I’ve never participated in a youth meeting, much less a Communist Party youth meeting. However, I can imagine the faces, the atmosphere, the air and the speeches of many of those present. From the time I was born, just about my whole family went from group meeting to group meeting.
By the time the posters saying “The Party is Immortal” were posted all over the city, the militants started to call their meetings, “The Immortal.” I used to hear phrases like, “I can’t see you this afternoon, The Immortal are meeting.” Looking at the faces of the people, one could deduce that this was the most boring thing in the universe, I supposed something like a high school assembly multiplied by a million.
One of those card-carrying friends of immortality, back around the time of Elian, was still raising her hand and spewing her “constructive criticisms from within” – I know she had already abandoned the long road to Eternity. That day, as was customary at the time, they were talking about the boy’s case. My friend raised her hand:
“When the Comandante talks about Elian’s school he mentions his desk. Hasn’t anyone noticed that Elian sits at a table? Why can’t we correct the Comandante’s mistake on this and on many other things?”
“Compañera, you know that if Fidel says stool… I say STOOL!”
The meeting ended without serious consequences, but from that time on that man has been popularly known within the Party core as “The Stool.”
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.