Monday, August 27, 2012

Proof of life: Searching for Ivan

Movie poster: Wikipedia
Deep, real and patriotic.
Respectful and honest.
Those are some of words readers are using to describe a moving letter that was ostensibly written by a 28-year-old man who left Cuba two years ago and settled in Bulgaria.
I have just one question: Can anyone prove that the letter is genuine? I ask with all due respect to those who have suffered hardship in Cuba. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have left the island for economic, political and family reasons since 1959.
"Letter From a Young Man Who Has Left" has struck a chord among the many Cubans who made the wrenching decision to leave.
The author, identified as Ivan López Monreal, purportedly wrote the piece in response to "Letter to a Young Man Who is Leaving," by Rafael Hernández, director of the magazine, Temas.
López Monreal tells of his experiences as a student of "maestros emergentes," the young teachers social workers who began filling Cuba's ranks in around 2000. He writes:
You talk to me about the social conquests of the Revolution. About education and medicine. I am going to talk to you about my education. I had good teachers, and when they left they were substituted for others less prepared who, in turn, were replaced by social workers who wrote “experience” with an S and who were incapable of pointing on a map to five capitals of Latin America (they didn’t tell me this, I lived it). My parents had to hire private tutors so that I could truly learn. My parents did not pay them; my aunt based in Toronto did.
Someone commenting on the popular website Penúltimos Días, questioned whether López Monreal could have had social workers - the so-called "maestros emergentes" - as his teachers.
At 28, he could not have had 'maestros emergentes'...the dates do not add up.
That is an interesting point. The "maestros emergentes" program was announced in 2000. López Monreal would have been 16 at that time. But aren't "maestros emergentes" for ninth grade and below? I don't know. But it's a point worth exploring. I mean, if López Monreal doesn't exist, who wrote the letter? A democracy activist? An NGO? A U.S. government agency? USAID? CIA? Who wrote it?

Whatever the case, the letter is a hit. Among the comments at Penúltimos Días:
I have no words to describe how I feel now, just perfect.
Ivan, how many truths! Congratulations!
No words, a magnificent letter to be printed and spread throughout the island.
Tremendous letter, no doubt. To read and re-read it again.
I searched the Internet for a Cuban named Ivan López Monreal and found only references to the letter. I couldn't find any other traces of an Ivan López Monreal, no photos, no blogs, no essays, no Facebook page, no proof of life.

It is remarkable that someone who was a ghost on the Internet up until a few weeks ago suddenly knocks it out of the park with his first piece.

Well done, Ivan.

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