I was born in 1983, and was a happy child living in the socialist paradise until I was six, when the disintegration of the Soviet Union showed me that I had been raised in an atmosphere of privilege. Economic necessity, however, did not make my parents -- both were employees of the Ministry of the Interior and members of the Communist Party -- drop their high communist morality in front of me.
At ten I was fully convinced of the ideological homogeneity of the entire country, and if it hadn’t been for the revolt of August 5, 1994, many more years might have passed before I discovered that everything around me was not the color of roses. By thirteen I already knew what I could and could not say. At 17 they “downgraded” me, knocking me down the ladder for “poor participation in political-ideological activities.” By18 I was completely disillusioned with the system and couldn’t even really pretend to myself any more, although I was careful not to externalize it.
In 2008, Gorki Aguila, lead singer and guitarist for the punk rock band Porno para Ricardo, was arrested on charges of pre-criminal dangerousness: if the National Revolutionary Police believe that a citizen has the potential to commit a crime, they can be judged and sentenced from one to four years in jail. Together with a group of friends we started a movement inside Cuba to protest, supported by an immense show of solidarity -- that was how I met Yoani Sanchez -- and we launched an international campaign for Gorki’s release.
In a short space of time I went from being a person who didn’t talk to strangers about politics and was always paranoid, to standing in the middle of a concert crown with a sign in my hand and shouting. For a novice in the uses of freedom of expression it had everything: beatings, a police operation and arrests.
I started to write my blog after Gorki was released. I remember that we were very serious, exhausted, we had almost lost our sense of humor. During the trial the defense lawyer forgot the name of the accused and began to search through his papers, and then I understood that everything was completely stupid and incoherent. I felt like telling about the things around me, to share the total absurdity with someone. Yoani Sánchez explained to me what a blog was, and she herself published my first post in Generation Y, and helped with the technical side, even taking a photo of some eggs for my first entry in Octavo Cerco; without her I might never have discovered the possibility of having a blog.
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.