What Was I Doing Before? / Lilianne Ruíz

I have been many Lillis, and all are me, one of those Lillis tried to escape from a confinement to which my mother condemned me, at age 22 at the Fajardo Hospital, really depressed after an abortion and drugged by one Dr. Justo against my will, I jumped without knowing what I was doing from the third floor. I didn’t break even one bone but underwent a lengthy surgery.

Since then, craziness doesn’t sit so badly with me. But in countries governed by an ideology that demands concurrence and standardization, any display of sensitivity, any human reaction to such an inhumane order, can be considered insanity.

It is not I who says that, many people worldwide more intelligent than I or better informed have studied it. But I have suffered it, I know what it is about and the maturity of 30 years has granted to me that I like being who I am as opposed to being the same as all the rest. Within me there flow secret springs in which I believe in more and more each day.

Returning to the chronology; what I was doing before writing in my blog: Absurdities More Absurdities Less, seven years went by.

At one time, I loved Rene, the father of my daughter, in those nights in which we made love on the beach under the illusion of being truly in love and in fear that they would steal our clothes, an hour after having ecstatically watched, while sitting on the hood of a matte gold BMW, the cranes at the Port of Havana, that seemed like dinosaurs, moving the containers, as a night of so much fun followed me in the distance throughout Old Havana.

To be a mother did change my life. I want it all and above all I want it all for her, Olivia Mariana, more than my own soul. Her first name is for the olive trees, and the olives and the balsam trees and her middle name for the Virgin Mother of God.

In 2008, before the passage of Hurricane Ike, my father died in Santovenia, an institution for the elderly cared for by nuns. Miraculously, by calling on the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Mother Prioress, I was able to improve the situation for my father. I started living alone and taking care of everything, always on the lookout for my miracle and its verification.

I have changed skin so often, without ceasing to be me, dressing up, translating and betraying myself, trying on, getting lost and finding myself again. To save myself and my daughter,  God in my heart, always waiting for me to turn back, painting the next stage of my life, posing before me, the riddle in order to find him. My friend Macho whom I love very much and who has proven to be the oldest tree in my life, who resists me always, saying that I collect unusual situations.

Three years ago, my friend Jean sent me a Japanese man who wanted to rent the second room of my house for himself. I offered a ridiculously low price given the despair that I had about needing to buy food. As I like to respect the law, I told my future tenant that we would go to Immigration the next day to apply for permission. He asked me to move his things: consisting of two pairs of shorts, some shirts, two bags of soy milk and his computer.

They denied us permission, even though we pretended to be a pair of lovers, to the surprise of the officer who attended us because that Japanese guy was very gay.

While returning, something extraordinary happens to me. I felt it more than he, I needed that money from the rent in order to buy food but the fine for letting him spend the night without the permission of Immigration would be $1500 and we were already warned.

It was a memorable night because when I asked him nicely to gather his things since there was no deal made nor was there any advance payment and he had noting to lose but I did, he gave me a shove in the chest and said to me in Spanish with a “manga” accent “…tonight, no.”

I had to call some neighbors so that they would help me convince him. They called the police who sent an official who looked like the comedian “Cabo Pantera” who said to him in Japanese with the eastern accent of the police “What do you have there cousin?” pointing to an object that he had been keeping in his suitcase.

To my shock and surprise, it turned out to be a katana ( those curved swords of the samauri, this one was the size of a kitchen knife ) wrapped in a silk handkerchief. That image of the Japanese guy in slow motion unwrapping the sword wrapped in silk forms a part of the novel of my life.

The following year, I met a man with whom I had an intense love affair, younger than I, a professional chef, who besides being a pompous and pretentious lover, prepared the most exotic meals that I’ve ever tasted, and gave me a rest from my anguish over survival.

It never seemed odd to me that he always had some condoms at hand that were of a brand “Trojan” that are not sold in Cuba. One afternoon, I discovered that in order to maintain the household, he was pimping males to foreigners in Parque Central*. I thanked him for the “Trojans” which are strong condoms while I threw him out of my house without compassion

Last year I decided to test my luck selling products on the black market. They weren’t food products but could have been Colgate toothpaste, socks, “calentitos“( sexy underwear), blouses, or shirts. I ended up opposite a successful, independent merchant, the owner of that business that saves Cuban men and women from the exorbitant prices of clothes in the state-owned shops, clothes of even poorer taste than his which I understand come from Ecuador.

I must have not seemed very skillful with sales because about the only conversation he managed to have with me was his insistence on inviting me to have a beer but I don’t like those guys and I don’t like beer.

I left without merchandise to sell and I was no longer able to imagine myself going out into the street with a suitcase of clothes and Palmolive soap, stationed in the front steps of “Ultra“** like the other vendors that sell even fake ponytails.

When I think seriously, I realize I was lucky that he didn’t give me anything to sell, those guys are dangerous, but besides that, at that time, the sale of clothes “por fuera”*** was illegal and it would have been absurd for me to go looking for a problem with the law on account of something I don’t believe in anyway and it would not have made sense to go through with it and take responsibility for it.

Then I set myself to think about the desire I was feeling to meet Laura Pollán, to go to Santa Rita and extend my hand and a kiss to the Ladies in White and that I was willing to put myself at risk because I do believe in that. I never managed to go. When I got to know the house, Laura was no longer in this world because her ashes were being cast to the wind.

And from all that I was thinking and feeling then, I wrote my first post and baptized my blog and since then I feel like the person I am.

This terrible situation can no longer crush me without receiving my response, my punches, if I can make myself responsible for expressing myself in my blog. I can challenge the government that condemns the people to theft, to prostitution, to detrimental solutions that condemn the course of their lives for the rest of their lives, because the Law of Love that governs the Universe in spite of wickedness and of dictators, shields me.

It has also given me new friends; today Augustin of the blog Dekaisone who found out that we don’t have food and brought us beans, some meat, and pasta for a week. Having a blog doesn’t pay money but it gives the gift of a network of friends.

To recognize yourself in the soul of another person doesn’t let you fall. Living in this same city, seeing the same view, surviving those years without electricity, without food, without shoes, without understanding anything, at age 17, more rebellious than ever, made me find an alternative in the face of the sustained attack of the all-flattening ideology, the urgent necessity of finding God in my heart and that if God has named me, only for me, so that I never forget Him.

With this secret that can be shared, I aspire to unite my efforts with those of many people who work for the peace and freedom of Cuba.

Translator’s notes:

*Parque Central near Old Havana, with its monument to Jose Marti, is where men meet to discuss baseball. It is located in an area frequented by foreign tourists and is surrounded on three sides by large hotels for foreigners.

**A large department store on Galiano Street in Havana.

***Literally “on the outside” this refers to clothes taken from the official supply chain and sold to others to sell on the black market. This is a way to increase sales volume and therefore profits.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty and William Fitzhugh

February 15 2012

How Night Fell (Cómo llegó la noche*) / Lilianne Ruíz

It would be really good if the Cuban Revolution were to finally admit that it has a lot of political opposition, peaceful and civil, from within and without the island. Because from the beginning, “The Revolution” refused to admit that it was having “political problems” within its own borders. It’s more confused and wastes more time discovering the lie if it presents the campaign against dissidence as if The State has “Patriotic Urgency” or “The Threat to Sovereignty” and “National Socialism (Communism ) is the most progressive alternative” and that those who oppose a political party and its dictator are “mercenaries” with neither will nor heart”.

But all that is false and honesty can still be useful, not for “humanity” but rather for each human being, small and infinite, with rights and with worth. If having faith, hope, and love of life didn’t make sense, if it were preferable to keep quiet, to look the other way, to forget to be the protagonist of your own life, to make your dreams real. Why Christ, the God in which I believe, is it taken so seriously that even…….

For a powerful reason was he abandoned on the cross to be tortured until death, being killed for the maladies that we’re capable of and that only He can pardon. Must we give up that this world be a place to inhabit in well-being and security? Do they have to keep governing the barbarians while we take refuge in religion but are not capable of acting with faith in life?

So many deaths in the Stalinist collectivization, such a genocidal Marxist doctrine in order to justify the class struggle. Who can be leftist nowadays without admitting that they are complicit in or guilty of, genocide. It isn’t even worth recommending to the stupid of the world who believe in the kindness of socialism to come to my country to see the outcome because recently I’ve discovered that there are people who need to be submissive, servile, managed, rationed, justified in their envy in staying on the margins of their wishes, anything God only knows, and for this reason they stay as Marxists in the world.

No-one believes anymore in the story of socialist justice because Wilman Villar and Zapata Tamayo were very humble men who never got respect for their rights when they were slowly killed. The Left isn’t humane, it’s fascist. Fascism is the extreme left and Communism is fascist. There was a Hitler because there existed a Lenin and a Stalin. This is the real cause of the second World War, the opportunistic German disciple of Cominterm ( Communist International ) ambition and the Soviet extermination camps with the novelty of nationalism but don’t forget that National Socialism is another form of socialism, no less bloody than communism. It is the worst swindle and those that hold it up high like a flag in the world or are very frustrated and are disguised serial killers, or the poor; they are idiots and idiots cannot guide the destinies of millions of people.

*Translator’s note: The title of this post is taken from a book by Huber Matos.

Translated by: William Fitzhugh

February 23 2012

Forbidden Books / Lilianne Ruíz

Well now I am in my house, just returned from the sixth birthday of Ada’s twins; Ada is the sister of my friend Agustín. I love going with my daughter, all very simple, just great in the way that she knows how to share this family whose roots are in Villa Clara.  There is nothing warmer than a home of Cuban peasants. And Agustín; he administers the Dakaisone blog.

The girls have played, the adults have chatted.  When a person lives in a country with laws that limit what one can eat, what books you can read, what you are permitted to do and what you risk when your conscience wants to take you beyond that, you go over and over the same things, but it is left to the rest to talk about their experience and why it is a good thing to find other similar people who repeat to each other with their own voice what you already know.  Nobody has a solution, only to speak about resistance.   The resistance of conscience that knows to plant itself on free ground and which can face the winds that the constipated entrails of the Revolution spew, not without holding our noses. A beautiful and tragic image of the awoken conscience in the middle of a sewer.

At the party, I met Omaida and her daughter Jennifer. Omaida is the source for a network of independent libraries. The term “independent library” could sound strange but in communist countries, in dictatorships of the extreme left, such libraries are the only oases of good literature. In the case of Cuba, the history of literature is not even totally complete  for the twentieth century. All that was saved was what the magazine Orígenes collected. The second half of the twentieth century is empty in the piles of shelving or repeated in others, such that it seems like no-one writes poetry that is worth the trouble in the contemporary world, or novels, or essays that are not indigestible in the realm of the Americas.

As for myself, I’m getting sick and tired of Saramago and the Castro’s personal Columbian friend (Gabriel Garcia Márquez ) because I’m convinced that enough better literature has been written in the world than to have to forgive the creator of the town of Macondo of his mortal sin. I have books that are dearer to me but they continue to be back issues to which I can return as is only possible when so few books are known.

In Cuba, only the friends of the Revolution get published. Because the Revolution; apocalyptic beast with the number of man that “very few have understood” is a beast with few friends. It can’t survive when it is compared to the free expression of the mirror that has found its nature in the vacuum between the freedom of the glass and the quicksilver, the absoluteness of the death of ideologies, the easing of the mind before the serenity of a lake that perfectly reflects a mountain, the silence of haiku.

It is rare to find a book from Octavio Paz, Vaclav Havel, M. Kundera, Vargas Llosa, absolutely impossible to find a book from Carlos Alberto Montaner.  It is easier to be badgered by Italo Calvino who was a communist or Eduardo Galeano who has remained as the only one that state misanthropy can resort to.  Calvino wrote very very well, but Galeano did it terribly terribly badly, and used the case of Cuba as a symbol, I’m not sure of what, but he behaves for the world like no Cuban resident of the island does.

In this Cuban experiment, that is about how submissive human nature can become when it submits to the absolute control of government political and economic totalitarianism, it has been seen that the first recourse has been the education of “the people” that are thought of like livestock.  The example of that unglamorous little library where the ex president of the island made the curatorship of the University’s books for everyone without universality.  The information that the conscience would be subjected to was selected carefully, it was repeated, it was threatened and the result is this will to survive in an autophagic way, to not protest save a few exceptions. On of the ways to produce consciousness to open up the bandwidth of information, providing news, evangelizing with the literature of liberty, and for this reason it is a crime to administer a separate library.

That’s how I learned, with horror, about the harassment to which Omaida has been subjected by state security. They sent an agent she describes as having crawled out of a dumpster who has the nerve to sit uninvited in her living room and threaten her.  And although it seems like something out of a bad Bukowski novel, he dares to call on her birthday to remind her that an evil shadow lurks where only her guardian angel should dwell.

But these guys have no fear of God. She also told me that the chief agent made a visit too, a man who can cite books and authors. Undoubtedly he is autistic, because agents do not understand what they read. Their core value is the constipated revolution. These thugs do not know the potential Delphic curse Lezama invented having to do with the famous inscription “gnothi seauton” (displaying my complete ignorance of Greek), which means “Know thyself.” That is what literature is for: to illuminate, to transport, to change the adornments of the soul until its final form is found, released by the image.

My Christian charity is not sufficient to pity them.

Translated by William Fitzhugh 

January 30 2012

Very few…

It is not surprising how many people go out in mass, before any revolutionary summons. In Cuba, the State is the absolute owner of everything; hospitals, schools, radio and television stations, hotels, discotheques, restaurants. The State is the sole employer. At the address of each one of these places, there appear the photos of the State, “personified” in its commanders, like revolutionary “saints”, who sold the cornerstone of the social justice in exchange for their survival.  And to make sure that there were no returns, they expropriated the owners of the companies, hardened capitalists, who today might be alternatives [to the state]; shelters. Very few decide to jump into the void to stop being mercenaries of the State and accomplices in their own tragedy.

Nowadays, the house of Sara Marta has been surrounded by the State Security in a 100 metre perimeter. Twelve people, until yesterday, held a wake for the death of Wilmar Villar. My friend Augustine did not let it pass.

Very few people declare themselves in opposition to the government because people do not want to be dismissed from their jobs, be demoted or land in more serious trouble. Having faith in their own consciences (which most Cubans have lost) a few have decided to touch the door knocker of destiny; in conflict with the laconic state which decides destinies and fights against God in every person.

To give you an idea of the threat and criminality of State Corporation poses, you have to remember the case of Laura Pollan. When she was ill, with a disease that probably would not have caused death, she had to go to the Calixto Garcia hospital, scary for everyone. Certainly, if visited by State Security, which I venture to suppose, orders to the medical staff could have been given, “mission” dependent, to allow the negligence causing the death of the Lady in White, who was inconvenient to the state.

The police who beat and punished Wilmar Villar are also state employees. At the corner of my house, Lombillo and Boyeros, the Police Directorate distributes live poultry and egg cartons to their tarnished servants who, for the donation, do the colita (a doped-up dance) in the parking lot. The political department of each unit has a policy to acknowledge “the lord” of the state and to obey any order even if it means abusing to death an unarmed human being who only was a part of a protest. No one should be misled about these “people.”

We are considered mentally destitute, deserving the benefit of veterinary care. Except for those “ungrateful” like Wilmar who ironically died of pneumonia in a country where two medical students woke me up this morning to take my temperature, and before my denial, asked me not to say anything.

The octopus of the state monopoly, keeps their employees at one of the lowest poverty levels; earning less than 50 cents on the dollar (CUC) per day. Because nobody wants to get into trouble, [the state] has achieved the miracle of people applauding slave labour and slavery of conscience. Very few are willing to die on a hunger strike to demand freedom.

When I hear them say that persons who complain are “salaried” [that is, “in the pay of the empire”], I think of the state as the employment agency, with the power to grant permits to allow you a little pizza businesses. That “checks” with the “Committees for the Defense of the Revolution” to determine whether or not someone gets a better job. And do I think Laura’s nurses, Villar’s jailers, who are only fulfilling their ideological work, have no consciousness of the poor who do not eat beans daily, where there is no other employer or homeowner so that the “State of the caudillos is secure.” Those who swallow the pill of revolutionary hagiography what tyranny do they believe it is necessary to fight?

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

January 30 2012

The Government Editorial / Lilianne Ruíz

"Faced with the interference from the Yankees and the European Union, UNITY!"

The Cuban government gave its first statement on the death of Wilmar Villar, on January 23rd. It was taken from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The paper in question, Unico Diario, is the only daily newspaper. It is the official organ of propaganda, of the only party legally allowed on the island, this is of course, the Communist Party. I expected at least one story of the events, but the story is devoted to a series of human rights abuses committed in other parts of the world. They, in that way are willing to join the list of abusers, beating all competition in longevity: 53 years! It is good teaching in order to swell the ranks of the club of murderers!

State Security is twisted and dirty, without scruples, without values, idiot-proof though not because it is less guilty. For I understand that the Chiefs for whom it works; those of State, they do not still have any more resources than absolute vileness, because, along the way, they lost their soul. But the gendarmes, for many privileges and brainwashing, being accomplices, are earning a dark satisfaction that is devouring them completely. In these situations I find strength only by reading the Gospels. Forgive me, if I repeat myself.

Someone told me that he read, in the BBC, that Wilmar was imprisoned for contempt of authority and for beating his wife. I don’t know how much stock in the BBC is held by the Cuban government, a representative of the most predatory left, but it seems disrespectful. I am not interested in Villar domestic relations, but in the fact of Wilmar’s death as a result of respiratory deterioration during a hunger strike. His wife, the mother of two girls, was also arrested after involvement in a non-violent political protest.

I cannot repress the cynicism of the Communist Party, of the shield of the caudillos, when it states, in the media, that with much urgency they have given the world the news without investigation of the facts. To my knowledge, no Cuban jail has been visited by Amnesty International, the Red Cross, or the Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights because of the constant refusals of the government. Imagine if CNN were to have access to the hole where Wimar Villar remained nearly two months while on a hunger strike, then dying of pneumonia because of the punishment they implemented by their attitude! Cuban National Socialism uncompromisingly, cannot stand the gaze of an International Commission, but complains to the United Nations of suffering economic isolation.

State Security is twisted and dirty, without scruples, without values, idiot-proof though not because it is less guilty. For I understand that the Chiefs for whom it works; those of State, they do not still have any more resources than absolute vileness, because, along the way, they lost their soul. But the gendarmes, for many privileges and brainwashing, being accomplices, are earning a dark satisfaction that is devouring them completely. In these situations I find strength only by reading the Gospels. Forgive me, if I repeat myself.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

January 30 2012

Ideology, Later Not Being / Lilianne Ruíz

I can’t stand ideas. I aspire to a pure understanding of reality and of myself but I have to postpone it. I read in order to erase, in order to find within the forgotten. Or in the memory, which is the same. I get scared seeing myself in the street surrounded by people who cause a tremendous sense of exhaustion in me and I like to just stay in my house. Nevertheless, I have to go out, to take my daughter to school, to prevent the confusion that can cause her to think that mom believes that the heroes are not heroes, that vowels are not red nor are consonants blue. It’s too bad that I don’t have at hand that book by Rimbaud that neither gives me the true color of the vowels but music, the rhythm of beauty transformed into a chord.

Today my daughter has cut out for me a pile of paper jewelry, a necklace, earrings, rings. After having seen a documentary that included the testimony of a widow from Villar, I feel like quitting everything and staying shut in with my daughter in my ark until the flood that hasn’t stopped for 53 years, where plants , animals, and people have been lost, finally passes. I don’t know if I have an ark. And worse, after the deaths of so many people considered pariahs by the Brahmans of communism, is the fact that the majority of Cubans on the island are apathetic regarding the suffering of opponents of the regime. They repeat fragments of the speech of the flood not because they are even convinced but because they have come to forget the fear, just looking for alternatives in order to survive and to get the impression that they live in the most contemporary style.

So if I were to ask a DJ who works a disco, he will say to you that politics are not his thing, that one has to live. David Torrens, who I do not know, but with whose stuck-up representative I exchanged a few words while looking for work, would say that art is their thing. My friend Taisuki, who’s getting more and more lost to my sympathies, has told me that her thing is beer and cheap clothes that she treasures as if they were out of a copy of Vogue magazine. The ration book shopkeeper has told me that he was born into “this”  and that he can’t do anything about it and that “you have to live”. Cuba will have, as some say, “human capital” but it’s hard to find people who persist in the effort of discerning between good and evil.

I detest the preaching of virtue since we’ve already seen where San Ignacio de Loyola leads to by effect of the butterfly, the poor; what a trap! I prefer forgetting. Or, simply that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and I insist that responsibility is inseparable from freedom. There is no end in the creation of ideology, I wish the ocean would just wash away ideology. In a brain inhabited by only one doctrine, with an ideology that cannot pass the test of forgetting, to  truly format itself,  there are vast extensions, that by absence of blood circulation, are dead. The power of mirrors but it’s necessary to test which images reflect the face of our humanity and which do not, which images call together the amazing company and which drive  them away to leave us alone.

To Theresa of Avila, the experience of climbing the Jacob’s ladder is a symbol, it left her stunned. What would Theresa de Avila do if she wakes up in Cuba? Would the silliness of this infused understanding make her desist from the compassion of my Virgin before the downtrodden? Could the ground upon which we step be planted with the emptiness of love? Not with the emptiness but with its image, without saying the word “love” too much, love has to be a void in speech, the powerful trumpets of the Temple of Jerusalem, the reign of the image. This is my ark. If I can still try, without guilt, to be happy tomorrow, it is not because the “Battle of Ideas” that is forming the “New Man” (read: “political police”) is any less bitter, paranoid schizophrenia induced from the Tribuna* all the way to the eastern half of the island, that killed Villar.

If I can be happy tomorrow, it is for the perseverance of life, because not even the Totalitarian State has power over dreams, but it’s necessary to get Teresa out of her silliness so that the lizard is not stuck so firmly to the inside of the pot, so that earthly happiness is given up, the rain, the paper jewelry, and to be able to enjoy all this without threats. Is it necessary to give up making laws in the world that guarantee that the right to life does not exclude the right to freedom? Lezama has written a beautiful text entitled Teresian Non-rejection. If all this effort were impossible for us, there would remain hope for the awareness of good and evil. One does not condemn a man for cheating, one does not let him die of hunger, one does not separate him from his family, he is not to be tortured, he is not to be left in the cold, never, but much less so, for having declared himself opposed to a government that condemns him to misery, to fear, to not being.

*Translator’s Note: The “Tribuna” is a stage with a podium that has been constructed in front of the U.S Interest Section in Havana. It is here that officials of the Cuban government including both Fidel and Raul Castro, give speeches, often condemning the United States.

Translated by William Fitzhugh

January 31 2012

Hot War / Lilianne Ruíz

Since the socialist camp fell, our politicians miss the Cold War and now should be celebrating the possible war between the dictators and the western democracies.  They have worked for years with this objective.  But they still talk on the radio about their ideological press releases, hypnotizing multitudes, that “the world cries out for peace.”

If the world were governed by religious dictators or by a proletariat dictator, there would not be much hope for human beings.  If, although they didn’t come to dominate, two blocks of power were established as in the fateful Soviet times, the fate of civilians would be like in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, where they jailed and abused citizens with the impunity that conceded the Cold War, in that the priority of the whole world was to not descend into a nuclear war.

It is not that the dictators have learned to respect religious differences, nor differences in sexual orientation, nor have they come to the time in which they have to respect political differences, there were concessions they made at some point, with their call of the “sense of the historical moment” to preserve their power.  If this sense changes they will return to show how they are:  “if the enemy tires out you have to annihilate them”, land of macho men, atheists, and revolutionaries.

People say that in the 80s, the markets were packed with food, condensed milk at 20 centavos, all we children went to school and we believed that the Americans were very evil and that some mercenaries had come to invade us and that bearded figurehead who would not stop speaking and gesturing had brought at last the first defeat of Imperialism in Latin America, and that was good.

Nobody told us in school that the President of the United States withdrew support of that invasion where imperialism wasn’t defeated but other Cubans coming from the country that historically has been the refuge of Cubans to overthrow tyrants.

In that historic lie taught in school, one can discern traits of the beneficiary of the lie.  If I had been an adult in that time and I wouldn’t have agreed that there was an abundance of food in the markets and never would have believed that that figurehead was better than me or my friends, because in all of the versions from my life, in all the endless pastures of space, in parallel universes, I detest the underdevelopment and servility of Castrocommunism.

What surprises me the most is the similarity with Stalinism, it isn’t possible they haven’t even learned the most minimal details.  It comes to them from inside, it is human nature.  Like an opportunistic sickness, they appear when capitalism has left the masses of people discontented, they offer them a better society, but they don’t tell them the conditions of this contract that never appears anywhere means that the payment will be the person himself, a debt that will not be paid with money because the leaders are in charge of that and nobody can own anything because they can’t be unequal, a lot of poverty for everyone and no freedom of conscience, nor of expression, no type of initiative.

All the dictators are similar, the same aesthetic, a grey curtain, a photo of the leaders, some flowers, very bad energy.  Now that the news in Cuba suspiciously announced the manifestations of support for Putin and the legality of the elections in Russia it makes me wonder if a secret fraternity exists with the KGB. I who in those days looked on with so much happiness, with more than 20 years of difference, the documentary about M. Gorbachev, on the History Channel on pirated video.

 Translated by: BW

December 19 2011

Human Rights / Lilianne Ruíz

These days there’s a spot on Cuban television that shows a series of watercolors of butterflies from one of the five officials of the Interior Ministry imprisoned in the United States. For me, a Cuban citizen, prisoner of the narrow ideological setting of this island, discontented with “socialist legality”, without the right to complain, it doesn’t seem that bad to me that a person, a human being, could paint watercolors while hoping to be free because all prisoners hope to be free.

But I can’t help but contrast it with the stories that are told of Cuban jails, especially for political prisoners who, ever since their detention, have been victims of socialist legality whose first act is to pretend to ignore human rights.

Ultimately though, I don’t wish a certain René* the captivity that his colleagues inflict on opponents of the regime. I don’t wish that they inject him with psychotropic substances as they have been known to do to the Ladies in White nor that he be beaten, nor psychologically tortured. Not even that he turns up in a wheelchair like Sigler Amaya, so different from that image of strong biceps that was presented to us in the first of the five officials to be liberated.

Because the Communists have the right and the opposition does not; this is at the root of the socialist ideology and legality. It is in that insult ’gusano” (worm) with which they were ordered to attack the opposition. The Communists have always acted within this legality because there is no legality above them that protects everyone. They use the laws of North America because the United States is not the the west into which they have converted Cuba.

Translator’s note: René Gonzales, one of the “Cuban Five” recently released from prison and now on parole in the United States.

Translated by William Fitzhugh. United States

December 19 2011

Line up; Line up / Liliane Ruiz

Line up; Line up

It’s the end of the year. An avalanche of informative year-end summaries brings me news of some economic successes that I have not really known how to interpret. The Great State Machinery, in all of its propaganda, is said to be ready and willing to meet the challenges of the new year that begins.There are testimonies of a contented populace or gentle criticisms related to the price of consumer items. There’s a celebration of bank credits for families to construct their own homes; how good it is that at last some will see the possibility of constructing their own home as having come closer to reality. It’s all very nice, very finely painted in these images. In the end, everything seems aligned, with a touch of “before things were worse but now, everything will be better” added.

But the only thing that makes me laugh at all this is that is the testimonial evidence that before, under the command of the Castro descendant, everybody knew it was bad, very ruined, and with respect to this other moment, unable to speak openly.  A spokesperson of the Ministry of Construction declared that: “After the ruins accumulated from previous years”…  How bad everything was during the first Castro, until the next one seemed preferable. Now we continue being unable to speak openly. That shit we can’t say if they don’t give us permission…  I feel outside of all that. The monopoly of the state good, the good intentions of the dictators, a painted people, organized, insisting that everything be lined up, and me facing all that is so small, perhaps “evil”, a “worm”, someone who doesn’t want to work for the State, that doesn’t surrender anything and doesn’t want to owe anything. Mercenary without a salary, individualist. I am a butterfly, a butterfly witch, nocturnal, with unbreakable wings. I sleep during the day and I am active at night. How will those who rebelled in times of Soviet prosperity feel?  What will they have lacked? Submission irritates me. The state confinement gives me claustrophobia, the fucking old ideology.

Translated by: BW

January 9 2012

Limits to the Tolerance of the Librarian / Lilianne Ruíz

I am still laughing about the first glance at my digital library, in which I have been able to succeed in capturing known authors from many years ago.  To have some of the books saved moves me, including one of the poems, by Carlos Alberto Montaner, a pair of passages from speeches from conferences, by Michel Foucault, novels of Milan Kundera.  It seems absurd and makes me smile to find them beside Madame Bavastky, and a History of the Magi by Elphas Levi, that populate my dreams or being a musician during my teenage years.

But I have my limits like everyone and I also can’t tolerate finding passages from Hitler, and I got rid of them, I root them out with fury as if I can banish them from history, and in the same way, in the same way, those of Eduardo Galeano, that I am pleased to see disappear when I empty the trash.

Translated by: BW

January 17 2012

The Same Panic / Lilianne Ruíz

Yesterday it rained a lot but that wasn’t why I didn’t go with my daughter to Paulita’s birthday, the youngest daughter of my friend Luz. I panicked being on the street with my daughter yesterday. Maybe it’s crazy. But the idea of being outdoors, in the middle of the street, and there might be a disturbance, a riot, like the Maleconazo*, I simply couldn’t go out. One learns to recognize it,this is one of the worst situations you could imagine. Why does it have to be like that? Why does there have to be a sacrifice, like a magic ritual, so you can have rights and freedom?

All this panic was set off by the Flotilla** in international waters launching fireworks for democracy. I appreciate that they remember us from exile, and I will always admire those who have been willing to take to the streets and face repression. Facing the violence of the paramilitaries of the Blas Roca Contingent*** and others, beating, punching, breaking heads like in August 1994. And the same people who are compelled by hunger to spread terror, come back shouting Viva la Revolucion!

But this morning, when I saw that everything was continuing as usual, that the situation was as rough as always, that the Castro dictatorship wouldn’t pardon them even if they died of hunger, I still couldn’t calm down. Never mind that no one was beaten, but what a shame that everything remains the same.

Dictatorships need routine. I despair about the world situation if it’s anything like what they tell us on the News, enthusiastically announcing that once again the world is bipolar, that state dictatorships of the left are elected by the citizens to escape the evils of capitalism. They renounce freedom for the promise of equality, a miserable way perhaps to hide so much envy of the proletariat. Equality is the death of freedom.

There should be a way to create new nationalities, and all the communists in Europe could come and live in Cuba and practice the Castro religion. And we Cubans who want to be free of this humiliating nightmare could go to Europe.

But countless emigrants exist who have a nostalgia for the place of their birth. To be banished because of a rabid situation, that begs for any change, is not a totally happy condition. The whole situation gives me migraines and nausea, but I don’t want to be like before, victimized but docile.

It makes me panic that I cam going to write, with my poor expressive resources, in my homemade blog. Someone far from one who feels under a situation that seems to force you to violence to make some change happen, I could decide that I don’t deserve freedom because I don’t want to get it with the edge of a machete, as has been stated so many times here as what we did in the 19th Century.

I don’t know how we are going to get freedom, and detox ourselves from the bad taste and spiritual misery of all those years. I simply don’t know, but I will not give up the dream.

Translator’s notes:
*The Maleconazo was a spontaneous riot along the Malecon in Havana, in August 1994.  It was suppressed.
**Flotilla: A flotilla of small boats from Florida who sailed close to Cuba, but remained in international waters, and set off fireworks as show of support for democracy in Cuba.
***Blas Roca Contingent: A paramilitary group named after the founder of the Cuban Communist Party

December 13 2011

I Am Sure of One Thing / Lilianne Ruíz

I am sure of one thing: the day will come when Cubans will go out in peace to break down the wall. Peacefully, because we will not attack each other in the streets, we will just work together, as the Germans did with the Berlin Wall. The dictatorship we are saddled with, the great farce of humanitarianism only achieved with the sacrifice of individual freedom, will be overcome. Without the weight of the boots and the olive-green uniform, there will be a regrowth of Cuban creativity, imagination, and talent. The colors will return, and this ash will stain us no more. They cannot take that certainly away, no one can take it away, because I learned it believing in God.

I do not know how long we must wait. I prefer not to wear my religion on my sleeve, but if anyone reads my post, I swear to you that I have only managed to carry the load day after day in Cuba by the friendship of God. I pray to God to protect all those helpless before the power of the state: the bravest, who signal their opposition in the streets, in their actions, in their articles; those who suffer in silence, looking for alternative solutions at their own peril; all Cubans. I am certain that the only Judge of the Universe, the Lamb of God,will repudiate the Castros and their followers, and that will be punishment enough.

Once I dreamed I was watching a live painting representing a martyrdom: some men and women were in stocks, being trampled under the hooves of other men’s horses. There was someone next to me, a woman at my side looking at the painting with a superhuman tenderness, with an indescribable smile and very sad eyes. It was the Virgin, as she is depicted in San Juan de Letrán in Vedado. She let me know, not with an isolated voice but with a total communication that she put within me, that she knew the names of each one of those trampled.  She showed them to me and pronounced them: they were common names. She is our true mother. Years later, thinking about my dream and its meaning, I realized that she never let me know the names of those who did the trampling.

If I did not believe in God then I would have much fear, because we would be alone. Alone for good or evil, a meaningless existence. While waiting for the day — which everyone thinks about, it is logical that it will come soon, as night leads to day, because we have suffered too much in this experiment that the arrogance of no human monster could construct — every night I pray to God to paralyze the fury of the State. The State must be made for the man, and all men, not man for the State. There are still people — they must be very vile — who without having experienced it firsthand, write apologies for the dictatorship of the revolution on the island of Cuba, but who would not tolerate anything like this in their nations, in their lives. And they call our poverty “social justice”, and our blood-curdling fear “anti-imperialism.” You know what? We would gladly have given to Eduardo Galeano, that son of a bitch, and to the inconceivable author of “100 years of Solitude” (which I still hesitate to banish from my bookshelf), these 54 years of servitude and confusion.

January 17 2012