He would often raise his fist while screaming in his high-pitched voice, his face flushed, at whomever he disagreed with. And so would the newspaper Granma, as if a breath of life had turned it into a person; as if a rare spell could make the paper body of the tabloid turn itself into flesh and bones. He would dress in a plaid shirt, proudly displaying the sharp creases of his clothes achieved with successive sprays of starch. The daily paper of the only party permitted in Cuba was of an undefined age and a nineteenth century mentality, displaying its medals, constantly talking about feats it probably never actually accomplished. He never listened to others, because his interminable tirade drowned out criticism, contrary ideas, the least hint of differences. He behaved like a grouchy man who couldn't even converse with his own children, who had seen all those whom he once loved escape from his side.
Granma, like some I know, would turn his face if someone close to him bought a little food on the black market. But he would scarf down every last bite without asking where the piece of potato or the slice of bread on the table came from. His large-type editorials would maniacally scream vacuous slogans whenever he knew the neighbors were listening. He would appeal -- with great frequency -- to betrayal and intrigue. His boring triumphalist reports would wrap themselves in conformist phrases delivered to the desperate faces of those around him. The same newspaper which still, today, has never published a color photo, would shroud in gray boring platitudes and unbridled rage. He would sniff out the tiniest illegalities of survival and denounce them with the same urgency as his pages now publish attacks and lies.
The "comrade" embodied in Granma would be one of those human beings whom -- I don't know about you -- I would never invite to my house.
Translator's note: Granma is the name of the major daily newspaper in Cuba, which is Communist Party controlled as is all official -- and permitted -- press. The paper is named after the yacht that brought Castro and his revolutionaries to Cuba, which, in turn, was named in honor of the grandmother of its previous American owner.
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