MantleThought.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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Orlando, 2nd from right, and his mother María, far right, with two friends.
We started university. It was Havana 1991.
One afternoon we went to sit in the stands at the university stadium. We had no desire to remain in the classroom.
At times we knew biochemistry as science-fiction, in a Biology Department where there wasn’t even distilled water.
Professors and students deserted en masse, when they could get any kind of little scholarship to study abroad. Those of us left behind, they expelled us as soon as we dared to voice an opinion. The climate was one of immeasurable cruelty. I was never sadder than when I was a Cuban student, poor and happy and with the permanent look of our indolence before so much pain. For me Castroism is this. A wasteland where healthcare and education are free, but human life is Continue reading →
2003 was a deadly year for Cuba. In March, the government declared an open war on the citizens. In less than a few hours, the Police arrested over a hundred peaceful dissidents and independent journalists from all across the island. Although the international press nicknamed the most notable of the arrested men and women as the “Group of 75”, there were many others who had been repressed months before (and also after) the event that has come to be known as the “Black Spring”.
Jorge Alberto Aguiar Diaz was 36 at that time and was selling books in the Centro Habana district. He had an honourable amount of books and as a post-Deleuzian idealist, he offered free literary workshops, which he called “labs”, or “clinics of writing”. He was known as JAAD (the acronym of his name) and had a large, enthusiastic fan club, to which I also belonged. We were his audience and we sometimes seemed to look at him as a kind of a generational guru. And he was one, in fact: it was as if he were a cross-breed of Charles Bukowski and Roberto Arlt, embodying the angry desires of the former with the neurotic touch of the latter.
I was his favourite pupil (or perhaps, the bad one). In fact, JAAD’s words gave us freedom within the increasingly prison-like, funereal atmosphere of Havana. JAAD wrote opinion columns for the dissident newspaper agency known as Decoro. That’s why his home was frequently visited by the State Security. There were always two of them, those secret little agents Continue reading →
Fifty-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions have failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people because they were not designed to bring freedom to the Cuban people, but to penalize a regime that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty by violent and anti-democratic procedures (reestablishment of death penalty, radical hatred speech, citizen apartheid), by the illegalization of civil society and all forms of property (both private and public, including the press), and by tyrannizing every institutional power into a despotic State, plus the militarization of the nation to the point of demanding a nuclear attack against the United States from Cuban territory.
The 50-plus years to come of US diplomatic relations and capitalist engagement with Cuba can neither guarantee the advance of fundamental freedoms in my country, nor our liberation from the successive Castro generations, because a market economy is not a redemptive formula and it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for tyrannical control of all basic rights. And this is a wicked word that President Obama, Pope Francis and General Castro have secretly agreed to postpone: the rights of the Cuban people. Continue reading →
There aren’t enough of the stupid-ass songs. Because those same songs, the ones we joked stupid-assedly about in our rage-filled adolescence, are now the only thing left that allows us to know what we were, what we are, what we will be.
With those songs, we can forget about everything and everybody. It seems like we have it all if we have them, these jingles from our bad memory. And then we don’t feel that malady we carry that weighs us down, that ruins this life we have and can’t live. Much less do confront destiny, that deviation that destabilizes us from despotism to despotism, and from corpse to corpse, without their ever sparking in our breast that semi-magical, semi-mendacious flame of love Continue reading →
We live not in the civilization of media, but of the mediocre. And from there directly we inhabit the miserable.
Cubans desperately need witnesses to our tragedy. In the absence of politicians on the Island, we pin our hopes on any alternative voice: bloggers, musicians, graffiti artists, performers, etc.
Just recently a supposed North American hostage has been released. Alan Gross completed his role in the democratic-totalitarian theater of legitimization of the Castro dictatorship. He is now free, but he remains stuck in the labyrinth of his lawyers and the six-figure compensation with which they have invited him to recuperate and remain reticent. In the United States, he will not for one moment stop being a true hostage. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →