A friend sent me a very worried letter about my physical condition; from Spain she came across a list of seventy-four traitors to the country among whom she found me. It is because I signed a letter, together with other representatives of civil society, asking for flexibility in the sale of food and permission for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.
The controversy fascinates me; here in Cuba I have another blogger friend who called me immediately to say that in her opinion they should tighten the screws until we don’t even have water to drink, because only this will end the dictatorship: it did not occur to me to call her a “fascist”, nor to her to call me a “Castro-ite assassin.” As usual, we ended our dialog in total harmony; she raised certain questions in me, and I left her with some doubts.
It would not be the first time on my small island that we’ve had nothing to eat; we already lived through – and it had nothing to do with the foreign policy of the United States – the time after Perestroika and Glasnost, which sent seventy years of communism straight to the fires of hell. I don’t think democracy is exportable, nor hunger a detonator of social consciousness. I have always wondered how many hours we spent on August 5, 1994, in a “Malecon Slaughter” styled after that of Tiananmen. Does anyone today speculate that China is democratic?
Since I’ve had the use of reason, Cold War politics have only served so that the Minister of Foreign Affairs can repeat over and over at every world summit the infinite mantra of “blockade, blockade, blockade,” while the private accounts of the country’s owners are “growing, growing growing.” Meanwhile, the European and Latin American left applaud as if some economic restrictions could justify the longest western dictatorship.
This is my opinion: I could be wrong, I could be right. Perhaps it is naïve to think that this liberalization would promote the democratization of Cuba, but the contrary ends up being – when viewed coldly – equally naïve. I appreciate all those who have kept this controversy alive on the web in a civilized and objective way, especially Ernesto Hernandez Busto in Penultimos Dias, who has made me feel that a harmonic and divergent Cuba is not so far off; one where, as Reinaldo Escobar said, political dissent is decriminalized.
To those who ask for my head, just an observation: I think they will have to fight it out with the boys from the Department of State Security, who have already laid claim to it.
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.