"We must at all costs ensure that the people hate those who do not work." The words of Esteban Lazo at the National Congress of the CDR
On Thursday at seven o’clock in the morning one of those tourist buses passed by 17th and 12th honking at full volume. I was in the corner and I was scared, thinking there was an accident, because normally those who honk like that are newlyweds who have just been to the notary and I knew the offices weren’t open at this hour, not even by chance.
They were the, I don’t know how many, participants in the CDR Congress, who very naively thought that we, the bystanders, would send them off to their meeting with cheers and smiles. I had a flash-back to my childhood: with flower in hand I stood on the Paseo saluting the arrival of Gorbachev. Strangely, my parents had not gone, my father didn’t like Gorbachev (now I know why) so I went with a neighbor and her mother; they were acting like God was going to be passing in front of us.
Luckily time passes, and the people no longer want to run back for nothing or nobody. Everyone was looking at the bus with reluctance and the absurdity of the situation made me laugh. Did they really expect to be praised by the people along their route? The same people they want to put in jail for “illegalities”?
When I was in first grade, in 1989, there was a Spanish priest in my classroom. The teacher told us that when the priest came we should tell him that in Cuba our God was Fidel. You could ask yourself, what status would the organizers of the congress claim that we have for them; if bear in mind the point of view of my teacher, one might well believe them to be the Holy Inquisition.
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.