Once again the government launches a campaign for people to take the law into their own hands and to adopt predetermined behaviors to stop that which they think is wrong. Once more it feeds the hatred between us so that we consume each other like cannibals, while they wash their hands of any responsibility. This is no longer about why the black market, the illegalities and the delinquencies in Cuba have grown astronomically, it is just about ending them… and who should do away with them? Us. A campaign of the greatest absurdity in a country where no one lives on their state salary, and I say state because of course there are many people who work hard and survive through illegal work.
But behind one more campaign it’s business as usual, the old tactic of setting us against each other, to give a neighbor the enormous responsibility of deciding who is politically correct, who lives on their salary, who is integrated into society, and above all of making whomever decides this also decide what to do about it, and what to do to themselves should they fail in this mission. To live with the pain of knowing that some day the president of my CDR [Committee for the Defense of the Revolution], whom I like so much, may knock on my door to read me the riot act, or that the council of neighbors, people whom I’m very fond of, have already been placed in the painful situation of demanding information about Ciro Diaz because he lives in my house and so they came to ask about him. The sickness of hating the vigilance, the paranoia of seeing State Security in every face and a terrorist in every civilian, the dreadful perversion of living undercover in order to eat, the PNR’s [National Revolutionary Police] fomenting of hate between Habaneros and those from other provinces, the flood of easterners coming to Havana and in turn the officials’ campaign against in-country emigration which makes the same police force send its own countrymen back to the provinces. A society based on government blackmail, which only more strongly institutionalizes people denouncing each other, abuse of power, hatred and demoralization
I’m tired of hearing about building a perfect society, I do NOT want a perfect society. Of seeing on television gross accusations of all kinds of evil against our own people, and their charging us with the responsibility to make or break our peers. Of having to hear that the vampires of illegality must be destroyed and that, with impunity, they call for civilian segregation.
That in my country the elections in the United States are more interesting than our own… sorry, what elections? That for what they call the vote here they have four meetings in the months before to explain that the vote is voluntary but… and that in addition they take good care that what they put on the ballot is... so that no one will make a mistake it’s better that… go and knock on the door of Mr. So-and-So who hasn’t come yet… I don’t know why he put that in if he knows we have to go look for him… now it has to happen because he is falling behind, it’s not easy and I didn’t like it either…
I want a government that takes responsibility for its actions and doesn’t treat its people like black and white pawns to be taken, I want the horizon of my freedom not to stop at the end of my nose, I don’t want bureaucrats telling me what I should read or when I should exchange my refrigerator or how many pounds of rice I should eat a month, all the while demanding my eternal and unconditional gratitude.
I want the witch hunt to end once and for all and that Cuba will never again under any circumstances have to experience a night of the long knives, led by the people and manipulated by the government.
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.