Margarita Alarcón Perea
I remember a trip we took to Trinidad and Tobago when I was 9 years old when my mom gave me as a traveling companion my first copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. At the time I of course didn’t fully comprehend the philosophical intensity of the “children’s” story but in time I grew to adore the book and give it as many readings as I could and still can.
The other great author I discovered later that same year was JD Salinger. I recall wondering in the cellar of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, then located on 68th Street between Madison and 5th avenue in NYC, when I stumbled upon a red book with yellow lettering on the cover, The Catcher in the Rye. I was taken by the simplistic art work and I soon found myself head first in the book reading till I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Again, I was too young to fully comprehend what Salinger was talking about and again it is another book and author that has been my close companion.
Then came Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald and the entire “Lost Generation ” so eloquently qualified by Gertrude Stein. So much did I find a passion in the writers of the 1920’s and 1930’s that while at Havana University, I requested the English department allow me to introduce John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men into the 4th year curriculum.
Like most children I was not an alien to the lighter side of reading, and I too enjoyed the comics. Not all mind you. There was one in particular that grew on me to such an extent I am still identified by many when those who know me see any one of the characters. Of all the American authors there is one that has stayed with me in a lighter but no less intense philosophical nature, Charles M Schultz. Back then it was the smiling and grinning while turning the pages. As I grew older and began to learn more through reading and life, re-reading Peanuts began to have a different much more educational meaning. It was like “getting” Schultz all over again each time I read.
The media in the US has forgotten to read or at the very least to reproduce now and again sentences that should be read and re-read. For four years now, ever since becoming President of the United States, President Barack Obama has been receiving a message from President Raul Castro of Cuba: let’s sit down and talk. “We are willing to speak to the US on equal ground…”, “No topic is off the table…”, “Everything is up for negotiation…”, have been some of the phrases he has used ever since he first made the statement publicly to the press in Caracas in 2009 right before President Obama was off to his first trip abroad as president and reached Trinidad and Tobago for the OAS summit. At the moment Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was about to land in Santo Domingo, President Raul Castro was saying “we are willing to talk to the US on equal terms and everything is up for negotiation.” The statement was so direct and new, when approached in the Dominican Republic by the press, Mrs. Clinton not only was aware in the air of what had happened, she had a comment: “this is very interesting, we will have to look into it.” Raul said it again this July 26th. On my count he has said it publicly four times since 09. And the response from State or the White House? Nothing.
In the famous words of Charles M. Schultz : How long Great Pumpkin, how long?!