Kill, Already, If You Are Going to Kill / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Cuban State Security — that is, the Castroist assassins of the State — just as in Havana, have not ceased from monitoring and stigmatizing me for even one minute since I have been in the US.

It is the sole legacy of a dictatorship that from its inception disintegrated our nation in an irreversible manner.

But we Cubans are free. But we Cubans do not fear Evil. Castro has no more Cubans left. And now we are going to relaunch another country, another Cuba with no traces of Castroism, be it on the Island or in some other spot. There are plans. It is enough to merely awaken the political imagination, to break the bonds of our thinking that the dictatorship is the dictatorship.

And the page of Castroism will remain congealed as a sort of North Korea of the Caribbean, barbaric, abusive, unnecessary.

There will be another Havana, Brothers and Sisters.

Our children will be handsome, gorgeous and free. Never will they know the horror of so many generations destroyed by the person of Fidel and his blackmailed and salaried agents, as well as those already thirsting for lives that are whole, and the hopes of living them. Castroism is a criminal habit.

A Cuba will come that manifests permanent values: Good, Beauty, Truth, Kindness, Love — that which comes easily, which is common, which is natural.

If the assassins of visionaries do not permit me to arrive alive on that shore, there will be another Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo who will love all free Cuban men and women as much as I love them.

Castroism’s crimes are numbered.

Cubansummatum est!

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

14 November 2014

CUBA IN SPLINTERS in MIAMI BOOK FAIR

Imagine a country sequestered by a national narrative that leaves no space for dissent or even for disappointment.

Imagine the consequences for imagination in such a closed environment, aggravated by a mass media monopoly that occupies every channel of information, opinion, criticism and legitimation.

Imagine language itself as a prison, with grammar reduced to inertia, with syntax subjected to socialization and desire doomed to discipline, where beauty is suspected of being subversive, the whole vocabulary becoming a kind of vocubalary that makes superfluous any censorship because self-control is now constitutional.

Is fiction feasible under such pressure, between the Revolution and the deep red sea? But, isn’t fiction fostered best under the most despotic rhetoric? Creativity as resistance. Danger as the measure of all things. Literature understood as limiterature.

In the early 90’s, Fidel Castro and his Special Period in Peacetime threatened the Island with the so-called Option Zero: namely, concentration camps to survive local famine as the European Iron Curtain fell and Cuba found itself naked in a post-Cold War Era.

Paradoxically, this meant tons of fresh air for Cuban writing. Please, don’t laugh if you think it’s ridiculous but alas, yes, for the first time since 1959, our authors could publish their books abroad, skipping the need for official permission. Besides, the government’s Non-Governmental Organizations allowed writers to collect honorariums and copyright fees in hard currency, while prodigious privileges were being distributed according to the cultural politics of the “rule of loyalty”: to rent a house, to have access to the internet, to import a car, to own a passport with an exit permit.

Yet, despite the more ample margins for tolerance in terms of content, confrontational voices were still coerced, blackmailed, fired from their jobs, marginalized, stigmatized, beaten, jailed and forced to choose between silence or exile.

In fact, at the beginning of the 2000’s or Years Zero, maybe as guarantee of the original Option Zero, our literary field attained both tokens of totalitarianism: silence and exile. Thus, it was about time for a generation to start from zero.

Generations, of course, do not exist at all. In the case of Generation Year Zero, the 11 outlaws included in CUBA IN SPLINTERS (an anthology of new Cuban narrative translated by Hillary Gulley for O/R Books in New York 2014), behave like okupas or squatters or rather like textrrorists. Provocation as the distinctive trademark of a dysfunctional generation that, out of apathy and almost aphasia, are focusing their fiction on the black holes of memory and tradition, digging into the uncomfortable and the unpleasant, cannibalizing our cannon, escaping from correctness, reappropriating political scenarios to disrupt their logic, a bet on horror instead of heroes,épater le proletaire, vengeance as a fine art, yet from bad painting to worse writing, insisting on a scatological esthetics far from all Cuban stereotypes expected both by conventional readers and foreign editors.

The fragmentary as a splintered strategy to express the inexpressible, fractals versus fossils. A diary of dystopia as the cynical symptom to dynamize and dynamite our State establishment, dealing with a decubanized Cubanness not as scandalous as scoundrelous. I’m afraid that in this bible of the barbaric, quod scripsi, is crisis.

And the 11 trouble-makers of CUBA IN SPLINTERS by O/R Books have plenty of experience in this, since during the last decade they were the editors of the Cuban clandestine boom of independent digital magazines, like Cacharros(s)33 y un TercioDesLizLa Caja de la ChinaThe Revolution PostVoces, among other conflictive documents.

Let’s recognize that almost another dozen of writers could have been included in this literary warfront of new narrative: Lizabel Mónica, Osdany Morales, Jamila Medina, Ainsley Negrín, Abel Fernández-Larrea, Arnaldo Muñoz Viquillón, Legna Rodríguez, and Evelyn Pérez, for example. It is very likely that this anthology of newrrative is the portrait of a family that never was.

The communicating vessels between these short-stories are not bridges, but short-circuits: the tension among each fiction hopefully will produce a fertile friction that will render fractions of sense and nonsense, a bit of idiocy after so much ideology, from the Berlin Wall to the wall of the Florida Strait, from Fidel’s bodyguards to sex for sale at a regional train station; snob Buddhism and socialist zombies; cannabis cubensis so the mind can emigrate before our body crosses the claustrophobic line of the horizon; Habaniroshima, mon amour, the cenotaph city like tears in the ruins of a rheumatic Revolution; remake and collage, plagiarism taken to the paroxysm; who knows if poetry for the pariahs of the Cuban holocastro. It is also very likely that this anthology of newrrative is the portrait of a family meant never to be.

Del clarín, escuchad el silencio, as these 11 anti-national hymns turn out to be hyper-nationalistic histories, as no Cuban can truly escape from Cuba. Fidelity has given way to fatality. So, let it read. Or at least, let it rip these many Cubas in splinters. Unrest in peace.

Original in English

23 November 2014

Castroniria / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Castroneirics: Is there Cuban literature after the Revolution?

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

This story started long before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, on January 1st1959. In the beginning it was not the Word, but the War. And in the war Fidelity is the utmost value, its betrayal usually paid with death, whether civil or political, from culture to corpses without much transition.

In March 1956, Alberto Bayo, who soon was to become a Cuban revolutionary commander, while training Castro’s little army in Mexico, wrote the first traceable record of Fideliterature, where Castro is compared with a “lighthouse than gleams airs of freedom”, and as one of our “great locos that pursue Glory to sow a beautiful fruit in History.”

Indeed, many charismatic leaders have been called “locos” by our national tradition, which despises common sense and praises maddened social actors, as much as it disregards conventionalism in order to foster improvisation.

Months later, Ernesto Ché Guevara himself depicted Fidel as a “blazing prophet of the dawn.” And then an avalanche of verses came pouring upon his epical guerrilla, from the Ecuadorian Elías Cedeño Jerves, who sees him as an eagle-in-chief flying over the mountains of Sierra Maestra (although those birds are inexistent on the Island), to Cuban Carilda Oliver Labra, who focuses her gratefulness to the “male groin” under Castro’s green-olive uniform (thus settling the basis for Latin American Machismo-Leninism). Continue reading

Memories of Media Death / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Memories of Overdevelopment is a Cuban film that comes from the future. And that is a lot to say in a country like ours, condemned to survive in a perpetual and precarious present time that revolves around the same dates and hallmarks of that high-contrast story still called the Revolution.

Indeed, in the beginning it was not the Word, but the Sword. And Fidel Castro swore that the sword was good. And he turned it into Swordcialism or Death, a slogan that means more to us than one thousand and one laws. Or rather, than one thousand and 959 laws. Because memories in Cuba are symbolically bound to that date. 1959: life B.C or A.C., before Castro or after Castro.Within the Revolution and against the Revolution, but no space outside the Revolution is conceivable. That’s what totalitarianism is all about: the State as an imitation of God. And in social sets so claustrophobic, Creation must be then Reaction.

Edmundo Desnoes is a lucky writer. In Cuban literature, where he is well-known but has never been well read, he put into practice the perspective of the pariah, the lucid loser in the middle of proletarian’s paradise, the vision of the victims beyond all boasting victories, the endearing delirium of the displaced. All this in a country with an official narrative that punishes those displaced with death, from the civil to the corpse. And Edmundo Desnoes was lucky enough twice, in the beginning and in the end of his own biopics in the time of the revolution. Continue reading

Down With the Embargo, Long Live the Embargo / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Graphics by El Sexto

The New York Times is not in favor or against the American embargo of the Cuban government. The New York Times is simply in favor of what in every circumstance is most convenient to the Castro regime.

So it was that the New York Times just published this recycled editorial where they ask for an end to the embargo for the 1959th time, even going beyond American law (they are like frogs in the Fidelista fable, demanding of the White Heron that governs at coups of presidential resolution.

So, in addition, the New York Times in a second act to its distracting editorial, opened its plural debate pages to the one thousand and 959 Cubanologists: and so dissolved all the attention to not speak of what is most important now (and has been for two years), Olympianically omitting the presence in the United States of the witness to a double State murder on the part of the Raul and Fidel regime.

In effect, Angel Carromero is in American territory. However, the last reference on the New York Times to this criminal case of the Castro regime was from last year. The complaint of the Payá-Acevedo family, the complicity of the Spanish judiciary and executive with this announced assassination, the violations and mockery of those uniformed in olive-green on the little Island of the Infamous: none of this is Newyorktimesable. They love only the embargo because they know it works like an engine of little lies. Continue reading

Fetus and Other Left-overs / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

MY REPLY TO “A man’s right to choose” by Dana Schwartz in The Brown Daily Herald.

“About a baby’s right to choose” by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, I.W.P. Visiting Fellow Writer, Department of Literary Arts, Brown University.

In her opinion column “A man’s right to choose”, Dana Schwartz, as in all legalist approaches to baby abortion, misses an elementary point: life is by no means a biological burden to life, despite supreme courts —that may come and go with the ages— gender gurus and the political correctness of the more or less fashionableft.

“Every woman should have complete control over her own body and the decision to become a mother.” I couldn’t agree more with Schwartz. But this doesn’t extend to someone else’s body. Unless that the soon-to-be-born baby is deemed devoid of any control over his or her body and, in turn, deemed devoid of the decisions that he or she will never take once medically annihilated.

Modern society seems to have forgotten that babies are also women and men —mothers and fathers of other mothers and fathers to come—, not just sterile statistics for civil vindications. “Reducing the number of unwanted infants” is as simple as reducing the number of irresponsible conceptions.

Schwartz should be consequent enough as to discuss if women, in order not to be forced to become unwanted mothers, should “have the right” to destroy a baby’s body after “it” is born, but being still a part of her body through that last burden called the umbilical cord.

We condemn adult violence in Ferguson. We foster it from the very beginning against our own fetuses.

Original written in English

10 October 2014

Open Letter From the MCL to Pablo Iglesias and His Hatred of Cubans / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

MCL (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación / Christian Liberation Movement) in La Razón: “Mr. Pablo Iglesias, There is Poverty in Cuba and Leftist People are Repressed”

How can you deem it a campaign against “Cuba” that family, friends and colleagues of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero demand that these deaths are clarified, deaths that even the Cuban regime has not been able to explain?

The Cuban regime repeatedly blames its problems on “lags of the past” and on the former “bourgeois regime.”

Well then, they are now the past and the new bourgeoisie.

Dear Euro-Deputy, Mr. Pablo Iglesias:

I have had the chance to read—living in a democratic country where both you and I can (yes, we can) say whatever we please—some statements of yours through which you defend the Cuban regime.

In 2002 and 2003, more than 25,000 Cubans signed a citizens lawsuit—legally and constitutionally sound, according to Cuban Law, and known as the “Varela Project”—in which they demanded the basic rights and liberties enjoyed by citizens in democratic countries.

Specifically, the demands of the Varela Project are as follow: freedom of association, freedom of enterprise (for the citizens), amnesty for prisoners of conscience, and the call for a referendum to pass a fair and just electoral law, given that, at present, there can only be one candidate per position, and one who is logically endorsed by the regime. Continue reading

A Letter to Cuba’s Bishops / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

His Excellency, Dionisio García Ibáñez

Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and Cardinal Primate of Cuba

Your Excellency:

Last night I had the opportunity to meet you at a reception in your honor given by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio to Cuba. Today I am writing to you regarding several concerns of the Center for a Free Cuba with the hope that in your role as president of the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops you might forward this letter to your fellow bishops.

The Center for a Free Cuba is an independent organization that promotes respect for human rights and the re-establishment of a democratic government under the rule of law in our beloved Cuba.

The Center considers the evangelization and humanitarian work of the Church in Cuba to be of utmost importance and has always responded to the requests of priests and bishops who have approached us. In light of our strong desire to continue collaborating with the Church, please allow us to share with Your Excellency the following concerns:

1) It has been reported that there are over three thousand cases of dengue fever in Cienfuegos. What can you tell us about the causes of this epidemic and what steps are being taken to counter it? How can we support the Church to help those affected?

2) As of more than two years ago, two devout Cuban Catholics have been held prisoner without trial. They were arrested and beaten by State Security agents as they were preparing to attend the mass celebrated in Havana by Pope Benedict XVI in March of 2012. Sonia Garro is being held in the Manto Negro prison. She is not in good health. Her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz, is being held in the Combinado del Este prison.

Could not the Church urge the authorities to release them, or at least to put them on trial? We would also greatly appreciate it if the bishops celebrated a mass on behalf of Sonia and Ramón and all other political prisoners, as Archbishop Wenski did recently in Miami.

3) It is well known that the regime has intensified its repression of peaceful opposition figures such as the Ladies in White. Could not the Catholic Bishops Conference of Cuba ask the authorities to cease acts of repudiation and the excesses of the Rapid Response Brigades for the sake of peace and national reconciliation? Is there anything that might be preventing this noble and urgent request?

4) In the [Church sponsored] periodical, Espacio Laical (Secular Space), there have been articles about the need to encourage a “loyal opposition.” Many ask, loyal to whom or to what? To the regime or to freedom, democracy and the full dignity of all human beings? Clarification of this issue would be helpful so that the publication or the Church is not seen to be branding as “disloyal” anyone not in agreement with those who for more than half a century have held the people of Cuba hostage.

Given our great respect for your high office, we would very much appreciate your comments on the concerns we have outlined in this letter.

In extending this cordial and patriotic message to Your Excellency, as well as to the other bishops of our forlorn homeland, we evoke the memory of the historic visit of His Holiness, St. John Paul II, who urged all of us to be “valiant in truth, bold in freedom, constant in responsibility, generous in love, invincible in hope.”

Respectfully yours,

On behalf of the Center for a Free Cuba

Guillermo Marmol, businessman and civic leader

Filiberto Agusti, Esq., attorney and legal counsel for the Center for a Free Cuba

Dr. Néstor Carbonell Cortina, businessman, intellectual and civic leader

Ellis E. Briggs, former United States ambassador to Portugal, Panama and Honduras

Beatriz Casals, businesswoman, intellectual and civic leader

Prof. Carlos Eire, Yale University

Dr. Sergio Díaz Briquets, international advisor

Prof. Jaime Suchlicki, University of Miami

José Sorzano, former United States ambassador to the United Nations

Prof. Enrico Mario Santí, University of Kentucky

Otto J. Reich, former United States ambassador to Venezuela

Joaquín P. Pujol, economist, former assistant director of the International Monetary Fund and member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy

Victor J. Pujals, P.E., professional engineer and civic leader

Robert A. O’Brien, businessman, civic leader and philanthropist

Frank Calzon, executive director for the Center for a Free Cuba [frank.calzon@cubacenter.org]

Posted to this blog:
25 September 2014