Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

18 de Febrero del 2000

A MAN WHO 'CHANGES HIS SKIN' TO GET AHEAD. By Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

Pinar del Río.- "You men don't know how to fight, you have to know how to fight to survive here," Santiago said as he ran a piece of cloth over the bodywork of the luxurious car that has been assigned to him at his work. Since he was a boy Santiago was a seeker of the best opportunities. Speaking in proper Spanish, Santiago was always an opportunist.

He seems indifferent in the presence of the people of the suburb where he grew up. But he is all courtesy when one of his bosses visits his home. He calls "fighting to survive" the flattery and treacherous denunciations and scheming behind the customers' backs.

Characters like Santiago abound here. These times in Cuba give rise to a flourishing of those sorts of individuals. Men like Santiago are a breed that embarrasses humanity. This kind of scoundrel turned in his own brother to the authorities when he learned his brother was an opponent of the regime. That's how he won the confidence of those in command.

And thanks to that action he now has an executive position in a government enterprise. These are the men who do well on the Island now. The winds of opportunism blow favorably for citizens with "skins of chameleons."

Yes, Santiago changes colors depending on the circumstances that arise. There are no "fair" principles in his soul. Yesterday he was another person when a former neighbor who now lives in exile arrived to visit. Several people gathered together and chatted in the back of his relatives' courtyard.

Santiago arrived and almost cried as he hugged the man. The splendid performance nearly moved us. He swore over and over that he had missed the man from abroad a lot. He told him that he wanted to talk to him alone later. Then, he left without saying goodbye to us, as if we didn't exist.

But we spoke clearly, telling the visitor about Santiago's upstart treacheries. The exile let loose a phrase with astonishment at the deception. "Good gracious!" he said. "Is it possible a man could be such a phony? I thought that hug was sincere, gentlemen."

We explained that Santiago and sincerity do not go hand in hand. A man who turns in his brother in search of jobs cannot be trustworthy. Santiago left his "skin" along the road.

Now he runs the cloth over the bodywork of his brand-new assigned car. He looks at me and smiles. He speaks with arrogance to the whole group seated by the side of the road, "You do not know how to live life to the fullest, gentlemen. I fight for it my way and at any price."

That's when I was surprised by the word hurled in the face of Santiago by my brother Roberto: "A shit!" There was silence. Santiago turned pale as death. Now he wasn't running the cloth over the skin of the car. My brother went toward him and spat on the car's just cleaned and shining surface. Behind my brother I left and immediately those who were sitting by the side of the road started leaving.

He says he knows how to struggle to survive but I feel sorry for him. I know only too well that every time he changes his skin, he dies a little bit.

Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

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