Kasaysayan ang Magpapawalang-sala sa Akin
Filipino translation of Fidel Castro’s History will Absolve Me by Carl C. Ala
Published by AMISTAD
2006 carries a double significance for AMISTAD. Aside from marking the 80th birthday of Cuban president Fidel Castro, it is also the 60th year of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Cuba. AMISTAD chose to celebrate what its president George Aseniero calls “milestones” by publishing Kasaysayan ang Magpapawalang-sala sa Akin, a Filipino translation of Cuban President Fidel Castro’s famous five-hour speech History will Absolve Me by Carl C. Ala.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
2006 carries a double significance for AMISTAD, a solidarity organization aiming to forge and promote friendship, unity, understanding, and solid relations between the Filipino and Cuban peoples. Aside from marking the 80th birthday of Cuban President Fidel Castro, it is also the 60th year of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Cuba.
AMISTAD chose to celebrate what its president George Aseniero calls “milestones” by publishing Kasaysayan ang Magpapawalang-sala sa Akin, a Filipino translation of Castro’s famous five-hour speech History will Absolve Me by Carl C. Ala.
Delivered in 1953, History will Absolve Me was Castro’s piece in his own defense as he stood on trial for the botched siege on Moncada Barracks.
Ala’s achievement in translating Castro’s speech lies in his being able to give it a tinge of greater familiarity within the Philippine context.
The attack on Moncada Barracks was intended as the culmination of the uprising by the Castro-led revolutionary forces against the U.S.-sponsored dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, which had wrested power through a coup backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the previous year.
The uprising that is the subject of Castro’s speech aimed at seizing Moncada Barracks without bloodshed. The revolutionary forces had no plans of shooting it out with the soldiers at the barracks. What they intended was to seize the arms and ammunition through a surprise attack and peacefully convince the soldiers to abandon the dictatorship.
After seizing power, the revolutionaries would have enacted five revolutionary laws that would declare the legitimacy of Cuba’s 1940 Constitution and effect industrialization, land distribution, and reforms in foreign relations, education, housing, and labor and industrial relations. These were the same objectives that the Castro-led revolutionary forces went on to attain after finally succeeding in toppling the Batista dictatorship in 1959.
The 1953 siege on Moncada Barracks was botched because the revolutionaries were vastly outnumbered and were traversing unfamiliar territory. Castro and his companions were arrested and many were tortured and summarily executed. Those who survived, like Castro himself, faced rebellion charges.
In his speech Castro, a lawyer who had opted to defend himself in court, questions the legitimacy and even legality of the Batista regime:
Saang bansa ba nakatira ang Kagalang-galang na (Tagausig)? Sinong nagsabi sa kanya na nais naming mag-aklas laban sa konstitusyunal na kapangyarihan ng Estado? Dalawang bagay ang malinaw. Una sa lahat, ang diktadura na umaapivsa bansa ay hindi isang konstitusyunal na kapangyarihan, ito ay hindi konstitusyunal. Ito ay itinatag laban sa Konstitusyon, kshit na may Konstitusyon at lumalabag sa Konstitusyon ng lehitimong Republika. Ang lehitimong Konstitusyon ay direktang nakaugat sa soberanya ng mamamayan. Patutunayan ko ang puntong ito (nang) buo mamaya, kahit may mga panlolokong gawin ang mga duwag at traydor upang bigyang-matwid ang di makatarungan. Pangalawa, ang tinutukoy ng artikulo ay hinggil sa kapangyarihan na pangmaramihan at hindi pang-isahan. Dahil isinasaalang-alang nito ang kalagayan na ang Republika ay pinamumunuan ng lehislatibong kapangyarihan, ehekutibong kapangyarihan, at hudisyal na kapangyarihan na nagbabalanse at (nagkokontrabalanse). Na (inagaw) at pinag-isa ang lehislatibo at ehekutibong kapangyarihan ng bansa, na siyang nagwasak sa buong sistemang pinagbabatayan ng artikulo sa Kodigo na ating sinusuri, na siyang dapat nitong pangalagaan. Ni hindi ko na babanggitin ang kasarinlan ng hudisyal na kapangyarihan matapos ang Marso 10 dahil ayokong magbiro … kahit anong paghatak, pagpapaikli o pagkumpuni sa Artikulo 148, hindi ito aangkop sa mga pangyayari noong Hulyo 26. Iwan muna natin ito hanggang lumitaw ang oportunidad na maaari itong gamitin laban sa mga talagang nagsulong ng pag-aalsa laban sa konstitusyunal na kapangyarihan ng Estado.
(In what country is the Honorable Prosecutor living? Who has told him that we have sought to bring about an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State? Two things are self-evident. First of all, the dictatorship that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional power, but an unconstitutional one: it was established against the Constitution, over the head of the Constitution, violating the legitimate Constitution of the Republic. The legitimate Constitution is that which emanates directly from a sovereign people. I shall demonstrate this point fully later on, notwithstanding all the subterfuges contrived by cowards and traitors to justify the unjustifiable. Secondly, the article refers to Powers, in the plural, as in the case of a republic governed by a Legislative Power, an Executive Power, and a Judicial Power which balance and counterbalance one another. We have fomented a rebellion against one single power, an illegal one, which has usurped and merged into a single whole both the Legislative and Executive Powers of the nation, and so has destroyed the entire system that was specifically safeguarded by the Code now under our analysis. As to the independence of the Judiciary after the 10th of March, I shall not allude to that for I am in no mood for joking … No matter how Article 148 may be stretched, shrunk or amended, not a single comma applies to the events of July 26th. Let us leave this statute alone and await the opportunity to apply it to those who really did foment an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State. Later I shall come back to the Code to refresh the Honorable Prosecutor’s memory about certain circumstances he has unfortunately overlooked.)
Translated into Filipino, this paragraph in large part bears similarities with what is happening in the Philippines today. There is something particularly in the reference to an “unconstitutional” dictatorship “that oppresses the people” that sounds extremely familiar. The paragraph could very well have been lifted from a testimony by any of the opposition leaders – whether Left or traditional – who were cracked down upon in the wake of the foiled Feb. 24 attempt at withdrawal of support by soldiers led by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim.