By Reinaldo Taladrid Herrero
The University was hosting a discussion on the “50th Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Victory”, but a totally unexpected complication arose: a large audience had gathered at the University’s sports arena that same day for a speech to be delivered by none other than the Dalai Lama.
As I waited for my turn and the Dalai Lama spoke, the main local radio station called to ask whether I would be willing to grant a live interview about Cuba. I said yes, and a few minutes later I was on the air.
My interviewer began with the usual boilerplate topics, namely the “embargo” (that’s right, the well-known 50-year-old blockade), but no sooner had I started to answer than he interrupted me: “Sir, we’re sorry, but we must go to cover the speech the Dalai Lama is giving right here in our University as we speak. But if you don’t mind, please stay on the line. We’ll be back.”
By then the Dalai Lama was preaching “forgiveness, acceptance and serenity”. Suddenly I heard the voice of my presenter saying: “We’re back with Mr. Taladrid, the Cuban journalist, and my question is: Sir, what is Cuba like today, a brutal dictatorship or the picture-perfect paradise we see in your tourist ads?”
My answer: “Cuba is not a paradise; no country on Earth is. We have as many and diverse problems as any other country, although I’m glad to see that you’re familiar with our tourist industry. I suggest to your listeners that they should visit the Island, where they will find a very beautiful, safe, cultured and honorable nation. Whatever made you think that Cuba is a brutal dictatorship? What happens sometimes to honest, albeit misinformed, people is that they overlook the fact that Cuba is constantly examined in minute detail through the Hubble telescope, but those who describe it usually do it after a simple look through a pair of low-strength glasses that give you blurry, mistaken images.” But all of a sudden, as I was about to mention specific examples…
“Sir, I’m sorry, we’re going live again with the Dalai Lama’s speech, but please hold the line, because it seems our listeners are calling to ask questions about Cuba.”