It would seem that in Cuba, instead of a reason for happiness and celebration and hope, all that the New Year could bring with the coming of every January is simply the arrival of the alleged celebration of the now extremely old Triumph of the Revolution. Because of this, the press is always full of “the same.” Recently a 50th Anniversary Bohemia Special Edition magazine was published with articles published in 1959. In general, like always, even today, they tell of the horrors of the dictatorship overthrown that year and everything “we cannot forget.” (But how could we, if every year, one after another, they remind us again how hideous it is?)
In the magazine there are two pages with “Phrases for History,” of course from the “Star of that moment,” with many photos of him. I would like to repeat some of the phrases here, to see how they strike one today with the passage of time:
…”This war was won by the people. And I say that for anyone who believes that he has won it. What interests the Revolution is the people…” Who would be the one who, at that moment, believed that he had won and was interested in maintaining, for such a long time, all of the people under his absolute command and authority?
…”I believe that this people has the same rights as other people to govern itself and to chart its own destiny.” …And since then…? Sometime it’s time to let the people chart a new destiny, and it would be good to stop living through what someone else charted for himself and extended to everyone.
…”Where there is justice there is no crime, and where there is crime there is no freedom of the press; where there is crime they hide what they do.” …Freedom of the press? Where is that… is it here? “This people is not a barbaric people, nor is it a criminal people. This the most noble and sensitive people of all." …Asshole, then why are you so determined to fuck them over?
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.