Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

21 de Agosto del 2000


PINAR DEL RIO- The night of Aug. 13 turned out to be no ordinary night for Alberto Machín and a lot of other Cubans with him. First, it was the evening of his only nephew's birthday. Machín, a low-income construction worker, wanted to give something special to his nephew for his birthday. He heard a neighbor say that one could find a good time at a recently created people's public plaza listening to music and watching people dance.

Machín decided to take his nephew to the dance. He picked up the boy early in the evening and they happily departed for the plaza. They found his neighbor had been right in what he had said; people were having a fine time dancing. The plaza had been completed a few days earlier to celebrate the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s assault on the Moncada military barracks in the province. The Pinar del Río government had decided to leave the plaza as a festive area.

After being there a short time, Machín and his nephew heard the music suddenly quit. Everybody was surprised. Then they saw a youth take the microphone and heard him say, "Comrades, this is a historic day. Today is the birthday of our invincible commander-in-chief Fidel Castro. Let's give a hand to our commandant!"

The people started protesting. The music had been taken away without their permission. The youth was trying to convert the people's party into a political act exalting the Cuban leader. From the crowd a voice said, "Get down from there and put the music on again. We don't want a speech, boy."

Laughter everywhere supported that voice and the youth signaled to the official in charge of the police brigade that maintained order in the plaza. That official climbed to the dais, his face red with indignation at the public’s refusal to listen to the youth.

"The party is over, folks," he said. "There is no more music."

That was the order of the chief of police. There was a great silence as the people realized that what little laughter and music they had was gone. Everyone begin to leave the plaza.

Machín the construction worker looked sadly at his nephew and said, "Caramba, nephew, these people have wrecked the only thing I had to give you. They have broken our small bit of a happy night because of another birthday that has nothing to do with yours."

The two left walking along the dark streets late in the night. The birthday night was about finished for the boy. Machín didn't speak and neither did his nephew. When they reached the boy's house, the boy said, “Caramba, uncle, I would have liked to have been born on a day that was not the day when I was born. That's the same day that man was born.”

When the nephew went in his house and closed the door, Machín later told Cuba Free Press, he felt like the unluckiest man in Cuba. He was full of sadness for his nephew. The boy didn't deserve to be born on Aug. 13. It was a day with too much bad luck since that moment when the man was born who condemned an entire island to live without happy birthdays.

Rafael Contreras, Cuba Free Press.

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