Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan Text: La Salamandra Blanca
I read Granma last Friday the 23rd, motivated to know what he might think to write about as he returned to his reflections after a long period of silence that led to the well-known doubts and speculations about his health and even his physical existence.
He seems personally vainglorious, but subtlety so (omitting his own name), saying that the Cuban Revolution in its 50 years has outlasted eleven US presidents. After referring to Obama almost affably, he explained to everyone who might be interested, and gullible, why he has reduced the number of Reflections. He has no interest in obstructing the work of his colleagues, which given his habit of poking into everything must be very difficult for him, and difficult for us to believe. As was expected, he left up in the air a final question about the eleventh president with a typical cutting remark: “What will he do when soon the immense power he’s taken in his hands is absolutely useless to overcome the insoluble antagonistic contradictions of the system?”
He calls it a rare privilege indeed to have witnessed events for such a long time. When this hasn’t been pure coincidence, nor remotely the product of a divine gift given exclusively to him, but rather something very well planned, fought for and maintained with all the forces of arms and minds, hearty and mighty, by and for himself. Is the fact that he’s still enjoying that power today what makes it unusual? Or it is because it’s difficult to believe that we’ve endured for so long?
The thing I like most of what I’ve heard, is his mention that his colleagues shouldn’t worry about his condition or death. Just the fact that he alluded to the possibility that by the end of Obama’s term he won’t enjoy the privilege, serves as a relief to many, as if he had said he only has less than four years to live.
If we asked him the same question he asked Obama, I would like to know what he would answer. Or doesn’t he realize that he, too, has had immense power in his hands for a much longer time and he has not resolved the insoluble, antagonistic, growing contradictions of this system? Doesn’t that make him think that at this point the power that he still so severely maintains has become useless? …He could reflect on that and give us at least the slight pleasure of publishing it.
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.