Thursday, January 8, 2009

Politics between the sheets

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo

To come to an understanding of how far we have taken this system, we need to be attentive to the details that, with the force of half a century, shape our everyday lives but that are anomalous in any healthy society. On December 24th we always eat with our family and friends. We have someone in the family who is a communist. The ten people whom we ate with this year, by unanimous vote and without abstentions or ‘no’ votes, decided we wouldn’t invite her. We wouldn’t be able to speak about any topic (she relates almost everything we say to politics, particularly everything Ciro says, the poor guy, he says ‘school’ and already there’s a squabble); we wouldn’t be able to make political jokes (among which we had printed for the occasion); we wouldn’t be able to yell at each other about social topics (we agree on almost nothing but we argue with great vigor); and the worst of all is that we know she would feel super bad among so much worminess, and we’d never be able to reestablish our relationship after a single disastrous Christmas eve dinner.

Those are the sad situations which this revolution has led to in 50 years: a society in which parents and children aren’t on speaking terms, mothers take their children from home, friends don’t speak, long time marriages break up for ideological reasons.

The mother of a childhood friend was married her whole life to a State Security official. They never divorced but from what I understand they slept in separate rooms and while she went to church he went to the Ministry of the Interior. Ironically, the wall of the living room was in agony, one day yes and one day no when a photo of Fidel was replaced with one of the Pope and vice versa, with the usual squabble and shouting that preceded the change in decoration. In time, the one of Fidel ended up hung on one side of the kitchen (it’s worth clarifying that the one in my house mysteriously disappeared along with all the photos we’d hung under it).

I believe the moral crisis in which we bathe every day still isn’t calculated: the best match—a foreigner; the lottery—permission to live abroad; the best skill—the double standard; the sexual harassment—naïve public exhibitionism; the prostitutes—‘fighting’ women; the illegality—selling eggs; the legality—snitching; the best in the class—the best liar; survival—stealing.

Once on the news they were talking about a serious problem in England where the majority of the young people don’t exercise their right to vote because they’re not interested in politics… What irony: I dream of not being interested in politics, of not caring who will be president elect. But even better: I dream that in the next election we eleven million Cubans on this island don’t exercise our right to vote.

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