Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Perico in Matanzas

The other day I went to Matanzas and visited Alejandrina, the wife of Diosdado González Marrero, a prisoner of conscience since the Black Spring of 2003. He was on a hunger strike alone in a cell in the Pinar del Río prison “Kilometer Five and a Half” (Cuban prisons never cease to amaze me with their horrible names, horrible like their conditions, of course). Alejandrina was telling me the ups and downs of going to Pinar del Río for visits, as traveling in Cuba is an odyssey.

I went on this same odyssey to be able to reach her home in Perico, a very complicated little town. I had to ask a lot of people, and I was very paranoid because I was afraid of being intercepted by State Security. However no one seemed to know the name of any street and I refused to say whom I was going to see… until finally I realized it wasn’t so serious, people greatly respected the families and helped them.

At the house you can see in the photo, right at the corner of Alejandrina’s house, I asked my last question and was answered, “I don’t know,” which seemed rude to me… maybe she spent a lot of time giving directions from here to there and was annoyed. The fact is that when I realized I was right next to my destination a wave of reproach hit me in the chest towards that woman who, obviously, had lied.

But I was wrong, that sad family had all the problems of mental retardation and lived in appalling conditions, divorced from reality and forgotten by the social welfare system. Last year the cyclone left them homeless and they haven’t even been able to finish the reconstruction thanks to being forgotten by the government, and in spite of help from the neighbors.

A woman in a doorway, with the roof half finished and the bare block walls, and a red rag on her back who doesn’t know the street where she lives, these are things “The Socialist Revolution” doesn’t take into account.

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