I never knew if the people who put this poster at the entrance of their houses were sufficiently aware to understand that it is not a metaphor. Their houses were Fidel’s and, furthermore, all of our houses are the Revolution’s, because everything around us belongs to that abstract concept. In Cuba, we’ve opted for the old Greek philosophy, everything is made from a single substance and this, in turn, is the origin of all things. Western history is divided by the year zero, before and after Christ; Cuban history is divided by the year 59, before the Revolution nothing, after the Revolution everything.
It surprises me to think that there be people, even within Cuba, who claim that it’s very difficult to evict a family from their home. I will not relate the stories of others because I had the misfortune to deal with the eviction brigade when I was 20 years old.
My father lived in the house of my maternal grandmother, my grandmother decided to put the house in my name as a sort of last act of lucidity. When my father died, I came into my house, which was logical. However, a person close to my father and with a little power thought this wasn’t good, that the right thing was for the house to go to her. At that very moment she started a battle that I knew nothing about, her first blow coming from an unexpected direction: in my absence, she started taking out the toilet, the sink, the wiring for the lights and the pipeline for the gas (why even mention the other things that were in the house); she passed off false accusations that I signed the Varela Project petition (which I didn’t sign because I didn’t see a copy); the subsequent mini-repudiation-meeting-visit of members of the soldiers’ association; the prolonged lack of a registered address; people noted as temporary residents in my house whom I’d never seen; denunciations for receiving illicit rents; and, the finishing touch, the terrible “eviction.”
I'm not going to tell the whole story because it's not worth the trouble. She couldn't throw me out thanks to my father, who, even though he was dead, I mentioned because, evidently, by legal means they were going to kick me out of my house.
Nevertheless, it would make sense to go to Old Havana and contact all the people who in these last years have been evicted from their homes so that the historic center can be adapted for the tourists; or to ask the neighbors of Vedado, near 11th and K, why MININT doesn’t allow them either to exchange their houses or to leave them, as an inheritance, to someone in their family.
I don’t know if the singer, Bárbara Grave de Peralta, was finally evicted or not, I sincerely hope not. But I would also like to say that her case was neither unique nor isolated, rather it’s one more example of what happens daily on this ideal island. I hope that her complaint and the solidarity that her situation may have awakened helps her somehow, and my best wishes go out to her.
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.