Elections of Candidates to the Municipal Assemblies of the Popular Power
When I was a child I wore the neckerchief with aplomb – the same one that made a rash line on my neck – I stood at attention next to the ballot box and saluted the flag. I was a proud pioneer guarding the vote to ensure the exercise of democracy.
Little by little things were changing: I came to hate that martyr-making scarf that I couldn’t take off without losing my revolutionary honor; I doubted a democracy that did not include abstentions; I understood the farce of guarding a ballot box that just served to perpetuate the voters’ fear.
I turned sixteen and the first ballot on which I drew an X felt to me like the first step on the infinite ladder of paranoia: I didn’t even have the courage to leave it blank. Until today – as I write these lines – I have managed to annul the majority, but I have not had the strength to abstain from the elections.
Sunday is approaching and I have decided: it will be the first time. Probably it could turn out to be a little absurd that I’m afraid to “abstain,” unfortunately fear has its dark ways and to stand in front of the president of the electoral college and say, “Don’t wait for me, I am not coming to vote,” is exactly what I have never dared to do.
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.