The power to decide about another, about the life of another, about the possessions of another, about the rights of another: that is the sickness of my government. To hope to leave the country, to say what we think, to earn a decent wage, to live without fear: that is the sickness of my people.
I am not a nationalist, I don’t consider myself a patriot or anything like that, but I love my land and I love Havana in the gray and yellow days. I like Cubans who, without even knowing you, call you “my love.” I love hearing the conversations of the people in the street and knowing that if I wanted to I could comment, put in my two cents worth, offer my opinion. I am fascinated by certain places in my city and watching people my age live different lives, unique lives, lives on the edge.
But there are other days when I feel very ashamed of the land of my birth. Times when I look at the faceless people and everyone is the same, everyone is afraid. Days in which I know that no one will be saved, no one will scream, no one will offer a hand and no one will say “my love” because the terror is so great. Days of indolence, shame and impotence, for them and for myself. Days when the waiting seems very long. Days when it seems absolutely critical that a sea of tears must run down 12th Street to the Malecon because our dry eyes no longer lead anywhere.
Since the death of Tamayo, every day is like this.
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.