A Sad Task of an Old Major

Major Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, vice-president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, would definitely feel more comfortable as the head of the Ministry of the Interior (founded indeed by himself at the dawn of Cuban Revolution) than with the job he has been assigned recently, at the age of 84.

Photo: Elio Delgado
Photo: Elio Delgado

Perhaps by a whim of fate or his friend Fidel Castro, Major Valdés now travels around the island from one end to the other in order to inspect and investigate various sectors of industry and construction.

The catastrophic situation in both sectors has been indisputable and constant owing to the establishment of a model that has never worked. It is a fact that can be easily verified by the famous leader on every single long trip he makes. I dare say that it is a fate’s punishment or something of that kind. I try to imagine his feelings after he leaves the places having heard words such as “failure to meet the plan”, “indiscipline” or any other expressions related to faults, inefficiencies or obstacles.

On 27 Februrary, upon the submission of the Annual Report by the Business Group of Construction Materials (GEICOM) to the government, Valdés Menéndez expressed openly that “the level of expected production efficiency has not been reached.”

“Our ministry”,

said Valdés on the same day, “has to become aware of its role in solving the issues our country is currently facing and is obliged to actively overcome these deficiencies. At the same time it needs to respond in a proper way to the exodus of construction workers, real capacities of the local construction material production, lack of discipline and inconsistency in production processes. All of this falls upon us yet we are not facing it the way we should.”

How interesting. Four days prior to this announcement, Major Valdés presided the celebration of 55th anniversary of the Ministry of Industry (founded by Ernesto Che Guevara on 23 February 1960) at the hall of José Martí Memorial on the Plaza de la Revolución Square.

On that day Valdés awarded medals and diplomas to outstanding workers for their contribution to the industrial growth of the country. Special acknowledgement was awarded to plants founded by Che Guevara, regardless the fact that many of them have already ceased to exist as a result of a disastrous model established on the verge of the sector’s development.

On 23 February, Major Valdés did not want or was not able to mention that his government is not dealing with the industry topic as it should. Nevertheless he did mention this topic four days later, in a different, undoubtedly more appropriate situation.

He knows – just as the entire nation knows – that shops are either empty or offer imported goods only. He also knows that the Granma daily announces opening of plants that eventually or in the end stop working. He knows all this and much more yet it is he himself who is responsible for all that is happening in our country in this area today.

Armed Major was the first one to burst into the former barracks Cuartel Moncada at the dawn of 26 July 1953 to perform one of the most tragic, influential and significant acts in our history. Surprisingly, he was also the first one to leave the place alive.

Autor

Tania Díaz Castro (*1939) is co-founder of National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. For over two decades she was reporter for official magazines. In 1980's she spent 18 months in jail for joining Human Rights Party.

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