All Roads Lead to Rome / Jeovany J. Vega

A sentence is never free, not when you live in Cuba. Here, the plan of absolute centralization is not only limited to economic relations but also, perhaps even to a greater extent, all reading material is given a pro-government hue. Undivided power in the essential condition for this to happen. Absolutism has made sure that all channels of social interaction move towards the central hub of decision making. Then, with military precision, the orders of the political-military duo, coming from the Communist Party-State Security pairing, will be executed. If oneestablishes a rigid manifesto, the other contributes the copious amounts of intelligence which, once analized in the only centre of power, means that the tactical or strategic decision most convenient for the establishmentis taken without any concern that this might directly contravene the written ‘law’. Nuestro caso (our case) is an excellent example of what I’m saying.

There are two moments in our history in which this modus operandi can be seen to be typically ignorant of the truth. The first in March 2008, aftertheattempted hunger strike mentioned here, we decided to restart negotiations with the State Departmentby conventional means. 10 days later the only response that we had received from the government in 5 years arrived. ‘…we have decided to inform the Ministry of Public Health, for your consideration and reply.’ That is to say, they sent us to the slaughterhouse one again, becoming both judge and part of the entity on which it called. A secondincident came three years later, last 15th August, when I wrote to the Granma newspaper– some days later I alsowrote to The Workers and Rebel Youth – only getting a couple of lines from Granma in reply. ‘Your letter has been sent to the Ministry of Public Health for your consideration and reply according to convention.’ Obviously, the uniformity of stylewarns that it is the same hand writing in both cases.

Last 3rd December, Latinamerican Medicine Day, Granma congratulated me with this succinct reply, this time sent by conventional post, for directing myself towards the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section once again, more than 3 months earlier. I’d already had a reply on the 10th October by email – that time must have been for my birthday – had begun, on 17th October, with an affectionate letter to its splendid editor Lazaro Barredo Medina. The stamped envelope, when it arrived at my door, reminded me that, in spite of the world having spun hundreds of thousands of times, whenever and wherever the emperors come to power, all paths, roads, boulevards, lanes, avenues, tracks and trails – even short cuts – lead ultimately to Rome.

Translated by Sian Creely

December 21 2011