December 5 1998
TO: Mr G Greene
Our Man in Havana
My Dear Graham
I am writing further to our recent telephone conversation regarding the predicament of my daughter-in-law Harriet. I am rather concerned because I have not heard from her for quite some weeks now. And while I understand that she must serve out her term in the Castro Central Women’s Prison, this total silence is perturbing.
I must say that I feel quite guilty for not having give her some proper advice when she first mentioned her intention to visit, in particular, the Havana Botanical Gardens. She is (was) such an ingénue that I thought she would simply stick to the usual tourist enclave – and not engage in activities of a more dissipated – and dangerous – nature!
And, of course, I was an ingénue myself when I embarked upon my long career with our Secret Intelligence Service. Back in 1957, I was not aware that – as a covert agent in a foreign embassy – I would eventually reach, and remain, on the list of Appendix Z personnel. In fact, in my early days, I don’t think I had even reached my eventual political conclusions. And these are: that democracy enables freedom and that communism – with its lack of freedom of political choices – suppresses it. I frequently think that most citizens in the UK of the present day, simply do not realize how fortunate they are to have: the freedom to choose their religious beliefs; vote for a political party of their choice; migrate freely across the European Union; absolute freedom of speech/expression; engage in self-employed enterprise, and benefit from the free movements of trade. For these opportunities, I believe, enable us citizens of the democratic world to be the best, and most, that we can be.
I am not, of course, saying that a capitalist democracy is without its (large) problems – and the economic (and other) powers wielded by the minority of its citizens looms amongst them. And then there is the greed – and solipsism – demonstrated by so many consumers which is a matter of some considerable distress. But then, in the darkest days of the Cold War, it was thought that greed would sink the capitalist state and this has not come to pass. For, at the end of the day, these governments have shown that they are possessors of values – embedded in the law and in their constitutions – which transcend all others.
But I digress. Exercise your diplomatic powers, would you Graham, and let me know how Harriet fares?
Evangeline Tankful DBE/ ‘C’ (retired)