Saturday, October 10, 2009

The indispensables

Graffiti in Nuevo Vedado

I have lived weighed down by the ideal of the moment: the indispensable citizen. Throughout the short history of my life I have come to reflect, voiceless and faceless, the different types of indispensables that the country has needed. At times they were those who voted early, who denounced the evil done, who sacrificed themselves in the name of the revolution, who carried a gun to other places to kill or be killed. As if each one was previously chosen at some moment in a speech by Fidel Castro, having their respective advertising spot on TV, where they invited us—the dispensables—to join ourselves to a strange imperishable collective.

But the qualities of the indispensables have become increasingly ambiguous, until they have come to be completely obscured and the only essential left in the realm of the tangible was to keep one’s mouth shut at all costs. I found it soothing, this change in the supposed “New Man” who was metamorphosing annually depending on the prevailing discourse and who never existed.

“These are the essentials,” the TV announced yesterday and I wondered who would be the ones to sacrifice themselves in the name of an ideology that no one remembers. But times have changed, now the indispensables are those who work for a wage of 400 pesos a month without a murmur, who work the land to make a gift of their crops to the state and those who don’t aspire to live on the fruits of their labor. The idealists, the fanatical defenders of the good, those who believe in a bright future, they are no longer indispensable.

1 comment:

marquee de mud said...

holla claudia,

i've just found your blog and I checked some of your older posts, too.

I came to your country during the summer of 2004. I'm sad to say that I came with the brigada.(jose marti, in caimito) I wanted to visit cuba not the tourist way. I wanted to see what's really going on.

I saw what, you and some other bloggers, are describing everyday. I also had a quarrel, only the second day of my visit, with some government woman, which was responsible for our team in the brigada. she wanted to convince me not to go to some places that the government didn't want us "brigaders" to see.

I saw people that didn't have a nice life, that they were in a constant waiting for something new. I saw young people with the fear of police on their face. one got pissed when he was bodysearched by a policeman. I saw people begging, or better making fool of themselves, for one dollar and a woman, working on a hotel in matanzas -not varadero- begging to give her my used razorblades which I've already had thrown in the WC toilet basket. I realized the hate that you have for the goverment people and since we visited a CDR in matanzas, I saw that some of the people, were almost dragged out of their houses,and almost forced to show us some hospitality. I could go on and on.

on the other hand though, I saw some of the most happy people in my life, with no complexes, living for the moment. and again the expressions "happy", "no complexes", "living for the moment"
cannot really describe the feeling.

I know that these words cannot give you the freedom that you lack, and more money in your pocket. who gives a f@@@@ about good expressions when you don't have water.

but don't think that is a lot different living in athens, greece. or elsewhere in europe or usa. you had problems with the public gas company, I had problems with the private telephone company, or almost private electricity company. you have problems with journalists that get imprisoned for criticizing the goverment, here we imprisoned protesters that are against the goverment. you know why we don't have imprisoned journalists? because in the "western-free-world", you can say all you want, in every media you want, as long as you say the things that the media owner wants. if you don't, you just get fired and you'll never work again. If you insist, they will find a way to close your mouth. practically it's the same as in cuba. or almost the same.

what I'm trying to say, is that If I could, MAYBE, MAYBE, MAYBE, I would trade the feeling that I got, living among regular oppressed people in havana, in the village of caimito, and in matanzas city, with the feeling that I get living among regular oppressed people in athens, greece, london, and USA that I've lived.

I know, it's almost stupid to tell you something like that, but I want to point out that, I don't know if it's the revolution, the embargo, or just the cuban people, but you have something that I haven't met nowhere in the rest of world. and you have to keep it. It's better than gold.

p.s. always remember something. when a regime leaves, something else replaces it. the people, though, stay the same and usually in the same positions. so don't be surprised if in ten years you'll have the same people (e.g. from your CDR) rule your life. the same problems added to the new problems and without the rights that you already have...