Varadero, the prisoner / "Absolute freedom can’t be found anywhere. Every regime imposes the necessary restrictions for the good of the community. None of them welcomes snakes that could destroy it." {fiction}

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Info: "Varadero, the Prisoner" is an excerpt from "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro," which tells the fictional story of Fidel Castro and his confrontation with the capitalist nation led by Dom Afonso Henriques — neither of the two men being the same person as the historical figures who bear the same name. Among other subjects, the novel takes a satirical look at warfare, religion and politics."

Varadero, the prisoner
by João Cerqueira {Braga: Portugal}

After finishing a lunch of swordfish steaks, Fidel Castro made his way to the hold, where he found the prisoner Varadero. Knowing that Fidel’s visit implied some sort of interrogation, Varadero, armed with his own sickle and his own hammer, ready to adapt them to new uses, decided to get it over and done with, taking the initiative by being one to control the dialogue.

"I demand to know why I am imprisoned!"

Fired with no warning, these words hit the stunned face of El Comandante, causing his teeth to jitter.

Surprised by the audacity of someone whose fate depended on him, Fidel threatened to shoot him.

Varadero then began to lose sight of his former commandant, as if he were transforming into another being, with a new, strange and unfamiliar person eventually emerging. Perplexed, he was confronted with an old man who presented various signs of physical decline - his body stooped, his hair white, his skin dull and wrinkled, his eyes faded, his voice faint – and of reduced mental abilities - confusion, laboured reasoning, loss of memory, repeating the same ideas – completely at odds with the vigorous Fidel Castro. Sharing this small space with such an unfamiliar character, Varadero initially felt the shiver of strangeness slip down his spine like a frozen slug. Then, as he began to note fragility and insecurity, he accepted the arrival of compassion, bursting out from some protected secret place.

The stranger who had inspired repulsion was now an infirm human being in need of care and attention. Staring at him indulgently, he repressed the impulse to give him his hand to help steady his tired steps and began to nod at everything he was told. At this moment the reasons became clear as to his arrest, the undertaking that had brought it about, and the announced invasion. Without answering the spy’s question Fidel revealed in great detail the reasons for the strange succession of events in which he was entangled.

Because the discovery of the underlying causes of something worrying always brings serenity, even when the problem persists, as if the pain were one of the faces of ignorance and knowledge one of the faces of pleasure, Varadero allowed himself then also slip into the realms of fantasy devising another dialogue with Fidel Castro. A rational conversation between two enlightened men, ready to collaborate with each other to fully clarify any doubts.

"Tell me why I am imprisoned!"

"You are under arrest because I need to take every measure necessary to stop from being overthrown."

"It means nothing to you to ruin the life of innocent people, as this makes you feel less insecure?"

"Alas I have no other alternative. The revolution must always come first."

"The revolution or you?"

"My person is inseparable from the revolution. One cannot exist without the other."

"Do you believe yourself unique and irreplaceable then?"

"That’s common knowledge, especially amongst my enemies."

"How can you be sure that the revolution could not head in another, perhaps better direction?"

"It could, in a perfect world that will never exist. When I am dead the country will be re-conquered by my enemies and by drug-traffickers."

"Do you have no faith in the ability of the people to decide their fate? Have you actually no faith in the exceptional education you have given them?"

"It’ll do them little good without a leader able to guide them."

"And what good is a leader who denies them freedom?"

"Absolute freedom can’t be found anywhere. Every regime imposes the necessary restrictions for the good of the community. None of them welcomes snakes that could destroy it."

"I’ll ask you again: destroy you or the revolution?"

"Once again I reply: we are inseparable."

"Do you see yourself as an essential dictator then?"

"I am forced to be a dictator to stop them from destroying my work."

"How far are you willing to sacrifice citizens in favour of this work?"

"What is happening is an absolute disgrace. I am well aware of it and I even wonder at the lack of protests. But it’s too late to turn back now. As long as I am alive all necessary measures will be taken."

"Are you aware that it is you who will destroy your work? That you’ll end up resembling those that you overthrew?"

"This is the price I have to pay. My tragedy."

Hoping to obtain information that would ensure the disloyalty of the spy, Fidel came out of the improvised cell more confused and insecure than when he entered, finding it hard to remember what had happened in the meantime.

For his part, Varadero found an inner peace only comparable to that felt in his youth when he swore to himself to serve the revolution with all his might. During this period, which now appeared like a memory taken from a film or a book, when he believed he was holding part of the lever that was moving the world, he had been taken with a strength able to break a mountain rock if Fidel has ordered it. Now, after the slow decomposition of his convictions, this vigour returned to him once again, able to break El Comandante.

Indeed, he had pierced him without much effort and returned in amazement before the mountain that he had once venerated. For this reason he called another Fidel to discuss forbidden subjects tangled in his throat – the questions he always wanted to ask and the answers he always feared hearing. This imaginary Fidel, seemed entirely true to him, while he considered the other real Fidel false without a doubt.

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