15 July 2014
15 July 2014
The Books on the Cuban Death by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
There is a literary genre more popular than the rest of Cuban literature, which, by the way, has become a dying phenomenon since a few decades ago.
That genre is the “books on death,” the books written by the serial killers in the island (who spread to Latin America), as if they were perverse characters from an ideological thriller called the Revolution.
Today, 15 years late, I felt the spontaneous urge to read one of the vital and monumental works on Cuban deaths: “The Fury and the Delirium” (Tusquets, 1999), by the killer son of killers and earning wages from killers Jorge Masetti, whose destiny to become a depressing or best-selling star I ignore, but whose prose I will always admire for its morbid monstrosity. Continue reading
COWBOY POET Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
It’s called Street Sense, which is sort of like El Sentido de la Calle in Spanish, which is a much better title than any Cuban magazine or newspaper has got; and that obviously includes the ones published abroad.
It comes out fortnightly in Washington D.C., which isn’t just the capital of the empire, but it’s also North America’s Homelessness Central. I have never seen so many homeless as I have here. Mostly, they are in the subway stations, where they take up residence according to some kind of timetable, and where, according to Wikipedia, they have the world’s longest escalators. But I also see them out in the open, exposed to the dreadfully cold springtime rain. And, before that, out in the worst of this city’s infinite winter.
You never come across the same homeless people, not even if you pass by the same place two thousand times. They have either moved, or they have died. No other possibility.
Many of these humble homeless guys get published in Street Sense. Those of them who have not been eaten up by hate, crime or illness. Those who have retained enough mental clarity and nobility of spirit. Those who are trying, as best they can, to get back into the machine that once vomited them out, or who were crushed by it, possibly because they tried to resist the hypocritical mediocrity which comes with any kind of success. Continue reading
We both fell in love at the same time with the same girl, who wasn’t my mother, in front of an Elektron-216 black-and-white TV, on an afternoon in the seventies in Lawton, another of those lost words that no one in the world would think are Cuba, except Cubans.
She died on screen, Jennifer. But before, she ran with him, Oliver, through the unknown streets of a miracle called The United States. And they both were beautiful and free like love, and so tender and irascible, immortals. And they ate snow and threw snowballs at each other’s heads. And neither of them had ever heard of Fidel or the Revolution.
My father had just retired. He’s been a gray bureaucrat in a nationalized industry dealing with the importing of polymers. Of the Lili Dolls of Havana Plastics. His successive offices, like his checked shirts, smelled of nicotine and that salvific smile that didn’t belong for a single minute to his environment. Continue reading
At 7 past 7 in the morning of 5 March 2013, yesterday, I left my wooden house where I had lived all my life, to go to José Martí airport. I spent the whole night copying things on a few flashdrives. And deleting evidence of my ever-more-obvious work as a dissident and counter-revolutionary.
Of course I copied texts, which don’t take up much space, of which I had thousands, mine and other peoples’. I copied photos, which do take up a lot of space and aren’t worth the trouble. I copied what I could in those pendrives which would constitute all my work from that Tuesday onwards. Those gigabytes will be my oblivion and my eternity. My portable homeland, my body, my lack of spirit. My illusion that the journey was not true. I did not want the journey to become true with the passage of time. But it did. Better that way.
I left everything I loved on top of my bedsheets. My mother still hasn’t changed the bed clothes, she tells me every so often on the phone: a white and yellow bedcover, knitted in 1934 by my paternal grandmother, the Andalucian lady who was born at the end of the 19th century. Continue reading
Prolific, brilliant, celebrity, provocateur, agent, incisive, insidious, one of the last intellectual icons of the Latin American left has died: Gabriel García Márquez, el Gabo.
His claim on immortality is supported by a Nobel Prize, which owed a lot to the Latin American literary “Boom” of the 1960’-1970s which in turn owes a lot to that totalitarian regime still called “the Cuban Revolution.”
In the early 1980’s Cuban adolescents read and loved García Márquez. In Castro’s Cuba, García Márquez’s books held a mirror up to Cuba’s “official culture,” dictated by Fidel Castro, that also reflected the Soviet Union and its Socialist Realism. Castro was obsessed with his control of the island’s cultural affairs, and even the best Cuban writers of the time were forced to imitate the worse of Soviet propaganda, stopped writing, such as poet Dulce María Loynaz, playwright René Ariza, and the novelist Reinaldo Arenas, jailed or fled in exile such as Heberto Padilla, Lydia Cabrera, and Guillermo Cabrera Infante. There were many others. Continue reading
At the beginning of the Revolution, when he realized that his “Soviet brothers” would not launch a nuclear war against “Yankee imperialism,” and after blatantly collaborating in the anti-Castro plot that killed President JFK, Fidel Castro had his hands free to make the United States whatever he pleased according to the historical period.
Now that technically he is no longer among the living, we Cubans can finally confess to ourselves: in many ways, Fidel Castro was the equine caudillo not only of those who endured the barbaric boot of island socialism, but also of those who believed they had escaped the Stable-State when they crossed themselves before the Statue of Liberty or Miami’s Freedom Tower. Continue reading
The Cuban people will go down in history as the people who most contributed to Latin American disintegration. Disguised by the ideological hatred of capitalism, we bit into the core of fratricidal hatred on our continent. This guilt today covers several generations, irreversibly anthropologically damaged. There is no forgiveness capable of freeing us from this criminal responsibility.
Since January 1959, a bourgeois and pro-democratic revolution, with strong hints of urban terrorism and a certain Cuban-style Protestantism, was re-channeled by Fidel Castro into an agrarian and anti-imperialist process, and ultimately turned into a dictatorship of the proletariat and an extreme alliance with Moscow in the context of the Cold War. Continue reading
With the passing of Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), another death was also announced to the world, the death of a friend whose biography García Márquez had always wanted to write: Fidel Castro, the man who needs no introduction, the man who attempted the record of one hundred years of socialism in Cuba but fell short, barely managing to get past the halfway point.
Earlier this month Fidel’s brother Raúl sent his condolences to García Márquez’s widow, Mercedes,:
The world, and especially the peoples of our continent, Latin America, have felt the physical loss of a distinguished thinker and writer. Cubans have lost a great, beloved friend who showed us solidarity. The work of men like him is immortal. We send to you and your family our heartfelt condolences and a sincere expression of our affection.
With love, Raúl Castro Ruz
Look! Not a single mention of Fidel—his brother and Cuba’s Maximum Leader for decades. President Raúl Castro Ruz talks about his own family and affords himself the luxury (or the nerve) of leaving out Fidel! He talks as though Fidel were but a distant relative, or as though Fidel had played a very minor part in Cuba’s storyline, just like that member of the Buendía family in One Hundred Years of Solitude that nobody remembers or that everybody gets confused with another Buendía as soon as they put the book down.
If that weren’t enough, up until now there hasn’t been a single comment (not even a fake one) from Fidel in the Cuban press.
Dear Mercedes, dear world: The message is clear. Alongside the loss of the great Colombian novelist, we also have to start getting used to the silent absence of Fidel, who never even got the biography that would have transformed him into an immortal character.
More so than Literature, it’s really the Revolution that’s now suffering a physical loss.
Raúl Castro’s “with love” is by no means really intended for García Márquez’s widow, in whom Cuba never really placed too much confidence. Raúl’s “with love” is, in fact, for Fidel’s soon-to-be widow.
P.S. A few days later, following an outbreak of rumors on social networks about Fidel Castro having died for the nth time, a wreath of white and yellow roses was sent on behalf of the former Commander to García Márquez’s funeral in Mexico, according to Cuba’s state press agency, Prensa Latina. On the silk ribbon was written: “For a beloved friend.”
28 April 2014
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
They arrested her twice, both times violently. All for walking at my side in the streets of a Havana almost at the point of the Cadaver-in-Chief of Fidel Castro. She’s called Silvia. My Silvia.
They threw her out of her first job as a dentist, in the captive consultation of a cigar factory, where the workers can’t even lift their necks from the odious sheets they have to roll for miserly wages. By the way, she was expelled by a State Security agent who today serves–or fakes serving–as a dissident lawyer, in an independent legal association (the director of the association warned us, but we were like to paranoiacs, Silvia and I).
They forced her to undress in the Regla Police Station, during the vile visit of the former Pope Benedict XVI, who swept aside Cuban civil society and kissed the right hand of the Maximum Excommunicated, while silently agreeing to the attack on Oswaldo Payá, where the Cardinal of a thousand and one sins flush with the pubis under his cassock barely joined in one more mea culpa (afterward Jaime Ortega y Alamino himself would wash his hands of the stoning of Payá in the burning chapel, as if God himself had called him to His side and he wasn’t dispatched by State Security).
They infiltrated her family. They terrorized her mother, Silvia Corbelle Batista’s mamá. They made her believe she was being paid by the CIA. Later they led her to understand that I was also working for them. That I was unfaithful (I was). They said I was a faggot (it could be so: what’s more, I am) and that I have AIDS (it cold be so, but it’s not true right now, according to the serology).
The Castro regime only knows how to use reality and language as a source of stigmatization, as a phobia not of the other but of itself.
They coerced mamá Lourdes and forced her to steal documents from her own daughter, and also to reveal her movements to State Security agents. She was already a bit of one, living in Cuba, but they made the mother of my ex-girlfriend a human wreck. She, who prided herself on being anti-Castro in private, ended up as a de facto Fidelista.
They drove her father crazy, Silvia Corbelle Batista’s papá. They humiliated him before his own daughter. They forced him to threaten me with death (it’s a crime, but I would never denounce anyone within Cuba) in order to take from me not only my love, but love.
He was already a bit of one, living in Cuba, but the poor human wreck of papá Ramón then hired the services of a Babalao to do “injury” to me. And later sent an illiterate criminal to warn me, in the name of his scabious spirits, that I must leave Silvia’s side or an “evil” would befall me that would put me in my grave within a week.
I have to say how I answered him. It pissed me off, like so many shot without trials in Cuba, who died screaming Long Live Jesus Christ with whatever strength they had left after their blood had been drained* from them as a trophy of war. I told the witch doctor from G-2 (State Security)–like the majority who practice this “religion”–”Asshole, tell Fidel to come and tell me himself.”
They infiltrated her colleagues at the Dentistry Faculty. They filmed her in her relationships during and after me. The coerced our close friends to spy on us. Some agree, others fled without confessing their fear to us. They killed two cats in the cruelest manner, at the two critical moments of our lives, as an almost Sicilian message of falling heads very close to our bedroom.
The pressured the person who lent us a room to stay away from Cuba (the person resisted, then they used a Housing Institute trap to take their land). Even when they operated on me (for free) for nearsightedness, an official appeared in the room at the Ramón Pando Ferrer Hospital, making the doctor’s laser scalpel tremble.
But Silvia wasn’t alone. Silvia told me, “They do it so you’ll shit from fear Landy, because they know you are good and want to live. Don’t give them the satisfaction.”
But I always did give it to them, I always felt my guts wrench. I’m no better than the Cuban Cardinal, the complicity of this constitutional cowardice is our intimate communion. But my pure hatred saved me; while love has ruined Jaime Ortego y Alamino.
And it’s this same contempt for the tyrants of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, it is that crazy diamond that always shines in the watery eyes of a little free person named Silvia. The same one who last night called me on the phone to help her cry. Just that. I’ll be fine. Help me cry.
The two times I was imprisoned, in that terrible 2012, I remember Siliva screaming and insulting the police and the agents. Making it obvious how ignorant they are. How shameless and libidinous (the Castro regime, like Castro himself, is a phenomenon more prudish than patriotic: evil fidelity substituting for good fornication; verbal incontinence is a sign of premature ejaculation: the more power it imposes in you, the less the junk of the unpunished despot gets hard, the less tiny olive green vagina gets lubricated; the uniform as the smudge of the body itself).
Today the game is over and the truth emerges.
The photographer and blogger Silvia Corbelle Batista has been summoned by the sterile extremists of Cuban State Security, at two in the totalitarian Cuban afternoon. They can take her prisoner without trial, like the Lady in White Sonia Garro, who has spent more than two years illegally imprisoned.
They can lay charges. Or lay them on her parents, to psychologically upset the equation. They can threaten her with being raped tonight (as Agent Ariel did to me at the Aquilera Police Station in Lawton, at the end of March 2009: he said to me, “You’re going to jail until the Investigator comes, did you bring condoms?”).
They can impose the Official Warning Act, as they do to thousands and thousands. They can tell her that it was a mistake and to come back another day (the horror is that, not knowing).
They can do whatever best pleases them. Silvia is wise. Silvia knows who they are and what they have done to the memory not only of our love, but of love. The rest doesn’t matter. Let it go now in the death throes of this heartless scenario called Cuba. They are just the symptoms of what we Cubans will do to Cubans a minute after the singing of the national anthem at the imminent funeral of Fidel.
Silvia, you’ll be fine. But don’t stop crying. Hardly anyone in Cuba remembers how to.
*Translator’s note: Literally. It’s been reported that the regime takes large blood bank “donations” from those about to be executed.
25 April 2014
In my country, for more than half a century, the government hasn’t dialogued with anyone. The Cuban Revolution doesn’t recognize any other interlocutor than itself, incarnated in the figure of the Maximum Leader, the now decrepit Fidel.
Executions, thirty-year sentences, perpetual exile. Whoever wanted to dialogue in Cuba ended up in one of these three categories of tropical totalitarianism.
Even today, in the 21st century, with a dissidence that has occupied certain alternative spaces of expression at the cost of much sacrifice, the Cuban gerontocracy has to die in power without having crossed words with anyone, except its own clan, the so-called “historic” generation.
Dialogue with the Communists, thus validating elections and other hypocrisies, is always a deception or a trick. The Communist have nothing to say, its not their international mission. They only follow the orders of a political party that incarnates their own dogma. They are soldiers dressed as civilians.
The idea is to take power at any cost and to never let it go in any peaceful way. There is a stage in which the Communists simply annihilate their adversaries. And there is another in which it is pertinent to sweet-talk the opponent with masquerade of a dialogue.
That is why Communist parties were illegal in so many countries for so long, a reasonable law by simple instinct of self-preservation. But today the democracies feel ashamed for being democracies–they carry a complex about being better in the face of the worst–such that no one is willing to defend the democratic establishment, either in the first world and in the developing nations.
So the Communists in Latin America, for example, although they are not all called that, now mine our social systems in blessed peace, and the entire continent tends as a bloc to violate citizens’ basic rights. Every caudillo legitimately holds his presidential seat for life, always with a red star in the logo of their respective parties.
Personally, I don’t believe that a party of violent inspiration and intolerant rhetoric should participate in the democratic game in any era. In Cuba, after fifty years of the Communist Party hijacking political life, it’s clear that there will be no democratic transition without the disintegration of the Party. And without making it illegal for a time perhaps similar to the despotic half-century of the Cuban Communists, whose contempt for dialogue soon became a contempt for decency.
In Cuba, a few days ago, TeleSur broadcast live and direct the dialogue between the opposition and Venezuela’s dictators. An opposition which unfortunately now has no other option than to sit at the dictatorial roundtable, provided it is authorized, and at the moment in which it best serves the powers-that-be to buy time to cauterize the popular protests, criminalize their leaders, and at the end of the day perpetuate themselves.
Venezuela’s rulers know well what they are doing. They are “dialoguing” for perhaps the last time. Soon they will not have to bother with these desperate deployments, where the entire planet is disturbed, but lazily so, by their hegemonic manias.
Soon the H in Havana will prove to be much more than a silent deadly letter. If there is no awakening among the international community, if the Venezuelan democrats who have given the best of themselves (their lives) are abandoned to their fate, as in their moment the world dismissed several generations of Cuban democrats, the made-in-Castro Communism will feel the impunity of falling, like a silent wasteland upon our future, always so futile in so many nations.
19 April 2014
The most sinister part of Death Under Suspicion is that it is the testimony of a man condemned to death, because Ángel Carromero reports that, before finally being deported to his homeland to serve the rest of his sentence in Spain (in December 2012), a Cuban State Security official warned him that if he ever told the truth, he would also be extrajudicially executed, like Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá.
You can believe Ángel Carromero now or not. It doesn’t matter. But there are thousands of dead for us to believe this horror of the Cuban official.
The Castro regime only lies in public. In private, never.
2 April 2014