Friday, April 15, 2016

El Hermano Obama

Forgive my tardiness. Perhaps it is not too late to bring up this important chapter in the shared history of the Americas. Now that our common evolution regarding the CoId War, the epic struggle between our two world views and the disparate economic theories that have held court and battle in the punishing and unforgiving light of economic prosperity, can finally be written, I hope that this news is still fresh in your minds. Initially, I was very excited and motivated. However, I soon bogged down in my own inadequate skills at translation. I have no excuse as to why I said nothing even after I had found the English language translation only a day or two later. Interested in the letter that the eighty-nine year-old Castro had addressed to our president, of course the first thing that I did was to googol a Spanish language, complete text of the letter. This was easy enough to find and took me to the website of the official news organ of the Cuban government, as some of you will remember, appropriately named Granma. This kept me busy for several days as I tested my skills at Spanish syntax and wording. Although my language skills were not lacking, even with the help of on-line translators, I was unable to arrive at the true meaning of Castro’s words. Happily, upon returning to the newly discovered website, I noticed that the article was available in five languages. This is what I learned in my attempts to translate it independently from Castro’s words originally written in Spanish: I think that it was easy enough to understand the first sentence. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Where I first ran into trouble was the second sentence. Nuestros esfuerzos serán legales y pacíficos, porque es nuestro compromiso con la paz y la fraternidad de todos los seres humanos que vivimos en este planeta. I understood Castro’s commitment to world peace and accord with the brotherhood of human beings. But I misunderstood the word, esfuerzos, which simply means efforts. When Castro began talking about how the Spaniards, unable to quickly find gold, shamefully destroyed many of the river valleys in a frantic and vain search for the precious metal, I was already in over my head. I did understand the word, bochornosa as shameful or reproachful, and understood that he was talking about the lust for gold that caused the Spaniards to destroy the native habitat. I was unable to come up with a logical syntax for my own translation. What I found out along the way was of some significance. The expression Hatos Circulares eventually brought me to a history of the colonization of Cuba in the Spanish language. While there were land grants given by the crown to Spanish families, these grant were large and were later subdivided. I learned two new words in Spanish, Repartir and Compartir. Repartir means to distribute or divide. Compartir means to share with another person. The large land grants in Cuba were sub-divided and apportioned to the privileged few. The Hatos Circulares refer to circular divisions of land that were exploited for the discovery of gold. The original meaning of Hato is simply a herd of animals, something that might be constrained or limited to a locality or a corral. Thus, the circular corrals that were divided between the landed Spaniards were stripped of their ecosystems in the vain attempt of Spain to reproduce the obscene wealth that they had procured from the Mexican, Central American and South American lands. The search for gold in Cuba proved fruitless. Eventually the island became a plantation economy populated with slave labor. What is significant about the communication between Castro and Obama is that Fidel Castro accuses Obama of only being concerned about the development of events subsequent to the colonization of the Americas; as if the history of the indigenous people were of no import. This is a valid criticism, although low-hanging fruit. I wonder if Obama privately felt any honor by being so named by Castro as a brother. Of course, this is neither flattery nor a compliment to be publicly acknowledged by our president. Castro has harsh judgment for Obama’s “honeyed” words as to leaving behind the past fifty years of the Cold War and looking forward, together to a bright future. Castro mocks Obama. Yet he values him as he never has any president in the past. He takes note of Obama’s natural intelligence. He confesses that he has hoped for wisdom from our president. He has sent a message to every American of intelligence. For me it is entirely refreshing to hear from someone outside of the system of corporate governance. Let me leave you with the two links: The complete text in Spanish and the complete text in English. Please do take the time to read it. This will never happen again in our lifetimes or any other time in the future. Thank you Brothers and Sisters. FJ