the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
In a speech before Congress last Sunday Raul Castro reminded me of Charlton Heston in “The Planet of the Apes”, facing the ruins of the Statue of Liberty in the shores of what he thought was an alien planet. He had merely returned to Earth many years later. In his speech Castro sounded like landing, once more, in Batista’s Cuba implying, candidly, that their revolution had been a geometric turn rather than a radical change, a complete rotation about the Cuban social axis. After almost sixty years characterized by a tragic diáspora, thousands of broken homes, mass killings of dissidents, poverty and hunger, Castro describes a current Cuba essentially similar to the one he once felt should be changed by force. Last Sunday he spoke of intense government corruption and of an ethical crisis in Cuban society “where honesty, decency, shame, decorum and social solidarity have deteriorated significantly”. He spoke of the universal use of “an obscene language, of academic fraud, social tackiness, wholesale extortion” and of a people “less civilized (menos culta) today than in the past”, giving as example the common sight of people urinating in public.
He spoke of the inconvenient parallel currency existing in the island and the low average salary of a government bureaucrat, which is the equivalent of $20 month.
In the final scene of The Planet of the Apes, Heston faces what remains of the statue of Liberty and understands, too late, what has happened. His final words could have been a proper ending for Castro’s speech last Sunday: “ Damn You”.