I remember the visitors of Pantaleon and can’t help but find a connection between the new pursuits of the security services and the name of the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, Captain Pantoja and the Special Service. In less than two weeks almost all my friends have been “visited.” The “meetings” have varied in their degree of formality – not by their legality since the organs of State Security are not ruled by the legislation in force for the rest of us mortals – and range from the Official Citatation without previous explanation, passing through the kidnapping, and arriving at the disconcerting message, “Do me a favor, tell him to drop by.”
Luckily my friends are taking it in stride, some even with a tremendous sense of humor. They have received messages of all kinds, but among the most pathetic are these two:
- Good night. Tell your friends to be quiet, you can go now.
- What Vallín the lawyer teachers at the Blogger Academy is all a lie. (We’re finishing Greek philosophy, the last two classes have been about Aristotle.)
I find the situation of the intelligence service painful: fighting with a group of young people who devote themselves to study, painting or writing must be disappointing enough. I suppose that when they graduated they believed they would save the country from external aggressors, protect society from organized crime and fight against social and governmental corruption. How sad it must be to look back and see that the only thing so much force has been good for is to reprimand and harass kids! How they must envy their security service counterparts around the world, dismantling criminal networks and saving civilians; while they, year after year, scrub the hands of power without managing to remove the damp red spot that covers their face and clothes.
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.