Recently on “Let me tell you,” my favorite Cuban television program, they were talking about parking attendants. I laughed a great deal over the description of the parking rates, directly proportional to the quality of the car and the nationality of the driver of course.
But most amazing of all is the break a driver feels when he goes to park and sees the parking attendant in the far distance; if he’s not there the chance of just running off is high. Are there parking lots without attendants in Cuba? Because the truth is I don’t know, the parking spaces have slowly been taken over by these workers. The funny thing is you can’t park any more without them, because if you do the car runs the risk of cruel and multiple amputations. It’s completely normal to see drivers with their CD players walking down the street, it wouldn’t occur to anyone to leave the player in the car.
The other day they tried to steal my neighbor’s car at two in the afternoon. He parks quite far from the house because that’s what he could “get,” so during the day he leaves the car in an “unprotected area” in front of the building. Some guys in a Lada stopped right in front of it and one of them jumped out and tried to force the door. At that one of the neighbors saw him and raised the alarm, so they ran off and couldn’t take anything.
It turned out the license plate was blue, meaning the car belonged to a State ministry or institution and later, after going to the police, he learned that it belonged to the Union of Young Communists headquarters. My neighbor made several attempts with the police but nothing came of it; one of the investigators in charge of the case said:
“Look buddy, here’s what I’d advise if you want to resolve this, take a month’s vacation from work so you can take care of the investigation and the interviews.”
My neighbor of course gave up going after the culprits… after all, in the end they didn’t take anything.
The other day I was waiting for Orlando at the Capitol building. I got there ten minutes early, so I sat down on the steps to pass the time. It was a very intense few minutes; I witnessed two discussions about money, one of them quite outrageous and in two languages.
One of the photographers who uses a box camera to take pictures of tourists was trying to get 2 CUCs from a man who apparently had stolen them. That guy slipped away some how and he then threw himself at a tourist whose photo he’d taken. He spoke no English and she spoke no Spanish. He shouted he hadn’t received his money and she answered that she’d given him 3 CUCs, but they didn’t understand each other and repeated the same things over and over. It ended with some guys trying unsuccessfully to get the foreigners to pay for some caricatures they’d drawn on the spur of the moment without asking, which apparently they didn’t like and didn’t want to pay for.
I can’t help, at times, feeling a deep shame for all of us: the Cubans begging the tourists to pay them for some work they’ve come up with, because the State doesn't really pay them; and the tourists playing the naïve victims who don’t understand anything. I keep seeing TV spots that talk about us as if we were scum. There’s one in particular that bothers me, in which Fidel and Raúl and others are in the Sierra walking around with rifles on their shoulders. Then a voice-over says, “They gave everything… and you? What have you done? Then work!” Or something of that sort, fortunately I don’t know it by heart. For me, the truth as I see it is: we won’t do anything until they pay us… it’s so logical it seems like a joke.
When foreigners ask me if it’s true that Cubans don’t like to work I simply say: Would you work 8 hours a day for 20 dollars a month, or for 30, or 50 or even 100? I’ve never received a positive response.
When you have a license to rent to foreigners in Cuba your life changes dramatically. You manage to be independent economically, after dreaming of it for years: now you don’t have to count the kilowatts to pay the light bill, you don’t have to worry about not being able to pay for the phone, you can fix your house, buy household appliances, have an air conditioner and rent DVDs to watch movies. Then you are “independent” of the State, you have “your” business… What is the price?
The inspectors come almost every day to check that your papers are in order, that no foreigner has stayed for less than 24 hours, that you don’t have more than two people per room, that all the data about all the people who have come to see your tourists is noted in your book. Added to that are the immigration agents—MININT (Ministry of the Interior)—to whom you must give, religiously, the names and identity card numbers as well as the detail with regards to frequency and time of visits, of any Cuban who’s had contact with the visitor in your house. Then you ask me: How far do we have to go? Do we have to write it down? Is there any way to break the rule? You can only rent two rooms per house, almost all the proprietors rent 3 and even 4 rooms, which seems fine to me. Is there’s no human way they can stop snitching on every Cuban who has interactions with a foreigner? What’s the difference?
I remember about two years ago I was at the house of a friend who rented, she had left and I was there with her mother. She’d rented to a foreigner for a couple of hours one night. The man came at 11 at night with a hooker (always in Havana when you have a license anyone can come), and in two hours he left the room. The guy walked to the balcony where the mother of my friend was making a note of the name of the poor prostitute. We heard the door and it took us about three seconds to realize what had happened: he’d left without paying anyone.
The owner of the house had to run after the man, but of course didn’t catch him; the poor girl almost collapsed in tears on the table mumbling something to me I couldn’t catch: I was crying. I looked over the balcony and could see her heels disappearing around the corner, I saw the patrol stop her and pick her up.
Rolando is 42 and his daughter is 19, they like to dance and on occasion they went to a discotheque together, although they don’t go any more. On December 16, 2008 they’d been at Golfito, a disco in Rio Cristal, left at 2:30 in the morning and got on the route 160 bus to go home. A group of guys who had also been at the discotheque got on the bus with them.
I remember that at this time people were playing rumba music on the buses, and also there were many attacks on passengers and drivers, mostly in the early morning. The police then decided to put an armed officer to keep order on every bus after dark. The idea, at least to me, was quite comforting (except for the gun), but what happens in Cuba is that civil order and military discipline are synonymous. People began to protest because now they couldn’t play rumba and once even Ciro was not allowed to play a few chords (without lyrics) on the guitar.
They were also playing a reggaetón and singing on Rolando’s number 160 bus. Most unfortunately, that night the police were dressed as civilians although they kept one thing from the uniform, the revolver. They began to argue with the guys and ordered them off the bus, the bus was full and when the atmosphere becomes angry people tend to panic; it was no different in this case. The police ordered the bus to stop but didn’t let the doors open, they wanted to round up the culprits so they couldn’t escape and into the early morning Boyeros. Everyone wanted to leave and it got ugly and one of the cops (there were two of them) pulled out his gun and fired it inside the bus several times.
The terror was uncontrollable, people flew out through the windows and eventually they opened the doors and everyone tried to leave at the same time. Rolando grabbed his eldest daughter and when he put a foot on the pavement he felt a sharp pain in his left leg and fainted.
The next day he woke up in intensive care in the military hospital, with two cops on either side and from far away he heard the voice of his mother berating those in uniform in the room. The shot had gone through the left thigh and exited, they had reconstructed his femoral artery and the doctor told him it was a “miracle” that he was alive. Five other people had also been injured.
He spent a year unable to work, they gave him leave without pay which he didn’t manage to contest, he tried to line up some attorneys himself but it didn’t go very far. Nothing happened to the cops who fired the gun and Rolando assured me that a few days later he read in an article in the newspaper Granma talking about how well the new measure of putting the police force on the buses was working… apparently some police officials had been decorated, according to the official organ of the Communist Party. Rolando stopped limping only a few months ago and he’s convinced of one thing: he and all of us are undefended in this country.
Taken from the Saga: The Ciro vs The State Security
Its yellow glass eyes fixed their stare on my slender body, his armor seemed impenetrable and his laser weapon threatened to launch at me its killer charge of single-wavelength light. It was the new G2 Robot manufactured in the Girón bus factory and the Shuyima shipyards that they’d sent to destroy me after the failure of humans. And in that infinite moment in time I could only think of one thing:
“…the screws in your knee are ideal for fixing the leg of my bed…”
Then the robot spoke:
“You’re such a dick!” he said. “I’ve come back to fill my tank with regular gas at the CUPET station in Boyeros.”
At that moment I knew without a doubt, the victory was almost in my hands. The station attendants at that CUPET station add a lot, I mean a ton, of crap to the gas and then sell what they’ve siphoned off on the black market. The robot was poisoned.
Even so, I didn’t want to cause an unnecessary oil spill so I tried to negotiate with him.
“Hey, you! Robot! The screws in your knee and I’ll let you go limp, otherwise you’ll end up in the provincial factory as junk and as you well know… they never recycle.”
“10 CUCs for all the screws in the left leg,” he told me.
It’s true that everyone in Cuba is on the hustle with state property and it certainly wasn’t a lot of money to prevent me from releasing 70 tons of oxide (FeO2), but I spent the last little bribe Bush sent me on buying beans in the Working Youth Army market.
That robot (I thought) was saving to get himself to Miami, he would have flown but, like many other State vehicles, his wings and air conditioning had been deactivated. Only the poor go by raft. Like so many other MININT workers he dreamed of appearing on Oscar Haza’s program, A Clean Hand, to reveal some secrets.
“What do you want the money for?” he asked. “For the same thing (you thought). What? Are you the G2 now?” “I was once but they threw me out, it made me sick when they were all singing the anthem around me in the morning. It was horrible.” “Don’t even tell me. And what do you have to say about the revolutionary slogans?” “I couldn’t repeat a single one, they gave me acute dermatitis.”
I identified with the robot a great deal, so I called the White House and asked to speak with the president. The secretary passed the call to his office and an unknown voice answered.
“Good morning, Ciro. Obama here.” “Who?!?... Where the fuck is Bush?” “I’m the new president. I asked the CIA to cut your budget and to give the money to General Motors.” “AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
(Don’t miss the next episode of The Saga of the Ciro versus the G2: “The robotic war against the CIA.”)
A friend has come from Moa and she brought me these photos. Nickel has dropped in price in the international market… but to the people of Moa it’s all the same, they gave up on what’s called “quality of life” a long time ago. I’m posting these photos for you here; when Ciro saw them he said, “It looks like Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings.” Moa is a town without landscape, where taking a photo could cost you your camera. According to my friend the air stinks, and when she asked a nurse if it was harmful, she answered no and yes at the same time (fear?).
I’m used to going to packed concerts and not being able to see anything that happens on the stage because I’m short and the screens they put up, for some strange reason, look really bad. But the sad reality Tuesday at the “Protestódromo” stage in front of the American Interests Section, with the Mexican band Cafe Tacuba, was not that I couldn’t see them but that from my perspective the only thing I could read was: All for the Revolution. As I arrived a little late, a friend sarcastically said that Raúl Castro had opened the concert with a Friky speech.
Behind the poster were the black flags and behind the black flags were the red letters scrolling across the front of the American Interests Section… how disgusting! All that and I’m less than 5’5” tall; the only thing we’ll remember from this concert in Havana is this image, the only thing we can see. I’m not criticizing anyone but if I were an overseas musician and I was coming to play in Cuba, it wouldn’t kill me to play the “Protestódromo”, better that than playing at the Central Committee and celebrating with those involved in the “50th Anniversary of the Existence of the State Security Organs.”
But the worst was at the end, a mob of police with whistles started whistling behind us to get us to “clear ourselves out” of the place. I was left standing alone on the platform until there were 10 whistles screeching at my back. I turned, then, and told them:
- I’m not going to ask the reasons why I have to leave here, but since you are going to remove me you could at least have the decency not to treat me like a cow.
A girl and two boy cops asked me to do them the favor, but the one who seemed to be the boss said it took them a long time to get people to leave and I had to go, it didn’t matter how, whether with whistles or shoves, but go.
- Are they paying you to get me out? No? Then this time you spend here is included in your salary, it’s not my fault it’s slow work, you asked me the favor of leaving and I’m going, but whistle at me again and I’ll stay.
He didn’t whistle any more but he mumbled some curses, I suppose directed at me and at youth in general… the bitterness of the repressive ones.
A few weeks ago in one of our blogger meetings we saw, via flash memory, this video about the blogosphere in Iran. At the moment I’ve given it to a video editor, a graduate of the film school, or a producer of film clips, to see if they know someone who might get excited about it and make one for us to share. Ours would probably never have the names of so many bloggers, there would be no Blackberrys on-line in the streets, and in the place of screens and fiber optic cables there would be a few CDs, some flash memories and USB ports (though they could report on the emails).
But one thing connects me to these distant bloggers, as if the cable that connects me to the network already is also in my head, they like me are young and dream of three things: HUMAN RIGHTS, FREEDOM and CHANGE.
Today at 8:20 in the morning on the Cuban television “news report” they announced “ultra-democratic and fair” elections in Iran, even showing some photos of the enraged people who support the president-elect Ahmadinejad. I knew immediately it was a lie, and left my house simply wondering: What will happen there today? The great thing about Cuban television is that it’s like a game of riddles, you have to read between the lines, refuse to accept the concepts, turn the puzzles inside out, doubt everything and know that even though it’s not true, this apparent “news” is not there for pleasure, it’s very invigorating for the intellect, the whole conjecture of National Television News.
Later I finally read the true story in Penúltimos Días (the videos won’t play for me as you already know), and yes, something happened today in Iran, but it was not a national celebration in honor of the president, quite the contrary.
I don’t know how that managed to put the photos of the party and everything on the news, and even a little close-up of Chávez, while the journalist said in voice over that the president congratulated the recently-elected government… no one knows, maybe Chávez didn’t say that (but it’s likely).
I wonder what they will say of Cubans (if they mention us) on official Iranian television, surely pictures of a happy people who adore their “president” and give their lives for the revolution is what they see of these parts. But I, from my little blog, send my solidarity and my admiration. We are many fewer, but we are also here on the Web and they give us strength.
Photo: Gorki leaving the court in Playa in August 2008, by OLPL
I’m not going to deny that it worries me more to answer a BBC journalist than to criticize the government, paradoxes of life: If one day I go to prison for saying what I think I hope, it will be Fernando who reports the news. I want to comment on Fernando Ravsberg’s post "Poor Cubans" in his blog. I am not going to enumerate the MANY cases of absurd misery I see every day from my apartment in Vedado, the numerous friends who have to live in poverty, the soup kitchen for the poor in the corner of my house, and much less my needs (it seems I’m in the 50% who don’t receive money from the United States and I don’t have “pull” with the shady rich). However, I don’t want to avoid wondering where is this 50% who don’t take buses, who don’t travel by train (who then don’t need improved transport, or does it refer to the 50% of Cubans you know?), who rent suites in hotels (and the tenement dwellers, what percent do they represent?), who make a million working the land (am I crazy or is what I see when I go to the countryside not misery?). Speaking professionally, I’d like to encourage you, Ravsberg, to read the study, “A Cuban Family at the End of 2006*,” by another journalist, Reinaldo Escobar; and a little more informally extend another invitation: travel with me on vacation to Santiago by train, I’ll pay all the costs.
Even so I vote for the “Poor Cubans” who don’t have the right to dissent, who don’t have free elections, who have no political rights, who don’t have a free press, who cannot buy or sell houses, who can’t have Internet, who can’t make investments abroad, who can’t leave the country without permission, who need a “Yuma”--someone from the US--to take on their economic projects, who don’t have the right to contract as individuals with any company, who can’t move freely within the country, who need a temporary living pass to stay a few months in the house of a friend, who can’t change the government of their country, who have only one party, who can’t have more than two houses, who can’t buy a car, who can’t pay to ride in someone else’s car, who can’t rent or make arrangements in homes, who can’t recruit domestic workers, who can’t NOT be Pioneers, who can’t, in the end, do what they wish with their own money.
But still, I believe that the poorest, dear Fernando, are the foreign correspondents accredited in Cuba, who live in the paradox of reporting the news or being journalists.
Translator’s note: Escobar’s article reports on a three-generation Cuban family of five people with a total income of approximately $70 a month, received from one pension, two salaries, and money sent by family abroad.
When you were living in Cuba did you have access to the Internet or email? How did it work?
- I had access to the internet and email at my work. But the connection was the worst, such that basically I didn’t use it except for pages like Wikipedia, that loaded easily enough, and some others, but not much. Did you know of the existence of any blogs or read them? How?
- I knew of the existence of blogs, but I didn’t read any, for the reason I told you: my connection was very slow, and many pages wouldn’t load.
Do you have the Internet in China? What blogs and sites do you frequent?
- I have Internet and I frequent many sites, some of them are blogs: Generation Y, Octavo Cerco, Bloggers Cuba (one of the very few sites where you can converse, without the fanatics on one side or the other screaming).
It’s been a week more or less since you told me you couldn’t access some sites. Can you tell me which and since when?
- I realized it when I tried to enter Octavo Cerco and couldn’t. With Youtube I’d already had problems, but since I could access it intermittently I thought it was something wrong with Youtube and not here, but later I found out it was in the whole of China. At times I look for images on Google and the page that loads is that they are blocked. I know they’ve blocked Hotmail recently (many Chinese use MSN, so there was quite an outcry), and they’ve blocked Twitter, Flickr and some other sites of this type. Every time I find I can’t access some site, now I realize it’s because of this, because when I use proxies I can access them. Ah! Several pages of proxies are also blocked. Finally, when the error message on trying to access a site is so common, now I know it’s not my web provider, it’s the whole country.
Do you know any Chinese bloggers or read any alternative blogs> Do you know what platforms they use?
- I don’t know any Chinese bloggers, nor what platforms they use, but I suppose that they use Blogspot and Wordpress like almost everyone else.
In your opinion, why do you think they’ve blocked these sites?
- Here there’s a big campaign against pornography and things like that, so they block a lot of sites for that. Also, there are things here you can’t talk about, and the pages relating to those things are blocked. Outside of that, I don’t know the other reasons, but the fact is that Internet censorship here is widespread.
In addition to the censorship and the blocking that the Cuban government imposes on certain Internet sites: email, information portals, navigators and blogger platforms; now Microsoft has blocked MSN Messenger for all users inside Cuba and on Facebook there was on-line voting where one of the issues they addressed was the exclusion of “friends” from inside Cuba. What do you think of these measures? Do you think they could work as points of pressure to get the Cuban government to reduce censorship or not?
- They annoy me, they only make life more complicated for us. In Cuba, any additional click you have to make on the Internet is a misdemeanor. In addition, I don’t think they do anything in terms of pressure to ease the censorship. In the end, those affected by this measure in Cuba are going to be almost nobody: those who have the Internet at a speed that’s fast enough to access these pages. In fact, it’ll piss them off because sites like Facebook provide a way to break the censorship, and I have no doubt that through these channels, with the cooperation of “Radio Bemba” – Cuban’s gossip network – many people find out things about what’s going on in Cuba which they wouldn’t learn in any other way.
For some time I’d kept an image from Google.com.cu (which opens from Cuba), without gmail; and Google.es (which I struggle to open when I connect, literally sailing against the current) with gmail and many other things (especially in the search engines). For weeks we still don’t have MSN, and a friend warned me that I might have to leave Facebook, because in the new declaration of rights and responsibilities for Facebook it says that:
4.3 You cannot use Facebook if you’re in a country under the embargo of the United States that forms part of the SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) list of the Treasury Department of the United States.
10. One World Facebook service must pass national and geographic barriers and be available to the whole world.
It’s unfortunate that it facilitates in this way the work of the Cuban government, and unfortunately not only the Cuban government but other governments in the world which, like Cuba’s, maintain their power at the cost of censorship and lack of freedoms for their citizens, that flaunt certain social achievements like flags to hide the true repressive and corrupt character of their regimes.
I maintain communication with a friend who lives in China; in recent weeks their emails are flooded with phrases such as: “I cannot enter because it’s blocked,” “Do you have a proxy to send me?” and even a surprising, “the connection often drops me.” I decided to do an interview to better understand how censorship works, which is the same in these two worlds so far apart and in a sense so similar. The interview will be anonymous to protect the safety of my friend, and will be published in the next entry.
With his fifteen years Leo considers himself an intelligent guy, having discovered the key to success in the Cuban Educational System: Being the president of FEEM (Federation of Middle School Students). He doesn’t give a fig for ideology and the truth is he’d prefer to go to the United States rather than waste his youth in Cuba. For now FEEM is going OK: he never goes to school, he doesn't have many exams because they give him a pass, he doesn’t have the least idea of what teamwork is because he’s never applied himself to any practical work, he knows he will apply for the university career he wants, he has no problems with any teacher and he’s the boss among the students… having discovered what The Expert has defined as, “The Honey of Power.”
What he doesn’t know is that he will pay a sad price: He will enter the university without the necessary knowledge, save that of continuing to ascend with his political “guarantee”, never able to become a professional; only fifteen, he still hasn’t explored the semantics of the “Double Standard”, he has no idea how sad and cowardly it can be Living the Lie; he’s a good boy, not imagining that one day, in his unbridled race to the top, he can forget his truth and become a fool and an opportunist.
The Ciro and some friends went camping at Varadero. They were there a weekend and returned in an interprovincial Astro Yuton. It was only 27 Cuban pesos and the bus left them at the bus station in Boyeros, Havana.
At Tarará a two-person police patrol, a man and a woman, stopped them. They asked the driver for his papers and cited him for speeding and made him get off the bus. The passengers were left with grim faces waiting on the bus, watching through the window as the driver protested and complained about something.
Someone sounded the alarm, “They’ve taken him!” Right there everyone got off, they already had the guy inside the Lada. They threw themselves on him and pulled him out right under the noses of the police who weren’t expecting the beach rabble who wanted to get home quickly on Sunday. The cops did the most reasonable thing: flee. The poor driver was excited, telling the story in detail: the talks, threats, arrest.
People were emotional, almost all had experienced some form of harassment from the police. They decided to collect signatures (complete name and identity card number) and everyone signed, they took photos and gave everything to the rescued victim so he could file a complaint.
They arrived a little later than expected but everyone was proud, sure that the driver could say it had been the best trip of his life.
Photo: Ciro and me entering ETECSA at 19 and C, Vedado.
On Monday I went to ETECSA for the third time to see if the “Reason 1” was still in effect and if I would be without a telephone. Before going there I contacted some of “my sources” who, even though they couldn’t help me very much, made me feel better because having some “sources” is most reassuring.
The girl that met with Ciro and me asked me if we were “those disconnected by a decision of the Commercial Office” and sent us directly to the administration on the second floor. There we talked to a very kind woman who gave me her name and surname but I’m not going to put them here because I’m sure that she did what she could and even what she couldn’t, and she sounded quite unhappy with her world: throwing in the towel at State Security.
According to the latest information, in fact my phone wasn’t disconnected by any Commercial Office, but rather by an “unknown error someone ordered it disconnected.” When the office reconnected it, another “error” disconnected it again and since then “there have been many errors” every time they’ve tried to connect it. I was quite upset and told her it might be true of errors two and three, but regrettably she didn’t believe me about the Primary Error, or Reason 1 (the origin of everything that came after, a kind of “Big Bang” or “First Idea”). I was sorry it was she who had to endure my outrage, when in fact the one I wanted and should have been talking to was “The Creator of the Errors.” She was patient with her tired look and asked me to come back on Thursday, to see if the “problem” could be resolved.
She called me at the house an hour later.
- Good Claudia, your telephone is now connected. - Thanks, we hope there won’t be any more problems. - We hope. However, even if my contacts couldn’t do much to help me, even one who said the phone was connected and was lying, I learned some details.
MLC: Moneda Libremente Convertible [Freely Convertible Money] (I was sure that it was Monitoreo de Líneas Conflictivas [Monitoring of Conflicted Lines] but I was wrong). I will never understand why they call it MLC if I don’t have any service in the assigned currency… phone company mysteries.
The other is a little sad and shows the impunity of the Secret Service on this little island: it turns out that once a week, at one of the ETECSA offices in this city, State Security arrives punctually. The workers leave the offices and wait outside some two hours, they (the faceless ones) do their work (no one knows what it is), thank the workers for their help, verbally of course, and then withdraw.
I already said once in a post that I am a certain way: I sign whatever. I have many friends who, to the contrary, have chosen not to sign anything. For me, both are good and I think it’s the true story of democracy; everyone has the absolute and inalienable right to do what they think is right, even if they differ from the majority.
I banged on the pot, even though I didn’t like the idea very much. I am in solidarity with all who are on a hunger strike but the truth is the only thing I do is diet to lose weight and it’s a lot of work. I made my collage for June 1st and even though it didn’t take too much creativity, I couldn’t resist taking a few photos from my files and playing in Photoshop.
With my little knowledge of politics, I remember once when I was trying to figure out how many opposition parties there were in Cuba. My goal was to become a member of all of them. But in politics things are otherwise and I couldn’t manage it, such an undisciplined citizen can’t have a party, which is something a little more serious. It’s one of the reasons I have a blog, to be part of EVERYTHING that exists to demand CHANGE from the Cuban government (peacefully, of course). But in spite of my participation and my solidarity, it doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. If I’d been asked I’d have said that a week isn’t enough for all the bloggers on the Island to find out, decide, plan and find a way (this is the fundamental issue) to connect on the day of the demonstration. Because this takes time. Also, the Cuban blogosphere has another dynamic, many people read the information in “another time”; Internet time has not yet reached the shores of this country. In addition to the bloggers perhaps, all the other people who don’t have Internet have to be taken into account, the people who are waiting, at times they have to wait a little longer because in Cuba people expect to wait, because they know some day there will be a demonstration, they need time for the flash memories and discs to be carried through the streets, because our network of “hand to hand” is slow but inevitably secure and can also fulfill the objective.
Also, I believe that isolated demonstrations are less effective, I said so some time ago in one of our blogger meetings. If I’d been asked I’d have suggested we hold the same demonstration every two months, or every month, in my opinion repetition is strength and adds voices: We should bang the pots every month, we should send letter every week, you have to keep ”chipping away at it” until your goals are met, if not, it seems to me that it loses meaning.
And finally, if I were asked, my demands would be:
- The resignation of the Chairman of the Council of State and the Ministers and National Assembly as a whole. - Establishment of the Rule of Law and preparation for free elections with everyone involved. - The lustration—that is disqualification for public office—of the Secret Service, public officers and government officials belonging to the Communist Party.
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.