Sunday: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo at Northwestern University for a Free Cuba, Damn It!

"Get out of Cuba TYRANT" / This island is MINE"

Tempting the Cuban Transition

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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Since December 17th, when President Obama and General Raul Castro performed their simultaneous speeches, many Americans insist on congratulating me. I wonder why no Cuban has congratulated me so far, and why I still haven’t congratulated any other Cuban, whether in favor or against the US embargo against our country, whether on the Island or in exile.

I always respond to my foreign colleagues with a twisted-smiling emoticon. As a writer, I’m aware that language is not enough when feelings and facts seem altogether indistinguishable.

Let’s try now an answer from the viewpoint of digital dissidence, from the initial skepticism about the Cuban alternative blogosphere to the enthusiasm of today about the achievements of cyber-activists on the Island. So that tomorrow’s disappointment doesn’t take us by surprise. Continue reading

Look at Me, Miami and, If You Value Your Death, Don’t Cry / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Alan Gross, like every North American who comes in contact with the Castro regime and defends it even from within a captivity of little lies — attacking his own government with million-dollar demands — is a bad man. Gross’s little suicide threats, his lack of solidarity with Cubans in exile and civil society on the Island, his backward religiosity of psalms and miracle-mongering, his complicit silence as to the assassinations committed by the Castro regime while he was supposedly in prison, his lawyer subsidized by Havana, his support of the lifting of an embargo that had not appeared to be his concern when he was contracted by USAID, his servile flattery of President Obama, his admiring loyalty to the sacrosanct balls of Raúl, his suspicious loss of dentition at the record pace of one tooth per year, his (and his wife’s) insipid leftist pose, in short, what a fossil, what fealty, what Submerged States of Fidelity…

Meanwhile, the triumphal return to the Island of the 5 deadly spies, with their muscles worthy of hand-to-hand combat, their vacant stares of those who know themselves to be puppets of a dismal power that can pulverize them at any time, with their exaggerated dentitions, surrounded by a people who for decades have not been even plebes, a perverse and impoverished populace, terrified in their fear that swings from meanness to mediocrity, jabbering with the neighbors in a language that we free Cubans do not know because it is a jargon of the stable, of the State.

My Fellow Cubans, let us not kid ourselves. The stupidity of our country can be reined-in by taking advantage of this umpteenth criminal juncture in our history. We will never live in liberty. The Earth is cursed against our volatile beauty. The race that inhabits the Island is infected and cannot be decontaminated. The lucid ones, the virtuous ones, escape without ever looking over their shoulders, or else they will pay the brave price of being martyrs killed in cold blood, like the holy souls Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá. Continue reading

The MTA Story / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

*STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS PLEASE.*

*Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo*
1 April 2013

Recurring dreams, dreams in the electrical night of the third rail when the moon is a cutout on New York’s clouds of smoke. Cloud-tunnels of Elizabeth Bishop. Cloud-graffiti of Rene Magritte.

I have dreamed them, daily.

I drop a couple of hours before dawn and dream recurring dreams of a Havana perforated by a maze of subways. Shelters. War of the whole people. Zero option, reconcentration. City hole, nobody is going to survive the system: this the socialist slogan of the assassins. Psycho killers.

National nightmares made of a Gruyère insomnia.

To dream is that. Short circuits. Crossed cables, like those floating supports of the bridges of this miraculous chip called Manhattan. Continue reading

Cubans, damn it! / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Total, infinite pity and shame! The teacher Odali has written Maceo (Antonio Maceo, hero of the Cuban War of Independence) with an “s” on my primary school blackboard, and I started crying. I couldn’t help it. That’s what happened. She wrote “Maseo” with her chalk and I started to cry in the middle of the classroom.

Those times were terrible and loving. The world was blue: Havana was white. My parents were living and that was a permanent certainty. Nobody got ill unless they deserved it. People laughed. Their eyes were shining, perhaps caused by tears. The Revolution still had not become fact. Continue reading

Macho Che / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Che’s Beatle Girlfriend

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

No doubt her name was Una. Or Agatha. Or Lil. Or Ide. O Brighid. Or Sinead. Or Nora. Or Tilde. Or perhaps Alaidh or Hilde. Any one of those Irish names reminiscent of other names whose etymology is tirelessly, anxiously, apocryphally Anglo.

For a native of civilized America—meaning, uncultured—her name, her names, is, are no more than hieroglyphics without an etymology, all just sounds twisted up in Barbie’s chin and the proper palate of the Irish girl named: Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidh or Hilde or all of them in one.

In any case, she’s always wearing that inert object over her head, which on camera rivaled a wet beret like his, like Che’s, in 1964. And since Ernesto Guevara is missing his emblematic beret during an interview translated by an interpreter—she literally interpreted, as in performed, his role—we can assume that Che had just placed his beret on her, like a bonnet on her hair, a colonel’s crown, the aura of a magical capture in order to allure her with his New Man smile, his big Cantinflas*-style mustache, the comically tender answers of a magnanimous conquistador. Such is the complicit tenderness of assassins and suicide victims. Continue reading

Without Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

mi amor

When did we disappear while a nation? When did Cuba stop being one? Or perhaps it never fully was one?

Nations are human inventions, impulses of our historical imagination. Cuba was the story that we told ourselves. A chronic story and, therefore, unbelievably believable.

We never had any democrats. The Republic’s great milestones are nothing more than frauds, ruses of worldwide communism in order to gain time and corrupt the remains of the social fabric in our country.

Bullets, bills, the opportunist who lives off of the fool, anything is worth more in Cuba than ballots. We are compulsive demagogues, even if we’ve had saints and sages and virtue. But we were lacking fascism, that experience which Cuba might have joined in on if it hadn’t been aborted by the leftist Revolution of 1933. Then it was necessary to wait until 1959 to be able to consummate our congenital totalitarian defect: a fascism from the right with a popular narrative. Continue reading

Open Letter to the European Union About Free Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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Please send this text to: christian.leffler@eeas.europa.eu and add your signature to mine if you wish. Thank you!

Friday 9 January 2015

Your Excellency Mr. Christian Leffler, Managing Director for the Americas of the European External Action Service
christian.leffler@eeas.europa.eu

After the meetings held in Havana (29-30 April 2014) and Brussels (27-28 August 2014), Raul Castro’s government unilaterally suspended the third round of negotiations for Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation between the European Union and Cuba that were to take place on 8-9 January 2015, in Cuba.

The previous rounds were described by you as “fruitful and construction,” where both parties worked to “advance the confidence, respect and mutual understanding.” Just when the theme of human, political and institutional rights was to be addressed, the Havana government postponed the dialog, without taking the Cuban people into consideration in this disappointing decision. Continue reading

Entropy of Eliecer Jimenez at Brown University / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

THE COPY-PASTE OF REVOLUTIOPHRENIA

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Before Facebook, I met Eliécer Jiménez only once, in an alternative cultural debate in Camagüey, three years ago. He was somewhat shy, but resolute in his urge to be creative in cinematographic terms. No money, no contacts, no political pedigree. A dreamer in a province that looked so asleep. Hope in Cuba today usually depends precisely on awakening in the middle of hopelessness.

We were in the house of Henry Constantín, a common friend and social activist that holds the record of being expelled from different Cuban universities three times, from Santiago de Cuba to La Habana, as despotism is quite equitable throughout the Island. Those public meetings in private are still being held there, with the name of Hora Cero / Zero Hour, a concept that connects with the notion of starting from zero in a society so afraid of citizen initiatives. Zero Hour is in fact an independent space with a lot of communicating vessels with my literary generation called Year Zero, of which I have recently compiled a narrative anthology translated into English by O/R Books in New York. Continue reading

Fideless / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Last Christmas with Fidel Castro

-Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

December is a sad month, precious, blue-lit and dreamily silent. I was born in this month. And in this month, in a year not so distant as it now appears, I shall return to Cuba with a Nobel Prize in Literature, the first of the Cuban Nobels, which I will rub in the face of the dictatorship that we will still have in Cuba by that date, and of which prize money I will use unto my ruination to hasten our liberty.

December is over before it barely starts. It is an atemporal month, achronological, almost uchronic [imaginary], outside the calendar, at the border of that mystery which is the changing year.

We are others, and we die piece by piece every December. In fact, almost never do all of us who started out the year reach the end of it. We who gather together this month do not know if we will get to the next month a year from now. Death reaps the best among us. Every December there are fewer and fewer Cubans left. We survivors are the worst, we are the one discarded, even by the gods.

This Christmas 2014 is also our first Death Celebration* without the dictator, who died on us without ever facing justice. With Fidel deceased ** (1926-2014), all now seems easy, expeditious, unnecessary. The Revolution was a nightmare had by a few million. The memory is renewed at a vertiginous velocity. In a little while, the new Cubans will not know or be able to spell the unnameable name of Fidel Castro – which in a few months will barely resonate in the curriculum for the Prehistory of the Nation, dissolved by the virtue of apathy and the amnesia of new generations.

The death of the hegemonic one has surprised us all. He didn’t even say goodbye, the jerk, just as he didn’t announce his arrival but rather imposed it by death blows, lies and evil. Fidel Castro has gone forever from our nation and he has left us incredulous and distrustful, to the point that we prefer to pay attention to this historic milestone. We still do not believe ourselves to be alone, without the delirious despot. We will not believe it, either, when his brother Raúl Castro announces it to us, surrounded by his octogenarian military elite — perhaps on January 28, 2015, to make Fidel’s death coincide with the birth of José Martí.

But today once again is Christmas. Part of the lost country will gather together the best of its spirit on this date. Hope will cease to be a congenital illness, and the blue light of the child-god will warm our home-mangers, making them less awful, making us less perverse in being human zeroes who aspire to be human beings,*** after a half-century or half- millennium of multitudinarially murdering each other over nothing.

It is Christmas once again, my soul brothers and sisters, and in 2015 will shine the words that for centuries should have been spoken among Cuban, but which have remained buried by the string of tyrants that have brought about our unnecessary independence. Perhaps it is the season to grow closer to being a civilization of free cosmopolitans and move ourselves away from Slaveamerican barbarity.

It is Christmas, and I love you all.

Translator’s Notes:

*The author is making a play on words in Spanish, using the common name for Christmas, “Navidades” (Nativity) to contrast with the quasi-rhyming word for morbidity, “Morbilidades.” 

**An alliterative play on words – deceased in Spanish is “fallecido.” 

*** A play on words in Spanish – the word for “zeroes” sounds very similar to the word for “beings”

25 December 2014

MONEY MONEY MONEY / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and Clive Rudd

How to Raise Funds: A Manual for Cuban Democrats  

Clive Rudd, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The successive “investigations” (or filtrations of intelligence) of the Associated Press (AP) and other media, that try to demonize the material support of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and governments in solidarity with the democratic cause in Cuba, is not a new phenomenon nor is it exclusive to the free world.

The Cuban government has known how to utilize the attacks on the funding for democracy. This has been at the expense of committing historic malapropisms that defy any comparison with the fundraising done by José Martí and his Cuban Revolutionary Party, or even by Fidel Castro in his insatiable quest for dollars in Mexico, Costa Rica and Venezuela (which was then not to fund anti-government propaganda but to buy weapons and train armies and, in short, impose violence for life on our society).

The new form of expression of this demonizing campaign (which essentially plagiarizes the methods employed by the Havana government) is led by the AP and The New York Times (NYT). There are many other “useful idiots” but their voices don’t resonate as much. Since the time of the Sierra Maestra and the bad reporting by Herbert Matthews, Castroism has been a series of blows to maudlin effect on North American public (shameless) opinion.

It is obvious that the message of these hegemonic media cannot be so clumsy as that of the Havana dictatorship, being that they convey between the lines a subliminal message to the Good Capitalist of the North: “The donation of funds by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other organizations to support democracy in Cuba, far from achieving the desired objectives, is counterproductive and useless.”

This message is more than well-known. It is the same argument employed with impunity to lobby for the lifting of the embargo: “The embargo doesn’t work and therefore should be lifted immediately and unconditionally.”

All right, then. In the name of the Cuban and North American peoples, thank you. However, the problem lies in that to defend this argument of inefficiency, there need to be firm proofs, not opinions. Also, the most solid proofs are achieved by comparing the initial objectives of a program with its final results. Here is where things get tough because, for a serious news medium to say that a program was “amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful,” there must be access to documents that have gone cold and are now obsolete (which the AP has been able to gain) but there also must be investigative reporting done that includes access to all or the major parties involved in the matter, including the Cuban people.

As has been known from responses of certain parties included in the AP’s last crusade, all indications are that there have been lies or results have been fabricated to rate these USAID programs as “profoundly unsuccessful.”

According to his interview in the El Nuevo Herald newspaper, Aldo Rodríguez, leader of the musical group Los Aldeanos, did not receive one cent from USAID, he did not compose his songs at the request of this agency, nor did he receive a laptop from subversive foreign elements — three assertions made in an “objective” piece by AP.

These campaigns of the AP, in symbiosis with the Cuban government, to demonize fundraising in support of pro-human rights projects on the Island, have media reach precisely because the national public is a captive audience under the monopoly of the State, and also because it is not common for us Cubans to do public fundraisers, as occurs in any democratic country of the world.

In countries where there are free elections and institutions, fundraising rules and regulations have been created and there are even specialists trained in the technique of quickly and effectively raising monies for political campaigns and the propagation of ideas. This is a subject yet to be included in the curriculum for Cuban democrats and any other social actor who will not want to submit himself to a despotic governmental dictum.

It would be most useful for our civil society, inside and outside Cuba, if we would create a sort of manual for raising funds legally and efficiently to support the alternative projects on the Island. Thus, we Cubans would be the ones to judge which citizen initiatives have been successful and which ones not so much, as we learn from their results to improve those methods of collecting, distributing and utilizing funds for democracy in Cuba. The ends justify the means.

Cuba’s solvency was always handicapped by Castroism. Only a poverty-stricken people is vulnerable to enslavement. At the beginning, it was accomplished through ideological class hatred. Currently, in Castroism’s latter days, it is done through paranoia about a foreign conspiracy (even though Havana has received funding from the United Nations as well as from Qaddafi’s criminal regime).

Therefore, People, perhaps it is time for us to behave less as secret victims and more as modern members of a global economy, transparent in its accounts and convinced of the legitimacy of its anti-totalitarian mission, beyond the laws of Castroism and the media campaigns that prop it up.

Enmeshed in the Raul regime make-believe reforms, we Cubans should not lose our focus to a Fidel who is as much fossil as fatal. Despite the pathetic AP and the NYT, our radical redemption still goes by this watchword: “Within the dictatorship, nothing; against the dictatorship, everything.”*

*Translator’s note: This last line is a riff on Fidel’s famous/infamous statement, “Within the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing,” from his so-called “Speech to the Intellectuals” delivered in June 1961.

 Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

26 December 2014

Plebiscite not only for Cuba, but by the Cuban people / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The American President, Barack Obama, decided on behalf of Cubans. His holiness the Pope decided on behalf of Cubans. The Army General Raul Castro decided on behalf of the Cubans. Everyone, except the Cubans , decided on behalf of Cubans.

After more than six decades without any consulting of the popular will in free and competitive elections, it’s finally time for Cuba to decide for Cuba with everyone participating and for the good of all. It’s finally time for Cubans to decide for Cubans.

Any international solidarity will be useless if Cubans don’t have a say. Any dissent and national opposition would lack a legal framework as long as there is no referendum by Cubans. There is no legitimate government without the effective participation of the governed. No consensus will be credible as long as Cuba does not decide for Cuba.

One learns in the open exercise of freedom, how to live in freedom. The American President and His Holiness, and the General of the Army and all authorities of good faith in the world are invited not to decide but instead to accompany Cubans in this decision, in a historic meeting where the transit from totalitarianism towards an open society or another controlling regimen is defined.

The demand for a national referendum is already in motion. May no one speak for the Cuban people but rather support  the Cuban people so that they may recover their voice.

Translator’s note: The graphic is a “suggested design” by El Sexto for a new Cuban flag.

Translated by William Fitzhugh 

23 December 2014