Monday, December 29, 2008

Rendering of Accounts

Photo: Claudio Fuentes

As Yoani called it in one of her posts. Yesterday was the Rendering of Accounts meeting in my CDR, but in an impulsive act I didn't go. The truth is that I’m already repentant, I’m sure I could have written a humorous post.
The last time I participated in one of these meetings, a man who really took it to heart gave a most aggressive speech against the Ten Cent vendors at 23rd and 12th, who are no longer called that, but nobody knows what they’re called because nothing is worth 10 centavos, because they outdo themselves stealing pesos from the customers. They decided, those involved in the discussion, that they’d call down the police on the Ten Cent sellers, but they achieved nothing, either with the police or with the denunciations. The next topic was the point about the refrigerator gaskets: the majority of my CDR, including me, didn’t receive our refrigerator gaskets for some “strange reason,” they just brought them. Later they talked about bread, something relating to milk and yogurt for the children, the diversion of construction materials, among other problems without solutions. One woman said it was going on 20 years that we’d been discussing the same issues in these meetings… we must be persistent or completely mad.
Then they talked about increasing the surveillance and political ideological work, no one knows to what end, if all the real problems can’t be solved with that.
They want early release of the 5PE (five prisoners of the empire); said that the party was immoral, excuse me, immortal; badmouthed the United States, sang the anthem and everyone left, reluctantly, to go home and watch the soap opera.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Federated by Ventura

Although I am not interested in what happens to the ghost of the Federation of Cuban Women (which does so little for Cuban women), and don’t consider myself an absolute feminist or anything like that, I can’t help feeling a little awkward on hearing the news that Machado Ventura is chairing the Assembly of the Eighth Congress of the federation in Guantánamo.
Why is this gentleman chairing an assembly of women? Is there any scarcity of Cuban woman with sufficient intelligence to manage their own organizations? What’s the point of having an organization where the difference in gender is exclusive, headed by a man?
I remember the time when el Comandante held interminable meetings, only with women, to explain how to make coffee and how the Chinese rice cookers worked.
It seems that in this egalitarian revolution only the women make coffee while the men are busy organizing them, disciplining them and of course supervising them to make sure they perform the duties of their own sex without wastefulness.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Convertible Currency

Well it’s true that in Cuba we can now celebrate Christmas. When I was girl Christmas wasn’t spoken of, nor was there a little tree in my house until I was about 13 or so, and it took me a tremendous amount of work to convince my father to get me one. Since the Pope came, fortunately, the 25th is a holiday and we celebrate the 24th and the 25th as we’re able, even though there isn’t much food, but at least the family gathers and we wait for the new year and not the first of January, which seems the same but it’s not, as we all know.
The Christmas tree is more complicated, it costs a lot to buy one, all the ornaments are sold in CUCs and the tree itself cost no less than 10. My friends almost all have trees of about their own age and I even know someone who bought his tree in Russia, where it seems that since the ‘70s they were not as radical on the point.
Maybe because of the fact that I couldn’t enjoy Christmas festivities when I was a child, this time of year makes me dream. Every year I say to myself This year I’ll buy a tree. But when December comes my purse is empty and I leave it for the next year.
I like to walk the streets and see two or three houses with lights on display, today there are only a few but perhaps someday there will be more. In the same way, the Christmas ornaments that are sold in some convertible currency centers seem terrible to me, a piece of green bush tied to a tube isn’t necessarily identified with a Christmas theme… but still.
The peso stores, the schools and the like are still in the ‘80s. For our children in day care centers, Christmas hasn’t yet arrived.

Monday, December 22, 2008

With all the responsibility

Nobody has forced me to do this. Everything that I have posted I’ve written of my own will and I am not influenced by anyone. Other people's articles that I publish here, I do it because I like them and because they seem to be consistent with my way of thinking.
I want to thank all the people who have supported me, the commentators and my friends who have stood unconditionally by my side (by my side is not literal, my two best friends are abroad and this blog has only brought us more together).
At times, when I begin to get scared, and I remember the words of friends who love me (“you’re getting out of hand,” or “you have to think about those around you, your family and your friends… really”), I ask myself if I could really put the pen down. I’ve never had much interest in publishing my poems, my drawings have never left the little notebooks that I occasionally use for my “cartoons,” I have always considered what I do as something very personal and it has never interested me to do anything to do with any artistic side I might have, because I’m not interested in being an artist, it’s a very personal decision that may or may not be final, but for now it hasn’t changed.
I decided to write this blog after writing “From paranoia to a scream,” which I asked Yoani to publish on her blog, Generation Y. I think that the words I put there make my intentions clear. I can’t put down the pen because then I wouldn’t write… What could I say?
I think that every person has the right to say what she thinks, without it being a danger to her, much less to those around her. So far, no one around me has felt threatened and those who may feel that way don’t have a reason to reproach me, the same way that I will never reproach them.
Anyway, I am including some photos of my latest drawings, to relax.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CDR Congress

"We must at all costs ensure that the people hate those who do not work."
The words of Esteban Lazo at the National Congress of the CDR

On Thursday at seven o’clock in the morning one of those tourist buses passed by 17th and 12th honking at full volume. I was in the corner and I was scared, thinking there was an accident, because normally those who honk like that are newlyweds who have just been to the notary and I knew the offices weren’t open at this hour, not even by chance.

They were the, I don’t know how many, participants in the CDR Congress, who very naively thought that we, the bystanders, would send them off to their meeting with cheers and smiles. I had a flash-back to my childhood: with flower in hand I stood on the Paseo saluting the arrival of Gorbachev. Strangely, my parents had not gone, my father didn’t like Gorbachev (now I know why) so I went with a neighbor and her mother; they were acting like God was going to be passing in front of us.

Luckily time passes, and the people no longer want to run back for nothing or nobody. Everyone was looking at the bus with reluctance and the absurdity of the situation made me laugh. Did they really expect to be praised by the people along their route? The same people they want to put in jail for “illegalities”?

When I was in first grade, in 1989, there was a Spanish priest in my classroom. The teacher told us that when the priest came we should tell him that in Cuba our God was Fidel. You could ask yourself, what status would the organizers of the congress claim that we have for them; if bear in mind the point of view of my teacher, one might well believe them to be the Holy Inquisition.

Blog Contest: "A Virtual Island"

With the objective of encouraging the Cuban blogosphere and motivating those who use the Internet for expressing ideas, information and testimonies, the team of the magazine Convivencia and the editorial board of the site, announce the contest titled A Virtual Island.

The contest rules will be sent by email to all bloggers who write from Cuba. In they message they will be asked to confirm if they will to participate in the contest. Only those who respond affirmatively to our call will be considered nominees for one of the prizes described here.


  1. Cuban bloggers currently living in the country are eligible to participate.
  2. The blogs submitted can participate in other contests at the same time.
  3. Blogs can be submitted regardless of the date they were begun.
  4. Blogs on diverse themes will be considered, including personal, informative, news, computers, tourism, etc.
  5. Each contestant can enter the number of blogs they desire.
  6. The blogs in the competition must be signed with one’s own name.
  7. This call is in effect from today, December 19, 2008, until August 30 2009, when the final deliberations of the jury will begin.
  8. The results of this contest will be announced on September 9, 2009, through the digital media involved in the event.
  9. The decision of the jury is final. Any category included in the competition can be canceled if the jury decides to do so.
  10. Honorable mentions may be awarded if the jury decides to do so.
  11. The members of the jury are excluded from participating in the contest.
  12. Participation in the contest requires conformity with these rules.
Prize categories

  • Best blog, Jury Award
  • Best Blog, by public vote
  • Best Blog Design
  • Best Blog, Informative and Newsworthy
  • Prize awarded by on-line voting to best commentator who visit Cuban blogs
  • Special Prize Awarded by the site 233 grados

During the course of this contest different news institutions related to Internet journalist may offer a special prize under the criteria of their choice.

The jury is composed of:
The Jury Prize will be a Laptop that will facilitate the work of the blogger. The prizes for the other categories will be announced on March 1, 2009, along with the final list of contestants. Starting on that day, on-line voting will begin for readers to select which they consider to be the best blogs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I thought the war in Angola was one of the dark pages of our post-revolution history, but I was wrong. I believed that never again would we hear talk of such senseless carnage, whose origins and purposes we still don’t know, and that the government would save us from having to relive the pain of such a story.

My father was in Angola. He wasn’t injured, but caught malaria five times and although they cured the illness, they didn’t cure the alcoholism typical of those who went to war to die or kill. It seems that after a certain amount of blood and death you can no longer bear reality in the same way.

But it is not for my father that I write this post. It’s for my neighbor whose father died there. She was a child, her mother could not bear the pain and developed schizophrenia that might never have erupted. The girl, today already a woman, grew up in the care of a crazy woman who still does not let her into her own room because she says there are demons. The two, sick with nerves, survived the Special Period and the post-Ppecial. Jehovah’s Witnesses, they sought in faith what reality refused to give them: mercy.

They received an absurd pension from the Association of Combatants, which clearly didn’t stretch far enough for anything. Once some compassionate neighbors decided to do something so that someone from the government would take pity on them, because they were living in deplorable conditions. So they called a meeting. As if the stark reality were not enough, one woman said that the above mentioned pension should be taken from them, because they were often disagreeable with the neighbors and didn’t participate in the activities of the CDR. Fortunately, no one seconded the idea.

And now we have, adding shame to shame, a movie that’s been made called Kangamba, which is being sold as an epic. For the premier at the Chaplin movie theater they mobilized a large group of soldiers who, though the premier was at eight at night, were dressed in their uniforms… to see Kangamba is a task of the Revolution. The Ladas closed the parking areas around 23 and 12 so no one would be left with any doubt that our military not only doesn’t grieve for them, but they are proud that even today, after 20 years, amputated families don't recover from their dark and senseless losses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ciro goes to G2

Poster: Gorki Aguila

Prisoner number 6 has convinced me I was wrong that that everyone in the G2 is a counterrevolutionary, which nobody knows. For example, Furri signed the Varela project, Section 81 developed and works with the Agenda for the Transition, and Escalana Regueira is an incredible junky. Who knew? Obviously no one, they are very uninformed but I on the other hand have first hand information in the wardrobe. In addition, they assured me that every day they have lobster for lunch and that all the fillies of MININT are lesbians and they make cakes after work.

Now I am secret agent and my new secret name is Lieutenant Telaplico. I am going to start by taking in for interrogation certain antisocial elements like the one you see in the photo. This freak is trying to make three other freaks get up early on Saturdays to practice, something unacceptable and deserving of exemplary punishment. Goodbye.

PS: Finally I will reclaim my papers.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Internet in Cuba: a free space ... for Socialist Morality

I was informed the other day by Ciro that a new anti-blogger law decree has come out that seems to say something like, “the misuse of the Internet will be penalized, according to Socialist Morality.”
If selling eggs can get you thrown in prison for two years, one can only imagine for attacks against Socialist Morality…
We’ll see who defines this Socialist Morality.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December 10: World Human Rights Day

Photos: Claudio Fuentes Madan

In addition to the National Television news, I try to read that of other agencies to avoid losing the thread of reality. Marx said that the man thinks as he lives. I hardly ever agree with Marx, but just in case I try to get information from all sides to be able to be more discerning.
I always try to read Penúltimos Days; I love the blog of Ernesto Hernandez Busto and through him I know everything that happens in my country, leaving aside the potato harvest and the last speech by Chavez, which I already saw at 8:30 on the stellar Cuban television.
Luckily, the tenth of December I was able to read his blog and I was completely depressed; the repression is out of control. The figures alone speak and I can’t but feel very bad.
To all who were beaten, visited, monitored or warned on this World Human Rights Day, I offer them my solidarity and my support.
To all who today find themselves incarcerated for exercising freedom of expression, I send my thoughts, my admiration, my respect and my gratitude.
I look forward to a day when their names will be written in the Cuban history books in the schools, and when future generations will not, as I do, have to learn of their existence through alternative means.

Note: There are two items on Human Rights in my first two entries in this blog: one in the post "Amnesty" and the other in the post "I shit on the mother of the human rights that…" Each post contains a link to a PDF about human rights.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Semen Festival

Why do they call it a Film Festival?
The truth is that I haven’t been, but for a change OLPL comes with this picture of the most representative of what the Compañero Commander in Chief once dubbed “the most cultured people in the world.” I don’t think there’s a woman in Havana who goes to the movies as a pastime who has not gone through this disagreeable experience.
But…who cares?

note: This was the original name of the entry but, as you know, I can’t post and I forgot to send it. I regret that it wasn’t clear that the substance seen in the photo is semen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blogger meeting

Foto: Claudio Fuentes

I want to thank the organizers of this Blogger Meeting and especially Yoani Sanchez for giving me the opportunity to be part of this. I also want to thank the organs of the State Security for having changed the schedule of our encounter: if it had been in Pinar del Río, I would not have been able to participate.
I already have all the papers in my hands. Although I can’t participate in the meetings because I am still resting, and Reinaldo Yoani have given me all the documents, I’m especially sorry not to be able to meet the other bloggers, especially not feel able to know the other bloggers, which I was really looking forward to. Luckily this is only the first of many meetings we will have from now on.

This is what we have:

1. Importance of blogs for fraternal institutions, by Gustavo E. Pardo Valdes.

2. The ethics of writing a blog, by Eugenio Leal of the blog La Colmena (

3. Why Blog? by Andrew Sullivan. It can be read at (

4. The Old Man, the Internet and me, by the Guajiro Azul of the blog Retazos.

5. Citizen journalism: a channel of civil society, by Miriam Celaya González, of the blog Sin EVAsion, (The English version of this blog is here.)

6. Citizen journalism and the information society, by Dimas Castellanos of the blog Emanaciones

7. Blogopedia by Reinaldo Escobar, of the blog Desde Aqui,

8. Notes to motivate a debate around the Cuban blogosphere, by Yoani Sanchez, of the blog Generacion Y, (The English version of this blog is here.)

9. The History of Blogs by Antonio Fumero.

10. Citizens' media,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stories of horror and mystery

Photo: Claudio Fuentes

What with being sick and having entered the operating room, people called me to find out how I was doing and the stories begin to float to the surface.
A French friend didn’t believe that here they undertake menstrual regulation without anesthesia. While another doctor friend smiled ironically and retorted that sometimes they even did a curettage without it. There I was and I couldn’t believe it, I swear I didn’t think it was possible.
But once again life gives me a lesson to stop being so naïve and another girl I’ve known for a short time, but who has proved to be reliable, tells me that when she was 17 she got pregnant and had a menstrual regulation and they left pieces, so that after three weeks she had a terrible infection and had to have a curettage, and they performed the interruption… without anesthesia.
She remembers it as the worst day of her entire life, remembers her screams and the doctor asking her to behave herself…
This girl is younger than I am and is now 23 years old; if she was 17 when everything happened we’re talking about 2003.

Menstrual regulation: The fetus is extracted with a hose that sucks it out; this is done between 3 and 5 weeks of pregnancy.

Curettage: The fetus is extracted with a spoon that scrapes the uterus taking out everything inside; this is done between 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

MININT Retirees

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madam

I learn that the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) is distributing a survey to their retirees. For obvious reasons, I didn’t have the chance to scan it, nor to grab a photo, but nevertheless I remember some of the categories and got the general idea.

After name, surname, address, military post etc., they got down to the subject at hand.

How much is your pension?
Do you own a home?
What is the state of it? Good – Bad – Regular
Do you have a car? What make?
A question about household appliances that I don’t remember.
Economic needs?
Other needs?

The last two questions had me laughing out loud; it seems that finally the Ministry of the Interior has decided to conduct a census of misery among its retirees to know exactly how many are literally going hungry with their pensions of 300 pesos, or 400 or 500; it’s all the same because it’s not enough to live on.
The most surprising thing was hearing the comments from the retirees: I’m not going to fill out any form, this is so they’ll know what we’re doing and can get in our houses and sniff around; I’m not going to fill out any form either, after a decade without them remembering me, I don’t think they’re going to come and fix my house for me; I’m not filling out anything, they’re not going to be seeing that my daughter sends me money and decide that I don’t need my pension… etc. etc.
It seems that the young are not the only ones who’ve lost faith.
Despite how long it has taken them and how offensive it could turn out to be, it doesn’t seem bad to me that they worry about those who today are looking at 70, with something less than the income of the 40 years they spent breaking their backs for MININT. Despite having seen themselves during a number of years with no right to touch a dollar, while it was already at 150 on the street and people were starting their businesses. Both my mother and my father were military. Maybe that’s why I was the last kid in my elementary school to see a dollar while I wondered why, if my parents worked until seven at night, all the other kids could buy ice cream in the foreign currency store on the corner while I was still eating boiled cabbage.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Lucas Prizes

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Here I am watching The Lucas Awards... how revolting!
Always the same, it would seem that there are only 5 pop groups, 4 rock groups and 2 salsa bands. The directors of the video clips, coincidentally, are always the same.
I think I said in my previous post that they call me “the radical. For some time I’ve lost hope in Cuban intellectuals and artists (those based on national territory). Fear and accommodations are worth more than art, solidarity and any kind of activity that might threaten small business. But after what happened with Gorki, it makes me nauseated.
But the other day Ciro, always so sympathetic with his compañeros (an evil intention it won’t be and vice versa), said to me: Look, Claudia, the good thing about Porno Para Ricardo is that we’ve raised the bar so much and the level of censorship we’ve seen has been forced down; now other groups can sing things that maybe if we had not already done “El Comandante” and “El General” they couldn’t do it, and they go through official channels and do critical lyrics and it’s fine. We are the black sheep.
So I get to see Nassiry (of Hard Currency) singing “Why your evil intentions” and I feel good.
I can’t deny that Ciro’s right, even if it’s painful for me to see them become the black sheep for the government and the musicians as well. I don’t know how they even have the desire to do a study to help the underground scene which has demonstrated that it will never help them… but in the end, I have to recognize that I’m also a victim of this spirit of the “evil intentions.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Me too!

With Reinaldo Escobar on the phone, although without an internet connection, I learned from him about everything that has happened, I didn’t have time to express my frustration over the cancellation of our first blogger meeting of, because at that very moment a policeman knocked on my door to deliver my respective citation:

Present yourself tomorrow at the police station in Zapata and C at 2 pm.

I owe you a photo of the summons.

PS: Here you have it:

The Agency of Rock (small urban anecdotes)

The Agencia del Rock [Agency of Rock] has had a meeting to present the New Freak Statutes. Among the more colorful “guidelines” we find:

- Don’t say bad words.
- No public nudity.
- Don’t conduct yourself in an indecent manner.
- Don’t invite banned groups to play at concerts.

It seems like a joke but it’s not. The best are the anecdotes about what happened when Yuri (president of the agency of the rock, but for more information listen to the song “El Agente Yuro” by Porno Para Ricardo) finished reading.
Juan Carlos of Combat Noise, asked what might happen if it was decided to invite PPR to play. From which ensued the apparent hysterics of the president who, at the mere mention of the word Porno…, appeared to suffer a colapsus mentis.
Then came the famous case of Zeus, whose lead vocalist decided the ban on nudity surely didn’t cover taking off his pants, and he took them off at a full concert at the brand new Maxi Rock, with a corresponding Freak Warning Letter threatening him with expulsion from the Agency.
And so we go.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Of beans and other demons

Having a camera is a marvel, it inspires me. Soon I will take it back to Yoani but I’ve gotten my two cents worth.

For example, when I was about to spend an hour cleaning the beans from the bodega (as shown in the photo) and started to curse, as is my custom every time I find an absurd amount of foreign objects in the grains, it inspired me.

I don’t know why the rationed products are called subsidized in the international media: with an average wage of 300 pesos, eggs cost 25, coffee 5, chocolate 10 and as for domestic appliances, I won’t mention it because it’s not worth it, with the price of a refrigerator alone. In my view we pay a price for these products consistent with our earnings (not the appliances, there are many people who can’t even buy a pot); some years ago they threatened to end the ration system, I believe they can’t.

In the case of those younger, the generation of those still work, everyone knows that we can’t live on our wages. This is a national principal: it’s not a living wage. That’s why the war against the black market and illegal acts is a failure from the start and the government knows it. However, the Cuban population is old, and every year it becomes older, the birth rate is flat and the productive sector flees in all directions towards a more promising exile.

When you’re sixty you can’t run around the streets with a bag of fish to sell, ready to take off running at the first sign of danger, or walk ten kilometers with 30 pounds of yogurt on your back. From the ostracism of the Cuban retiree it’s not possible to steal from the state, or spend four hours cleaning the houses of those who have money, or spend the day in front of a hot stove making pizzas. Although there are some who, unfortunately, are obliged to do so, and incredibly they manage, like the gentleman who sells food at my house, who’s 75 years old and has Parkinson’s disease. It’s really saddening to see him pick up the bread while he has no control over his hands.

What do they have left? To eat the inadequate food from the soup kitchens. Believe me, I had one in my house, it’s disgusting and costs about six pesos for a full plate. And then to sell their quota from the ration: the pasta, the rice, the beans, etc… despite the terrible cruelty of the police who, for example, in O’Reilly Street in Old Havana, don’t hesitate to bring charges against a group of octogenarians and seize 5 tubes of toothpaste, 4 boxes of Tinanic cigars, or 3 boxes of matches.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pedro Lemebel in Havana--(just two years ago).

1. Saint Homo at Home in Hetero America. A whole cloth, with full sail: Bridal veil, shawl and scarf.
Whole milk and the whole voice. Full color: From head-to-toe turban and a pair of orange booties (Clock Work Orange gay).
Pedro Lemebel revisits Havana in late November 2006: Author of the Week at 3rd and “G” Street. (The patio of My House is nothing special).
Really promising. And the hosts know it. Hence their giggles become apparent before a one (wo)man show called Pedro Lemebel. Hence they punctually grab their spots in the front row, just in case.
The show must go homo.

2. Lord, I implore you to take my nine-year-old son, bored in front of the National TV program, to see the Magician Lemebel.
Because it was just that--waiting for a magic act. It breathed a tolerant atmosphere of sleight of hand. An especially solemn and brief reaction announced by the local media; (not loquacious, but half-assed this time):
“Lemebel Comes Home. A leftist Chilean writer. Personal friend of Gladys Marin”.*
Then I grab my son by the collar and as a gesture of resignation say:
“Let’s go”.
And we went--to a house that didn’t exist prior to the magic-maker “Potter” Lemebel.

3. In Cuba, in order to not introduce some variety, there had not been anything published by this leftist Chilean writer even though he was a personal friend of Gladys Marin: Too eccentric, outlandish, and outrageous (queer queen).
A decade ago, Pedro Lemebel had been deployed to Havana for his outlandish performance, The Mares of the Apocalypse. He apparently came without displaying any vice and left. Without penises or glories.
Now, however, the thing at the House promised to be hot. Hence the interest of old and young, including my son who barely knows how to read. Perhaps it was precisely because of that. Learn to read Lemebel.
It would be of tremendous benefit to get out of the closet that decaying Scrabble board that paralyzes us in a “straight” way. An all-inclusive methodology of “Pret-à-porter” (Harry Potter). home delivery. “Get your Lemebel at Home” during the whole Week of the Author--in fact, truncated into four evenings in November 2006.

4. Lower the curtain and the curtain rises, and there appears Pedro Lemebel with a type of screening light passing through the House and a ketch Chilean ballad. This is the perfect environment to now disclaim a civil poem. A Manifesto by its difference, written 20 years ago and read democratically under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in Santiago de Chile in September 1986.
It is a pamphlet of oedipal conversational verses: Howlings of Lobomel (Wolfbel) or, better yet, the cawing of a Lemebird swan. It is a drivel upside down where the myth of Cuba is as a global utopian social paradise of the Left.
Pedro Lemebel saaaaays:
"Imp not Pasolini asking for explanations. I’m not Ginsberg expelled from Cuba.
So then what? What will they do with us, comrades? Will they tie us in bundles of braids for a destiny to a Cuban AIDS quarantine asylum?
Will the future be black and white?
Will time be labored night and day without ambiguities?
Will there be a queer in one corner unbalancing the future of his new man?
Don’t you think that something would happen between us, being all alone in the Sierra? Although later I would hate it for corrupting the revolutionary morale.
My manhood was not received well by the Party because they rejected me with giggles many times.
My manhood waits patiently for the macho men to grow old because at this stage of the game, the Left drags its limp ass in Parliament.
There are so many children that are going to be born with a broken wing, and I want them to fly, comrade, so that their Revolution gives them a piece of red heaven so that they can fly”.
Closed ovation. Unanimous applauses. Wholesale hurrahs. Sphincters of all nations, open up!

5. The curtain goes up and the curtain goes down, and Pedro Lemebel disappears. In his place, behind the microphone, there emerges a flora and fauna of lecturers from the courtyard, and university scholars have arrived from the U.S.
Of course from time to time there is also talk of literature. But most of the time, of course (time is money), each of them spoke of their wits as privileged readers of Lemebel: Everyone has already read all of him, which shows how unnecessary it was beforehand to publish him here.
It chronicles the chronic Lemebel colic. One admires its Lemgay militancy. They move their uprooted politicians live before the Chilean television cameras; (Cuban television films everything off-the-record, but if a space later appears, that’s where the credit to be deferred to Lemebel is edited in). And they capture the ironies about the savoire-faire among men and the insular tropical autumn nights not very far from the domesticated house at 3rd & “G(ay)” Street.
The hosts showed their excellence as if amphibians, never losing the Andalusian giggle accomplice point from their punctual spots in the front row, while applying the urban guerilla tactic of laissez-faire. But my nine-year-old son became equally bored very soon and wanted to get out of there.
“Dad, I implore you again: Take me to see The Wizard of Oz at Cubavision”.

6. Old-time cabaret lyrics; narrative boleros; rancheras and revolutionary slogans. All shouted in sotto voce away in no time from a little clandestine radio to the tune of the “la lala” of Pedro “The Tender Bullfighter”** Lemebel.
The character in The Drag Queen of the Front (by Patriótico Manuel Rodriguez)*** is his Pedro anonymous in this short novel. The date and location of the plot takes place incisively in Santiago (Chile) in September 1986. Only now it’s not a poem concerned with civil disobedience, but the plot to assassinate General Augusto Pinochet (along with essential collateral damage that would include the presidential Mercedes limousine) with a clean bazooka shot.
In a country whose president has survived more than 600 assassination attempts, I'm afraid in the end, Bullfighter results in a naive realism. The most interesting aspect of the book is perhaps its somewhat interlinear notion of a phallus revolution. A certain innocence of the sixties is now passé. In this sense it’s an out-of-date story, a fossil remix of American toilet stall paleohistory. A script that could easily dramatize any 2:00 PM state radio soap opera broadcast.
One thing that is certain by reason or force is that old fox Roberto Bolaño**** hit the nail on the head in terms of, To publish or not to publish: That is the “gaystion”.

7. - My boy - Lemebel told my son upon granting him an autograph that he would be back next year and that we will now be a legion--that the car has to be pushed a little in order to advance. Sentenced theatrically, he winked an eye at me.
It’s a couple of years later and that parliamentary comment is incomprehensible to me even less. There was no use in asking him what he meant by that. The e-mail address that he jotted down on my copy of My Tender Bullfighter ( has only resulted in passive and evasive greetings.
Apparently the young bull in Lemebel likes to reserve his sharper letters for the hour of the final thrust.

8. Pedroly Lemebel, with his bi-casual attire and hi-tech narrator homosentimenstrual tics.
Bitchy Lemebel, casting a spell on the vampiresque family of Cuban scholars hungry for their heinous post-HIV Lemebelite blood—miracle of the 20th sicktury.
In the end, evil.
Lemebel, P: pr(l)ck. A saucer with a strong overflowing cup of something along with some quiet time to read the Chilean Donald Dick.
The words and gestures of a transchilen@ before a full house, Even though it was scandalous, the president chose not to scandalize it. All would thus be well within the canon of the twenty-first century cooltural locale (of drag queens) along with the correct dose of low-profile, plus a more diplomatic image of tolerance towards the Left International, Ltd.

9. Quoteth the condor: Nevermebel.

10. To the comfort of the great and small, this review of Lemebel is finally over with. A Clockwork Orange can cause a whole orange revolution, at least in my tropical Ukrainian cranium.
To see it live was almost a prediction of the impending bed death (and not a clean bazooka shot) of General Augusto Pinochet.
Well, therefore: Let it mebel.

Orlando Luis Pardo

Translator's notes

*Gladys del Carmen Marín Millie (July 16, 1941 – March 6, 2005) was a Chilean activist and political figure. She was Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) (1994-2002) and then president of the PCCh until her death. She was a staunch opponent of General Augusto Pinochet and filed the first lawsuit against him, in which she accused him of committing human rights violations during his seventeen-year dictatorship.

**The Tender Bullfighter is the literary English translation for Pedro Lemebel’s novel, Tengo Miedo Torero.

***Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (FPMR) was the armed wing of the Chilean Communist Party in the 1980s named for the hero of Chile’s war of independence against Spain.

****Roberto Bolaño Ávalos (April 28, 1953 — July 15, 2003) was a Chilean novelist and poet. In 1999 he won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize for his novel Los Detectives Salvajes (The Savage Detectives).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Generation Y

Photo: Claudio Fuentes

Congratulations to Yoani Sánchez, at Generation Y, and to all her commentators and all the people who have helped, for these two extremely merited prizes.

Let the resistance continue and let us be more every day.


Prize of Reporters without Borders: GENERATION Y

PS: Now, instead of a prologue, el Comandante is going to have to write a novel.

Translator's note:
El Comandante (Fidel) criticized Yoani, although not by name, in the prologue he wrote for a book entitled, "Fidel, Bolivia and Something More".

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

They finally arrived

Monday, November 24, 2008, 11:00 am:

I came running from work to meet the social workers who take the old refrigerators. Atmosphere of madness, all the old refrigerators rolling down the stairs, they say a neighbor was on the edge of tears. I too was a little sad, it hurts to see them rolled away after nearly a half century of working without fail. My Mom’s fridge, for example, they gave it to my grandmother like a wedding present, she was born in 1919 and got married when she was 16. It’s impossible to be indifferent to its death. I understand OLPL and other friends who aren’t changing theirs, but truly for me, although I’m sad, I prefer the change. In addition, it’s expensive to get rid of them, because I’ve been told there are people out there who think it is only exchanged, but no, it’s exchanged and charged: value 260 CUC. Luckily you can pay in installments. After 50 years they realize if they don’t sell them on the installment plan they’re not going to sell them, because with what are we going to pay.
There were two guys, I don’t know where they went, who loaded the refrigerators and took them down for you for 20 pesos.

6:30 pm:
The truck with the new ones arrives, as Claudio calls them, the “Comandantes Haier.” The odyssey of bringing them up and more, and thankfully with Yoani’s camera I was able to capture all of it, most of all Claudio and Ciro, posing before starting up.
For the social workers, who didn’t get lunch, I made them coffee. They told me they hadn’t even given them a snack the whole day.

Translator’s note
The “Haier Group” is a Chinese appliance manufacturer with a contract to supply energy efficient refrigerators to Cuba.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The coming of the refrigerator (II)

Sunday November 23, 11:00 am:

Photo: The piece by Juan Suarez for the exhibition "Monstrous energy eaters."

I leave for work (yes, I also work on Sunday) and the Surveillance guy asks me where I’m going because they’re already picking up the refrigerators on the sidewalk out in front. Ciro’s at a student’s house giving a lesson, so he’s not home either.
We’ve spent this week waiting for the refrigerator, I haven’t missed any more work but many people have. Since that disastrous Friday of last week there have been people without a refrigerator until the following Friday; there weren’t any trucks so they couldn’t bring the new refrigerators. By chance we saved ourselves, because the list of those of us who were exchanging fridges was wrong and the president of the CDR wouldn’t let us get rid of them until it was fixed, and those who were fixing it stopped working, and so we were left with our old refrigerators.
I’m running to leave things at work under control and then head back home, which I make in the record time of one hour, including the ten peso cost of a car between there and here to get here faster.
When I get home a neighbor is shouting at me: Go back! Go back! They’re not going to pick them up from us today! He gave me a small attack of hysterics which fortunately passed quickly when I saw the face of the president of the CDR who has spent the last week taking meprobamate and who was on the verge of strangling somebody. She’s more exasperated than I am. In her work they give encouragement in foreign currency and if she fails she won’t get it.

They say it’s coming tomorrow.

(to be continued)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The caviar of the left

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

The other day Ciro and Gorki gave an interview to an Italian communist. They didn’t know he was a communist, of course. But all the same they gave it to him because they were giving interviews to the whole world despite my advice not to do it, because it’s not easy to be giving an interview to the security services, when what they want is for you to rot in prison and there you are, nicely answering questions.
According to Ciro’s version, Gorki was upset when the journalist told him that there were many things he should be thankful to the Revolution for, while he didn’t get upset because he wanted to get information out of him. According to Gorki’s version, Ciro got upset when the journalist said that the dissidents were all getting money from the U.S. government, while he had remained calm so that he could listen and know what he was thinking. Both versions agree that it was lucky I wasn’t there, because had I been I would have sabotaged the interview, with the usual expulsion from my house of Compañero European Communist Journalist.
I can converse with Cuban communists, in fact I do it often because I know a few (my mother-in-law, for example). We don’t last long, either of us, but I can listen to some of their arguments and refute them and try to convince them.
But with the Europeans, Americans, or anyone in the developed Western world, I can’t. I even have patience with young Latin Americans, because I believe they’ve been brainwashed, just like us, and to top it all off they’re living in Cuba as if this was a paradise, while in their countries they sell this government as the model for the solution to all their problems… I only hope it doesn’t become a reality, for the sake of their children.
It makes me want to vomit when a Spaniard or a Frenchman or an Italian tells me that the Cuban Revolution is the bastion of the perfect society in this capitalist world where the selfishness blah blah blah… earning $5,000 a month and vacationing in Varadero, really democracy makes no sense!
Once at Claudio’s, an American about 50 told me that he felt very good that Cubans didn’t have the right to buy cars. “Why would you want a car if you don’t have to travel very far to get to work? Back in the U.S. I don’t have a car and I don’t feel the need to travel very far.”
The part about not traveling very far for work wasn’t clear to me, where would he have gotten such a statistic? But I left it and didn’t refute it. Why? The best thing was when his 15-year-old fiancée arrived. I had to ask her what she thought about the fact that her boyfriend was never going to buy her a car.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The "cursed" matter of money

Photo: Lia Villares

Reinaldo Escobar wrote an excellent article, "The bones of money," where, among other things, he mentions the fortune that Castro received from all kinds of sources to make his revolution. However, every time we talk about dissidents, independent journalists, or political parties in Cuba, money never fails to stick in the throat like a damn fish bone. Why?
It makes no difference to me if they send them money or not, I even believe they should get more: to make banners, to put up more posters, to be able to create a clandestine network layered with anti-Castro signs, to set up a traveling press, to create local dissident intranet radio stations, to bribe security oficials and get them to change sides, to print 11 millon copies of the Vaerla Project, in short, in order to do what’s happening.
What I am curious about, for example, is the salary of Randy, I love to know how much they pay him for facing the consequences in such a brutal way. How much did Taladrid earn the week devoted to speaking live and in person on Absurd Table about the private correspondence of Marta Beatriz Roque?
I wonder that people, including many of my friends whom I consider intelligent and capable, with very coherent political ideas, make such a face when it comes to the money of the opposition. Wouldn’t it be better to ask ourselves how much they pay the guy who took a photo of Marta’s refrigerator, or those who have 24 hour a day Internet access at home so they can sabotage the resistence on the web, or those who listen in on the other ends of our telephones? Why do the the television national news journalists have cars, cell phones, houses, where does all that come from? Why do they pay them so well and the rest of us so badly? Why does Eusebio Leal have antique shops in Europe and, incidently, who made him Mr. Fuedal Lord-in-Chief of Old Havana?
I remember once, because of some international scandal about the bank account of el Comandante, that we had to endure several days of Absurd Table, where they explained in detail the precarious economic situation of Castro. The popular joke was that we should collect a dollar per person and give him the money… and even so we’re preoccupied with the money those on our side have. It seems incredible.

Translator’s notes:
Reinaldo Escobar is an independent Cuban journalist.
The Varela Project is a citizen’s petition to the Cuban government to enact democratic political reforms.
Randy Alonso is director and host of the television talk show “Mesa Redonda” (Roundtable). “Absurd Table” is a play on words.
Marta Beatriz Roque is a Cuban economist and political dissident.
Reinaldo Taladrid is a government-employed Cuban journalist.
Eusebio Leal is the Havana City Historian and holds a large number of political and culutral posts, including Deputy to the National Assembly.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two civil societies: one wearing green and one wearing colors

I read Granma and I watch television, the news and whatever official publication falls into my hands. Although sometimes they annoy me, I prefer to spend an unpleasant moment to find out what they are saying and to try, in a naïve way, to guess the intentions behind each title.
The other day, for example, I almost fell into the trap of a title in Granma: “Cuban civil society denounces the blockade,” or something like that, I don’t remember exactly. When I read “civil society,” I instantly said, very excited, “They’re talking about Civil Society in Granma!”
How naïve! I finished the article reluctantly, not remembering at all what it was about; what I do remember was that the “Cuban civil society” mentioned in Granma was formed, initially, by Felipe Pérez Roque, followed by Miguel Barnet and other writers and functionaries of the leading cultural institutions of the country, that is to say, the main governmental organizations; because at this point everyone knows that in Cuba, a high official in Culture is the same as a high official in State Security, and that their immediate superior undoubtedly works for military intelligence. There was even a time when nearly all our minsters were military, without any evasiveness or lies.
Now it seems they aren’t, now they call it civil society, because the green uniform has long since ceased to be compulsory.
Why? I wonder if it might be, perhaps, that they’re afraid our people actually know that a true civil society exists, that they also form a part of it, and that it has no rights, or almost none. It doesn’t even have the right to know what its rights are. Or maybe I ask myself why our leaders feel the need to steal the name of the opposition. Could it be, perhaps, that they fear the terms “opposition” and “civil society,” which encompass so many people who couldn’t talk about politicians, about dissidents, because civil society is enormous and so great, destined to continue growing while our government ignores it, meanwhile shamelessly stealing its name.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The arrival of the refrigerator

Chronicle of an absurd day (incomplete but will be continued)

Thursday, 9 pm

The president of my CDR, whom I’ve already said is the best, shouts at me that the fridges will come tomorrow. What time? Who knows.
I go down to try to find out what she knows, I have work in the morning and then I have another job in the evening until ten at night that I don’t like to miss.
The owner of the house must be present, if they’re not there another person can buy it but then that person will be the debtor.
According to the Cuban government I’m the housewife, so I can’t go to work because the debtor is my mother and she can’t come either because she’s waiting for her refrigerator too, at least the owner of the house must be there. Besides, what mysterious reason would keep a housewife from not being there to receive her refrigerator, particularly when the one she has hasn’t kept things cold in the summer for years?
My neighbors advise me to go to work in the morning, because the refrigerators always arrive late, I decide to sacrifice my night job, call the boss, etc. etc. etc.
Claudio’s digital camera is broken, a call to Orlando to see if he will lend me his, it’s complicated; Lía’s incommunicado; Yoani will lend me hers but Ciro isn’t here to go get it.
I go to bed.

Friday, 7:15 in the morning

I’m leaving for work; the phone rings, it’s the president of my CDR, saying that I’d better not go to work, they called her and they’re coming at nine.
Call the other boss, Ciro worried. Two colleagues tell me they spent THREE DAYS waiting for their refrigerators. I hang up the phone, not happy with this information.


Nothing at all, all the neighbors walk around like zombies waiting, no one went to work. Expectation.
Claudio arrives, says that he can do it with his analog camera, but developing and scanning will delay it. He doesn’t even have the damn camera with him, try to convince him to go get it, to wake up Lía to ask if she can bring it over, to call Yoani. Wait.


Lia's mother refuses to wake her, nobody wants to go to Yoani’s, the laziness already begins.
I’m leafing through the phone book looking for a charitable soul who lives nearby and wants to lend me a camera.


Relaxed atmosphere, Claudio doesn’t stop making jokes. Says now we must prepare ourselves psychologically for them to take the Russian refrigerator at 6:00 pm in the evening and to bring the other at midnight, with luck.


Lía is still sleeping


I go to the movies.
At the exit I see some trucks, I run home, in fact they are bringing fridges, but not mine.
It seems they’ll bring it tomorrow.

Saturday, 8:45

Now they say they’ll come between 9:00 and 9:30.


Those who handle the trucks are some farmers, it seems they’ve gone home and won’t return today. Maybe they’ll come on Monday.


Suspended the practice of PPR for obvious reasons, suspended also Gorki’s birthday party.
I have no mail.
I can’t post.
Lía is still sleeping (it’s incredible).
I stop here to be continued when the day finally comes that they bring the refrigerator…

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About the saga of The Ciro versus State Security

Prisoner number 6

Yesterday I captured a G-2 agent, and I have him locked up in the wardrobe at home The guy got off his Suzuki to buy a shaved ice and I put him in a big sack for policemen made in China that they sell in the shop on Carlos III Street at three for a dollar. At first he kicked up a little fuss but then he calmed down and apologized. I demand a ransom of 40 CUC for his early release, or maybe they’d like to have 6 heros: 5 prisoners of the Empire and one prisoner of Ciro.
At night, without any problems, he ate the ground ‘soy meat’ I cooked for him and the dogs, but today in the morning he said he was on a hunger strike and started to cry. Since I don’t want him to die on me, I’m going to buy him a pound of beef for lunch so he’ll feel right at home.
They have ten days to deliver the ransom but if they don’t he’ll go to the dogs who spend the day scratching at the door of the wardrobe to get in and eat him up, as you already know.

P.D. To the 40 CUC ransom, add the papers you stole from me.


The Ciro.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Without connection

I’ve been left without an Internet connection, the friend who lent me her account is gone and I’m left with nothing. The public places are very expensive and I can’t afford it on a regular basis. I will try to post at least every two days, thanks to a friend who will publish me from abroad. I won’t think of stopping this blog under any circumstances so if I miss a few days don’t worry, I’ll return for sure, and not like the Five Heroes.
My love to everyone and I’m sorry I won’t be able to read your comments as much and won’t always be able to respond. However, getting me to quit the blog will take a lot more than leaving me without a connection; I already anticipated this day and am prepared to continue posting. The good thing about having been born in Cuba is that one always finds a back channel, the good thing about not having been born in Cuba is that you can’t find it because you don’t need to look for it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Reading This is Not a Country, by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, I grieve. Those things that sometimes we do not mention (nor look at in our brains, the doors forbidden) in order not to lose Faith, the only thing that we know that you cannot lose. For days I’ve been listening to Machado Ventura to see if I can manage to laugh, and I can’t. I think I'm walking backwards. My sense of humor suffered from the disappearance of coma-andante,* thank God I have my pictures on file, classics by others.
I have even recorded in my mind the closing words of Raul's speech on the first of January that I saw the tail end of: to work hard. It must be cruel to ask such a thing of the Cuban people. That we work more? And when are they going to pay us? How much longer can this last?
All the bibliography needed to unlearn the un-history learned: Castro the Deceitful, by Sergi Raffi; After Fidel, by someone from the CIA whose name I don’t remember; How Night Fell, by Huber Matos. All the documentaries of all the possible falls of all the totalitarian systems in history, to feed the Faith. The distant memories of ‘94, my father telling me his truth and me with big eyes, wondering why people are pouring into the sea. The quasi-94 since then, the cigarette boats, the dead, those missing in the sea and the disappeared whom it is better to believe are in the sea… as I said to an Argentine friend some years ago: we at least have lists; you, not even that.
I don’t think about my friends who gave birth: taking antidepressants and living on soy mince so the baby eats; working until eight and half months pregnant, because they lost their maternity license – imagine it, my girl, with that contract how you are going to deliver; with three children living crammed together; fleeing to race to leave for any country, without succeeding, the youth thrown into the sewer of the toilet of our big shots; or erasing their minds until they no longer know who they are, like a Cuban friend who recently came from Argentina and grabbed a Cuban history book from off the top of my table and after a bit said: Look pal, I’m studying your history.
I am more afraid of finding myself alone in this hell than I am of State Security, and we even have our brains so well washed that I wonder whether or not I signed the Varela Project,** and I see all around me the same doubt, the same fear, looking for the same justifications, that if I am not Christian, if I do not believe that… in the end. Luckily it only lasted a short time and I signed, and absolutely, I think I passed to a new mental state: I sign anything, everything for the cause, as we say a bit in jest, a bit seriously.

Translator's notes:
* A reference to a song by Porno Para Ricardo
** The Varela Project started in 1998 to collect 10,000 signatures which, under Cuban law, is the threshold for citizens to propose new laws. The petition called for democratic reforms. More information can be found on the web.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My fans of the G2

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

The Saga: The Ciro versus The State Security

Well, as everyone knows, there’s a G2 guy who says with pride he’s my personal biographer, but that being insufficient, I have a girl in the classroom who has revealed to me she’s the one who watches me directly for MININT; the most curious of all being that both boast of their assigned mission. As you can see, spying on The Ciro is something that seems to score them points in the military show business, I suppose they are like the rising little stars of the G2 because they deal with someone as important as ME.
In any case, I think it’s insufficient to have only two baby-spies-in-training in charge of my case. I demand that they immediately open a department under the auspices of Section 81.352 to manage Operation The Dreadful Ciro. The department must have 10 computers, a fax, Internet (broadband) and fixed cameras in the bathroom of my house to accurately count the number of times a week I jack off.

Signed: The Ciro

PS I recall that they have not returned my papers, OK… they continue being cocksuckers, I’m going to start distributing my songs to the world.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interview with Claudio Fuentes Madan

Photos: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Well, Claudio, I don’t have a camera and you have taken the photos, most of the time without permission and under threat (like you have no computer and work on mine which is fucked), you’ve become the official photographer and almost the only one for my blog, so I decided to interview you. Of course you are a tremendous artist but if I didn’t need your photos maybe I wouldn’t interview you.

- Let’s see, tell me how you stopped being a biology professor at age 25 and changed your life radically to become a painter, and later a photographer.

Well, thanks to a strange nervous depression that even today I haven’t yet fully discovered the causes of, I began, from a strange viewpoint of my inner world, to need to forget thoughts and emotions that were not agreeable and to avoid questions about myself that seemed like they would never have an answer. I tried to create spaces that were opposite in a certain way to what was happening to me. However, inevitably, starting from there, this strange inner world state, I added a surrounding reality, also an enemy in many respects, but over all because I couldn’t avoid it, many nights I simply couldn’t sleep for thinking about things and at some point I started to do them, and the capacity of vibration this gives is so beautiful and indescribable that today I don’t want to be an artist, I want to be a bohemian.

- What are your views and your impressions on the plastic arts in Cuba today? Do you feel a part of any movement or trend?

We are in a dark era, many artists have been from the beginning of this shit, and not only do they fail to produce work, but also they part ways with their teachings. A state corrupted plastic arts, for shit, pressure, money, possibilities, therefore an insincere and ultimately mediocre plastic arts. In addition, the plastic arts cannot exist when Cuba doesn’t exist. What exists is the software of Fidel Castro, and some of my friends and I want to believe that we are still a rebel pixel.

I’m inserted in my own arterial pressure, spitting blood through my ideas, my photos, my glance and each of my pores to the daily stupidity, created by you know who and followed by another whom you know.

- What do you think of the Cuban intellectual?

That like always, the intellectuals in the top tier today must remain in the sewers believing firmly in a tomorrow. The statistic of those of the top tier must be around three, I remember today that Bulgakov, in The Master and Margarita, said that Christ reminded him of Pontius Pilate whose greatest sin was cowardice, thus is demonstrated the arrogant absence of balls.

- Some artists have criticized your unconditional intellectual and moral support toward PPR [Porno Para Ricardo, a rock band]. Could you explain a little why you feel so committed to the group and why you're criticized for it?

I think that they can’t forgive me for deciding to be a groupie, I think the majority of Cuban self-proclaimed intellectuals are given the luxury of giving opinions when in reality they’re not permitted to relaxedly listen to both the lyrics and the music of PPR, when I have discussed it in private circles the majority can cite two, three, four themes and their arguments don’t have an intelligent analysis, and they know almost nothing about the reading levels that I bring. Therefore there are two principal reasons, one, ignorance, two the intrinsic capacity, since to me a single number was enough. A third possible cause, could be perhaps the fear of not saying what they think so as not to face future complications. There’s a lot of intellectual sanctimony.

- I understand that your mother kicked you out of the house when she learned about your relationship with the group. Where are you living? What do you think of her attitude? Do you feel abandoned?

I can’t ask my mother to share my ideas, I understand the reasons for what she did although I don’t share the drastic rupture of our relationship. I know that one day everything will be clarified and forgiven by both sides. Certainly my mother along with other mothers and families have not wanted, have not been able or have not had time to form a new political culture and pry out information about it. A mother also sees the possibility, many times, of strange and macabre ways, she thinks she’s done the right thing, she’s been consistent and it isn’t yet the time to talk about these things. Tomorrow I will start living in the house of a friend, I have been living with my girlfriend, who is no longer my girlfriend, who took me in, in every sense. I am not abandoned, thanks to this I am surrounded very closely by people whom I admire and we like each other.

- What Cuban artists and foreign do you count among your teachers?

Such a list would be very long and pedantic, thankfully humanity relies on artists, philosophers, writers, poets, beggars, alcoholics, prostitutes etc. who impact with magnificent bursts in the minds of certain people, and these are the sensibilities creating a continuous wave throughout history. Some time ago a very important teacher, who could not imagine that she was an important reference point for me, said: from the worst teacher, one learns.

- You’ve had a series of collage paintings for some years now, called 13, which is a bit mystical and political. Could you explain?

These collage paintings don’t all include the number 13 in their composition, those that have the number pertain to a numerological joke that I invented because I felt like it and that is 50 percent prophetic. I assumed just for the hell of it, taking into account that for many cultures and religions thirteen is a fatal number, that Fidel, a symbol of misfortune, was born a 13. Thirteen is half of the 26th of July. Divide 13 by four plus 9, therefore, for karmic reasons that I invented, our bearded one, as you put it, should fall into disgrace, according to my calculations, in the 49th year of the Revolution, which corresponds to 2008, not allowing it to reach the round number of 50 years in power. Sadly, this joke of prediction does not address the terrible successor of the same lineage. But at least, on this date, our man suffered one of the most famous intestinal rackets, an internal bursting that ambiguously isolated him.

One of the objectives of this explanation, I confess, is hidden and is to increase the interest in these pictures and so to raise their price. I never thought I could benefit with infantile treachery from the misfortune of others.

- Why did you stop painting?

The answer is as personal as it is extensive in the sense of a good public speaker. I do not pretend to explain everything that invaded me in the manner of a magnificently poignant photograph... almost never can we choose which obsessions we are going to be authentic victims of.

- Are you going to emigrate? What did you feel after the departure of Leandro, your colleague and your friend who has influenced your work?

I consider that my political and economic culture are still limited and in spite of this, when I compare what I have learned in these last years, I believe that we live in a country of the blind and with this news I don’t feel anything good. Inevitably when you start to awaken, you realize that each one of your analyses makes you a slave of responsibility, so in this obligatory way you are going to suffer certain things on that path and the gain is that you have a guide. Apparently it’s a path of no return whose clothes are constantly basted-together convictions. Many people considered intellectual figures, artists and principal politicians, if they have something with a new impact it’s their emigration, and in addition, they haven’t left a structure of responsible substitutes for the function they had. This analysis is far from being a judgment, I also understand that in the history of a country, five, ten or twenty years is nothing, but for an individual it’s their whole life and it’s very clear that they could foresee that there were no perspectives for this country. Once in a photography course Enrique Pineda Barnet told us the definition of a pessimist: a well-informed optimist.

As for Leandro I still do not have full awareness of how we are going to mark this separation but from the first minute of his departure, I knew that we both were suffering. Simply, Leandro is irreplaceable, the most famous one of my life, too spectacular, a genius of feelings.

- What do you think of blogs?

In general I don’t think that full political democracy exists in any country, the Internet is a vehicle with great democratic possibilities and yet, inevitably, everything is subject to manipulations, because we have the worst of those interests, that are unconscious, that sometimes are not very clear. Today I see the blogs as a fount of more reliable information because they pass through the filter of individual subjectivity and independence.

- Tell me what you're doing now and what your plans are for the future.

I am planning a series of portraits that support and at the same time surpass a series I did with Leandro with ham, lettuce and peas. Also we are in the first stage of making audio-visuals of a documentary and fictional character, with deep subversive components. It’s time to put art ahead of politics, and not politics ahead of art.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thieves of G2

Photos: Claudio Fuentes Madán

The Saga: Ciro vs. State Security

The damn thieves of G2 (State Security) have not returned the papers they "temporarily" seized from me two months ago when I was arrested in the Protest Plaza. They were the lyrics of a song that I did about Che, but which I don't remember well. When I went to the station at 21st & C to ask whether state security would return my papers or if they stole them forever, they asked:

- "What were the names of the officers who arrested you?"

(How in the hell am I supposed to know who arrested me if they all use fake names?! I answered anyway):

- "One said he was Rodney and the other said he was Oscar."

Obviously nobody there knew who they were.

What worries me most is that if G2 is going to add music to my song themselves, it will be ugly because they're very pro-Che and know nothing about music.


Signed: El Ciro

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Roundtable

Photos: Claudio Fuentes Madan

I went through a radical period with the television show Roundtable and with television in general between the ages of 15 and 20. At the slightest decibel that my ears could pick up, I became hysterical and desperately searched for the radio or television that was the source of my discomfort to turn it off immediately. One day, my intolerance even overcame my terror and I shut off my father’s TV when he was watching a march for Elián that I had just escaped from after 7 hours of trying, futilely, to flee He was so surprised he didn’t say a thing to me, while I shouted: Today, NO! Just today, I can’t stand it!

But luckily that period passed, always with the help of Fidel Castro’s mental deterioration, to the point where I became a fan of his speeches, but that was later.

My grandmother spent five years with senile dementia, I could write 100 posts of the hell we lived through in the hospitals, at home, with the family doctor that does not exist, with the meprobamate and other medicines from the black market… in short, an odyssey. But before getting too maudlin, my grandmother, a very practical woman from the lower class in Luyanó with a primary education, came to the conclusion that she had never been so hungry as after the triumph of the Revolution and, ironically, called the United States, The Brutal and Disheveled North that Oppresses Us, to dishonor my mother and father, militants in the Communist Party of Cuba (fortunately my mother has recovered from her ideological rut). But she was getting old, could barely hear, she couldn’t go out and the only thing she could do was to watch television. After a few months she began to change. I couldn’t speak ill of the government in front of her, she quoted the TV moderator Randy, gave examples from the “Battle of Ideas” and didn’t understand that for my mother and me, who spent the day working, we never had money for anything.

The squabbles started in a house where politics was no longer taboo after the politics-infused divorce of my parents. My grandmother, who still clung to a bit of reality, decided to swear off watching TV because she sensed that she could no longer judge well and that they were brainwashing her: she preferred boredom to engaging in discussions with my mother and me.

Yes yes yes yes yes yes, Commander

We came to be among the few fans. We waited for six in the evening to watch the show, and if there was a special appearance by our Commander in Chief, all the better. Even my radical friends, like me in adolescence, came and sat in front of the television, to see me start with the tears when it began and also laughing at the end, if not as fanatical, at least lowering the level of intolerance almost to zero.

I once met a Spaniard, a fighter against Franco, who told me that when he came to Cuba he caught a taxi from the airport to downtown and the driver was listening to the Roundtable on the radio. The topic: the queens of pots. The tourist, intrigues, asked the taxi driver how he managed to get a station from Miami in a State taxi, thinking it was a satirical program. The poor man had to stop the taxi in the middle of Boyeros because he was overcome with a fit of hysterical laughter, while explaining to the tourist that it wasn’t a parody, that it was Him, speaking live and direct to all of Cuba. The Spaniard didn’t believe him, until he saw for himself on television what seemed completely impossible.

When he told me about it he said: Listen, Claudia, this guy doesn’t have more than a year left, it’s impossible.

Unfortunately, the anecdote is already more than three years old.