“Harmony” / Claudia Cadelo

I feel sorry for people who come up to me to offer an opinion about my country after they’ve been here 72 hours. Especially when they sum up the reality in three sentences and a “harmonic” vision of the island, acquired after a national tour that includes, of course, Varadero, Trinidad and Viñales. I count to three, then twenty, then fifty. I don’t know Trinidad, I detest Viñales — especially because a mile from it there’s city without electricity and drinkable water — and Varadero, obviously, is not Cuba.

What can one reply to an observation that it’s preferable to maintain the government as it is and not start a transition in the midst of a crisis in capitalism? How can you explain to a person that the Communist crisis never ends? How can you establish that if there’s one thing worse than a monopoly it’s a state monopoly? How can I summarize my 27 years on this island in a two-hour conversation? How can one talk about corruption if there’s no proof? How to recount the purge within the Communist Party since Raul Castro took power if we don’t know what’s happening other than that the heads are rolling? How do you explain to someone — without offending them — that after the Special Period, polyneuritis and vitamin A deficiency, the world’s global economic crisis seems like a first world joke?

I don’t know if it’s worth even trying. I wrack my brain and I’m always left with the feeling of not having done very well, of not having said everything I feel, of not being able to respond and feel good about myself later. I was puzzled by the question, “And you, what are you intending to do with your blog?” I don’t know what I intend. I don’t know where I’m headed. What are the concrete objectives of freedom save to be the master of one’s own destiny, free? Why is it so hard to imagine that a person decided, one day, to be free?

18 February 2011