"In recent weeks the Castroite regime has been telling the Cuban people that there have been changes in Cuba, beginning with the liberation of political prisoners, but that is a very false impression. It's false propaganda," said in Washington the Republican legislator for Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
"Those prisoners were unjustly in jail because they spoke in favor of democracy. The corrupt regime wants credit for freeing them, but uses them like chess pieces. It also wants credit for the economic reforms, but it's all part of a false propaganda, because the country is bankrupt and there is no private sector," she added.
A grammarian might ask: Is that false impression, or false propaganda? Is the latter false, as opposed to true, propaganda?
A reader with common sense might ask: Were you not demanding just weeks ago the release of the prisoners? If the ex prisoners are in Spain, and speaking out not only against the Cuban government, but also --bitterly-- against the Spanish govenment, how exactly is Cuba using them like chess pieces? Why declare disapprovingly that there is no private sector in Cuba when the government has only just announced that it intends to create a private sector of some 450,000? Isn't that at least part of what you wanted? That number is quite significant.
A well-informed reader might say: There is a liquidity crisis, but the country is not bankrupt. And, actually, Eliana, there has always been a private sector of small farmers and cooperatives, and there are licensed small-business people, as in the case of paladares and rental housing. You night also have read that prior to the big announcement there were already pilot privatizations of barber and beauty shops, and of taxis and small-bus routes.
The Representative's fractured language, we think, is not a matter of being or not a good speaker. It's rather than Lehtinen and her co-religionaries have been taken completely off-guard by events. They never anticipated that the Cuban government would propose such significant changes. They can no longer use their well-practiced canned speeches that were never questioned in Congress or by the media, and are now forced to actually think about what is happening. Theirs have been one-note careers. Now, they're flummoxed.
We can imagine the kind of dialogue that is taking place in South Florida, from Calle 8 to FIU:
A: Did you see what Fidel said about a Cuban economic model? I don't believe it. I think he really meant to say exactly the opposite.
B: That's just what Fidel said later. Are you turning fidelista now?
A: Well, no. So, I should accept what he said first?
B: Of course not. You should not accept either statement. It's all false propaganda.
A: I'm confused. Are you saying that the announcement on the economy, which is now being discussed in meetings throughout the island, is false, and that there will no layoffs after all? That the document the press got that's supposed to be a blueprint from the Party is false, too?
B: That's right. That's false. A lot of Cubans are being told falsely that they will have to leave their current jobs and look for other employment or set up their own businesses.
A. I see. Then they can stay in their jobs after all. But why?
B: So they can be used as chess pieces. That's Fidel for you.
A: Hmm. But Raúl is in charge of making the plan work --or not-- whatever the plan really is.
B: Right. They're working this together.
A: Didn't you say before that Raúl and Fidel were fighting for power? Why are they in agreement now?
B: They're trying to confuse us. That way they can both stay in power so they can continue to fight for power.
A: You know, I always thought that Fidel was the more pragmatic of the two, like the media say. Or is that Raúl?
B: Neither one is pragmatic. They're communists. Just you wait: their false propaganda plan won't work.
A: I agree with that: no way. But...I'm still not clear on what is the plan that won't work.
B: You see? The plan is working.