I didn’t want to write today, not knowing how to start a post about the tenth of December. I don’t know how to express, in this blog, that human rights have lost their meaning in my country. We have forgotten everything implicit in these two words and we are left with what experience has knocked into us year after year: fear and paranoia.
I ended up thinking that a priori those are the only two rights we have left. Of all the others that could exist, half have been forgotten and the others banned, with amounts to about the same thing.
When I go out in the street and see those who in some way exercise their little bit of power—officials, police, bureaucrats, doctors, teachers, journalists—and see them trample the rights of their fellow citizens and even their own rights at times, I wonder if they know what they’re doing, if they have a conscience. Maybe my theory is naïve, but I sense that after 50 years of absolutism we have completely forgotten the meaning of things like The Rule of Law, Justice, Human Rights. They sound like science fiction… Right to what?
So, for most of my neighbors this is a morning like any other, some of my friends are harassed by the police, others visited by State Security, with any luck none will be beaten for taking an photo in the wrong place, the Festival of Cinema will run its course and no one will ask themselves why, to see a movie at the Chaplin theater, they have to pass through a military cordon.
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.