Reinaldo Escobar wrote an excellent article, "The bones of money," where, among other things, he mentions the fortune that Castro received from all kinds of sources to make his revolution. However, every time we talk about dissidents, independent journalists, or political parties in Cuba, money never fails to stick in the throat like a damn fish bone. Why? It makes no difference to me if they send them money or not, I even believe they should get more: to make banners, to put up more posters, to be able to create a clandestine network layered with anti-Castro signs, to set up a traveling press, to create local dissident intranet radio stations, to bribe security oficials and get them to change sides, to print 11 millon copies of the Vaerla Project, in short, in order to do what’s happening. What I am curious about, for example, is the salary of Randy, I love to know how much they pay him for facing the consequences in such a brutal way. How much did Taladrid earn the week devoted to speaking live and in person on Absurd Table about the private correspondence of Marta Beatriz Roque? I wonder that people, including many of my friends whom I consider intelligent and capable, with very coherent political ideas, make such a face when it comes to the money of the opposition. Wouldn’t it be better to ask ourselves how much they pay the guy who took a photo of Marta’s refrigerator, or those who have 24 hour a day Internet access at home so they can sabotage the resistence on the web, or those who listen in on the other ends of our telephones? Why do the the television national news journalists have cars, cell phones, houses, where does all that come from? Why do they pay them so well and the rest of us so badly? Why does Eusebio Leal have antique shops in Europe and, incidently, who made him Mr. Fuedal Lord-in-Chief of Old Havana? I remember once, because of some international scandal about the bank account of el Comandante, that we had to endure several days of Absurd Table, where they explained in detail the precarious economic situation of Castro. The popular joke was that we should collect a dollar per person and give him the money… and even so we’re preoccupied with the money those on our side have. It seems incredible.
Translator’s notes: Reinaldo Escobar is an independent Cuban journalist. The Varela Project is a citizen’s petition to the Cuban government to enact democratic political reforms. Randy Alonso is director and host of the television talk show “Mesa Redonda” (Roundtable). “Absurd Table” is a play on words. Marta Beatriz Roque is a Cuban economist and political dissident. Reinaldo Taladrid is a government-employed Cuban journalist. Eusebio Leal is the Havana City Historian and holds a large number of political and culutral posts, including Deputy to the National Assembly.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.