Excerpt from Eduardo Galeano’s book “Espejos” (“Mirrors”), translated by Danica Jorden.

His enemies call him a king without a crown who confused unity with unanimity.
And they were right.

His enemies say that if Napoleon had published a paper like “Granma”, nobody in France would have found out about his defeat at Waterloo.

And they were right.

His enemies say he ruled by speaking a lot and listening very little, because he was more used to echoes than voices.

And they were right.

But what his enemies don’t say is that he wasn’t posing for posterity when he met the invasion’s bullets chest first, that he faced every hurricane, time and again, as its equal, that he survived six hundred and thirty-seven assassination attempts, that his contagious energy was the deciding factor in turning a colony into a country, and that it wasn’t a Mandinka spell or a miracle from God that allowed this country to outlive ten United States presidents who had tucked a napkin under their chins to eat it with a knife and fork.

And his enemies don’t say that Cuba is one of the rare countries who don’t compete in the World Cup of Doormats.

And they don’t say that this revolution, which grew up under sanctions, became what it could be and not what it wanted to be. And they don’t say that the wall between wishes and reality became bigger and wider mainly because of the imperial blockade that choked the development of a Cuban-style democracy, forcing society to militarize and bureaucratize, so that for every solution there was a problem, making excuses to justify and perpetuate it.

And they don’t say that in spite of all the in spites, in spite of outside aggressions and inside injustices, this long-suffering but tenaciously joyful island has made Latin American society less unfair.

And his enemies don’t say that this great feat was created out of the sacrifice of the people, and also out of the stubborn will and old-fashioned sense of honour of a knight who always fought for the underdog, like his famous brother from the fields of Castille.

Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015) wrote “Open Veins of Latin America”.

Danica Jorden is a writer and translator of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and other languages. danica.jorden1 (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. avatar
    John Andrews November 29, 2016 7:55 am 

    Rest In Peace, Fidel, your job here is done. Thank you for devoting your life to the people of Cuba and to the people of the world. Thank you for the Medical Missions, the Literacy Teaching, supporting the downtrodden and your role in breaking South African Apartheid. Thank you for your Internationalism. We will miss you and your teachings. Thank you.

  2. L Monja November 27, 2016 6:31 pm 

    Beautifully written, leads me to want to read more from Galeano. And the lyric translation was exceptional — it feels like it conveyed Galeano’s tone well. One gets the Latin American voice and perception of Castro’s will.

  3. avatar
    Michael November 27, 2016 3:56 pm 

    A remarkable man–Fidel and Eduardo, too.

    Thank you.

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