On the 50th anniversary, this is the question: Go or stay?
Painting: Claudio Fuentes Madan
The reasons for both decisions are equally important to me. The sacrifice of either option is great. I think things can be done for this country from within or from without, that’s not the point. What does seem important to me is NOT to be judging the role of those who are doing things from whatever place on the planet while everyone thinks they are all State Security or opportunists. It seems that the long arm of paranoia has gotten lodged in the minds of many of us to absurd levels. Deciding to stay doesn’t mean that I think there will be changes in Cuba in the next 50 years, I don’t want to err on the side of naiveté with the disillusionment that tomorrow becomes repentance. However, to stay is to renounce for an indefinite period the rights that I am due as a citizen, some of which I exercise in these times because I want to, even though they are not legitimized, as Mariela Castro argued in her strange letter “NOT” directed at Yoani Sánchez (it seems, somehow, exceptional in the history of writing, that now people write to themselves from Cuba about Yoani, people who are NOT interested in her and who don’t even know who she is). On the other hand, deciding to go, I think. would be conversely to give up any hope of possible changes in the next 50 years. But why not dream of a world where paranoia and fear of thinking don’t exist, where I am paid for my work, where there is no talk of gratuities of 60 million dollars for who knows what prominent figures when the rest of us mortals still live on 20 CUC a month and without gratuities (trips, vacations in Varadero or in the keys where I can’t go) and where snitching, as I once said, is institutionalized and if anyone doubts it I quote:
"It is not possible to lead and control and at the same time to be tolerant; to play the role of 'the good guy' as it's popularly called. Hence, the various epithets, usually derogatory, that they assign to those who do what really needs to be done."
Raúl Castro speech before the National Assembly of People's Power Palace of Conventions, Havana, December 27, 2008.
If I balance the vocabulary that I’ve heard in the past month, that of the government shows clearly the words Hate and Intolerance; of what changes does this speak to me, from within and at what time? I don’t know with this syntax. Thanks, but I think I prefer Guatemala, because without a doubt we are entering Guatepeor.
Translator’s note “From Guatemala to Guatepeor” is an expression that means “from bad to worse” or “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
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.