I am happy that the United States lifted the sanctions and took a new political stance in regards to the Cuban government. But my chest tightens when I go out into the street and reaffirm an impression that has become a certainty in recent months: of every five cars driven on the avenues two have green license plates. My friends confirm my nervousness; besides the usual Ladas, now BMWs and Audis display the unmistakable green plates of the Ministry of the Interior.
What’s happening? Why is it that two out of every five cars is military? Why do I see my city going "green" to ridiculous levels in less than three months? Why is it that from G and 23 to 23 and Malecón there are, besides the police, groups uniformed in olive-green circulating? Why, if Raúl Castro affirms he wants to eliminate the "Cold War,” does the Caigüirán operation keep adding “suitable” men from the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) every day? So yes: Artists, doctors, administrators, students, involved, uninvolved, professionals and everyone have received the sadly expected summons of the Military Committee to mobilize to a Military Unit for at least a month (my brother-in-law has already been called up twice). Why, if the government demands the total lifting of the embargo and supports family reunification, has Edgar Lopez been waiting two years for an exit permit to be with his wife, his mother and siblings? Why then, is there a daily operation and arrests in front of his house to force him to give up his hunger strike? Wouldn’t it be more consistent, more intelligent and even more convenient for the government to give him his white card?
Disinformation is a black hole in the brain of the people. Yesterday coming out of a movie a friend told me it was good to lift the sanctions on travel, but that Obama should also lift restrictions on computers... when I said they had already been lifted he almost fainted: he had just argued that in Cuba there was no Internet because the embargo. With eyes wide and a face full of disappointment, he replied: But that’s not what they said!
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.