Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

Abril 20, 1999

CUBA'S MANDRAKE IS SUPERIOR TO THE ORIGINAL By Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Remember Mandrake? He was the dean of the magicians in the Cuba of the 1950's. I believe his name also was used on a comic strip that appeared in some newspapers. But I am going to write about another Mandrake. One who appears neither in the theater nor the circus, at least not on the stage of a circus tent or at the fair.

This magician does not pluck rabbits out of a hat or make doves disappear. His special attributes are those of one who resides in Havana yet goes all over the island - without ever ceasing to twist and distort the truth. This 'magician' has four pages, is the latest Mandrake and is known as "Granma," the Communist party's official government publication.

The Cubans have made a joke in honor of Granma. It seems Yeltsin, Clinton and Fidel died and went together to knock at heaven's gate. Saint Peter sent Napoleon to greet them. The French emperor shook hands with Yeltsin and said, "If I had commanded an army like yours, I would not have lost the battle of Waterloo." There was much applause. He next shook Clinton's hand and said, "If I had commanded military technology like yours, I never would have lost the battle of Waterloo." Again there was applause. Then Napoleon approached Castro and embraced him, saying emotionally, "Commandant, if I had published a newspaper like yours, nobody ever would have known that I lost the battle of Waterloo!"

And you might be the Cuban celebrity Celia Cruz or the singer Gloria Estefan and never, in the 33 years since its founding, would you find your name mentioned in the pages of Granma. Likewise, you might be named Canseco and never would you get a swing in the sports section. Or you might be a mathematics whiz like Mario Gonzalez but your name would not appear even by mistake in a Granma article. And if you asked for asylum in some corner of the planet, you would disappear forever from Granma's pages, even if Mandrake and David Copperfield were present using all four hands.

You might be a big-time musician like Arturo Sandoval or Paquito D'Rivera or a general like Rafael del Pino or a writer like Cabrera Infante; it would make no difference except if your name did appear it would be accompanied by many adverse adjectives about you. This is the law of the latest Mandrake.

Sometimes it goes another way, especially in the economics field. The people - and already it is known that 'the voice of the people is the voice of God - learn from Granma that more cane has been harvested than all the sugar mills of the island could handle. And in only four pages it is learned that more vegetables and viands have been produced than ever before on the cultivable land of the island. Is there any magic superior to this?

In international political matters it is no exaggeration to say that this magician would deserve an Oscar for special effects. Sometimes, because of the magic title of a headline, even the expert might be confused unless he heard the radio reports from "outside." And on occasion, there is such mastery of words that one doesn't know whether one is reading from the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba or the funniest publication on earth.

If it were not this way, then Granma would not awaken the historic hopes of Napoleon or be the Oscar of special effects, the Nobel winner of the yellow press, the ultimate Mandrake or the Abracadabra of disinformation.

Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Free Press


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