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.
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.