The other day Ciro and Gorki gave an interview to an Italian communist. They didn’t know he was a communist, of course. But all the same they gave it to him because they were giving interviews to the whole world despite my advice not to do it, because it’s not easy to be giving an interview to the security services, when what they want is for you to rot in prison and there you are, nicely answering questions. According to Ciro’s version, Gorki was upset when the journalist told him that there were many things he should be thankful to the Revolution for, while he didn’t get upset because he wanted to get information out of him. According to Gorki’s version, Ciro got upset when the journalist said that the dissidents were all getting money from the U.S. government, while he had remained calm so that he could listen and know what he was thinking. Both versions agree that it was lucky I wasn’t there, because had I been I would have sabotaged the interview, with the usual expulsion from my house of Compañero European Communist Journalist. I can converse with Cuban communists, in fact I do it often because I know a few (my mother-in-law, for example). We don’t last long, either of us, but I can listen to some of their arguments and refute them and try to convince them. But with the Europeans, Americans, or anyone in the developed Western world, I can’t. I even have patience with young Latin Americans, because I believe they’ve been brainwashed, just like us, and to top it all off they’re living in Cuba as if this was a paradise, while in their countries they sell this government as the model for the solution to all their problems… I only hope it doesn’t become a reality, for the sake of their children. It makes me want to vomit when a Spaniard or a Frenchman or an Italian tells me that the Cuban Revolution is the bastion of the perfect society in this capitalist world where the selfishness blah blah blah… earning $5,000 a month and vacationing in Varadero, really democracy makes no sense! Once at Claudio’s, an American about 50 told me that he felt very good that Cubans didn’t have the right to buy cars. “Why would you want a car if you don’t have to travel very far to get to work? Back in the U.S. I don’t have a car and I don’t feel the need to travel very far.” The part about not traveling very far for work wasn’t clear to me, where would he have gotten such a statistic? But I left it and didn’t refute it. Why? The best thing was when his 15-year-old fiancée arrived. I had to ask her what she thought about the fact that her boyfriend was never going to buy her a car.
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.