CUBA

Raul Castro: “We no longer see him”

Saturday marked the Cuban Revolution's 56th birthday and Raul Castro's third time in celebrating the event with a televised speech. One of our Observers there, Yoani Sanchez, watched the speech on her TV at home. Here are her thoughts...

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Saturday marked the Cuban Revolution's 56th birthday and Raul Castro's third time in celebrating the event with a televised speech. One of our Observers there, Yoani Sanchez, watched the speech on her TV at home. Here are her thoughts...

“A plaza full of red and white jumpers, listening to an old speaker with very little to say”

 "I'm sure that none of you can see me. Perhaps you see a shadow; well, that is me". Footage of Raul's opening lines on TV, filmed by Yoani. See footage of the speech in full here (in Spanish).

Yoani Sanchez runs the controversial Generacion Y blog from Havana. She was voted one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2008.

Cubans christened Raul Castro's July 26, 2007 speech "the milk speech" after he called for an increase in the manufacturing of dairy products. In the next one, which he delivered a year later, he aimed even lower in promising a solution for the water problems in the Santiago de Cuba province. It seems that this year, his speech will be remembered for his opening sentence: ‘I'm sure that none of you can see me. Perhaps you see a shadow; well, that is me'. 

The general made no notable announcements, neither did he allude to the olive branch he once said he was willing to offer to the US administration. Neither did he talk of future projects, ways of dealing with the crisis, and even less, whether there would be celebrations for the Sixth Communist Party Congress, [scheduled for the end of 2009]. He merely mentioned a few upcoming government meetings, where, apparently, some decisions will be taken.

The Cuban sun found a plaza full of red and white jumpers, listening to an old speaker with very little to say. The applause rang out absently and through the screen of my television I sensed a collective desire to get over with the formalities of the celebrations.

On their way back home, the thousands of people who attended the event had gained little from their speaker, who didn't need poor lighting not to shine; he has never shone for himself anyway. This has been the ‘speech of shadows', because clarity is something that the authorities cannot tame, something that can defy a military uniform.

Raul Castro is right: we can no longer see him, because the twilight he represents lacks - and has done for a long time - any kind of luminosity."