Letter to Pope Francis from the Christian Liberation Movement Youth

“But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than ten years ago more than 25,000 Cubans supported a legal reform project. Called the Varela Project, it called for a plebiscite to ask the people, yes or no, did they want free elections. The Cuban Constitution establishes that if more than 10,000 people support a legal proposal than the government is constitutionally required to respond.” Rosa Maria Paya. Poster by Rolando Pulido.

Havana, May 5th 2014

“Fear is ridiculous and it provides ammunition to the enemies of liberty.”- The Venerable Father Felix Varela

Your Holiness, Pope Francis:

We would like to thank you with utmost respect and kindness for taking time to read this letter.

We are Cuban Catholic youth who everyday are intent to fortify ourselves to the clamors that burst forth and splatter our conscience from the brutal reality of our beloved Cuba. From the dawn of our youth we have occupied the rows of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), a pacifist-civic movement which, inspired  by Christian humanism and the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, has yearned for the freedom that Cuba has wanted and needed for more than 25 years.

We love the church, and we have grown under her auspices with the influence of her Ignatian spirituality. Because of this, we turn to you to voice our pain and concern with several Cuban Bishops who, surrounded by pro-government Cuban laity and other figures of privilege, pronounce and act in the name of the Church before the unfolding drama that we Cubans have lived in for more than half a century.

Increasingly, ecclesial offices are shunted into a caricature of the masses, to be only the bottom substrate in the background and a common denominator legitimizing the government, asking for more votes of confidence for the politico-military junta who govern as dictators and awaiting a new “leader” to succeed the dynasty of the Castro Brothers and amend the “justified errors” of 55 years of governmental mismanagement that devastated a country whilst omitting the daily violations of human rights and the repressive despotic and unpunished actions of State Security personnel against nonviolent opposition and begging for weak reforms which lack transparency and in so doing be able to navigate comfortably in all waters through the use of ambiguous and confusing language that decorate and embellish the harsh realities, foregoing calling them by name, and thus presenting themselves as authentic rhetoricians and builders of bridges. Continue reading

Investment in Cuba? What for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Investment in Cuba? What for?
ASCE XXIV / 2014 Annual Conference, Miami Hilton Downtown Hotel, Florida, USA
Panel 12. Concerto Ballrom B – Friday, August 1st, 2:45-4:15pm

1.

In Cuba during the 1970s, historian Manuel Moreno Fraginals challenged poet Jose Lezama Lima with his trendy scientific notions about the laws of objectivity and the transition to a colonial/pseudo republic/revolution from the slave mills to the Slavic sugarcane cutters; the now forgotten Soviet KTP. Exhaling an asthmatic counterpoint through his cigar, Lezama Lima responded to Moreno Fraginals without foregoing the Marxist irony of a convenient Catholic: “Ah… But when will we have a history that is qualitative?”

Are we Cubans lacking the type of analysis that at the margins of academic exactitude and author-centered erudition would also require ethicality? Is a qualitative economy that can escape the comparisons of percents and profits and the tendency to always side with the expounder at all conceivable? Is a qualitative political system that rises above the lowbrow politics practiced in our country unthinkable? How about a qualitative sociology without ideological determinism and infallible founders? When all is said and done, is the anthropology of a quality Cuban one that is multidimensional, subjective, and liberated from the consensus imposed upon on us with the rhythm of a conga drumbeat?

No wonder the Professor did not answer the Master’s question. Today, when it comes to Raul Castro’s reforms that in an ever-changing and capricious landscape that hides a clan’s control while a new image of legitimacy is created, would Moreno Fraginals rely on the laws of objectivity in a transition from communism to capitalism? And would Lezama Lima respond to him with an “Ah… And when we will Cuba have a history of qualitative capitalism?” Poetry asks impossible questions that history can answer, though it finds it inconvenient to do so. Continue reading

Wendy War

 

Grown in Exercises of Death, Wendy Guerra (Taken from her blog HABÁNAME) (Reposted by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in his blog)

I have death as white and truth far away… – Don’t give me your fresh roses; I am terrible for roses. Give me the ocean…Dulce María Loynaz

Death, solicitous and vigilant followed me until my fall. It was my companion – solicitous and loving - Rafaela Chacón Nardi

Dreadful voice in funeral I mourn, that flies from the seas of my homeland to the beaches of Iberia; sadly confused the wind delays it; the sweet song in my throat freezes and shadows of pain cover my mind. Ah, that suffering voice, that America denotes with its pity and on these beaches the ocean casts, “He died,” is uttered, “the ardent patriot…” “He died”, repeated “the Cuban troubador.” And a sad echo moans in the distance, “the sublime singer from Niagara died!” - Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda

I carry the subject of death very badly. I bow before death with too much grief. Just by peering at a roof I can fall overwhelmed by fear.

This week I wake with the memory of those who have passed on. My parents, my friends, my poets, my personal saints.

The soul, the body, the emptiness, the abandonment or slipstream that our most beloved dead leave, fight within me with severe injuries.

This week the world’s newspapers talk about death, confinement, the hunger strikes in my country. My head and my body are trapped in a bird cage that is the act of dying.

For many cultures it is a cycle that is closed to open other cycles that are clear and bright. This is the way I should see it, as death to me appears to be the end of everything. But death weighs me down and casts me toward a powerful darkness.

It always appeared normal to me that someone would decide to die rather that live indefinitely with an incurable illness. Always, even when the dilemma of euthanasia touched me closely. I looked at the still living body of my mother, looked at her face and closed myself off from any possibility other than finding a miracle or unearthing a hope. I convinced myself that in the care of the body that still flutters before us, hope lives.

The cage of life opens.

I mishandle death but one must confront it. Six Marches back, I had surrendered before my mother on the day of her death. Continue reading

Fury and Delirium / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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

Street Sense / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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

My Father, Jennifer and Me / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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

Leaving / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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

GABO RELOADED / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Of García Márquez and other Demons
By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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

The Guantanamo Way of Life or The United States of Americastro / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

47271972-monument-colonAt 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

For Venezuela From Venezuela / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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