Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Exchange 

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The optimism drained out of me without my ever having been able to enjoy – much to my regret – a moment of that feeling with so many names, but which is defined by only one verb: to believe. Once again that other Claudia – the skeptic – criticizes the naïve: I warned you that the action was “doubtful.” When Pablo Pacheco called me, excited about the start of talks between the Catholic Church and the Cuban government, I told him, “I have no illusions, but I’m glad that you, from prison, and sentenced to twenty years for writing your opinion, have not lost faith.”

A few days later the transfer of the political prisoners began which I have decided to christen as “The Exchange.” Always so skeptical! I control myself. It buys a little time; at best they will release someone before Fariñas’ spirit is released from his body. What naiveté on my part and cynicism on the part of my government.

When I learned, after the hemming and hawing typical of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that Mr. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Council on Human Rights special investigator on torture, would not be coming to Cuba, everything became clear: we are the presence of The Exchange, and like it or not, he could rot in jail. Even I get paranoid and wonder if the two decisions (a Cardinal-General dialog, and denying entry to the investigator) could have risen simultaneously in a single mind. Wasn’t it about, at the beginning, freeing the sick journalists and dissidents? At what point did “move to another province” became a step toward “release”? Is it torture to imprison a man for his ideas? And to change the prison he is in, what’s this?

I would love it if tomorrow someone showed me evidence that I’m wrong, that my friends would lecture me, “You’re always so radical,” that the detractors of Octavo Cerco would invade the forum with comments like: Claudia, you’re wrong! Take it back! Raul Castro has freed the sick! But I don’t know why this transfer of prisoners, the refusal to admit the investigator, and a dialog without deadlines or commitments, reminds me of the game “Pin the tail on the donkey,” that competition where you blindly try to stick the tail in place on a painted animal, guided by the shouts of a group who don’t even agree where on the paper the animal’s head is.

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