19 February 2021 ~ 5 Comentarios

Today as Yesterday

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

I suspect that Lourdes gave the title to her husband’s memoirs, Dr. Antonio Guedes. They are titled Today as Yesterday, and it was the last song by Moisés Simons, the author of El Manisero. Lourdes is the musical part of the couple and the woman who took “Tony” away from celibacy. As Felícito Rodríguez, who, at that time, was also trying to be a priest told me, “Communism is very cruel, but if it is combined with chastity, it becomes terrible.” Both left religious life aboard two charming girls, although they remained very Catholic.

The story begins in Unión de Reyes, a town in Cuba’s Matanzas province where Tony was born into a middle-class family. His grandfather was the magician of locomotives. He kept them going against all odds … until socialism came along. He was a magician and performed great tricks, but he could not perform miracles. There’s nothing to be done against the destructive capacity of communism.

His mother was a teacher and his father a grocer. He had one of thirty grocery stores that supplied the town. If one replaces the wonderful lady who inspired Moisés Simons with the idealized “Cuba”, there is no doubt that Guedes hit the mark. In those memories one can see the Cuba “that will never return” because some barbarians have destroyed it uselessly. Of the thirty grocery stores that existed in the town, there remain just a couple in which rationed products are sold, when they exist, and little else. No movie theaters, no clinics, no paint. Nothing. A town that, like all of Cuba, is falling apart after 62 years of carelessness and stupidity.

These memoirs, surprising for their detail and living memory, were written impeccably, but without literary pretensions, for family and friends, for daughters, for grandchildren and other descendants, but they are a formal accusation against the regime and a clear explanation of why young people are leaving that island that all Cubans must read.

Tony studied medicine in Cuba until he was caught by the State Security radar. Interestingly, he was allowed to study at the School of Medicine, without renouncing his religious beliefs, until the political police detected him and abruptly removed him from the university. It is the only case that I know of in which the reasons why he was expelled from the school are specified without any pretext–because of his religious convictions.

In general, State Security resorts to vague subterfuges such as being “immoral” or “inveterate counterrevolutionaries,” but it almost never makes the mistake of saying clearly why it is truncating the destiny of a young and promising person. It just fulfills the slogan “the University is for revolutionaries,” and that’s why they are like that. The country is in the hands of an inept bureaucracy forged by incapable people who use arguments drawn from the Marxist vulgate.

It was then when I met him. Provided with that document, and with a few years of medicine studied in Cuba, with excellent grades, he arrived in Madrid in the winter of 1981, loquacious and passionate, with Lourdes, his wife, a daughter, Beatriz, and another, Cecilia, huddled in her mother’s womb and who would be born in Spain in May 1982. They would have to get used to a new country, a new study system, and new friends. Fortunately, we Cubans have the defects and virtues of the Spanish, so adapting was not very hard.

The partial validation of the studies did not take long. He enrolled in a Madrid university and a few years later he finished his studies. Like 90% of doctors, he began to work in the public system, until the Ministry of Health offered him the direction of a “polyclinic” dedicated to primary care, something that Dr. Guedes accepted, more out of a sense of responsibility than for the material reward, which was practically nonexistent. By the beginning of the 21st century he had seen, auscultated, and redirected–when necessary–more than 100,000 patients.

He did all this without forgetting his commitment to Cuba. He had been present in the creation of the Cuban Democratic Platform, an effort of the Cuban Christian Democrats, liberals and social democrats, with the help of the respective “Internationals” to bring freedom to Cuba in an agreed and reasonable way, as had happened in Spain after Franco’s death, but crashed against Fidel Castro’s orthodox communist fundamentalism.

So the Cuban Liberal Union, created in Madrid with the backing of Adolfo Suárez, at the time president of the Liberal International, made him president of the institution for five years, until he was replaced by writer Miguel Sales Figueroa, who in turn was substituted by Cuban-Valencian economist Elías Amor in 2020. In any case, Dr. Antonio Guedes has to be proud of his life, of his work and of “Today as Yesterday,” his splendid memoirs.

5 Responses to “Today as Yesterday”

  1. Manuel 20 February 2021 at 8:18 pm Permalink

    Homeland and Life


    • Julian Perez 21 February 2021 at 9:22 am Permalink

      El padre de mi primera esposa decia que el salario de un obrero cubano daba solamente para una pizza y una caja de cigarros. 1.20 la pizza, 1.60 los cigarros eran casi 3 pesos y muchos obreros ganaban unos 90. Eso si fumaba populares porque los suaves creo que eran 2.40. Mi amigo Pedro Victor, al que la UMAP traumatizo y no siguio estudiando, ganaba eso.

      • Julian Perez 21 February 2021 at 9:25 am Permalink

        Mucho antes de que Fidel Castro descubriera la moringa Pedro Victor descubrio la alimentacion basada en avena: barata, por la libre y nutritiva.

      • Manuel 21 February 2021 at 9:32 am Permalink

        Cuba podría albergar espléndidamente una población tres
        veces mayor; no hay razón, pues, para que exista miseria entre
        sus actuales habitantes. Los mercados debieran estar
        abarrotados de productos; las despensas de las casas debieran
        estar llenas; todos los brazos podrían estar produciendo
        laboriosamente. No, eso no es inconcebible. Lo inconcebible es
        que haya hombres que se acuesten con hambre mientras
        quede una pulgada de tierra sin sembrar…”

        era superior a 5 millones,
        hoy poco mas de 11 millones

  2. Julian Perez 21 February 2021 at 11:25 am Permalink


    Esto no pinta bien 🙁 Espero que la alianza comenzada con los acuerdos Abraham consiga disuadir a Iran y evitar la guerra. Oportunos bombazos en installations nucleares iranies y algunos otros cientificos nucleares iranies enviados a encontrarse con las once mil virgenes que los esperan en el mas alla tampoco vendrian mal.

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