The "Gusanos" were the Communists all a Haniel Long

Having recently come across this quote written by American Poet/Novelist Haniel Long (March 9, 1888 – October 17, 1956) during Cuba's Republic Era, I had to critically ponder over Haniel's use and definition of the word "Worm" and compare it to the meaning of the word in Spanish "Gusano" made by Castro a derogatory term used to describe all Cuban counter-revolutionaries.  But Haniel here says this about Worms or Monsters.         

"To strip a man of all loyalties but those to the state 
makes him not only a worm but a monster, 
without a shred of humanity."
~ Haniel Long (1888-1956)

I immediately thought to myself  'Wow! The Gusanos were them all along!'  Did Castro really think or know this same thing too?  Did Castro think all along - until his dying breath - that the Gusano joke was on us 'the Exiles" for the well-read and educated monster Fidel would certainly have known and studied this American Poet, Haniel Long, whose most famous book was titled "Interlinear to Cabeza de Vaca" (1936) - a fictionalized account of the true story of a Spanish conquistador in 16th century North America.

Throughout the history of Castro's revolution the term "Gusano" was used by the Cuban govt. to fuel hate, intolerance and division within its people and even between family members. Cuban supporters of the revolution use the term derogatorily against their own parents, family members and friends (like contributing author Cruz describes in his story) simply because of ideological and political differences. During the Mariel Boatlift 125,000 Cubans of all types, races, and ages (families with young children as told to me by one of those children) were thrown rocks at and yelled at the term "Gusanos" while they boarded one of at least 1,400 ships docked at the mosquito-infested Mariel Port between April 15th and October 31st, 1980.  In this documentary from C-SPAN, one Cuban man described his life in Cuba as being "buried alive" and another man compares leaving Cuba for freedom is like escaping your house while it's burning down.  Though you have survived, the house is still burnt.      

In this documentary cleverly titled Documental Gusano, the use of the term Gusano is described as an act of hate towards those Cubans who had decided to leave the country not because they faced execution by the government like in decades prior but were people who simply had lost faith in the Cuban government and didn't believe in communism.    


In the same way that the original Cuban Freedom Fighters adopted the Spanish derogatory term Mambises during their very first war of independence against Spain in 1868, the Cubans Exiles living freely around the world proudly self-identify with Castro's derogatory term "Gusanos."  For many free Cuban Exiles, the name "Gusano" is a "badge of honor."  In this 1962 memorandum from CIA Operations Officer for Operation Mongoose, William Harvey identifies the term "Gusano Libre" or as a Symbol of the Cuban Resistance and provides this interesting perspective on its use and its paradoxical meanings.   

'The term “Gusano” (worm) was first applied by Fidel Castro to counter-revolutionaries. Since then it has been used proudly as a symbol by the opposition to the Castro/Communist regime in Cuba. CIA plans a coordinated campaign to popularize, exploit and encourage the use of “Gusano Libre” as the symbol of resistance to the Cuban regime. So as to give the impression that adoption of the symbol is a spontaneous internal development and not an exile one, CIA controlled outlets will refer to instances of use of the symbol inside Cuba rather than calling on Cubans to adopt the symbol.' 

Whether the result of this CIA media campaign or not, the term Gusano Libre still remains 60 years later, a prominent symbol of freedom and resistance and is a term widely embraced and celebrated by the exile community.  And why not ?  Worms are found in the most abundant and fertile soils.  The healthier the soil, the more worms you will find.  It's probably why I am surprisingly un-phased by their presence on my hands when I use my hands to dig and plant by seeds.  I used to not think this way though - having passed up plenty of invitations to bait the the fishing hooks with hundreds of worms of varying sizes and colors.   

Unfortunately, the term is also still used derogatorily by Cuban Revolutionary loyalists to express hate, as sadly seen in this Instagram video post. I believe they continue to use it because they are so miserable in their own lives that they have to make others feel just as miserable for daring to think differently or deciding to leave Cuba.  One thing is for certain; the Cuban regime encourages and rewards them for displaying such acts of repudiation against their own people. Hate divides the nation while strengthening the regime that represses them.

But did you know the Worm is also a Spirit Animal? Like the snake, the worm spirit animal is a "spiritual groundskeeper." Its symbolism infers that through interaction with the world around us one nourishes the body, mind and soul and heals. Like the Gusano Libre, in that moment that one feels like giving up, the breakthrough and rebirth occurs at just the right time.      

But I think it's time to change that rhetoric, don't you think?  It's time to take off (posthumously) Castro's mask to unveil and reveal to the world his lies, his hatred and his treason to the Cuban people.  It's time to use the word "Gusano" or "Worm" in the context of Haniel's definition and forever abandon the derogatory meaning created by Castro.  The Gusano is the person or Monster (in this case the Cuban govt.) that strips away the personal loyalties of each individual Cuban citizen by prohibiting them of the universal right to freedom of speech and expression and unreasonably punishing such actions with imprisonment.  It's time to call the communists what they've always been.  It's time to call the Castristas "Gusanos" as it should have been all along. So you see, thanks to Haniel Long we now know that Castro's joke has been figured out.  The Gusanos were the Communists all a Long - all a Haniel Long that is!  





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