The police charged Lia Villares for wearing a “compromising” shoe. More details are available in Habanemia.blogspot.com and the complete story is on Penultimos Dias, because Lia hasn’t managed to post the details on her blog.
The Ciro Productions announces a print run of 2000 pairs of TRACK shoes with this card, that will be sold in the shops of Vedado, available on the ration book at three and a half pounds of Shoes per nuclear family.
Yesterday at six in the evening one of my best friends called, asking me to go to CIMEQ where her father (retired security services) was dying. She’s been my friend since I was born and I love her father. Here in Cuba the relationships among family members have become really tangled (my father was also in the security services). The first thing I thought was, “She’s crazy, they’re not going to let me in at Cimeq, not even for a dead man,” but it wasn’t like that, I went in through the service door and nobody asked me anything, despite spending 20 minutes wandering around with a face looking like, “where am I… where’s the elevator for god’ssssss” and ending up getting in a freight elevator with terror on my face. I’d been there when I was a girl, my father took me when I was sick, and I remember some things. Nothing has changed in almost twenty years, literally. Of course it doesn’t compare to Calixto García or to Fajardo, which look like they’ve been bombed (in spite of some repairs that for some strange reason are not very obvious). I have spent a lot of time in my life in hospitals, for five years I was hospitalizing my grandmother in Fajardo every six months, and I took care of my first boyfriend in the Calixto hospital for almost a year… and nobody can tell me that at least health care in Cuba is grrrrrr… at least what? At least we have good antibodies and people save themselves, at times… really it’s a miracle (I’ve seen, from a pneumothorax hose to a femur put in backwards during a one-hour blackout in intensive care during a cyclone at Calixto Garcia--in 2002 or 2003, I don’t remember--because there was no staff). In addition to the general apathy of the doctors and nurses and the daily mistreatment (they also live on their salaries), the bad conditions and the filth are the status quo. But my friend was depressed and told me: one week to have a test, another week to have it looked at by a specialist, more than a month waiting for a broken machine, sometimes the wrong medicine comes. And I wonder: what about the broken ceilings, the clocks that don’t work, each one showing a different time… Don’t they think here is where everything should be the best? If it’s like this here, what’s left for us?
“…He is a weather prophet. The weather will continue bad, he says. There will be more calamities, more death, more despair. Not the slightest indication of a change anywhere. The cancer of time is eating us away. Our heroes have killed themselves. The hero, then, is not Time, but Timelessness. We must get in step, a lock step, toward the prison of death. There is no escape. The weather will not change.”
Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer
Sergio is an astrologer and friend, and this citation is an almost exact copy of what he comes and tells us every month; the last time he was exhorting the Pornos, shouting, “Flee! Don’t be immolated, this is an toilet full of shit on the verge of exploding!”
Translator’s notes “Pornos” = The band members of Porno Para Ricardo The excerpt from Henry Miller is taken directly from the original English text; it is not a ‘re-translation’ of the Spanish text.
The "comic" tribunal-tribulation adventures of Ciro. The kamikaze.
Photos: Claudio Fuentes Madan and OLPL Text: Ciro Javier Diaz Penedo
¡GORKI, GORKI, GORKI, Gorki, Gorki ... ... ....! And they fall on us with blows, it was the night of the day of god knows what where Pablo Milanés gave a concert at the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Grandstand on the Malecón. Gorki had been in jail three days already awaiting trial on charges of “pre-delinquent activity” which provided a motive for the authorities to silence our group, Porno para Ricardo. Five people had decided to go to the concert with a banner to “remind” Pablo that many intellectuals and artists in Cuba and abroad had sent a letter asking him to comment on the current situation.
Four GORKIs and the so-called Rapid Response Brigades that had been called to the scene attacked us, three of us escaped and they captured Emilio and me, they were able to restrain me because it is not in my nature to fight.
Immediately, a colossal Fatso wrapped his arm around my neck and squeezed while others beat me with their hands and feet, but the key to strangulation is that it’s a perfect anesthetic for the blows that I could feel raining down on me.
- Careful! Don’t break his neck! (Another brigadista said to Fatso.)
In this pleasant state they lead us to a nearby office of the popular power where they gave us a comfortable location in a corner against the wall with two guys holding us. Then having recovered my breath I confess to the one who’s holding me up:
- Hey, that Fatso really crushed my neck.
- Shut your mouth!
- He was really strong, does he lift weights?
- How ‘bout you shut your mouth asshole?
- I lifted weights in school, but I never got that strong, it’s a problem with my metabolism.
At this moment another nearby compañero asked in a hysterical voice,
- What’s that shiteater say?
- He seems to have a problem with his metabolism – answered the one holding me up.
At that point someone decided we were too comfortable for the occasion and repositioned us on our knees on the floor with a third knee on our backs which often exerted an annoying pressure on the ribs. To make it a little more unbearable they demanded that our hands must be crossed in front.
- How do I have to put my hands? I asked with a slight shrug of my left hand.
- Like thisssssss! Answered the combatant meanwhile returning them to the indicated position.
- Like this? I asked, changing the position of my hands again.
- No, like this! He said putting them back in place.
- But the problem is the floor is slippery and I slide.
- You want him to give it to you?!?! – He said in complete hysterics while the other one took the opportunity to sink his knee a little deeper into my back.
Then I pretended I was suffering from low blood sugar to see if literally he’d take his foot off:
- Help him please! shouted Emilio, confused.
I just didn’t know how to grin at him, so he’d understand that I was pretending (like I was acting in a movie) and they wouldn’t beat him up for showing solidarity with me, poor guy, he’d already had enough of a good thrashing on the same day he’d arrived from France with all kinds of great anecdotes.
Fortunately at that moment the savior patrol came looking for us and a mastodon dragged me to it and threw me in. Sitting next to me was a pathetic higher-up from MININT saying that she was a professional, that she would take me to the doctor, that afterwards we’d talk and she was my neighbor, among other inanities.
At Calixto García there was a young security guy at my side who, to amuse me, pretended to be afraid.
- Madam, shall I give it to him? he asked the police woman.
- Let’s go Ciro, I haven’t touched you – The boy was her puppet.
The other cops who were there were trying to control their laughter.
Finally, at the station! Air conditioning, cold water… (seriously)… The interrogation.
The police woman asked me about all the dissidents there have been, from Oswald Paya all the way to some unknown X, later she left and I never saw her again. In her place an expert appeared to make a record of everything they’d taken from me and he put to his right a group of papers that I was carrying in my bag when I was detained, nothing important, only a couple of songs against Fidel Castro and Che. And so he picked up the first paper.
- What’s this, “The Che didn’t Bathe”?!?!
At this moment a security guy there intervened to explain to him that he shouldn’t give any weight to that, that I had a rock band that basically sang songs with bad words and we offended the leaders. Not very convinced, the cop continued with the second paper.
- “I am citizen X and I don’t suck Fidel Castro’s prick,” but what about this? – He asked, unsure about what he should do, the security guy shook his head saying no.
In a choreographed act everyone left, leaving me alone with the little boy who threw me the classic cliché, “Tell me about your life,” and I threw back at him the classic cliché, “When I was just a child…” After a few minutes kissing that bitch’s ass we began to talk about more interesting things, MICROPHONES. Ahhh!!! I love microphones. I asked him what kind of microphones they had in their technical equipment for spying on dissidents and I mentioned some of my favorite microphone brands, Senheiser, Shure, AKG, and I was telling him about how they worked and the range of frequencies they stressed but the kid didn’t seem to specialize in microphones and seemed a little fed up with my chitchat. He then informs me that:
- I am your personal biographer, I know your whole life.
I always dreamed of having this conversation with security so I asked him,
- Have you heard my songs?
- Yes - He said.
- And……… do you like them?
- I’m not a fan of yours! – He said, half indignant and then confessed – I like some, “The Kitty” for example.
The Kitty is a stupid semi-childish song I composed one day when I didn’t have anything to do, in fact it was well received by the semi-childish public of the University of Habana and they asked me to put on a few concerts. For a moment I was tempted to ask him if he liked my song “El Comandante,” and I could already imagine him cloistered in his room (without air conditioning) evading the vigilance of counterintelligence and humming the song.
- What I don’t like is when you start to offend people who in one way or another have played an important role in history.
Wow! It seems like he read my mind!
Then a new agent, Rodney, came in the door (we have photographic evidence) who told me, laughing,
- Listen Ciro, I want to explain to you a little bit about what happened down there. First of all, as everyone’s told you, none of those people there were our people; the problem is that no one knew what you were going to take out and well… you know how it goes with the people.
I was always left with the doubt about who it was who didn’t know what we were going to take out and how they knew we were going to take out something, anything, the minor inconsistencies of the official, but to come to the point I asked him about Gorki and he said he didn’t know anything, that he believed there was a problem with the noise in the building and that…
Well, to end the choreography they took Emilio and me to my house in a patrol car accompanied by the expert whom I asked, during the whole trip, about interrogation techniques and about an official from MININT who, on getting out of the car, declared a great admiration for rock music but then dropped the disguise to explain:
- Rock has nothing to do with politics.
Without much desire to pull out the example of the Sex-Pistols singing songs mocking the Queen of England or that the majority of Spanish punk rock bands play leftist songs, I asked him:
- And my friend in prison?
- We don’t want to talk about that – he said without changing his tone – You keep on playing your rock and no one here is going to bother you for that, but don’t get into politics.
Reading Yoani Sanchez’s post, “Impunity,” in Generation Y, I’m a little worried about Manolito, the crazy guy at 23rd and 12th Streets. I’d already told Orlando Luis that he was walking around shouting, down around… around 23rd and 14th Streets where they sell hotdogs, and to get him to leave one of the vendors gave him a hotdot. But today he was at the rápido fast food place shouting at a security guy who got out of a Lada. “Hey you, millionaire! Yes, you, with the Lada, with the white shirt! Yes, you, millionaire! You’re a millionaire! You’re a friend of Fidel Castro! Down! You hear me? Down!” The guy with the Lada had a tremendously evil face and people ignored the situation totally looking away, I was bursting with laughter against the counter, it was very funny; Manolito was in his element. However, the other day Ciro and I had to come to the defense of a nut who was shouting at the top of his lungs at 23rd and 2nd, “Raul! Fidel, I can’t last any longer! Get me out of here! A boat!” to which the kids were answering that they were going with him. He was an old man of the “I-belong-to-the-association-of-combatants-and-no-one-notices-me” type who was trying to come to blows and ended up discussing with us: “Let us shout what we want, but with Fidel it’s not going to be permitted!” and to which Ciro fired up replied, “Shout what you want, it’s your right!” (Naivete on his part from having read too much foreign press.) The “combatant” left for lack of support from the apathetic little group enjoying the spectacle but surely missing the game of the old days when they and their friends could have broken ours and the nut’s legs: the youth are lost. But this is a double entry, I leave the “unpunished” for the “abducted,” a very different category from that of Manolito: they are those who someday shouted like he does, but with total good sense and who, on winding roads, under strange conditions and even, I believe, at times unconsciously, were making concessions in their shouts until they became murmurs, until finally they got lost in a swarm of “there’s almost nothing you can say,” “after all it’s not so bad,” and “now that I’ve made it this far… to change direction and go back,” and even, “Me! I’ve never been interested in these things.”
This research is about active Cuban politicians in Cuba in order to cover the absence of information on political topics and its "actors" in the country. This research is another short and humble step in the historical reconstruction of the long march for restoration of democracy, thanks primarily to the way the previous research progressed. As the fundamental pillar of the country, one wants to institute tolerance and the building of a consensus that includes all Cuban citizens, those involved in politics and those who transcend it, with no ideological boundaries. Due to the complexity of the Cuban political scene, there will appear in this compendium titles of professions that do not exist in democratic countries, as classic political definitions. In our case, many of these titles have special meanings that are configured for civil and humanistic political projects. So to widen the vision they include independent journalists and librarians; intellectuals; women working for the freedom of their loved ones; civil society leaders; and opposition political movements and parties, the largest of which has no more than five-thousand members throughout the country. Also considered and included in this compendium are the members of the Communist Party of Cuba, such as the Deputies of the People's National Assembly, and members of the State Councils and Ministries. The only requirement to appear in the original research is to live here and participate in politics.
- Research on prominent Cuban citizens that participate in politics.
- To clearly state aspects of interest about Cuban citizens who reside in Cuba and who participate in politics.
- Up-to-date information on Cuban citizens residing in Cuba and who participate in politics.
- To provide a tool for researchers and scholars about the political reality of the end of the Castro regime.
Monday night Leandro Feales left, for a little variation, accompanied by a security officer on a motorcycle who was talking on a cell phone and two patrol officers on the corner watching the farewell send off from all his friends. At the last moment, apparently on orders from the one on the motorcycle, the cops decided to intervene, asking for the ID card and papers of the driver of the car that would take him to the airport. I found out he was going at 7 pm, traumas of our youth (travel is the greatest desire of every Cuban, like daring to say one’s desire out loud, because as everyone knows then it won’t happen). Hurting a little bit with these spiritual scars that we all have to bear, they go way beyond not saying what one thinks because of fear, or not being able to live on one’s salary, but they commit an outrage against our subconscious and transform and deform our adult post-Revolution psyches, as Orlando Luis would say, I didn’t even get a goodbye kiss because among all of us who breakfasted on the news, we couldn’t all be in front at the last minute. The Lean found time to leave me his photos and I can make a gallery in my blog, and now I am going to write and organize the post, feeling again like I want to cry and feeling empty because there is one less here with me, and one more who passes to the other dimension, the real one. From here I wish him all the luck in the world and that one day we can be together like always, without the security forces, of course. (I will load the gallery as soon as I finish figuring out blogger.com)
I don’t believe in anything, but out of curiosity I went to see a babalao [Santeria priest] who works digital Regla de Ocha [Santeria online] and asked him who had produced the memorandum for the National Council of Visual Arts, and he said: "…Orula [a Santeria deity] says that the memorandum was produced on a computer by a user called Manele on October 16 at 1:06 p.m. with the outdated 2003 version of Microsoft Word. The user edited a second time a file entitled, "Memorandum of the Association of Visual Artists of UNEAC” [Union of Writers & Artists of Cuba] that originally contained a paragraph with four lines, five-hundred words, and whose authorship belongs to another user called Minister Y…” Want to know more? The entire world knows where to find me when they need something, and I’m going to charge a lot because life is very rough! I don’t give three hoots about the Aglutinador* and the Council, and I don’t believe in either art or politics. I only believe in my holy mother and money. Life has taught me that the only thing of value in this world is money. That which is mine is to guide my children along the right path”.
P.S. Needless to say, if you’re going to come, you need to bring euros. I don’t want U.S. dollars because it’s the currency of the enemy. I don’t want CUC [Cuban convertible pesos] because it’s the currency of the nouveau riche, and I don’t want[(nonconvertible] Cuban pesos because it’s the currency of the nouveau poor. I want euros because Europe is the future.
The Cuban government once again, in order to frustrate every activity or manifestation that represents individual freedom, has released, through the auspices of the National Council of Plastic Arts, a twisted statement that attacks the “Espacio Aglutinador” gallery, that represents the outstanding plastic artist Sandra Ceballos where we were going to appear as guest artists. Obviously, for the part relating to us, it would be our desire to state a totally irreverent, anti-political, anti-Castroite show that would annoy the autocracy. Four ourselves, we too are annoyed by the propaganda shows with their overly political content that you, Mister Communists, give to any activity, artistic and non-artistic the length and breadth of this entire archipelago any hour and time you wish. Don’t you think it’s fair that we should get to play once in a while? The statement is manipulative, aberrant, decadent and marked by a Stalinist-Castroite sense. We believe, in order to feel ourselves to be free people, that we have the right to invite whom we want to our show, and for the show to be open door like every normal exposition of plastic and musical arts, including being open to any personnel representing the security services, the state or the party who may be passing by.
For our part, we will continue resisting all this demagogic shit.
Next Saturday, October 18th, 2008, a show has been organized with openly political propaganda purposes at the Agglutination Place. Among the main guests are representatives in Havana of the genocidal government of George W. Bush and such discredited mercenaries as Marta Beatriz Roque and Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz. The intention is for our artists to legitimize with their presence this contribution to the media campaign against our country. We denounce the attempt to give artistic coverage to provocations of this nature. We regret that Sandra Ceballos will take part in the game of the empire’s servants. We appreciate CUBARTE’s support in circulating this message.
SANDRA CEBALLOS’S REPLY TO THIS SLANDER AND DEFAMATION.
I PUBLICLY ACCUSE THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PLASTIC ARTS AND RAFAEL DÍAZ DE LA OSA OF LIBEL AND SLANDER AGAINST MY PERSON AND AGAINST THE WORK FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ART AND ONLY ART THAT THE AGGLUTINATION PLACE HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHING FOR FOURTEEN YEARS. IT IS A SHAME FOR THE ARTISTS AND FOR ALL THE PERSONS WHO IN SO MANY WAYS ARE INVOLVED WITH THE WORLD OF THE ARTS IN CUBA THAT WE HAVE TO READ WRITINGS AS PRETENTIOUS, DECADENT AND NOT IN THE LEAST ORIGINAL AS THESE. UNFOUNDED WRITINGS, MANUFACTURED WITH WORDS THAT ANSWER TO POLITICAL SCHOOLS; WRITINGS THAT CONTAIN A SINGLE DIRECTIVE: TO DESTROY, MISREPRESENT, DISORIENT, FRUSTRATE AND SUBJUGATE.
I DEMAND, WITH ALL MY RIGHTS AS A CUBAN CITIZEN, THAT THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS BE ANSWERED TO ME PUBLICLY (since that’s how it has been disclosed).
1 – WHO IN THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE PLASTIC ARTS HAS DRAFTED SUCH CORROSIVE TEXT?
2 – WHERE IS THE PROOF THAT A “SHOW WILL TAKE PLACE WITH OPENLY POLITICAL PROPAGANDA PURPOSES“ ON OCTOBER 18TH AT THE AGGLUTINATION PLACE?
3 – WHERE IS THAT GUEST LIST, SUPPOSEDLY DRAFTED BY AGGLUTINATION PLACE, IN WHICH PEOPLE AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES MENTIONED IN THAT PARAGRAPH APPEAR? I DEMAND THAT YOU SHOW ME THAT LIST.
4 - I DEMAND PROOF THAT ARTISTS ARE BEING SUMMONED TO “LEGITIMIZE WITH THEIR PRESENCE THIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST CUBA.”
5 – FINALLY, I'M WITHIN MY RIGHTS TO LEGALLY ACCUSE OF DEFAMATION THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE OF THE SERIOUS ACCUSATION THAT I AM “TAKING PART IN THE GAME OF THE EMPIRE’S SERVANTS.”
ENOUGH CENSORSHIP, TECHNICALLY DEMAGOGUE, INSIDIOUS, UNSIGNED ACCUSATIONS AND WRITINGS. HAVE THE COURAGE TO SHOW YOUR FACES AND TO NOT CONTINUE THE INSTITUTIONAL CLANDESTINENESS. STOP COMMITTING INJUSTICES AGAINST CUBAN ARTISTS AND ART, FOR, THANKS TO THAT REGRETTABLE ATTEMPT AGAINST PERSONAL FREEDOM, WE HAVE ALREADY LOST MANY CUBAN CULTURAL PERSONALITIES, WHO TODAY LIVE FAR FROM THEIR HOMELAND AND YET, CONTRADICTORILY, FOR YOU THEY ARE PATRIMONY.
“What do they do and who are the defenders of human rights?” may seem a rhetorical question to the most condescending, and to others simply a stupid question. But for me and many of my friends, that have seen interviews on television where the “Cuban people,” in an act of repudiation against “the instruments of the CIA in favor of human rights” --they even say that right on the National Television News--me, I shit on the mother of “those human rights” and it no longer seems rhetorical nor stupid, but urgent. For this reason I publish another PDF, which I already don’t remember how it came my way in the multiple flash memories and CDs that are given to me and that I pass on every day.
When they told me, while Gorki was still a prisoner, that Amnesty International had accepted his case and that if he were sentenced he would be one more prisoner of conscience in the Cuban prisons, it made me super happy because everyone said it was the best thing that could happen, that Amnesty International was the most serious organization and the most able to put pressure on the Cuban government. But I didn’t know much more about them that, nothing about how the organization works, who and where they are, how bad it has to be for them to take your case, etc. etc. etc.
So I invite everyone who is interested and who also fears that one day they, like me, could be in the category of prisoner of conscience (even though I can’t yet say if it’s ominous or illuminating), to read this material.
Also, speaking of rights and amnesty, I wonder how they categorize the egg seller, who has been freely selling his eggs on the street for the last five years, and today is sentenced to three years in prison, one year for each carton of eggs that he had.
Photo caption: Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, imprisoned since the Black Spring of 2003.
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.