On January the 8th, 1959, eight days after our “liberation” by Fidel, my grandmother knew we were in trouble. During Fidel’s speech doves were released around the Plaza of the Revolution. Several landed on Fidel and as we held our breath in wonder at the apparent blessing of the Holy Spirit on this man, my grandmother whispered “Ay Dios Mío!” While the rest of her family stood mesmerized by the new messiah, my grandmother noticed that one of the doves had defecated on Fidel. She pointed it out to us and we stared as the dove took its time doing the deed up and down Fidel’s shoulder. My grandmother declared that this was a message from the Holy Spirit. The man was not good. That was it for my grandmother. It was an omen. The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, had spoken. “Be careful, he is not who he appears to be”. That day everyone gathered around the television laughed at the oblivious Fidel and at my grandmother and her superstitious beliefs including me, albeit with a little caution. My grandmother was seldom wrong.
All through January, hundreds of people had been killed by the saviors who came from the mountains wearing their crucifixes and their guns, to stop the bloodshed and set us free. The churches once full of people praying for Fidel, were now full of people praying for Fidel to spare their loved ones lives.
A little over a month after the dove incident, roughly fifty days into the Revolution, an estimated fifteen thousand people gathered at the Havana Sports Palace. Walking down the hall with some friends we stopped dead in our tracks unseen by the family and the maids whose eyes were fixed to the TV screen. Staring at us from the screen was a chained man named Jesús. Jesús Sosa Blanco was accused of killing over a hundred people when he was a Colonel under Batista in the Region of the Sierra Maestra where Fidel and his men fought their guerrilla warfare. He looked sad and resigned as he stood chained waiting for his fate. Around him thousands chanted Paredon!, Paredon! while other Cubans sold Coca Cola and peanuts to the thirsty and hungry crowd.
“Witnesses” who were brought forth to identify the accused Jesús Sosa Blanco could not pick him out, despite the chains he wore to restrain him. When the accuser didn’t know who to point to, people around him began to play a game of “hot” and “cold” to help him or her zero in on the unknown target. People laughed and deafening shouts of Paredon! Paredon! filled the stadium that had transformed into a Roman Coliseum in the tropics, while the sun shone on brilliant sand, the palms moved sensually in the breeze and the clouds rolled by in innocence. I was twelve years old that day, hidden in the back of the room with my friends, when I knew with absolute certainty that our new government would be even crueler than our last. Sosa Blanco was executed. My grandmother had been right. The dove knew.