The Specter of Castro Haunts Panama Summit / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)

The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)

PanAm Post, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 8 April 2015 — A ghost ship haunts the halls of this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama: the Chong Chon Gang.

The vessel, seized in the Panama Canal in July 2013, contained a deadly cargo hidden under 250,000 bags of sugar. The contraband ammunition and weapons on board, bound for North Korea, mocked the whole world and put half of Panama’s population at risk.

It also served as an epitaph for the Castro brothers, who have stirred up all civil wars in the region, and served as a lighthouse of populism that has lured many nations and individuals onto the rocks.

The same drifting-but-dangerous tyranny washes upon on Panama’s shores again this week, as the region’s (un)elected officials arrive to promenade in front of the world’s press for the Summit of the Americas. Continue reading

Diplomacy, yes. Democracy, what for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The potential complications 
of the renewed diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba.
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It was about time. Uber taxi drives agree. Academics agree. Minority leaders agree. American social activists agree. Radio, TV and press editors agree. Even comedians agree. It’s the only point of consensus in the polarized US politics. No need to argue anymore. The left was right and the right was wrong. Time to move forward. At least in this issue: Yes, We Can (a cloned slogan from the socialist Sí Se Puede in the posters and parades of La Habana). After 50-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions against Cuba, with Fidel Castro almost a nonagenarian and his brother Raul to step down from presidency in 2018, the road to transitions on the Island, as in 1898, starts in Washington, DC.

A secret agenda had been held for 18 months, unbeknownst to the US Congress and the Cuban Parliament, but sanctified by the first Latin American pope. In a reenactment of the US-China ping-pong engagement, even the sperm of a Castro’s spy was gently exported from a US federal prison to beget a new life in Revolution Square. The long-sought family reunification as the libidinous metaphor of the national reconciliation about to come. Continue reading

No blogger, no Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

No blogger, no cry.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

In the beginning was the Blog. 2 But blogs were formless and empty. 3 Repression was all over the blogosphere. 4 And the citizens saw the blogs were good. 5 So that lacking other channels of expression, the Cuban civil society occupied blogosphere as a tool for dissent. 6 Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 7 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the State.

As early as in the summer of 2005, I opened a blog for publishing a literary and opinion magazine that three Cuban writers decide to edit in Havana: Cacharro(s) —in English, Junk(s).

Lizabel Monica, Jorge Alberto Aguiar and I were posting our texts in cyberspace, hoping for a reader abroad to save us from the silence within. We couldn’t imagine that in a couple of years our initial experiment was to be ignored in the history of Cuban blogosphere, when our efforts to escape not only censorship, but also the mass media mediocrity of the Revolution, were displaced by new voices with high public impact both from the cultural and political fields.

This happened when the Consenso —Consensus— digital magazine became ContodosWith All— and opened the website Desdecuba.com, directed by Reinaldo Escobar, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, among others, including a webmaster who, in April 2007, started a very simple WordPress blog called Generation Y. The trademark Yoani Sánchez was born, as well as the first virtual revolution in the time of Castro.

This was the genesis of an independent movement of citizen journalism which challenged the lack of transparency of the public sphere in Cuba, a country still without private Internet today.

Cuban top-level intelligence commanders like Ramiro Valdes have stated that the Internet is a “wild horse” that “must be tamed” before offering it to the people. After many promises and postpositions, including a submarine fiber-optic cable that connects us with Venezuela since 2011, Cubans are still waiting for a miracle.cu, although Continue reading

Our Dead Are Raising Their Eyelids / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 22 January 2015

It’s true. Although I still don’t believe it.

But they’ve told me it in all the families I’ve visited since I’ve been out of my country. That’s what families are, a mausoleum. They don’t lie. There is no Cuban family which is not our death memory.

That’s how it is. We Cubans die in the family. That’s the saddest part of dying. Not dying as such, which doesn’t bother the person dying, but the horror of imposing on exactly those people who loved us while we were alive. People should go and die among strangers. Get lost, and that’s it. That’s why I went to the United States. That’s why I didn’t die in Havana, in spite of the fact death whispered “Orlando” in my ear every morning where I lived. Continue reading

Leave Me a Comment at the Entrance and We Will Win This Contest / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 March 2015 — Every morning we would lose ourselves amid the skyscrapers until we find ours. That one. The one with the artificial rain that would fall, even in the driest months of the city. She likes then to take a pause in our route. She would let go my hand and draw near to the false marble facades, until she would start getting wet almost without realizing it, from imaginary drops that would evaporate before reaching the asphalt. Imaginary but, even so, they would wet her in a dance that was greatly erotic and somewhat erratic.

Her liquid hair, her transparent garb, in the megalopolis of limousines and suits. I would lag a bit behind. I did not want to interfere with those little mornings in liberty. They lasted so little, it was only an instant. Far from Cuba, far from the Revolution. Oh not so far. Because once, upon the end of an October of overcast skies and recurrent cyclones, it was raining for real in Manhattan. She said to me, “You smell it, too, right? Today is not New York, but rather Havana.” And she went out from under our umbrella, a grave bumbershoot more appropriate to those scenes of cemeteries at the end of the North American films of our childhood.

Far from the “long island” [Cuba], so close to Long Island. She told me, “One day we are going to be like those imaginary drops that never fall. And another day it will be we who fall amid a tired rainstorm.” I just walked behind during the rest of that morning. I knew that she would never forgive me seeing her mix the rain with her foreign-city tears.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

NO EMBARGO, NO CRY / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

073_pcentral2MantleThought.org, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 18 March 2015 — The U.S. embargo against the Cuban government is like those recurrent childhood nightmares, for both Cubans living on the Island and abroad. Oh, the Embargo Embargo: limit of our life, fire of our leaders…

During decadent decades the Cuban Revolution has been defined by that urge of surviving in a besieged place, where distrust and the hate speech are officially justified by the tricky threat of a foreign foe, where an invisible U.S. invasion was Continue reading

Castrobama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

OLPresident

LET THE OLD DEAD GIVE WAY TO THE NEW DEAD

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The title is, of course, a quote from the Czech, Milan Kundera, an obsolete reference for the rest of a world, which believes it is living in the post-communist era. But in Cuba, it continues to be something referring to the future.

Just as in global capitalism, “time is money”, in twenty-first century Castroism time is the essence of totalitarianism itself. Because of that, Cubans don’t have lives, only, barely, biographies. And because of that Cubans don’t live in human time, but buried, with the dismal defect that it could last for all eternity. Continue reading

Cubamerica / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Cuba I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
Cuba two CUCs and 56 years, January 1st, 1959.
You can’t stand my own mind.
Cuba when will we end the human peace?
Go fuck yourself with your Revolution
I don’t feel good don’t brother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my left mind.
Cuba when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your uniform?
When will you look at myself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Castroists?
Cuba why are your libraries full of totalitarianism? Continue reading

OLPL at Americas Society (NYC), 5 March 2015

We passed the book from hand to hand. A worn-out volume, despite being a new edition. An edition in Cuba means a foreign edition. As readers in revolutionary Cuba, we suffered from the oxygenating syndrome of xenophillia.

The title was “Less Than One.” The author, an exiled Soviet dissident. In the early 90s this mixture sounded perfect for us. To be an author, to become a dissident, to commit exile.

We worshiped every word of Joseph Brodsky, literally and literarily. We memorized sentences as we copied them by hand, with those remaining huge and hideous pencils imported by the ton to the Island from the Cold War Era.

“The real history of consciousness starts with one’s first lie.” But we were spontaneously sincere Continue reading