Rahm Emanuel

What a strange surname! It appears Spanish, easy to pronounce, but it’s not. Never in my life have I heard or read about any student or compatriot with that name, among tens of thousands.

Where does it come from? I wondered. Over and over, the name came to mind of the brilliant German thinker, Immanuel Kant, who together with Aristotle and Plato, formed a trio of philosophers that have most influenced human thinking. Doubtless he was not very far, as I discovered later, from the philosophy of the man closest to the current president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Another recent possibility led me to reflect on the strange surname, the book of Germán Sánchez, the Cuban ambassador in Bolivarian Venezuela: The transparence of Enmanuel, this time without the “I” with which the German philosopher’s name begins.

Enmanuel is the name of the child conceived and born in the dense guerrilla jungle, where his extremely honorable mother, Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas González, was taken prisoner on February 23, 2002, together with Ingrid Betancourt, who was a presidential candidate in that sister country’s elections that year.

I read with much interest the abovementioned book by Germán Sánchez, our ambassador in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela who, in 2008, had the privilege of participating in the liberation of Clara Rojas and Consuelo González, former National Assembly deputy, from the FARC, the revolutionary army of Colombia, which had taken them prisoner.

Clara had remained in the hands of the guerrilla forces out of solidarity with Ingrid and was with her throughout six years of difficult captivity.

Germán’s book is titled The Transparency of Enmanuel, almost exactly the same name as the German philosopher. It didn’t seem strange to me; in thinking about how his mother was a brilliant and very cultured lawyer; maybe that was the reason she gave her child that name. It simply led me to remember the years of isolation in prison that I experienced after my almost-successful attempt to take over Cuba’s second-largest military fortress on July 26, 1953 and to seize thousands of weapons with a select group of 120 combatants willing to fight against the Batista dictatorship imposed on Cuba by the United States.

Of course, it was not the only objective or the only inspiring idea, but what is certain is that after the triumph of the revolution in our homeland on January 1, 1959, I still recalled some of the German philosopher’s aphorisms:

“A wise man can change his mind. A stubborn one, never.”

“Do not use others as a means to your end.”

“Only through education can a man finally be a man.”

This great idea was one of the principles proclaimed from the initial days following the revolutionary triumph, on January 1, 1959. Obama and his advisor had not been born or even conceived. Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago on November 29, 1959, the son of a Russian immigrant. His mother was a human rights advocate named Martha Smulevitz; she was sent to prison three times for her activities.

Rahm Emanuel joined the Israeli army in 1991 as a civilian volunteer during the first Gulf War waged by Bush Sr., which used missiles containing uranium that caused serious illnesses in the U.S. soldiers who participated in the offensive against the Iraqi Republican Guard in retreat, and in a countless number of civilians.

Since that war, the peoples of the Near and Middle East have consumed a fabulous amount of weapons, which the U.S. military-industrial complex launches onto the market.

The racists of the extreme right might be able to satisfy their thirst for ethnic superiority and assassinate Obama like they did Martin Luther King, the great human rights leader which, while theoretically possible, does not appear probable at this time, given the protection surrounding the president after his election, every minute, day and night.

Obama, Emanuel and all of the brilliant politicians and economists who have come together would not suffice to solve the growing problems of U.S. capitalist society.

Even if Kant, Plato and Aristotle were to resuscitate together the late and brilliant economist John Kenneth Galbraight, neither would they be capable of solving the increasingly more frequent and profound antagonistic contradictions of the system. They would have been happy in the times of Abraham Lincoln —so admired, and rightfully so, by the new president — an era left far behind.

All of the other peoples will have to pay for the colossal waste and guarantee, above anything else on this increasingly more contaminated planet, U.S. jobs and the profits of that country’s large transnationals.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Febrero 8, 2009
5:16 p.m.