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Armando Chaguaceda: At 33, I feel sometimes old and tired; other days I wake up with the desire to strive, to be surprised and to persevere—with decency, affection, ideas and values. I was born in the town of Regla, with its provincial charm and custom of ignoring the sidewalks. I grew up atheist, surrounded by believing friends, in a family of Martí followers and enemies of dogma. I have assimilated my growing marginality, in relation to so many friends who have emigrated, fellow “fighters” of daily Havana life who, regrettably, have been added to the growing bandwagon of the “apolitical.” For 12 years I have combined my dying passion for politics and social sciences with teaching. I’m currently in Xalapa, Mexico, but I feel within me the imperative to return and do something in a Cuba too present, too uncertain, too beautiful, frank, harrowing and different. I hope I will.

Hey Man, How’s Things!”

January 14, 2012 | Print Print |

Armando Chaguaceda

Julio Garcia Luis

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 14 — With tired eyes and my hands stiff from so much typing on my dissertation, which seems endless, I did a little search on the Internet before heading off to bed. It was then, suddenly, that I came across the discomforting news: Julio Garcia Luis, the dean of the College of Journalism, an honest Cuban Communist and a good person, had left us.

I’m not good at obituaries; especially one for a person who I can’t imagine not laughing, with young eyes, a calm voice and the frank good-nature of a guajiro (campesino).

What’s more, I’m sure that his many disciples — of all ages, creeds and geographical coordinates — we pay him the very best of homages, each full of lyricism.
I can only add the testimony of a young professor in charge of teaching the “History of Thought” course in an unknown faculty, while I treasure the good memories of the talks we shared for over five years.

I remember him as someone who always let people experiment, share, question…with full freedom within the domain “under his command,” helping to harvest a wonderful generation of graduates who will one day have a better stage for performing journalism in the Cuba of the future.

In his role as a rural teacher, as a member of the Educators Union, as a leader who was elected by — not imposed on — his colleagues in the Cuban Journalists Association (UPEC) and in his professorship at the School of Journalism, Julio always defended the need for investigative journalism that reflected reality and gave a voice to the demands of the population.

In his articles and doctoral dissertation, he never ceased questioning the obstacles that the party apparatus imposed on the practices of Cuban journalists. Moreover, he was capable of revealing publicly — in front of Fidel — the problems that plagued the craft, while assuming the costs of such “audacity” without becoming a sycophant or an apologist for what he had done.
The worst thing we can do is to sanctify someone who, with such humanism, must have felt the same doubts, fears and disappointments of any noble soul.

It’s true; Julio never relinquished his idea of ??revolution, the same one that he sought to realize in every daily act of life.

Those who knew him know that he was never a snitch or a censor, even when — availing himself of his ties with his students — he discouraged some protest by the students at the faculty, attempting to manage dissatisfaction without “collateral damage.”

Because of him, students felt protected from the bloodhounds of the Central Committee, always alert to the power held by his “problematic” department. Once we discussed this, though now it doesn’t matter who was right (if that exists).
With bulletproof decency and spotlessness in his treatment of people, which can only come from someone convinced of their ideas, Julio was light years ahead of those phonies, cowards and opportunists who lurked at his footsteps and were desirous of his positions.

No one will shed a tear or write a line for them, while many will be dedicated to Julio now, after his contributions to our best memories and hopes.

While the hackneyed phrase “rest in peace” now relates to him, I prefer to give my regards as we always did in the middle of the corridors or in the corner between his office and the cafe counter: “Hey man, how’s things!”

 


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