This morning I called Berta, Antúnez’s sister, and she related to me the chilling conversation Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s mother, Reina, had with an official from State Security.
“Reina, I have good news and bad news. The good: your son has been taken to a hospital. The bad: he is very serious.”
It is cruel, vile and despicable to say that to a mother. They must be ruthless, lazy and stupid to let a human being die of hunger. And they must be very, extremely, diabolical to take the life of a man for his principles.
In his death is all the shame of these fifty-one years the paranoid, silenced, terrorized, lost, drowned and frozen to death. It is the howl of three generations, who were lost and who forgot about the marvelous word that contains so much: freedom. It is the legacy of this absurdly long Cuban revolution: our principles killed, or kill he who fights for them.
Today is a day of mourning. My one desire is that tomorrow, when February 23 comes around each year in the calendar, the entire country honors it as a day of national mourning.
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.