Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Heberto Padilla and Virgilio Piñeiro

When I put the title on my post yesterday, I didn’t yet know whether it would be my last supper, or censorship’s. But I did it because I liked it and because, above all, I wished it would be their last supper.

We never managed to agree if we should take the cameras, if they would take everything from us (security already has, thanks to us, two 2gig-flash drives, and two of Ciro’s unreleased songs) I sincerely pass on giving them anything else. Claudio always took everything, fortunately.

The trauma of the protestdrome and Ciro’s and Gorki’s arrests, I went prepared: two Cuban pesos for the bus and the identity card in the pocket of my worst pants, sneakers for running, and a box of cigarettes that I swore in vain not to report in case of an interrogation, so they would not blackmail me with my vice.

But events always overcome me, last night I wasn’t afraid but today at noon I felt I was about to ask someone for a nylon bag to breathe into, like I have seen people do in the movies. However, I got to Old Havana—I don’t give more details in the interest of modesty—I can only feel that I am a true victim of this body that refuses to obey me and doesn’t respect my decisions.

We got on the bus after going around the block because the surveillance operation was impressive. The arrival at La Cabaña could be compared to landing on Saturn, I remember I said as a joke, Welcome to Octavo Cerco, but I don’t think the others could hear me either. It occurred to us, nothing more, and nothing less than to go by the Morro to pass the time. As Yoani later said, we went into the mousetrap.

The passage in and out of El Morro doesn’t leave room to stand upright, narrow and medieval, with tiny windows at waist height; it was, undoubtedly, the worst that could happen to us. But just like that, crazy and innocent, we went in. From the other side we saw the operatives; guys with earphones in their ears went by us and looked us in the eyes. Much too late we realized we had to get out of there, but at that point Ciro, Gorki and Claudio decided it would be better to have some ice cream, it doesn’t matter how big the operation: if there’s strawberry ice cream at three Cuban pesos, let the police be calm, because there is hunger, indeed.

Yoani and Reinaldo went ahead, the security guys couldn’t keep up with them. I stayed behind with the hungry guys, prize included, a strawberry ice cream that Ciro placed in my hands in the middle of my: “but what are you doing, we have to get out of here now!”

So the tunnel found me in a phase worthy of an André Bretón paragraph, while I attacked the cone with my teeth. The agent said in my presence: Yes, affirmative, they’re leaving, there are about five… and another one behind Orlando would confirm the information. Ciro, always with his fire-proof sense of humor went down a corridor and jumped a low wall so the security guy would do the same, and indeed, he did so.

When we reached the esplanade there was no one there except two friends who were supposed to be incognito and couldn’t greet us, however, as soon as they saw us coming they ran over, happy to see us, and surreptitiousness went, without a doubt, to hell. Everything else for me continues to seem indescribable, like when Gorki came out of the court proceedings at La Playa.

We sat on the esplanade in slow motion, an Argentine writer arrived and I breathed out: if there is even one foreign writer at least they won’t kick us. But suddenly the journalists started to come out, the security agents settled themselves behind some cars 50 meters away, Yoani pulled out a paper, folded it and then opened it again and began to read. Orlando took my cigarette (he doesn’t smoke), more press appeared, writers appeared, a lot, lots of young people, young press from the fair, Orlando’s friends, photographers. Slowly they came down from the fair and stood around, I didn’t know how many we were, I don’t care, it was many more than we ever would have thought. When Yoani finished reading we applauded, we took out a few copies on CD, Reinaldo stated there were others scattered throughout the fair, some media technician young women who had joined the group applauded and shouted, yes… everything worked out.

Of course, Orlando’s book is already dedicated to his mother, who suffered so much under the horrible and mediocre strategies of state security. So I dedicate this day to Herberto Padilla and Virgilio Piñeira, to the first for losing his sanity, for remaining all alone on the esplanade, and to the other one for raising his hand and interrupting Fidel’s speech “Words to Intellectuals” and for having had the great courage to say: “What I’m feeling is great fear”.

Apologies for not having photos of the moment, but only one camera and five bloggers require true acts of altruism.

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