THE TRANSITION THAT IS ABOUT NOT TO COME / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

THE TRANSITION THAT IS ABOUT NOT TO COME

The power of Castro’s dictatorship couldn’t rely only in the annihilation of all kind of opposition, despite the fact that, since January 1959, its governability depended on fear (out of pure terror) to reduce a plural society to military obedience, ideological hatred, and apartheid, whether geographical (in the case of the exiled for life) or uncivil (for those resisting as pariah on an Island turned into a labor camp behind The Iron Curtain). Detaching our homeland from its hemispheric context put us into orbit as a satellite of the totalitarian axis of the Cold War: the best alternative for the new class —now a gerontocracy elite in their eighties— to keep control in perpetuity, or at least for over a dozen of White House administrations.

The power of Castro’s dictatorship necessarily had to rely also on violence and, for so many —let’s say— people of good-will in the world, the beauty implicit in the narrative of The Revolution, with its ritual of burying a decadent past in order to resurrect it in a fertile future, as all revolutionary rhetorics promotes itself. To the image and likeness of those historical guerrillas, nowadays only octogenarians inside Cuba remember what presidential elections are all about. Such a legacy leaves a discouraging anthropological damage if we are ever to move forward from the Castrozoic Era.

Our citizenship was homogenized as soldiership, under the vertical rule of a personality cult, as a justification to survive against a foreign foe meant to last forever: nothing less than the first economy and war potency of the First World, an anthological archenemy called Imperialism. But nobody believes in this Fidelity fable anymore. And, after half a century of officially sequestering the sovereign will of our nation, it’s about time for Cubans to recover their own voice, since the Castros’ long-lasting regime is the one who should retire in silence.

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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

Remembering the Tugboat Massacre of 1994 / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Castro sign

During the summer of 1994, death ruled with impunity in my country. During that period, Cuba, which had been a civilian graveyard for decades, more closely resembled the gallows.

In the early hours of July 13, the whirlwind of violence to which the Cuban state was subjecting its citizens came to its criminal climax. The Revolution needed to prevail over the people through blood and fire. Raúl Castro summed it up in a televised speech from the Colon Cemetery: “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”

We were in the middle of the so-called Special Period in the Time of Peace. The repression was ferocious, but so too was the people’s resistance. So too was the corruption of public servants. So too was the vandalism. There were robberies and grisly killings on every block. Family men went mad and wound up murdering their loved ones. Electricity was a luxury that we enjoyed for just a few hours a day. It was vox populi that the police had been ordered to shoot to kill. So too had the paramilitaries of the Rapid Response Brigades who wielded clubs rather than firearms.

On the early morning of July 13 a stolen tugboatfull of civilians attempted to escape the Bay of Havana. The boat was named the March 13. It was a state-owned boat, but no violence took place during the theft. In fact, it was the port workers themselves who took the boat and headed for the US. 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