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4 > Page 4 of Blue-Tail Fly, February 1970

Part of Blue-Tail Fly

ours. The next morning all of us, Cubans and Americans, had breakfast early, earlier than usual, before heading for the fields. We all left for the fields with cameras slung over our shoulders next tp the machetes. Four hours later, after a hard morning of cutting cane with no sign of Fidel, we realized that the first group of cane cutters, including representatives of the North American Brigade, a group we had passed by, had included Fidel. We certainly had not distrubed his cutting, which totaled 560 "arrobas." TheVen-ceremos Brigade members' average on a good day is 180 arrobas. * * * * At dinner, I was lucky enough to sit near Fidel. But not near enough"I couldn't hear him talk, only see him. He was in no way formal We all ate from the same tin trays, the same rice and beans and meat and tomatoes. When he listened, he tilted his head from one side to the other. He seemed to be often joking, and 1 felt as if I could see his eyes twinkling. When some of us got brave enough to come up and start taking pictures, he joked and laughed. Then an American with a cowboy hat with fists on the side walked up and gave Fidel the hat. In exchange, Fidel gave him his army hat. When people rushed up to see him, he started talking with us. "Where are you from? What do you do?".asking questions, and only half waiting to hear the complete translation. By this time, I understood why he was Fidel and not Castro. He did not come across as a distant figure, he came across to everyone as a close human being. I began to understand that a political leader can be a real person. Suddenly, many people began asking him to our recreation room where I had been seated waiting, and Fidel followed. Ignoring the set-up of the speaker's platform, he walked into an open space in front of our benches and asked, "Who's in charge here? Who's running this thing?" When it appeared that he was, he began to converse. And then he just started talking, offering to answer our questions and starting off by giving a half-hour running commentary on everything. * * * * "We have no interest in dealing with the government of the United States as long as it continues to commit genocide in Vietnam The kind of relations we want to build are between us and the people such as you of the Venceremos Brigade." He talked to us about the blockade, and about Cuban economic development, but not in a way we had heard it before. Fidel does not use rhetoric; he does not thunderously denounce U.S. imperialism, or try to bring us to our feet chanting in a heavy way about world-wide solidarity. For the first time since the brigade has been in Cuba, we sat and listened and were charmed and understood without ostentatious displays of our feelings for his work. He began to talk about the "new man" someone asked him to elaborate on what that meant in Cuba, and how specific developments were helping to build a socialist man. It was like asking him to describe the revolution, which he did. "The revolution is like a book," he said, and then began to read it to us. We spend all our days cutting sugar cane, terrible, hard, dreary, boring work, the worst kind there is or was in Cuba (fifty cents a day before the revolution). "1 cut cane for the first time after the revolution," Fidel said, and we knew what he meant. Everyone in Cuba knows about the ten million tons...the whole country is mobilized for the harvest. The signs near the cane fields say, "Welcome guerrillas who have come to fight our common enemy" the sugar cane." Ten million tons will. mechanize the cane industry. "We never realized that to turn this. Utopia into a reality we would be cutting cane," Fidel told us. "Cane is an antidote IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PEDDLE BTF'S IN THE LOUISVILLE AREA, CALL PAUL GENIN AT 636-4940 OR NICK DEMARTINO AT 4M-S853. REMEMBER, YOU KEEP A DIME ON EACH PAPER SOLD. LET A THOUSAND PKRKS BLOOM Photo by Lynn Adler; from People's Park photo book, copyright Ballantine Books, Inc. against bourgeois ideas. It is cold and wet in the morning; not even a superman could do this without..." and here he drifted off. We all understood that we couldn't all be cutting cane without revolution, and that there can't be a revolution without cutting cane. Later on he said, "I have an allergy against anything which contributes to individualism." The Cubans do want to develop creativity, and to maintain personality differences among people, but they are concerned about eliminating individualistic goals"there is a difference between a people working for themselves, and a people working for a whole people. A black girl asked him to discuss racism in Cuba, and his opinion of the black movement in the United States. "While the class system exists in the United States, racism will exist." He told her to ask the Cuban workers in the camps about the elimination of racism in Cuba. He admitted it was a difficult task. I was impressed by his urging her to ask black workers how they felt, rather than Fidel, a white man, giving a glowing account. I think she felt that he sidestepped the issue, but she could have pressed it"he was letting us ask anything. Once before that night, after answering a question, he asked back of the questioner, "Was that satisfactory? Or am I being demagogic?" (I tried to imagine Nixon asking me if I thought him demagogic.) Finally, someone asked him about his own role in the future of Cuba. "We are very happy that our role is decreasing," he said, and began to talk about how the people will develop and reap the benefits of technology, and his role would lessen. I remembered again the incredible feelings I have here about the possibility of change. No one clings to the past as a sacred value. Fidel, who is young, but not as young as many who are building the revolution, made clear his concept of how fast things could change: "We hope that the people of the future will not even have a remote idea of how their parents lived." And then it was 10:30 and time for us to sleep so we could get up at 5:45 the next morning and cut another day's worth of sugar cane. Fidel left and said he might come back, and we all walked out as though we were high. It was not Castro's Cuba; it was Cuba's Cuba, and it was led by Fidel. The man who had led a military revolution in the mountains and marched victorious in Havana, did now not only believe, but put into practice, the idea that man can "build a Communist society"when fraternal feelings will prevail and all needs can be satisfied collectively." Peoples Park: deputies indicted By Mark Gladstone BERKELEY, Cal. (CPS)-In the wake of a federal grand jury investigation into their actions during last year's People's Park confrontations, 12 Alameda County sheriff's deputies have been accused of violating civil rights by shooting, beating, or intimidating persons. U.S. District Court Judge William T. Swejgert issued a summons ordering those indicted to appear in federal court Feb. 16. Two of the men, Deputy Leonard Johnson and former Deputy Lawrence L. Riche, were specifically accused of discharging shot guns against riot victims James Rector, who later died from the wounds, and Alan Blanc hard, who was blinded, last May 15. In Oakland, Alameda County Sheriff Frank I. Madigan, who was in charge of all police operations during the Park crisis, called the charges "the sickest operation that the government has en gaged in." Madigan said he would be the first to contribute to the defense of his deputies and asked from community support. Meanwhile, the Alameda district attorney's office has no plans to review the case. Senior trial lawyer DeVaga told CPS that the Civil Rights violations are for the federal, not state statute. He also questioned the whole federal grand jury process, saying, "I always had doubts about systems where a person could say anything." In such procedures, he said, any kind of evidence is admitted, even heresay. ...and the Park lives on By Karen Wald BERKELEY, California (LNS)-Sud-denly there was a call that a company from ultra-reactionary Orange County had leased the parking lot on the land that had once been People's Park. The lot was about to open and the police were casing the area to see what the young people who built and faced shotguns for that park would do. 1 he University of California which stole the land of People's Park last year by force of arms has tried to get someone to use it for a long time. But the land is hallowed by the blood of James Rector and the street people and no one would touch it with a ten-foot pole. The architects for proposed new dormitories refused to submit designs. In October, when part of the land was made into intramural playing fields for the fraternities, the Inter-Fraternity Council voted to boycott the fields for their intramural games, and the fields lay dormant. In a callous and stupid attempt to divide the black and white communities, the University paved over the park land and offered a parking lot concession to a black community group called NOW, which is financed by the Berkeley Economic Opprotunity Council, as a way of making money for the black community. Not easily taken in, the black group angrily denounced the attempt for what it was, and called the 116-stall parking lot the University had erected "a desecration to the memory of a beautiful struggle." In early December part of the lot was designated as space for dormitory students to park. But no one parked there. Then the Parking Company of Ameri-ka, a huge Orange-country based firm, became the new "owner" of the lot by offering the highest bid. But when they tried to open it up Dec. 30, they were greeted by more than 100 pickets from the Berkeley community. Signs reading "Resist -and Create" were accompanied by others more directly to the point: "Park at Your Own Risk." The number of picketers grew. "We agreed to pay the University $800 a month for the lease," complained company vice-president Francisco (Frank) J. Chaves, as he stood gloomily next to the only car"his own"on the newly paved asphalt. "I tell you, we need the business." Asked if he knew the history of the Park land and the reason for the picketing, he admitted, "Yeah, I read about the trouble they had here," adding, "but the University told us we wouldn't have to pay them if we couldn't get this thing operating." (So the University was thinking ahead, eh?) "Anyway," he reassured himself out loud, "they're only a few. They'll get tired in a few days. They're not sincere. People need a place to park." Meanwhile, the University and the City have done all they can to see to it that Chaves does get business by closing down the large City Parking lot nearby for "renovations," The first day of Orange Country's Parking Company of Amerika enterprise dragged on and no car entered the lot. Chaves stood with his Bay Area manager, Paul Vigil (no fooling, that's his name) and another stooge named John Cramer, three isoalted figures on the empty asphalt. A group of street people approached them. The parking lot entrepreneurs looked upright, began fidgeting with the lapels of their expensive business suits. "Why did you do it?" queried one of the street people. "The University needs money," replied Chaves with a perfectly straight face. "We don't like parking lots on cemeteries," someone said. "Don't you know a man dies over this lot? You'll never make any money here. You should get out now. This is heavy property, you'll get ulcers if you decide to stay here." "The University misrepresented the case to you." Someone else suggested, "We can get you lawyers if you want to sue." Somebody handed Chaves a copy of the People's Park photo book. "But we didn't build the fence. We aren't responsible," protested John Cramer of Parking Company of Amerika. "This, has nothing to do with the Park." "You'll find other ways to get your kicks off," sarcastically interjected Chaves. "Kicks!" came back the furious reply. "I was here when the shooting broke out. I gave first aid to three people who were shot up and badly wounded." A police car which had been cruisinb around the area approached. All day "community relations officers""the new euphemism for undercover cops"had been watching and taking photos. Now several cop cars drove into the lot to come to the rescue of Amerika Parking. Harry Brizee, Telegraph Avenue's chief cop ("he knows how to get along with hippies") assured the businessmen: "You don't have to be badgered by these people." "Get out of here," yelled Chaves, as if on signaL "If you don't want to park, LEAVE. We don't have to listen to your loudmouthing. This property doesn't belong to you." "Look who's talking!" shot back one of the street people. "You're from Orange County. I have a wife and two kids living here." The street people went back to picketing at the gates. Chaves and his stooges stood uncomfortably next to a big, brightly-lettered sign reading, "Pay Meter. Violators Will Be Towed Away." A half-dozen new bumper stickers plastered over the sign proclaimed, "Park At Your Own Risk." Chaves declared that anyone who actually blocked a car from entering would be arrested. And one brother did get arrested later in the day for allegedly locking the parking lot gate. I he cops had to come with wire cutters to cut Parking Company of Amerika loose. At night, only the police were there to collect any possible parking fees. In the next few days a small handful of cars"mostly those of local businessmen"entered the lot. People stayed away. On the third day some unknown person ripped off the antennas, mirrors and other outside ornaments of the few cars that dared to desecrate People's Park land. That land, people say, is determined to be a memorial to James Rector and all -those who worked and suffered there. Correction In his article in our January issue on controlling population, Wayne Davis alluded to an article written by Stewart Udall for Reader's Digest. The article was written by Arizona Congressman Morris Udall, and not his brother Stewart. February, 1970