Among those every day who are taken in for dangerousness in Cuba, today it has fallen on Pánfilo. He will be behind bars for two years for having yelled that he was hungry in front of a camera, because this is what the government considers dangerous. I remember very well the words of Gorki’s lawyer on the day before the trial in July of last year: to convict you they don’t need proof, a declaration from the police is enough, no one escapes. In passing he told us that the charges that really suit the repressive machinery just fine is that now they don’t even have to abide by the legislative paperwork to imprison someone.
The trial made me want to cry, I saw the head of the sector and one of his subordinates lie. The tongue of state security was putting words in the mouths of the two police officers whose hands trembled as they made their declarations. Then Heidi came, the zone president of the CDR for Playa and an art history professor at the Instituto Superior de Artes. With her there was no mistaking it: not one word she said was true, the worst is that she liked out of conviction and that is, without any doubt, the saddest thing you can see from the public bench.
It’s repulsive to imagine what to level of arbitrariness this government can reach through its channels to crush the people and strip them of everything, even their own ideas. If I had not seen it with my own eyes I might never have understood it.
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.