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Miguel Díaz-Corleone

Havana mirrors the famous novel by Mario Puzo and the homonymous film with a stunning similarity.


"Remember, whoever approaches you and proposes a deal with the Americans, he's the traitor," the godfather/general seems to say to Miguelito (not Michael) behind the scenes at the Teatro Karl Marx before announcing his appointment as the new leader of La Familia. Afterwards, the godfather/general will recall it differently. And Villa Villa Clara native Díaz-Canel, the Italian-American Corleone, will say yes, that he already knows, not to worry, that he has been at his side long enough to know where the danger lies, who his friends are, as well as his potential enemies.

In this real-life episode, the anointed one has been long groomed, with it barely being noticed. The Cuban Corleone, like the New Yorker, is a hero of international missions, his in Nicaragua: under his rule Communist youths were deployed to the land of Sandino during the dangerous end of the war, in the country of lakes and volcanoes. Upon returning, like so many of his generation, he was placed in intermediate positions, not without risks, and entailing great commitment.

As if following Mario Puzo's text to the letter, Havana mirrors the famous novel and the homonymous film with a stunning similarity. After all, the story that the novelist wrote to settle his debts is a reflection of the society in which he lived. And, as often happens, reality can surpass even the most unlikely fictions.

The only difference has been the replacement of the Godfather I with the Godfather II. The vertical command structure has become more disciplined, more centralized. The historicalcapos, those that arose from the heat of the struggle in the Sierra Maestra, not the streets of New York, were not purged after Godfather I's resignation. Rather, almost all of the Godfather I's capos, leading small groups of ten men, have been replaced or suffered indecent social deaths.

The reason will always have to be traced, as in the novel, by following the money trail and, in this case this is tied to political power. Since even before the "Special Period", a Virgil, a Sollozzo "The Turk" with a Slavic surname, Gorbachev, tried to convince the Family to participate in the dangerous business of the market economy and political plurality. But the Godfather I’s conspiratorial intuition told him that this could be the path to his family's demise, and he forbade his troops from engaging in any such negotiations.

In spite of the warnings, in all these tough years the new lords of el barriohave felt entitled, with a natural right, to distribute spoils to supporters and subscribe individual pacts. The power structure of La Familia seemed to be wielded with some flexibility after the Godfather I's replacement by the Godfather II, but caposand soldiers were deceived, as the Godfather II proved implacable with conspirators, which he had to be if he wanted to keep the lineage alive. There are no rebels left to tell the tale. 

Only Miguel "Corleone" remained faithful, taciturn, almost forgotten in a corner of the Island, not in Manhattan. Of the whole new cadre, he was the mostdiscreet of the capos – but that does not mean he was the least faithful. He served in barriosof some complexity, such as Santa Clara and Holguín, where they remember him like the character played by Andy García in the third film: an affable type, simple, verging on blandness, and, at the same time, as loyal as he was even-tempered, a combination of qualities that caught the older capos' attention.

What will happen in the next pages of this real-life novel? War could break out. But nothing will happen as long as the Godfather II remains alive. That fight for power, or pact with the enemy, inevitable, in any case, will come from a certain Sal Tessio, the "smartest" of the historical figures at that point. The Tattaglias and the Barzini are calculating those future weaknesses.  

Maybe this is why there is some sense of urgency. Díaz-Canel, the new tropical Corleone, will have to adjust to the new times if the Family is to survive. The capos of other regions are already arriving in Havana, not Long Island, to kiss the ring of power, and this is not only an act of ceremonial submission to the counts of Venezuela and Bolivia.

It also signifies a commitment to draw up a common strategy: to negotiate ways to produce the illusion of change so as to sustain the status quo. This is why the general has gone from Godfather to consiglieri. He knows well that the only way to avert an internal war and the Family's disintegration is by directly supervising the essential changes, something that in his leadership position it was dangerous to do. For this he needs young blood, people with no debts and not beholden to the old capos with their rigid schemes.  

Sitting on his bergère in the Palacio de la Revolución, Miguel Díaz plays the tough Michael Corleone, telling the new capo that the business must be moved, come hell or high water, to the North, to Miami, not to Nevada. And this, realizing in advance that there will be potential Cuban-American traitors, disciples of Hyman Roth. Behind him hang photos of the Godfather I and II, emblems providing secular protection.

An official walks down the hall, someone who had been by his side going back to his university days, and whom he had promised, just minutes before, that he would always remain the same old Miguel, never the vengeful and cruel Mike. The official observes how the office door slowly closes. Meanwhile, inside, they kiss the new Godfather's ring, and swear him fealty.

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