Dismantling One of Fidel's Houses and Saying Goodbye to His Bodyguards /
Juan Juan Almeida
Juan Juan Almeida, 24 February 2017 — They are dismembering the security
apparatus at the bunker that for years served as a spiritual refuge for
Fidel Castro: an apartment located on the third floor of 1007 11th
Street in Havana's Vedado district.
Little by little they are removing pictures, gifts and belongings along
with some trash. The metal security chain, floodlights and even the
guard post that prevented citizens from moving freely along the length
of the block where the building is located have already been removed.
More than fifty bodyguards have been retired, leaving only a small
temporary garrison of five men and one police officer, Colonel Nivaldo
Strategically located in District 13, a downtown neighborhood near the
Plaza of the Revolution, the building in question was one of the former
Cuban leader's three official residences. Though he had not visited the
place for several decades, it remained his legal residence from 1976
until the day he died.
These actions are, it seems, an attempt to remove any evidence that
media outlets and Cubans themselves, who have an excessive propensity
for constructing legends and creating myths, might use to craft a heroic
saga out of the daily habits and lifestyle of the late commander-in-chief.
"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. They are getting rid of anything with
even a whiff of age. In the case of #11 (as the building is known), the
country's leaders have sent us a message: 'The options are total
demolition or a complete remodeling of the place; if we leave it the way
it is, it could awaken the interest of an avid array of gossip mongers;
and, you guys, you are to be relocated,'" says one one disgruntled man,
who for years belonged to the tight inner circle of security personnel
guarding the late revolutionary leader.
"But they are not going to sack us," he adds. "What they are doing is
speeding up our retirement, which is not quite the same thing. At the
same time that they are removing Fidel's things from #11, they are
sending us to Personal Security, over there in Jaimanitas, where they
present retirement as compensation for a lifetime of loyal service. They
are giving us a Chinese car that looks a new Geely model CK but which is
actually a discontinued clunker, a used tourist rental car with a lot of
miles on it."
A disbanded and discontented elite military force can be a terribly bad
omen for a society on fire.
One need only go to the parking area of the Hotel Melia Cohiba or Hotel
Melia Havana and ask any of the former Cuban president's various
bodyguards where one might find a good botero (taxi driver).
They will tell you that a group of them, who are all now unemployed, are
planning to regroup and apply for licenses to operate a privately owned
cooperative offering security services to celebrities and fashionable
artists visiting the country.
A good business, I would think. No one can deny that, when it comes to
personal security, these men have plenty of experience.
Source: Dismantling One of Fidel's Houses and Saying Goodbye to His
Bodyguards / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -