I can’t, at times, shake the idea of being immobilized in the middle of time. A feeling similar to what I felt as a girl when my Papa played at burying me in the sand, I couldn’t stand it for more than a few seconds. The concept of absolute freedom is an illusion, but our ability to measure and to understand it is not an illusion; to understand that being buried in the sand unable to move is not the same as standing in front of the sea, looking at the far horizon, so distant that it almost makes no sense to call it a limit.
In my country, while the thoughts are nice and warm below the sand, one can feel safe not to be literally locked behind bars; but when we decide to put our ideas into an empty bottle and throw them into the sea, headed for the distant horizon, our body runs the risk of relinquishing, for an indefinite time, swimming along the shore.
Friends speak to me of changes, I get emails that say little, and a botero comments to me, stupidly optimistic, that they are fixing the streets (later, faced with my apathy and pessimism, he confessed to me that he was in the program for “political refugees” and, in passing, advised me for some strange reason that I should sign up too). I look all around me and I see an expectation that I not feel the slightest friction; the truth is I have no Faith, I don’t believe in these changes, I can’t help it.
More than 200 people are in prison for thinking differently, and have been for six years; the news is a vomit of lies; the newspaper Granma is a joke in bad taste; we still have the same problems, the same lack of freedom as always, with the same party, the same mass organizations, the same politics and ideology. I’m sorry but the truth is that I don’t see anything new with some ministers more and some less, and a younger brother up and an older brother down.
I would like to be able to say that the only one responsible for this situation is Fidel Castro, but I can’t. I remember when he gave up his power, in the interim before Raúl took charge, that Randy Alonso was always saying on The Round Table television show, “The Leadership of the Revolution” had ordered this, “The Leadership of the Revolution” had decided that, and I wondered, half jokingly half serious, under what new abstract concept were we being governed.
I don’t care whether the model is Chinese, Russian or Martian; at this point I can only think, and really hope, to be wrong, that until the whole “The Leadership of the Revolution” is no longer in power, nothing will change very much for those of us down here.
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.