To see how in history a human being has been capable of so many forms of repression and disdain for his fellow men is a challenge to one’s own sensitivity. To feel in one way or another disdained and deprived of some right, for whatever reason, is quite pitiful. It is also a challenge to one’s equanimity, to not suddenly turn into a violent offender every time they make you part of the segregated human race.
We might think bad thoughts and believe that this is a goal of those who divide in order to provoke something bigger if you rebel and disobey the given order. Because to attack in your own defense could turn you into prey by giving cause to the power entity that segregates you, accusing you of physically or verbally attacking authority.
I comment on this because for some days I felt very irritated and upset. I was around Varadero by chance and decided to take a dip at the beach, but I needed to go to a bathroom in order to change clothes comfortably, to take off my traveling clothes, to look in my suitcase for the bathing suit and to put it on, and as I went by a small hotel, the Hotel Club Tropical to be exact, I went in through the lobby looking for the bathroom and I felt the doorman calling me. I tried to evade him, but he was quite insistent and when he inquired I responded about my need, to which he said absolutely no. Surely, if I had been a foreigner he would have let me go past with hardly a glance.
As almost always happens, I concluded not to ruin my friends’ afternoon and not to spoil the few hours that we would be on that beach. I decided not to make a case of it and not to make the scene everyone deserved, from the foreign tourists to the manager, but most of all the orders-following-Yeti (in uniform, whose back you see in the picture) for wanting to throw me out of there with manners, as if I was a mangy dog and not a person, a domestic tourist, as Cuban as he or anyone in his family is. Then I called a truce and decided to get out of there in search of another place which ended up being a disastrous bathroom in the cafeteria where the modest price of a ham and cheese sandwich is 1.75 CUC, which is about 50 pesos in national money.
Above all, I left that Club Tropical with the fixed idea of at least writing about this, as a way to criticize or denounce what the fact of being segregated by our own kind, even at this time, means. It is unbelievable that something as simple and humane as going into a bathroom to change clothes is not allowed and that, only after a long time, citizens may once again rent a hotel room (but at what prices!) though we may not have the right to all services provided to foreigners, such as the use of the Internet, where, for example, comments such as this to the outside could damage even more the image of the regime in this country. This country, where those who possess the power and who control us from within pride themselves so much about caring for the inviolable human rights. A country where nobody can come to inspect from the outside, but I hope that at least they may eagerly inspect for real improvements for its people.
P.S.: xenophobia: (from xeno and phobia) f. hatred, repugnance or hostility towards foreigners.
If that were the case, what would be the name of the same thing directed towards the natives? Some Cubanologist should tell me, because perhaps the term already exists and I still do not know it.
Look at the signs of the Club Amigo (Club Friend – but friend of whom?) and All-inclusive, segregation too?
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.