I wasn’t alive yet, but they tell me that in the ‘70s getting into the Young Communist Union (UJC) was an achievement. You had to demonstrate an untainted revolutionary integrity, having participated in all the political or combative activity wafting about and having complied conscientiously with whatever task of the moment the commander dictated.
But the years passed and that organization that was first about being a good student and revolutionary, getting a good job, a good reference, lost the most important thing that gave meaning to its existence: ideology. As a comparison, we might say it is like the serious diagnosis a technician makes of a computer with a broken processor: it lost its heart.
And without its heart the UJC came to the nineties, years in which I’d supposedly be called on to inject my young blood into its already blocked veins. But in my day things were very different: without combativeness, without ever having participated in anything, including not completing various tasks, the call came to me when I was thirteen. I accepted and began a process that, fortunately, my mother decided to suspend as soon as she learned of it, because she believed that before the age of 18 one has neither the conscience nor the need to belong to a political organization. I will always be grateful to her, even though the proselytizing team of the UJC ignores those arguments, apparently they returned all my paperwork and I arrived at my technical high school thinking myself free, how naive!
They never called me to a meeting, never gave me anything to do, I apparently was not a member of the UJC. My four years of high school passed without anyone telling me that in my school records, stuck there on the last page, a handwritten sheet said that I was not only a member of the Young Communists Union, but that I had completed all the tasks assigned to me.
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.