What to Celebrate? / Rebeca Monzo

Today, December 3rd, we celebrate the Day of the Doctor in my world.

I have a doctor friend, with twenty-five years of experience, specializing in psychiatry, with good results, according to the acknowledgement of her patients, which is what really counts, who this year will be in her house baking cakes to be able to survive, while in her ancient place of employment, a polyclinic in Central Havana, they will hand out flowers and make speeches, with out taking into account that of the five psychiatrists who work there, only one of whom kept their job, while the other four, including my friend, were let go.

My friend is still young, not yet fifty years old, and has vast experience in her field, is divorced and has two children to take care of who are still studying. It is inconceivable that a doctor’s knowledge and experience would be wasted in this way. I understand that if this polyclinic had too many psychiatrists, something I doubt as this is an overpopulated city in which people do not enjoy the best living conditions, they should have had the others sent to other health centers where they could have used them. The sick who come in search of medical help almost always have to be attended to by inexperienced foreign students, who in some case cannot communicate very well with them, because they do not speak our language correctly. In general, this is not well received by those who come seeking medical attention, when our government shows off by sending so many doctors on foreign missions.

Is it that, since people here the do not have life insurance (it doesn’t exist), they come to practice on us as if we were guinea pigs? What’s certain is that already this is causing discomfort among people; we like to be well served and to be in the presence of an experienced doctor, from whom the students next to them can gain experience, rather than practice on the sick.

Nevertheless, my congratulations to all these hardworking Cuban doctors who take the bus (guagua in “good Cuban”) or bicycle to their hospital or polyclinic, who have shifts too often, who work with many difficult materials and who even so are kind and professional with the patients (as they should be), receiving a lower salary than an employee at Aurora (a business that sweeps the streets) or a fumigator. To all of them, my deepest respect.

Translated by: Meg Anderson

December 3 2011

Spoken Word in Havana / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Spoken Word in Havana, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo

The Writing Workshop of the International Poetry Festival in Havana along with Roads of Words (a group dedicated to the promotion of spoken word poetry in Cuba), invite you to a conference:

Spoken Word: A New Wave of Contemporary Poetry

(featuring the poet and cultural promotor: Elier A. Alvarez Arcia, “the wizard”).

Next Saturday, November 12th at 10:30am in the conference room “Ruben Martinez Villena” of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC).

The conference will discuss the new development of the Spoken Word movement in the United States and how it arrived to our country, what has been done in the subject of poetry-performance in our capital, and it will explain the how this form of poetry is promoted in Cuba

P.S. BY OLPL:

WILL OMNI ZONA FRANCA SPEAK///???!!!

(Will the comrades of the Kultureseguritat attend…?)

Translated by: Meg Anderson

November 8 2011

The Paradox / Regina Coyula

I don’t envy the position of the government at all, even though I also don’t feel pity for any of our rulers. The economic situation in Cuba doesn’t look any better than five years ago. Lifting the prohibitions on what should have never been prohibited, like the legal regulations that for now keep people distracted, are in my opinion a way to gain time, and the confirmation of how wrong the managers of this country have been, the same ones that have been wrong time and time again over the last 50 years, but are still there today.

“We rectify or we sink” — those were the words of the President General, without any signs of their inertia giving way to action. Nothing appears to change, therefore, since we don’t rectify, we sink (that is to say, they sink, we arrived first).

But if we energized the country, we would have to make reforms that encourage the investment of capital and create a safe climate for investors, to start, and other reforms so radical that the government, as we know it and with all its members aboard, would go under.

If they change, they sink; and if they don’t change, they sink. There is the paradox.

Translated by: Meg Anderson

November 11 2011

My Baptism By Fire / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Photo by mariacelys.wordpress.com

It was 6:30 in the morning and we rode on a cart pulled by a tractor that shook from the uneven dirt roads.

The guardrail moved and didn’t offer any guarantee that it would support our weight–moving involuntarily as if we have neurological problems–we sat on the floor so that at least the rustic planks of the guardrail would protect us from the dew and cold of dawn. It was the first “school in the countryside” for everyone, except the responsible teacher who traveled with us. I was twelve years old, a girl who had still not had her period.

Our breath condensed in the air and the silence overcame us the night before, when a melancholy student from our shelter fell prey to the mockery of the group because she missed the privacy of her own room and bed when it was time to sleep. They began to call her “coward”, “weak”, and with these “little bourgeois attitudes” she wouldn’t be a good communist. One of the tests of stoicism that we “autoimposed” (as an policy and a political guide common to all schools), was that of spending the 45 required days in the countryside, without leaving no matter what happened–unless it was a compelling reason–and to be an example by working the furrows, which amounted to working like a beast for a simple and invisible recognition–that no one could confirm–in the school record. Breakfast that morning, in a little aluminum jar as hot as the scorching midday summer sun, consisted of burnt milk. Washing our faces in the washtubs with icy water from the tap–at Camp “La Concordia”, like in others, sinks did not exist–had the advantage of waking us up as if we were in the Siberian tundra and we had the “high honor” of forming part of the Komsomol.

On our inexperienced expectations, the day arrived, and even though the thick fog robbed us of our view of the landscape, we watched the faces in silence, listening to the song of the rooster, the moo of some cow, the warble of the birds, and the rumble of the tractor. We dressed in androgynous clothing that the revolution had “fatherly and generously” provided for us so that we could freely accomplish hard agriculture work during the next month and a half. To break the mist and the muteness that we dizzy and inexperienced aspiring communists were suffering from, the teacher in charge of our group sang a chant copied from from the indoctrination program made in USSR that she repeated over and over again so we could learn it.

I even remember the wet grass covering and moistening my canvas tennis shoes and pants to celebrate my baptism by fire and “our battle against the softness and hereditary diseases of capitalism”. We looked like test tube girls abandoned in the laboratory of the New Man. They lost us in the winding literary paths and we jumped from fairy tale to political fable. To the schools in the countryside, I thank you as I thank the revolution: the deep deception and thanks to the voracious appetite that I had from working the earth, I learned to eat peas with weevils; this eagerness has transformed over the years to a hunger for freedom. That was my “collision” in the Cuban countryside, my baptism by the colored earth.

Translated by: Meg Anderson

November 8 2011