las tiendas a comprar. Para el sábado la Ciudad de La Habana era un hormiguero. Los vecinos cortaban ramas, apuntalaban ventanas, guardaban los efectos electrodomésticos en lugares seguros. Excepto la TV y la radio.

Seis de la tarde y por tres noches consecutivas un presidente se olvidó de toda responsabilidad oficial y se lanzó con su pueblo a presenciar los rumores de Iván. Sentimos que Fidel andaba en casa. Fidel tiene eso: hacernos sentir que está en casa cuando empiezan a flaquear las esperanzas.

A mi hijo pequeño no le interesaba mucho lo que decía el Dr. Rubiera. A punto de dormir con esa vocecita con la que le crecen las alas a los ángeles me dice: ”Mamá: ¿Viene Iván? Y si viene, ¿me quedo a jugar y no tengo que ir a la escuela?”. “No hijito. Verás, verás que todo saldrá bien”. Miraba mi casa llena de vidrios, miraba mi cocina en la que no le calentaría su leche en las mañanas por falta de gas. Me venció el llanto y la desesperación. Escucho entonces en la tele una voz... esa voz que seca lágrimas y abre los corazones. Fidel vestido de un intenso verde se interesaba tranquilo por cualquier detalle de Iván. Y los vientos y el radio de las lluvias, y en qué dirección sigue, y si el radar de Pico San Juan es suficiente, y si no harían falta más recursos para detallar los ciclones, que podrían servir para nuestras islas amenazadas por la Naturaleza. Como que ya era bastante el olvido a que nos condena la naturaleza humana.

El Dr. Rubiera lo complacía de manera tranquila y paciente. Fidel quería saber todo. Y durante seis horas nos condujo por el camino de la seguridad... Era como si hubiese sido él quien sellaba las ventanas de mi casa.

Yo me preguntaba: ¿Por qué se preocupa por los ciclones de la temporada? Si salimos de este será un milagro y él ocupándose de un futuro que no sabemos si existirá. Este guerrero ha vencido mil veces y mil veces sigue en campaña. “Que las dos mil y tantas escuelitas que tienen paneles solares no tendrán problemas de electricidad, pues con el temporal guardan sus paneles. Que debemos mejorar los radares, que cuánto cuesta esto o aquello, que si debemos tener en cuenta los ciclones para los planes de la Batalla de Ideas, etc”. Dejé de angustiarme y me puse a asegurar mi casa y mi familia.

Fidel hablaba de Cuba como si hablase de un barrio. El conocimiento, ya proverbial, con las cifras, llegó este sábado a límites inimaginables. Los compañeros del gobierno y el Dr. Rubiera se sentían sometidos a un examen constante. “Hay que tener cuidado con ese zigzag que hace del norte suroeste al suroeste, no hay que confiarse”.

En estos días no sé quién firmaría los papeles oficiales, quién aprobaría embajadores, o quién se ocuparía de detalles internos de mi país. Fidel estaba vibrando con su pueblo.

Sé que muchos, incluso de buena fe, piensan que estas no son sus funciones como Presidente del Consejo de Estado y de Ministros, que para eso tenemos el muy eficiente ejército de la Defensa Civil y el Instituto de Meteorología. Pero en Cuba con Fidel ocurre el raro milagro de la resonancia. Todo se pone en sintonía: las ondas de radio, la televisión, el pueblo entero y él, que no está dispuesto a dejar de ser partícipe de las vicisitudes de su pueblo.

El sábado Iván viajaba por la isla Caimán Grande y su trayectoria nos amenazaba peligrosamente. Pero Fidel nos arrastró a una seguridad comprometida, con su sonrisa y sus múltiples expresiones en la mirada.

No sé si existirá en el mundo un presidente que detenga sus funciones para enrolarse con su pueblo, ni una televisión que deje de transmitir infames comerciales y cambie la programación para hacer de ese medio una manera última de conexión entre las personas frente a una catástrofe natural.

Iván se acercaba por el sur amenazando con su bellísima espiral blanca la fragilidad de mis costas. Si ese huracán pasaba por Cuba, seríamos tierra arrasada sin dudas. Una cosa que nunca entendí fue como se hablaba de recuperación. Y que los abastecimientos de agua, alimentos y combustible estaban seguros, y que las gallinas estaban protegidas, y que la fábrica de tejas había fabricado tejas.... Para un observador externo esto parecería una locura total. Pero en Cuba y con Fidel la “locura” es la mayor de las sensateces. Todos expectantes y seguros con la risa del Comandante puesta en la esperanza de que Iván no arrastraría nuestros empeños.

Ayer domingo, Iván decidió no pisar tierra cubana, apenas rozarnos. Un bendito anticiclón al norte se portó con mucha valentía y yo pienso que deberíamos ponerle nombre a ese anticiclón. Se me ocurre por ejemplo... ¿Vladimir? A la zona más peligrosa, revisando personalmente todas las medidas de seguridad, viajó el otro anticiclón: Fidel, tal cual estos 45 años en que hemos tenido la dicha de convivir con su pericia y su audacia.

Ya hoy lunes tranquila con el lento susurrar de una ligera lluvia esperando la “caricia de Iván” entré en melancolía pensando que no era suficiente Fidel para hacer que las desgracias del mundo fueran más llevaderas. Estoy convencida de que la solidaridad es la única alternativa para ser felices. Y no sé si Fidel alcance para 6 000 millones de almas.. Pero me acabo de enterar de que el Comandante Chávez ha donado un millón de dólares para la pequeña Granada atravesada por Iván.

Sí, es posible que esa nueva manera de gobernar sea contagiosa y mi continente poco a poco empiece a ser gobernado con compromiso, amor y verdad.

Web-preparation by: Walter Lippmann