Citizen Kastro-Citizen Alcides / Regina Coyula

Miguel Coyula (tallest in photo) and Rafael Alcides (3rd from right) collect the prize for the documentary ‘Nadie’ at the Dominican Global Film Festival. (Facebook FCGD)

Regina Coyula, 14 June 2017– Jorge Enrique Lage interviews Miguel Coyula (excerpts) 4

… at many times during the interview, Alcides interrupted himself and began to speak to Fidel as if he were right in front of him. It’s something one saw a lot in our parents’ generation: bothered by something Fidel was saying on TV and arguing with him, but supposedly there was no one listening inside the box. Documentaries offer that opportunity, that fantasy secret for many.

For me the film is a love-hate story between two men and a woman. The men are Rafael Alcides and Fidel Castro; the woman is the Revolution. Alcides lost her, and deeply resents the man who snatched her from him to dominate her, strangle her, and make her into an unrecognizable ghost. But in spite of it all, Alcides continues loving her somehow.

When he died I said that one of my actors had died, but Fidel appears in Memories of DevelopmentNobody, and Blue Heart. In the three films, I had to listen to many hours of his speeches and conversations to be able to edit and construct the dialogs in them. I can tell you it was pretty exhausting to work with him, who’d succeeded in telling me the lines I needed. But definitely he was one of the great actors of the 20th Century, including at the beginning of the 21st.

Supposedly, now one can read it as a great hallucination too, but when Alcides speaks, he addresses him in the present, as if he were alive. This doesn’t come out of nowhere. Anyone who reads Granma and reads the recycled quotes from Fidel in every issue can, as in the persistence embedded in all the talking heads you see on Cuban television, arrive at the conclusion that we’re being governed by a dead man.

Translated by: JT

Just One Account / Josue, Rojas Marin, Cuban Law Association

I live in a community with more than sixty buildings. Behind them, as is the case with my home, many residents—at the request of the government itself—began planting fruit trees and banana plants. When the marathon of demolishing everything began, I decided to make an estimate of the economic losses that were indiscriminately carried out by people who came from other cities to destroy what had been so passionately harvested for more than a decade.

Josué Rojas Marín

To give you an idea, there were about 300 banana plants when demolition started, some 50 new bunches were uprooted and another 130 were cut and thrown in a corner of the building, their remnants remaining there since July 2012. In that same time frame, 50 or 60 bunches had been collected monthly, which means about 660 per year, or about 16,500 pounds that were contributed to urban consumption and that represent about 9,900 pesos taken from the pockets of those citizens to whom no one came to meet their needs.What is more aggravating is that when the Director of Physical Planning visited the town and I gave him that assessment, he told me that it didn’t matter, that many residents reported that they now had more open space. I responded that people can’t live on open space, but they can live on food. He shut up and couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Translated by Tomás A.

4 April 2014

Fidel is a talented, egotistical guy who hates the Cuban people / Augusto Cesar San Martin

Huber Matos, photo by Augusto César San Martín
Huber Matos, photo by Augusto César San Martín

Havana, Cuba — Hubert Matos is a symbol of the struggle against the tyranny that has dominated Cuba since 1959.

As an admirer of his rebelliousness and perseverance — something that characterized him until he drew his last breath — I resolved during my visit to the United States in January of last year not to go home without interviewing him.

We quickly settled on a date for the interview, arranged by Cuba Independent and Democratic (CID), an organization that he founded to bring freedom to his homeland.

With the help of a 17-year-old student, Christopher Campa, to capture the images of the meeting — he filmed unedited images — we’ll see three generations in his house in Miami. The same home which welcomed him on October 2, 1979, coming from Costa Rica, to where he was exiled by Fidel Castro, and in which country he asked for his body to be temporarily interred, before being placed to rest in Cuba some day.

Huber Matos gave us four hours of his precious time to explore his indefatiguable life, which he committed fully to Cuba.

Before his physical loss, we forwarded Cubanet fragments of the interview, taking notes of the transcription of the video.

Cubanet: I understand that your name has something to do with the life you have lived.

Huber Matos: “The first thing you should know, or the most important in my life, is that they gave me a name the kids said was unique — “Where did they get that name Huber from?”

“Before I was born, my father read a book by a Swiss-German researcher, biologist and naturalist named Francisco Huber. I used to say, “What does that have to do with me?” The man was blind by the time he began studying the lives of honeybees. He spent twenty years studying the subject with the help of two assistants and wrote the most definitive book of its era on the subject.

“That persistence, that strong will of that man… that means you have to be strong inside,” said my father. And that’s how me raised me.

Christopher Campa, Huber Matos and Augusto Cesar in Huber’s garden.

“One cannot soften oneself, one cannot allow oneself to be defeated by adverse circumstances … The life of a human being has one principal function that goes beyond saving one’s skin.

“So I owe a lot to my parents and teachers. It is not happenstance that I could withstand 20 years in prison. Of course, there’s the luck factor. If, in those beatings they give … once they almost split me. They made deep scars on my neck area.

Cubanet: But you also trained values as a part of the Cuban magisterium.

HM: “I spent years training teachers in the normal school in Manzanillo. We were some 20 professors training teachers, from the first year though the fourth. Trying, not only to give them knowledge, but also to train conscience in my case.

“I told them: The Republic is an entity that must be built day by day. Each of you has a role to play, not only to teach reading and writing, and teaching arithmetic … helping to train the citizen in the field which corresponds to him. Help form a conscience.

“As a youth I was afraid of prison. Once they condemned a relative to one year, 8 months and 21 days because he’d taken a girl and didn’t want to marry her. He asked me to visit him in prison. “Cousin, get me out of here”, I told him, “this is insufferable”. Afterwards I had to tolerate 20 years in prison.

Cubanet: You were incarcerated due to a sinister and vengeful trial during the beginning of the Revolution. Linked to events like the death of Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the dark chapters of the revolution. Do you feel hatred towards the Castros, declared enemies of yours since then?

HM: “With all certainty, I tell you in a very sincere way, the question of hatred no, it’s a rejection and some unsettled scores. But I subordinate that of the unsettled scores to the harm I’ve done to them and they are doing to Cuba. In my personal order of things, I’ve overcome all they’ve done to me.

“When I left a free man, I could have accepted recognition at the international level. Afterwards, when I wrote my book, I noted that in my story.

“Right now they’ve called me to Mexico to recognize me as a Hero of Freedom in America”, I told myself “Boy, I didn’t expect this … I think this is beyond my rights, what I deserve.”

“Anyway, I think that in some form it’s a recognition of the demand of the Cuban people for respect of their rights. I try to cover the unsettled account (with the government) with the Cuban people.

“The Castros killed Camilo. I have no proof, but I know that Fidel had tremendous jealousy of Camilo, for his popularity. He wasted no opportunity in the months I was in office, from 1 January (1959) until 21 October, which was when I resigned, to impress me with Camilo.

“Fidel traveled all the provinces twice. I was the boss in Camaguey. No two weeks passed without Fidel calling to tell me something … the two (Fidel and Raul Castro) were determined he’d form some part of the government, or perhaps the Minister of Foreign Relations, or Minister of Agriculture, at the beginning, when they were talking of agrarian reform. In all their conversations with me they were always trying to impress me with Camilo.

“Camilo was a guy the people applauded, but he was disorganized, drunken … I was Camilo’s friend, and I’d tell him: “Take care, you know that Fidel eulogizes you in public, but in private he says nasty things about you.” Camilo didn’t put much stock in that.

“They took advantage under cover of my resignation to see if my people were trying to kill Camilo. Afterward, they took advantage of my situation to eliminate him.

“How they killed him, I don’t know. That which I do know is that they killed the pilot and bodyguard. I can’t affirm how they killed him because I don’t have the evidence. Camilo got in the way of Fidel’s popularity.”

Cubanet: Have you been afraid?

HM: “I’ve been lucky to be a man who doesn’t scare easily. In more difficult situations, I haven’t backed down.

“At my sentencing, I was convinced they were going to shoot me, they were going to shoot me for proclaiming my truth. If they didn’t shoot me, it was because they made a mistake. They brought a lot of people to encourage my execution, so they would shout “To the wall!”, and it happened that when I stopped speaking, they applauded me. And they applauded me because I said: “Okay, if with my death the true Cuban Revolution is saved and the republic is saved, then blessed be my death.”

Cubanet: You know intimately the how attached the Castros are to power. Do you think Raul has the will to change?

HM: “A change to survive them. One always has to expect the chance of deceit, of the trap. Because they’re two individuals who, although they differ much in their personalities, they team up to scam the rest. To deceive the rest and leave with what’s theirs.

“Fidel is a talented guy, an egomaniac who with all certainty harbors a tremendous hatred of the Cuban people, which no one can explain. He hates and detests everything that is not in his self-interest. His taste for dominion and power traps all mankind.

“Raul is very careful to make sure of this and that, he’s organized. Fidel is chaos.

“They’re being flexible in matters of maneuvering here and there, but if they find a seriously adverse situation, they will ensure it’s invented on the way. That is Raul Castro, in my manner of seeing, the man I know and have known through his pronouncements.”

Cubanet: If I told you to send a message to the new generations of Cubans, what would you say?

HM: “That it’s worth it to make the maximum effort to implement the ideals of the founders of the Cuban nation. In a true republic, as Marti said, “with everyone and for the good of everyone”.

“What exist and what the Castros have imposed on us is something, but not a republic. The opposite of the ideals that inspired the mambises, the founders of the Cuban nation. This one (Castro) has a fiefdom, a whorehouse, a colony, a farm — something — but not a republic.

“The compromise with the founders of the Cuban nation and the compromise with the values that inspired them is permanent. Service to collectivity.

“I trust in that. I don’t know if it will take us 20, 15, or 100 years more to achieve a real republic. It’s worth the trouble to make the maximum effort for that achievement.”

Cubanet: Does Huber Matos still have things to do?

HM: Before I die, although one never knows if death will come tomorrow or the day after, I have to write a few more things. I’m taking it from there. I can’t afford to fool myself, 94 years isn’t a very short time.

“I wrote the book How the Night Came; now I have to write how we want the dawn to come out.

“I still have a little understanding, but doubtlessly the almanacs are respectable.”

Cubanet, 28 February 2014. 

Translated by: JT

World Human Rights Day in Cuba / Lilianne Ruiz

Camilo Ernesto Olivera, a member of the team of Estado de SATS, was stopped as he left his home on Dec. 7. Most alarming is how these things are happening in Cuba: going from one moment to another in a state of total helplessness before the forces of repression. I always remember Orlando Luis Pardo when he said that you don’t talk to kidnappers because if the higher order were to take you into the forest outside of Havana to shoot you in the neck, no words would persuade them otherwise.

The fact is that after they searched Camilo, throwing him against the police car, they put him in the pursuing car without further explanation. They drove around La Lisa, until a subject on a Suzuki motorcycle approached them. Without taking off his helmet he looked at Camilo and told police: “Take this one to Melena del Sur.” And what Camilo could do to help himself? These people represent the law, illegitimate though it may be. Resisting, trying to escape, all that will get you is to complicate things further. So absolutely passive in his own “legal” kidnapping he saw himself being driven on an interprovincial journey without knowing how it would end. Nor was he allowed to call his family, though it is written in Cuban law among the rights of detainees.

They left him in a jail cell all day; around 7 PM they took him out of there to free him. At that time Camilo, who originally had gone to see Ailer Mena to bring her up to date on the events of 10 and 11 December on SATS, had to look for a car-for-hire to take him to Havana. He told me himself that luckily they hadn’t “confiscated” his money, because everyone knows people who’ve been robbed of everything, all that they had in their pockets.

To ensure he’d be there on the 10th, he had to hide out in Rodiles’ house from the 8th on. We have already seen the videos of the enormous act of repudiation disguised as a “cultural activity” that the political police staged outside Estado de SATS on the 10th and 11th of December. They took elementary school children, junior high school and high school students to make street paintings with the traditional communist insults against Civil Society like “worms”, “imperialists”, and things of that style.

1386954247_ailer-en-protesta-en-medio-de-la-calle1Here we see Ailer Mena in the middle of the street, seated in the lotus position, opposing with beauty the arbitrary detention of her husband, Rodiles, who’d gone out to protect her.

They also took Rodiles by carrying his weight as ants carry a leaf. They hurt Walfrido in the neck because they grabbed him in that area to carry him away. This bothers me a lot; the impunity with which the political police act in Cuba.

We are not going to stop doing what we do because it’s a question of identity. All those I know who oppose with their work, their opinion, or their protest, all do the same thing: exist.

To exist, and that by itself is a demonstration against whichever form of oppression, call it political, religious, ideological, or against the powers that be. But I think that this is of the worst kind because it assumes control of our humanity, and makes people spit on it while placing some sophisticated shackle on their necks, yes, on the neck. For that, to protect mine, I can only be what I am, be who I am.

Everything shows up on the video of Estado de SATS so that to repeat it is foolishness because a picture is worth more than a thousand words. For that they threw Kissie’s camera (Kissie is from Omni Zone Franca) as if to a pack of dogs. But they couldn’t take the camera. All this was carried out in front of the children they’d gathered there to put on the act of repudiation in a fair-like atmosphere for the Day of Human Rights.

We have to endure hatred when you think that the singer known as Arnaldo and his Lucky Charm donated their singing and yelling of revolutionary, fundamentalist slogans; surrounded all the while by the political police. The strangest fair in the world. It’s said that next week this same act will be in Miami to sing there. They’re pigs.

Not only there; they took the Ladies in White, too. Better said, not only did they let them arrive at 23rd and L, where they’d announced they’d start their march for Human Rights Day, protesting for freedom for Cuban political prisoners. But they might have had an idea: María Cristina Labrada and her husband Egberto Escobedo — who was a political prisoner for 15 years — were detained at the same corner as their house and taken to the Granabo police station.

The Sunday before, they’d suffered a similar kidnapping coming out of Santa Rita Church like they had every Sunday, to join with the Ladies and walk down 5th Avenue. They left Cristina in a jail cell filled with mosquitoes and she recalled Martha Beatriz who almost a month ago was under house arrest — some days are harder than others — and it all began for refusing — completely within her rights — to be fumigated with oil, which is forced upon our homes while the city has turned into a garbage dump.

But totalitarians have always regulated our privacy. Cristina was quite uncomfortable all day and at about 7 PM she was also freed along with her husband. But as she told me, the patrol car in which they were put left Guanabo for the municipality of October 10th without headlights or taillights and it was already night time. She doesn’t know if it was to trigger an accident or to intimidate them. Something similar happened to all the Ladies, supposedly including their leader Berta Soler, who was detained with her husband, Angel Moya, in similar circumstances.

Also in the area of 23rd and L, they gathered some children for a fair that very day. But notice how they operate as one body that keeps society held hostage. I don’t know if mothers who gave permission for their kids to be there knew what all this was about. I think that to speak of emotional blackmail, by the fact of using kids as a smokescreen to hide their acts of repression falls short. It is a hell. Cuba is living the fall of the Castros, and everything indicates that he doesn’t want to die without lashing out with calculated but irrational violence (which is self-satisfying, blind) in his pride. They did not succeed in grafting their damned roots into our humanity.

Freedom and change are stronger.

Translated by: JT

13 December 2013

Chile and Death and Cuba and Love / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Ipatria, Alamar, a Vulture, the Night, and Me

1. There are exiles who bite and others like a consuming fire

We met in the Martyrs of Alamar mortuary. Her father had died that afternoon, I’d come in to drink no less than ten coffees on the cheap. I needed them to ease my anxiety, ease my anxiety, ease my anxiety. My nights were long, too long to endure. Blind tunnels until little after dawn, when I managed at last to find myself in a park; only so a swarm of uniformed children could jostle me next, blowing to smithereens my only winks of the day — the week, the month, or perhaps the millennium. Of course, on that first Friday she didn’t call herself Ipatria yet. I saw her sitting like a mortal, alone in the ’Ch’ chapel, scarcely a few feet from the cafeteria where my nerves overloaded. Not even her dead father accompanied her between the candles and the blackout. Afterwards I learned that she herself had ordered a second and a third and a fifth and a tenth autopsy: Ipatria distrusted or “no, now I don’t distrust“, she would confess to me afterward: “now I’m very sure of what’s happening …” The absence of a casket was the first thing that caught my attention. Then her foreign black hair, falling into neglect on her bird-like shoulders: her immobile ebony hair, or of araucaria or cypress. And then it was her chapped voice, prickly, when she called me without looking at me, bluntly: “Come here” (like to a dog). And I went toward her (like a dog), thus ruining forever my somnambulatory routine, for the first time obedient in the anarchic midnight of a worker’s cemetery called Alamar. “Sit“, she ordered, and put me in front of her face. She had extremely black eyes, even more so than her hair: from a nightless night, starry and tattered, and I adored that tiny little bit of shadow in her pupils between terror and blackout. “Do you come from abroad?”, she asked me. “From where, outside?”, I asked her. “From the Cuban night“, she said to me. “I suppose so“, I told her. “And have you seen it? Did you hear it?“, she shook me. “Seen and heard what?”, I withdrew from her attack. “You freak!“, she pushed me until I nearly fell to the ground: “The wingbeat of the vulture, what else could it be?” Then she made a grimace and hid her face: she was horrified to have spoken more. She pretended to cry but neither did she manage to do so. She looked at me with hatred, as if I’d betrayed her secret. I managed nothing. I liked to imagine her crazy from the beginning. “Please“, I calmed her: “there have never been vultures in Alamar“, and I grabbed her by the belt. “Or they went extinct at the beginning of the Revolution“, and I gave her a hug. Blindly. She trembled. Her vibrations transmitted themselves to me. I trembled too. We looked like a pair of epileptics waiting for the casket in which one of the two of us was going to lay down. Then she took her hands from her face and separated me from her body. Her voice returned to being prickly, sliced up, and she dismissed me without looking at me, bluntly: “Split” (like to a dog). So I turned, for the second time obedient (like a dog) and began walking down the hall, returning to the mortuary’s cafeteria where, in spite of the triumphal lack of electricity, the custodians still insisted on straining their coffee. Black smoke inside a bigger cloud of smoke. To be sure, that first Friday Ipatria never called herself by that name. That December 3rd I left her without knowing her name, a terrible key to penetrating her head, to sneak inside her brain, lightly scratched by the sandpaper of Chilean history and its tyrannies: wet waiting room to her now dried up sex through so many tears repatriated in Cuba.

2. Timid herds galloped, devouring the streets, dressed in terror and shadow

The second night was in a tan M -1: pink tin can metrobuses rolling even in a full blackout. She was seated on the steps to the rearmost door, her knees contained by the circle of her hands and the tangle of her hair, in which that night a flower was sunk like an explosion of white. It looked like a fistful of petals with a pistil: a marpacifico, I thought. Although I realized right away it was not: “it’s not alive, moron“, she ridiculed me, “it’s just a piece of plastic, Made in Chile, wholesale.” I kept staring at her for the next couple of stops of the M-1, during three or perhaps thirteen kilometers of the Via Blanca, remembering her again in the funeral home, meeting her again for the second Friday in a month. When the Metrobus started to pant up Cojimar Hill, I dropped next to her on the seats: among bags, lit cigarettes, farm animals, calves, or on barbs. “I’m Sagis“, I ventured. She looked at me, perhaps remembering me from another time in the funeral home, or recognizing me for the second Friday in the millennium. Then she smiled. “Sagis is a name for a mutt, not for people,” and she aimed at me with her left index finger, a long gun complete with bayonet of a fingernail painted white, a petal no less artificial than her imported flower. “My real name is Salvador,” I admitted. But she was unsatisfied: “Salvador is much worse.” And she turned serious: “Surely you were born after ’73.” Her guess left me gob-smacked. “Almost,” I confessed, “December 10th, 1973: I suppose today is my birthday,” and I felt ridiculous in my pathos. Luckily, she looked at me compassionately. With patience. And she returned to smiling for me. Between the kicks from the crowd shone something even more beautiful than the nonexistent box at the chapel. Night was falling. I’d now gone through seven dawns without sleeping since that one in which I bumped into her. Back then I thought I would not see her again — perhaps due to my stupid habit of continually circling the Martyrs of Alamar mortuary, as if her father could die twice in a week and through a paranoid cascade of autopsies. There was an infernal noise under our feet, including white smoke from the motor. I couldn’t stop looking at her while she lectured me: “In December of ’73 I too had had your name, but I was born a few months before“, she shrugged her shoulders, as if they were wings. “Our parents were obsessed with the presence or the presidency of some Salvador,” she said for fright effect and public entertainment in the shadows of the Metrobus. And I loved her vocabulary of political evangelism so much that … I don’t know … the vehemence of her brilliant oratory cast a spell on me. I managed to tell her how much I’d been intrigued by our purely random encounters, and that I didn’t want to lose her again. Because, from that point on, I slept less and as a consequence, my anxiety was worse, my anxiety was worse, my anxiety was worse. “Happy birthday and goodbye, old man“, she gave me a kiss on each cheek. And next she told me no, that it was not possible for me to see her and that she deeply regretted it, but she repudiated coincidence and fate, and I exactly embodied coincidence and fate: which was too suspicious for her intuition. “A power with memory could use anyone to detect you“, she said. She distrusted. Or not, no longer mistrusted: “now I’m not sure what happened,” she said in a whisper.  And my ignorance did not guarantee my innocence: that someone from the military junta, for example, might be handling me like a civilian puppet. With me she could never be safe: “I’m very sorry, whether you be Sagis or Salvador, you are too innocent to be not guilty” was her conclusion. “But safe from what?“, I became impatient. And now she almost looked at me with compassion. “Please, safe from a motherland: from Alamar, from a vulture, from the night, and from you“, she told me, and jumped with the door half-open, still stopping our M-1. She escaped from crevices, among the echos of her own enumeration. Like one of the vermin of the night, angelic and frightening creatures, without giving me time to act: to hunt her and really threaten her with death, to see if the she really reacted to me. I looked outside for an instant. I saw her running. I saw her back about to take off, silhouetted against a lunar landscape in permanent revolution. We were in the old Chilean neighborhood: a wasteland even more deserted than the rest of Alamar and perhaps the rest of the country. Chile, Cuba, Santiago de la Habana: how can you tell the difference under the dead gaze of unlove? Besides, no one ever got on or off at that bus stop, out of fear of the legends that, for more than ten years, laid waste to those buildings through sudden repatriation: clandestine mass flight without apparent cause, that made Cuban Chileans invisible in just a few days at the end of the 80s. In Chile democracy finally returned and no one wanted to continue living in Revolutionary Cuba. continue reading

 3. They extracted the shadow from the shadow, drew a wind with fangs

Nonetheless, the following Friday I got off right there, after all my cheap coffees in the Martyrs of Alamar.  I needed to see Ipatria, if only to lose her again. Her turf was a rocky desert of high salinity, between dirty nondescript buildings and faded walls: on all of them was the same old blind man, in a suit and tie, but wearing a hard hat and, in his left hand, a machine gun pointing skyward, as if signalling surrender or perhaps actually surrendering.  I crossed the basketball court laid waste from the 11th School Festival.  I crossed the overgrown baseball diamond next to where the drug dealers ply their wares.  And I crossed the ghetto deserted by the Chileans at the end of the 80s, who returned in a stampede to their continental island bounded by the Atacama Desert, the Antarctic ice, the Andes ridge, and the voracity of the Pacific.  Without gas, without light, without telephone, nor identity documents; expecting the denouncement that would return them to their province of birth, like springs, to reorganize their teeming families and relocate to the capital between mouthfuls of prú and drum beats.  Then I bumped into her. Ipatria remained immobile, addressing no one in a loud voice: making speeches, sitting on the shoulders of that old salt-corroded bust, at which we all poked fun as children, without having to ask one’s later adult self what kind of lonely that guy would have to be. The lack of lighting reduced them both to a shadow puppet: the statue standing, Ipatria sitting on top, reciting — straddling the statue — what seemed like verses. She broadcast them without noticing the absence of her public. I paid attention: “In the deepest region of the motherland“, with me still getting closer to the pair, “where the puma growls and the condor cries“, her fingers as tense as claws, “injured by iron and dust“, I stopped next to the pedestal, “the rocks, the dead, the urns“, she covered the eyes of the bust and held it by the chin, “covering themselves in dust and black roots”, as if protecting it from the truth or seeking to be protected by it, “while the flag is hung between two buildings“, I noticed that her block was escorted by two vandalized buildings, “and inflated their cloth like an ulcered belly, a teat, or a circus tent“, and then Ipatria curled herself up on the corroded head of the martyr as if she were finally going to give it birth or perhaps abort it. I applauded, solemnly, trying not to appear sarcastic. I was fascinated by the staging, and also by the right angle at which her legs opened on the statue’s metallic nape, be it copper or brass. It looked like she was determined, because she attacked me right away. “I was waiting for you, Sagis or Salvador, and getting used to a persecution is the same thing as letting myself be trapped“, she said between rage and complaint, “so it seemed to my father and, you know, the consequence was fatal“. I didn’t understand and it wasn’t even important that I understand; the facts were enough for me. We were there by coincidence: wasn’t it perfect? “No, first it’s pathetic, and afterward it’s very dangerous“, she despaired, “You don’t know anything and it’s not important that you know“. “Life is today“, I justified myself with a sureness I didn’t have. “Look, moron“, her voice split out, “they killed our parents, they killed our children, they killed the streets, the trucks, the silent earth” — they seemed like verses to me again — “they killed those who are, those who know, those who feel, they killed the house, the casket, the president’s forehead, they’re going to kill me and I don’t care … what could it matter to you?” By my expression, it was obvious that it meant nothing. “They’re already here!“, she yelled, on the edge of hysteria. “Power tracks us by telepathy. From the Elqui Valley they know everything: from that spiritual center they smell us like rats until they crush our memories first, and the rest of the head afterward. It’s a holocaust from an eyedropper.” For me that was enough. I exploded “But who are they? Fuck!“, I slugged the bust and I grabbed it by the calves, trying to drop her from that insane platform by force of sanity. She meant to defend herself with that look of hers so vacant of chaos and significance; but it didn’t matter to me any more. With a tug I knocked her down, and with the momentum from the fall, we rolled around on the gravel of what, ten years before, well could have been the luxurious garden of some uppity-up in the Chilean Communist Party. We stood at the feet of a trunk with a memorial plaque — it was an imported poplar planted in 1970-something, I read through the rusty metal, by some I-don’t-know-who antifascist poet, even if the monument were only a plaque on a stump. “What’s happening with you, nut?” She kept silent. “What’s up with you, Ipatria?” She kept silent. “What’s happening with you, my love?” She kept silent. And then I jumped on her hips and planted myself there. And I shook her like a rabid animal, trapping her under my weight and moving myself almost at top speed against a resistance that, at the end, never came up: she always maintained her silence. I had an obscene erection that I couldn’t hide, but the more I knelt the more my lump between her legs grew. I went to kiss her on the mouth and she spat at me. I yelled “What the fuck is happening with you, whack job? Does torture panic you?” Ipatria gritted her teeth, I loved her absolute vulnerability. I felt like fucking her right there. “What’s wrong? Isn’t betrayal better after making love?” And then, at last, she reacted: she simply fainted. That was the triumph of her defense, and also my humiliation as an imbecilic national executioner. I lost my erection and my muscles all relaxed, so did my brain; saturated with greed, shame, and funerary coffee. I felt ashamed: I blamed myself. I could have run, but shame paralyzed me. I realized the only whack job in those Friday scenes had been me, that I almost destroyed the only one who looked at me even once during those insomniac nights. I wanted to sing to her, beg her forgiveness; and I sang to beg her pardon. I whispered some nursery rhymes to her, as tender as they were theatrical: they were the only ones I knew, although with mistakes: “Give me your hand and we’ll dance, give me your hand and you’ll love me”, I sang for Ipatria, as out of tune as I couldn’t avoid: “because we’ll be in the dance as a horror and nothing more“. A bird passed over us and squawked – or maybe it was a bat: how could I tell the difference in a half-blackout? It was scary, too. I stopped singing and I sat by her side hoping she’d come to. I was afraid she was suffocating, and I gave her a mouth-to-mouth respiration from the bottom of my lungs. Ipatria started to breathe better, she recovered the discolor of her perfect skin, and in a little bit she was conscious again, almost hugging me. Her long shawl of white cloth, like nylon, was precious to her. She seemed like a bird of prey who they’d made fly until she fell, exhausted. She had drool around her mouth that she took off, and drew back a lock of hair that was hiding her eyes. She looked at me with a hidden peace. Her forehead was sweaty in spite of the cold. Could she be epileptic? And then I don’t know if she gave me an order or begged me: “Sagis or Salvador, take me to the beach now“. And I carried her to the shore: the sterile eroded limestone of La Playita de los Chilenos. The moon came out from between the roofs and rebounded right away to its zenith, through clouds of ruby-red cotton wadding. I kneeled with Ipatria in my arms, that’s what Ipatria would call it at last, incapable of throwing her into the water and me with her, washing away her panic and my anxiety. I carefully deposited her to where the foam came up. The shadow of that stupid bird followed us all the time — it had a very long neck, like a cannon, and circled in ever-widening circles in a counterclockwise direction until its turns faded into the dawn, thus marking the end of that Friday the 17th that would never become Saturday in my memory. I went to kiss Ipatria on the mouth. It was barely a touch, or even less, a premonition. Her breath was warm and gentle, but also very deliberate and cold, without paradox or contradiction. I smelled strange fermented fruit. I extended my hands in a farewell gesture, but in reality I was asking that, at least for just one night, neither of us would say goodbye. But I saw her smile without moving a single muscle in her face; something sinister that made clear, without the need for words, that her body was telling mine that I shouldn’t follow her there, that I wouldn’t follow her.

 4. I stopped at the chapter of your heroes, in a loud voice I read out the page of your wines.

The 24th was our worst night. The glow of so many bonfires by the block, uselessly pushing back against the blackout moved me: the anguish froze on my cheeks and wouldn’t let me participate in that spectacle. I was walking underneath the blind traffic light of Via Blanca (White Way) — which had become “Dark Way” by then — and thought about Ipatria’s fate a week before: a limp cat between my arms and the limestone, as tense as a lyre untuned from music and from dread, with fists and face twitching from who knows which nightmare, half insurgent and half official. In the traffic stand a cop was snoring, only lit by a candle and using a red-lettered newspaper in place of a blanket: “El Mercurio”, I could read. On his little battery-powered radio he was still mis-hearing a baseball game. From the National Stadium, the only place with lights in the neighborhood, the Metropolitans were losing, as usual, by an embarrassing score. The sportscaster was talking about “one last chance for the capital’s Red hope” and I followed at length towards Siberia, Alamar’s ground zero: by this time I wanted to return to my hiding place before midnight could so sadly surprise me in the middle of the people’s Christmas Eve. They’re here! I was remembering Ipatria’s babbling just seven nights before, * where “they” were the “provocateurs of the VOP and the MIR, and the cadavers from El Caluche** resuscitated at Villa Grimaldi, and the Coachman of Death giving a ride to the Radical Agitators and those of Plan Z and Plan A hand-in-hand with the mummies of the Concertatión and the Chicago Boys of Senator Vitalicio, and the monks from Colonia Dignidad, and those of the Right Province, and those of Fatherland and Freedom, and the Mechanics’ School”, I told myself, “and the vultures from the tacnazo and those of the tancazo“,*** until it was literally impossible to retain so many names, aliases and last names picked out from her moon rock teeth: “Veaux, Mongliocchetti, McAntyre, Lotz, von Schouwen, Ayrwin, Edwards, Salvattori and Superonfray”, among so many of the Broken or Red Spring * — I now didn’t understand very well –  in what seemed to be another nursery rhyme in  the style of “give me your hand and you’ll kill”. But neither was there anything to understand in Ipatria, who perhaps would never call herself by that name. It was enough to breathe her ketonic breath to understand the desperate brilliance of her nerves, as long and fragile as her extremities. And so cold. On that Friday the 24th, the darkened buildings looked like hillocks from the Jurassic Era: elemental geometry without memory nor amnesia. A half block before reaching my shelter, I saw her, seated on the curb, underneath a banner proclaiming faith in, or at least fidelity to, the future. She was shaven clean bald, and apparently waiting for me. I recognized her right away: the languid color of her skin gave her away, like a neon explosion imported from some cyanotic Patagonian peak. I felt euphoria on seeing her: an irrepressible joy in half step or half silence. And I laughed, arriving at a jump in front of her, who responded with a serious air — as if our luck meant nothing precisely because it meant so much. Thus, for the first and only Friday, I could review the neurotic map of her handwriting. Ipatria had written: “a bird given to intemperance turned into a soft forest and nothing — neither wonder nor doubt nor even the night destroyed that air.” It was beautiful. I grabbed her. I meant to give her a hug. Smell her pores. Maybe she’d pass a part of her beautiful madness to me: mine was so impoverished that … I felt her cold hand in my even colder hand in which I held hers, a lonely couple on a curb in Cuban Siberia. With my forehead I caressed her bony head, and it seemed to me that her Andean skull could well explode like a grenade: pieces of skin between chunks of the facades of the Alamar. It was obvious that there was nothing left to us. Nor anyone. And that it was never going to be our last Friday to have our paths cross by chance in a workers’ dormitory called La Habanazar. Then I issued a challenge and a prophecy: “Next Friday I’ll wait for you in block Ch-73″, and I blew her a kiss almost touching my mouth. I drew in her fetid and sick-sweet breath, like the asthmatic breath of the 666 volcanoes that cut Chile off from the rest of America: from the remains of America. And she stopped in a jump, and supposedly, from another jump she left, devoured by the incipient dawn and my indecision bordering on indolence: she was always leaving and me never daring to leave anything, although there weren’t more than the three syllables of that word — I-pa-tria

[* Translator’s notes: The author is taking us on a single-sentence tour through the 5-year period of Chilean history that ended with the Chilean coup d’état in which General Pinochet violently overthrew President Salvador Allende on 11 September 1973. The names of people, places, and events we see here would be familiar to any student of modern South American history. Readers are encouraged to study this history for themselves. The final allusion to the “Broken or Red Spring” is a Spanish-language play on words: “red” (Sp: roja) and “broken” (Sp: rota) are ways, in the author’s view, of describing that Spring in which the coup took place. Readers are reminded that Spring in the Southern Hemisphere begins in September. This entire passage was seriously re-flowed during the act of translation; the original insists on breaking up the double-quoted portions with the phrase “I told myself” … all of these, except the first, were simply dropped from the translation, allowing the historical narrative to be seen as one giant run-on sentence. Putting those little clauses back in wouldn’t have aided understanding at all.

** El Caluche is the subject of a modern Chilean myth in which El Caluche is the name of a ghost ship, manned by the dead. A feature of the myth is that those who sight her shall soon die and become part of her crew.

*** El Tacnazo and El Tancazo, while near-homonyms in the Spanish language, were very different insurrectional events that took place in Chile in 1969 (el tacnazo) and 1973 (el tancazo). The earlier event was named after the regiment in whose ranks the insurrection broke out, and the later event was so named because it involved tanks attempting to surround government buildings in the Capitol. Neither putsch succeeded.]

 5. But blood was a tree dressed up in stone. But the hand was a wing born in stone. But night was a fire put out by stone.

She took the belt and hitched it to her hip, naked. Then she hung the sharp blade to her left and adopted a comic pose of a 21st Century knight (a “bland gentleman”, according to her), solemnly announced that “my country is the English sword of America” and began to march in the style of a Republican cadet. She went from one wall to the other of her room, opening her legs at a right angle, like military gardening shears. I could only watch, without interfering with that malevolent alef. I saw her tense muscles pulling the skin white and her sex invisible in the middle: she was shaved with cytostatic precision. I saw her breasts, two double-tattooed circles on each side of her sternum. I saw the tip of the naked metal brushing flush with the ankle, scraping a crossword of cuts that decorated the top of her foot, the beading cuts dripping blood onto the cold tiles. I saw her and she saw me, too, shivering: all at once puppets and puppeteers, without altar nor vestments. And I saw the impossible speech with which neither she nor I would arrive to describe everything: a molecular scene at the disposition of no viewer, in or out of his Island apartment. For the story of us two wasn’t public yet, perhaps the “public” for whatever story had always been just that: a comforting illusion. We were in her room, on a twelfth floor indistinguishable from all other 12th floors in the Chilean district: since 1989, a secret suburb inside Alamar. She waited for me seated on the stairs and invited me to come up with a gesture. I followed some 18 inches behind her, on the stairway erased by the pristine blackout: a State bonus for that 31st day on which ended the month, the year, the century and the Millennium, too. I followed her footsteps and the phosphorescent white of her blanket: a ghostly cataract like the vestige of a flower, or a bird that no one ever dared to name. She pushed the door open and we went in: it had been ajar. “Do you believe now, Sagis or Salvador?“, she seemed pleased with the alleged proof: “They were here, surely they stole the stationery“, and she fled just to return right away with a large pile of candles. She lit them, one by one, for five or fifty or five thousand minutes until their smoke nearly choked us. I started coughing ridiculously and she led me to the balcony. I breathed. Deep, deep, deep.
And from there I noticed that there was no furniture inside, except the TV or a shadow without legs pretending to be a TV: the floor, walls and ceiling seemed to be props, removable tools to allow the house to float from time to time in the air. From my height I saw our own shadows cast across the vacuum, I felt the warm glow of candles on my neck. The cold of a year’s-end leaning over the edge of the planet was slapping me in the face. Ipatria had stripped without a word and was sitting on the stair rail. Her imbalance scared me, and I tried to hold her up if even by a heel; but she rejected me with a kick she’d have given a toy, and on contact, I noticed the seal — or perhaps a spur by now — growing on her left ankle. There Ipatria was whole to me, transparent more than naked. Now it was just a question of reading her into my restlessness and heartbreak: the encyclopedia of vertigo and shipwrecks. The only life form on the landscape were the luminaries with batteries in the National Stadium, where the Metropolitans were still surely playing losing baseball. Ipatria pointed out the stadium for me: “How many swarms of bodies will fit in there?” “Not a single one,” I told her, “they compete because of radio and television“. “You trust your ignorance too much, Sagis or Salvador,” she ignored the irony, “but sooner or later, by reason or by force, even Cubans are going to wind up in that stadium.” It was then that she armed herself with belt and sword. She hitched it up to her hip and hung the blade to the left. She made a joke about the obscure legends of an “Andean gentleman” who wandered around without feet or eyelids from one end of Chile to the other; according to mothers who brought him up in order to frighten their children, and then Ipatria spoke to me of hers: “It’s the moon that sucks my body“, she claimed while walking away. “Half shadow, half scream, ascending in a spiral among thick liquids that leave their scent on me“. She looked at me proudly, her lips a tight line, barely suggestive, like the mound between her legs. “Those are my mother’s verses, moron,” she faced me squarely, “My mother said all the world’s words before I did.” And she told me details about that woman, her mother the martyr, as she turned to walk the room in circles: her legs, a pair of scissors bisected by her sex; by candlelight, her bloody ankles simulated a paleolithic television studio. “This sword is my English motherland in America“, she repeatedly perverted the phrase, sitting on the stair rail once more. I got as nervous as before, but didn’t try to steady her this time. Ipatria crossed both legs over the sword and stroked her crotch with the casual edge of the blade. She moved the sword this way and that, in an ever straightening and speedy embrace each time. Finally, she sunk it hard — yet meekly — into her sex, and shouted “This was the last thing my mother felt: the cold of the militiamen inside her!” She was insane, and I didn’t understand her, nor did I pretend to. I was crazy too; and what of it? I still wanted her just the same in spite of her insanity and my indolence, in whatever order and in none. I had a clinical erection, like I did in the mortuary while listening to the wailing of the mourners for the martyrs of Alamar. Like the night with the statue. In a fit of pure action, I picked up her clothes and gave them to her: I wanted to say something with some kind of gesture; but I still couldn’t imagine what or how. She should see me converted into my own kind of beast, maybe. That she should know painfully real things about me. That she should not expel me this Friday into a popular loneliness that overflows everything out there, undermining my resistance to die*. That she should love me, I suppose, until I could recover to love her, supposing I could resuscitate her afterwards. That she should drink of me and make me burst, the very shitty imported Made in Chile 1973, the very angelic condemned in vengeance by her country’s intelligence agencies. That she should feed herself on my coagulated liquids and of my insomniac flesh now at a flash point like a presidential palace. That she should be a little of me, and I a little of Ipatria, forever. I don’t know. Sometimes mere language doesn’t suffice. But she didn’t seem to notice it, no reaction at all except to smell my bag of shoes and clothes during America’s most eternal minute, before launching it into a parabola free-fall over the railing, where I saw it floating uselessly in the sea breeze only to be swallowed twelve floors below by gravitational force. “My mother flew just like that“, she pointed out with her left index finger, “and so the little dogs made her fly on top of the sea, and since that September spring, nobody ever saw her again,” she said, raising her eyebrows. So she and her father became a little more orphaned, across the mountainous coastline, into a plain populated by insufferable cowboys with a pessimistic air about them. And from there they got on a carousel of exiles that would unload right there on the 12th floor in block Ch-73. Ipatria threw herself off the rail she was seated on, sword in hand, and hauled me inside the room, finally falling over the footless chassis of the television — which wasn’t a television at all, but rather a suitcase — a casket made of poplar or perhaps an araucaria**. “My parents’ portable revolution is a total prisoner here: this is the most sought-after file of the 1980s“, Ipatria smiled and got on top of me. She straddled my body and put a hand on my neck. She arced her legs and pinned me, like she’d done in a previous scene with the mute metal. In fact, her muscles were still bleeding as if from an eyedropper. She used a hand to push my pelvis, moving cleanly in and out of me, penetrated dry and hard until well below and inside. I intended no movement at all; it was so exciting to contemplate its inert execution that … Besides, she had a desperately beautiful body. Besides, I didn’t know her as well as I ought to have, and it had been a long time since anyone had even approached my body without fixing a price first. Then the wood underneath my butt creaked, and the suitcase suddently gave way with the cry of a bird of prey. We knocked each other over, rolling with the explosion, body to body. The floor was icy, driven, and a cold shiver ran through my feet to my rib cage. In one of our turns, I’d pushed her stone-smooth head to one side, and it was then that I saw it. I let out a panicked squeal, like a bird: “THERE!” And she jumped on my neck like a baby “There what, Salvador? There who, Sagis? There where, please?“, and in the roughness of our tumblings her sword sliced my leg. I doubled over in pain. I opened my mouth in the shape of a letter ’O’, perhaps in the shape of a zero, but I couldn’t utter a syllable between such an image and such impossibility. “There! A bird, or whatever I know“, I said after a while, disengaging her from my windpipe so I wouldn’t choke out from her hysteria. I meant to stop, and what’s more, my cut-up knee stopped me. I looked more closely, and in effect, it would have had to have been a giant bird or its silhouette in the same pose as Ipatria struck on the baluster. Perhaps it was the specter of her martyred mother, I don’t know. It doesn’t interest me. The certain thing was that Ipatria was angrily bouncing against my throat, a girl from the docks reduced to a base of sheer dread. So I had to hit her in the face, and as I was reacting without thinking, I tried to push her away from me as far as I could, like someone who launches a bullet or a ball into the infinite. And with that motion, I felt that I was getting rid of something I didn’t know how much it would depopulate me on the inside later. Ipatria wound up off of me but with too much inertia for the top of the balcony, as if she were another bag of shoes and clothes — as if she were her poetess mother some three or thirteen decades prior, launched at the rim of the Antarctic from a National Army gunship. Or as if Ipatria were the shadow of that bird, who, also without opening its wings suddenly allowed itself to fall from the sky: the two bodies were already almost over the edge of the baluster that already wasn’t containing the vacuum on the other side, and were swallowed in the blink of an eye by New Year’s Eve lit only by the light from the candles burning in her apartment and the baseball stadium’s towers, where the Metropolitans still weren’t growing bored of losing by a denigrating score. I remained a half-hollow pit of a room. My open pit of a knee wouldn’t permit me to climb up onto the balcony for a peek, but the imminent date change didn’t impress me, either: from nineteen ninety-nine ninety something to two thousand zero, the zero decade. I almost convinced myself that on that Friday the 31st nothing at all happened;
except the description of the countless objects that the suitcase had scattered on the tiles when it broke. They were icons of the worldwide lie by which Ipatria’s parents had sanctified themselves: banners, posters, clippings headlines, photos, flyers, brochures and books, bonds, tickets and badges, stickers, among other, harder to identify, objects. Luckily, having that splintered paraphernalia run across my sight calmed me: I assumed that the entire December had been scrupulously real, and that justified even more its believable irreality … starting with that three-syllable name that I had just launched into the Chilecubana void of Alamar — I-pa-tria. My sight became cloudy, I felt cold, my muscles ached, and I was sick to my stomach. Afterward, I only felt like sleeping and not waking up until the next twentieth century. It was absurd, was she bleeding me with an eyedropper, like Ipatria’s muscles and her left foot? Or was I cheating with my head scratched by the sandpaper of this story, so that I wouldn’t have to return to La Siberia nor to the Martyrs of Alamar?

[Translator’s notes:

* Here, the author uses the word “sobremorir” as a word play on “to survive” (Sp: sobrevivir, whose etymology works out to “sur+live”, but what he means is “to sur+die”. This author engages in this kind of word play often; it’s one of his distinguishing stylistic attributes.

** The species aracuaria is a kind of (conifer) tree that translates into a “monkey-puzzle” tree in English. Using its translation would have interrupted and distracted from the flow of the story, so it wasn’t done.)

I breathed. Deep, deep, deep. I even had to go over America’s heart attack dawn until I located a clinic where someone could wish me a “happy new year” before feigning interest in my cut. I even had to drag myself up the twelve flights of stairs floor by floor before finding my clothes carpeting the ruins of a garden down there, below, or perhaps sheltering the mortal nudity of the bespectacled statue: pitted by red oxides, but brandishing a machine gun as a warning. I even had to exorcise the dead look of unlove without pathetic rhetoric: that ancient anguish that — like so much sediment — gathered in layers on my cheeks and in my trachea, paralyzing any act of closeness with someone who wasn’t me. I even had to flee that neighborhood, already thinking that in my next Friday’s session, at the edge of some weeks as long as my nights, too long to overcome: blind tunnels until a little after dawn, when with her at last I end up in a park, only so a pack of uniformed kids might jostle me right away until shattering my little sleep and disperse my anxiety, disperse my anxiety, disperse my anxiety. I even had to decide if Ipatria had been her real name, or if the word merely had been free in my mind for the next someone who might appear or disappear. Even …]

Translated by: JT

12 August 2013

Red Sea, Blue Sea / Regina Coyula

In the beginning there was the word, before discovering his vocation behind the camera, still being a boy, Miguel wrote really well. Now, with this novel he should prove it, although he excuses himself by saying that it’s early. It doesn’t matter — in Red Sea, Blue Sea, the obsessions are there that would (will) become movies. Congratulations on your presentation.

Saturday, 19 October at 1 PM EDT (at) The Place of Miami in Miami. Go and cooperate with the artist!!

And… you can buy it here!

Translated by: JT

18 October 2013

Orange Juice Runs Through My Veins / Mario Lleonart

Not even I understand how much those nearly eight months — from 30 November 1993 to 28 July 1994 — affected the rest of my life. I was used as cheap and reliable labor, exposed to hard labor in the citrus harvest, to the substantial economic benefit of the Cuban regime and the Grupo B.M. y Waknine & Berezovsky Co. Ltd. Over the years now I hve come to understand that it was a chapter God had for me. The experiences I went through had to do with things far beyond what I imagine, given all that I have been and done since then.

My friend Omar Lopez Montenegro whom I met last June on my trip to Poland excitedly tells his experience at the famous Pre-University of de la Víbora, a site which has also been immortalized thanks to another of its graduates, the writer Leonardo Padura Fuentes, who turned this mythical place into the origin of the backstory of his character detective Mario Conde.

The joint non-violent resistence of Omar and other friends prevented some gatekeepers from cutting their long hair during a period of mobilization in the field. I lived something similar in Boom 400 of the EJT (Ejercito de Trabajo Juvenil, or the Youth Labor Army) and above all the vivid outrages will stay with me forever.

After walking for three months among the concentration camps adjacent to the towns of San Jose Torriente and San José de Marcos, they made us return to that of Socorro en Pedro Betancourt. Supposedly from this Boom 400, which was our original camp, the suppliies assigned to us should have arrived, but we received nothing during those three months during which we wandered on some supposed mission whose high work goals were never met.

During those three months we didn’t even get a pass to go to our homes. We felt sorry for ourselves. Our clothes were dirty and ragged as could be. Most of us were walking barefoot, a few with broken boots. One of the generals named Acebedos came by for inspections and called us “the shirtless”, and a relaxed captain in the camp next to Torrientes, seemingly moved by compassion, told us — pointing at his massive gut: “Don’t be discouraged boys, I lost this belly in the army”.

On returning to our original camp, we held out the hope that things might change, but on arrival, a new unit chief met us: a Navy captain whose punishment was being sent to the EJT. And I became aware of another characterisic of this invincible army: it was the punishment site for MININT, Armed Forces, and even Navy officers.

For us, the officer’s reception was to inform us that we’d just arrived at Boom 400, and we had to earn all we asked for. An additional answer to our worries was the delivery of immense Chinese machetes, and after a miserable lunch, he made us go to some place infested with the invasive marabú weed that we had to pull up and prepare for the planting of citrus.

That was more than a humiliation. Supposedly, in those conditions we didn’t cut even one marabú, our patience having completely dripped away, so even better we organized and so it was like that night in May 1994 when, in protest, the complete squad deserted and we agreed that nobody would return for at least a week. The silent exit from the camp and the trip, one by one, through the orange orchards towards the national highway where in a matter of minutes we undertook a course towards Las Villas, were the most glorious moments of those eight months of abuse.

On our return, at least those who returned — some never did — we were subject to trial in the camp’s ampitheater, seeking an answer: “Who had been the leader?” The end of the trial consisted in the delivery of the supplies they’d deprived us of for the last eight months, our manner of nonviolent protest showed the vulnerability of those who thought they had power and made us discover that power was really in our hands.

The en masse desertion of an EJT squad had made the news all over the island and uncovered corruption in high places. Although I was liberated, that unforgettable July 28, 1994, I can’t deny that since then, orange juice runs through my veins.

Translated by: JT

12 August 2013

The “Revoliquera” Experience (Reloaded) / Regina Coyula

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 3.53.53 PM

I put up this post this past Friday, but the WordPress goblins made it disappear. With my scarce connection time and my barely adequate technical knowledge, I wasted a copious amount of time looking for responses in a forum, and along the way, restoring this post. Management having failed, I’ll do this the old way: by repeating it.

The Revoliquera* Experience

If I ask a youth with occasional internet access which page referring to Cuba he visits, almost certainly he’ll respond with Facebook. It doesn’t matter that it’s not Cuban. The social network par excellence keeps him up to date with his artists and favorite athletes and let’s him meet up with his school friends, who today can be the same in Miami as in Madrid or Moscow.

But if I consult a young fan of technology or video games, or who is just growing out of his first childhood, the more sure is that he’ll answer that his favorite page is Revolico, the site of national sales & buying, born from the lack of a physical space inside Cuba to accommodate a classified ad.

It’s impossible to walk down the street and not see bills posted on phone poles announcing electronic musical concerts or house parties. On bus walls appear printed announcements of exchanges, nor does a car attract any attention with a cardboard box behind the windshield with hurried letters that read: “FOR SALE”. The yellow pages of the telephone book increasingly recognize the emerging private services sector, but even there the space is insufficient to insert a perishable or offensive ad. Here is where the online note triumphs.

No matter the real estate market, where the false image of an enormous (and overpriced) residential listing is for sale, poking around on reveals that Cubans aren’t too interested in whether or not the government is going to build socialism; but meanwhile, each provides their own management style, and for some it doesn’t seem to be going badly. The productive forces of this country are in the starting blocks waiting for the starter’s gun to go off, and Revolico is becoming pre-competition training.

And if you don’t have access to the internet, that is no longer a problem. Inside a weekly or monthly 500 GB pack you can find an offline version of the popular site that now permits even the opening of links to photos; “It’s exactly the same as seeing it on the Internet,” a neighbor told me who copied her own version from me last week. As it is often forbidden to access Revolico from work and school, or the page won’t open and is redirected to the searcher, disturbed souls have posted alternative addresses and proxies that lead to the revoliquera (messy) experience.

Office services, translations, language classes, wedding dress rental, jobs, loans with interest, clowns, quotes … that amalgam makes up the pages of Revolico, a much better known site within Cuba than Generation Y, and more visited than CubaDebate.

Translator’s note: “Revoliquera” is an adjective roughly meaning “messy” created from the word “revolico” which in Cuban slang means “a mess”; it is the name of the Cuban site that is the equivalent of “Craigslist.”

Translated by: JT

13 May 2013

RIVER H / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo


Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Why does it wail, do you know?

The Hudson River wails at dawn. It makes like a low curve underneath the bridge or against its columns and then its metal waters arrive up to the terrace where I take cover from the cold that comes from the most ancient New York (city of a thousand films in my provincial imagination). And where a little bit of a Havana fled, that tried and tried, but still won’t die in my soul.

It would be cruel if at these heights of the dis-history my city wouldn’t let me forget her. I am a man. I lived in her for 40 years. It’s time to rest now. I’m exhausted. My eyes are so sad from so much seeing and seeing, without you looking at me. Even the colors have changed, like the afternoon that puts itself out from pure tedium. It’s time to rest. Havana, listen to me, please. Stay the fuck back.

If the Hudson River didn’t wail of doomsday at dawn, I would have to pull my head out of a 19th Century brick building. There are such beautiful and free people in this city. They look for you with a certain light of hope. Spring doesn’t manage to distort the jewel grey of Washington Heights and its desperate terracotta facades. This neighborhood all at once reminds me of the Lawton of my childhood. I know I don’t know what I’m saying, but it’s true. I had 40 years built up living secretly in a corner of the planet like this. A slice of insanity. A vision, a mirage. Miracle. Come along now, you.

The little glass-coffin windows filter voices coming from the floor below or the next state of this super-country. At last, after having counted so many stars and adding one more for Cuba (I grew up around these kinds of jokes), I don’t know how many shine in the blue rectangle. The US flag, let’s say it before it gets any later, is one of the most precious in the world. By some miracle, I prefer the Cuban, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because of its sensation of geometric imbalance or incompleteness.

I’ve seen beggars covered with circus tarps in New York and in Washington (I’m going to come to stay and live in Washington when I feel that my heart won’t die: it’s not a city, it’s a stage, and I love spaces that overflow their own extensions). Very few beggars, but I’ve seen them just the same. Many times more swarm in the streets of downtown Havana, and they smell worse. It’s just as cold and the night is long. I sympathize. I think I don’t have money enough to even buy one of those tarps. I’m a mannequin recently departed from the hands of a State that no one stops talking about here. I am in New York somehow only for that: to disown myself of all possessions and stay like the dream of a simple voice. The voice of those who indeed have a voice and are now about to lose it forever in a mock country. My country, a deal between the high powers of crime and the economy and the purple boasting of those who believe in incubating God in the archbishopric. And my voice, you know well that it’s your voice because so it has always been, brother, from Cuba. Your voice from Cuba where you shall want what you might be and shall now never return to listen to it, my love.

Hudson River, howled by Steppenwolf. There is a fury of end of the earth in me tonight that requires me to chew the glass from the windows, rip curtains, and business up out there, and sink myself in the trachea of a subway that reminds me of the dim light of Route 23. In the cafes the neighborhood girls are all left-handed and read A Streetcar Named Desire for hours. I click the arrhythmia of an anti-academic counterrevolution, as intolerable on the island as it is in exile. Inmanipulable, for that matter, intoolerable. Let me go home. And I go.

And my home turns into being my body, housing a frightened mind. It’s obvious that the government is hunting us crassly, tuning their aim as if we were ducks fleeing in the spring. And we are. A night in 1900-something, three days ago, I saw ducks in the frozen water of the monolith in Washington. I also saw a mistake in the Lincoln Memorial. I saw smoke in the sewers. Special pins from the State Department. And a loneliness of staff meetings that held me with pain to my bones until someone said something to me and laughed afterwards, restoring the order of things in the universe. The universe as a billiard ball, rolling as a vile buffalo.

Sometimes it howls. Wail. World Wide wail that makes the Hudson indistinguishable from an ambulance (those ambulances of the soundtracks with saxophone and sex that I used to see when I lived there, on the other side of the bay and the sky with microscopic flakes from the end of winter).

All writing is a farewell to mourning. New York is preparing itself for our slaughter. We are going to annihilate the Cubans. The desert must rule, life is a leftover. I’m announcing it with a gushing pleasure that will not explode on you. In more than one sense, until the last Cuban does not die violently, Fidel Castro will not know how to die.

(This last prayer is the most intimate crystallization of the beauty exposed before the dismay of those who don’t know how to hear. Then hear me, my characters: Ipatria, Olivia, Sally, finally …)

I’m going to stop. I’ve spent many days without being able to add an image to my madness. I’m trying to invent words. Other names for another novel. Rosemary, Samantha, Kate. Always girls without end … of boys I wouldn’t be able to write even a dialog. The boy is me and I’m dissolving more with each period.

Amen, my dears. Let me go.

Translated by: JT

13 March 2013

While You Were Sleeping / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

While you slept

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Ice is dead water.

I smell bad, like a homeless person in a subway car in New York. Although my scent doesn’t please me, it belongs to me. Private property in my absolute state of biologisity.

Exile is so exciting. All of us have been waiting for this occasion so much.

Dying among strangers is a privilege of the virtuous and angels. You know that I have no virtues.

There is no homeland with virtue. All homelands are a virtual shaving.

The transparent May night won’t let me sleep. I dream about North American scenes. Do Cubans dream with electric sheep? This is the way we wash the clothes, wash the clothes, wash the clothes, every Monday morning. Tom is a boy and Mary is a boy, too. One, too, how old are you?

Days of untranslatable drama (I prohibit the English version of this line*), dawns where the Hudson River falls silent, dizziness of a new century and end of the Revolution. I ask myself if somebody is peeking out at Night York in the Cuban mission by the UN.

It will be beautiful to see the new hatreds in the distance. The hour approaches, our time is near. Ideology turns into crime without the complexity of guilt. Idiot discipline. The mediocre efficacy of selective genocide is being committed against the citizens of my country. I ask myself if serial killers are sleeping with loose legs at the pile of Lexington Avenue and I-don’t-know-what street.

In human annals, nothing equals the marvelous despotism of an island left behind by the change of another island without interpretation. Freedom is an act. Manhattabana, mon amour.

My word is immaculate as a real virgin. My word perpetrates, penetrates. My word is an ephemeral fountain of reality. And reality is dirty ice, base material of the comets, water of stone or metal. continue reading

The only solid that survives is an automatic revolving door, some automatic stairs, an automatic cigarette, an automatic taxi driver, a piece of bread that from two months ago until today doesn’t know anything about me when at last I shove it down my throat.

Saliva. Sub-socialism. Individual salvation, intimate. Intimidating. Is this country very far from Alaska?

Human life is sick to death of skyscrapers. We weren’t building this city, we were destroying another. Art-deco: the art of deconstruction. We looked like the metal-eating termites of Stephen Vincent Benet, gnawing and ignoring the digital maps of that metropolis abandoned to half-ruin, a dried-out metropolis. We idolized the polichromy of a door called New York. Without a homeland but without love.

Terminal termites. Termites of totalianarism. The termite as a trending topic of that intemperate called sigloveintiumnidad.

The artisans of the United States have decided that the first Monday of each May shall be an immense feast day for all the Nation’s workers: hammers and sickles up! Souls down! What bubblehead needs a dysfunctional angel of God at these heights of the story (have you seen the homeless in the grave of God’s hand?), of a tax-free God sitting in his easy chair made of red velvet (the color of whorehouse lights), all His hair thinning out (unchaste, putrid), leaves that boil, barbarism flowering on to his chest (level with imported penne, with a rigid penis like a torch about to sink the heavenly hymen), eyebrows like a lawn (there are companies that specialize in surgically implanting them), Eve’s nut like a curse (until, pardon me, what am I saying?), have you wondered why all the Windows in heaven were broken, the hairless embedded chin on top of his sternum (do you want to acquaint the larks with the fatuous music of war: music of pipes, of carnival, of meat after decades of decadence)?

I’m corrupting myself. I wait for a click of love, I hope for an arched island. I don’t go silent. Without limits. My family still goes and I manage to remove them, a natural orphan. The absence of Cuba automatically makes you good, always and when you restore Cuba into your heart where no Cuban can see it. I’m as happy as a piece of bread. As a taxi driver in Tajikstan (they’ll drag out the rhetorical thievery of the USSR to the Big Apple). Like a carcinogenic cigarette of 1959 volts (the illusion, like all Utopias, ends up in the electric chair). I’m so joyful as a stairway or an automatic revolving door (they stop at midnight, perhaps to deny a song).

When injustice weeps, a people diet and feminine trembles. It tempers. Thus was tempered steel. Human zeros, buried. Smoke is your lies. Nothing is old in the moonlight.

Manhattan has an obsolete face and a million fashion pixels. It’s not New York, it’s much more than that: it’s barely its description. And it is, also, our inertial memory of what New York should have been before having been converted into New York.

The ambulances howl with their express packages of suicides, promptly hanged in a bathroom shower with end conditioning (the Spring of 2013 never quite arrived all the way, the landlords are lowlives and cut the heat off). New York remembers everything in an instant, likeable amnesia, amabilis insania. New York can do it all, hope for it all, forgive it all. It’s New York who sees, not love.

Love is my naked body that jumps backstroke from a bridge too similar to the Brooklyn Bridge over the top to be the real Brooklyn Bridge.

The dick is a parabola of unpronounceable precision (José Martí would never go here, despite his prudish promiscuity like a useless shield against bullets: although it might not be an enemy bullet that kills us tomorrow, but the illiterate machete of a national Negro), pressure.

Splash. Splatter.

A comet seems to have fallen over the city. I’ve saved 3,455 US dollars. I’ve been collecting them with my hand open from point to point on the blue line of the subway.


A for Ana.

Is New York under or on top of the Arctic Circle?

He who pulls the levers on the A train, that’s me.


O for Otto, the pilot.

And everything happens a little accelerated, jumpily, because we still have to discover the cinemascope.

The human species has its craters, its cavities. The stench of a dead raccoon is also a harbinger of spring. Out there are the great lakes, as a local cinema that I missed in my childhood: Erie. And to think I was so close to Lawton and Luyanó. Truly I tell you, love is a very splendorous thing. And in Alaska death comes next to the dismal sled of the worst of another century’s literature.

The catcher in the Ryevolution.

Yoko Ana.

The only hero here and now would be a burst of laughter, language of the crazy, a grimace or miracle. I look forward so much to a jail with the seal of the Supreme Court or the Association of American Psychiatrists.

Insomnia is something much more splendorous than love. I dream in North American scenes. I am hungry and cold, although they don’t recognize my princehood in New York. Do the sheep dream with electric Cubans? Paint me an olive, please.

Do not tempt me. Click gropingly. I press countless buttons of grammatical death.

Till State do us apart, Ana.

Till State do us apart, Otto.

There won’t be mercy from us, sinners. The struggle of mankind against power is lost beforehand. Come by us to this island from the other island. Barbarism is also true.

*Translator’s note: Sorry, Orlando. At least it was an easy translation this time. You know why they say rules are created, right? :-)

Translated by: JT

6 May 2013

As I Write Dying / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

1362159962_72643_434419779971453_324617027_nThe Revolution has maybe two or three weekends left. Then, before or after that bad metaphor which is the arrival of spring, we’ll be living in a full holocaust. The State will probably have to kill liberally in order to survive two or three more weekends. The exiles, it will be fairly easy to trap them in labyrinths of death that will superficially appear to be ordinary. The world is so violent. But in the island, there will be a certain political price to be paid, something that at this point in history, to the executioners (and to some extent even to their victims) does not matter a single bit.

Yesterday in Cuba a red drizzle fell, and an exiled poet who was to die a natural death, did not die. The sky descended upon us, the clouds took material form, and the chimney of the Regla refinery reflected red to the greatest possible extent, like a lustful campfire of meat, which in turn was reflected upside-down on the oily waters of the bay. From my staircase I can see it.

Many times I get naked at night. Otherwise, the oppression on my chest won’t let me sleep. I touch myself. I listen closely to myself. I hoist myself. I make myself. Apocubalyptic visions come to me. I see cars passing at full speed. I see my best friends dead (which has already happened in real life), laying in transparent ambulances, which for some unknown reason always come howling down Reforma street, in Luyanó, where I have never lived or made love. Although I almost did. On the corner of Enna and Fábrica, at the foot of a very, very red Royal Poinciana.

Other times I crash early into sleep, without messing up my bed, warm ears and a colossal numbness in my head. More asleep than alive. Narcolepsy. My veins bursting with pressure. I wonder why I never die during the night. And then I jump up like a spring and I can not sleep anymore until a little after sunrise. I start reviewing books and pdf’s; the eternal Chapter 1 of my cult novel (every night I discard it and write another one, that’s the cult). This last season has a unique title plagiarized from José Martí’s only love. Because he was too shrewd a guy to dare to open up and finally tell something about his life, without shrilling sounds or subordinate disciplinaries: with a bit of luck, my novel will be simply called “Your Girl.”

Even though this Chapter 1 is really about my girl.

Trains. The helpless bleating of the trains arrive all the way to my corner of Lawton. The church looks like a dinosaur fossil. A church where last year I photographed the Cuban Cardinal surrounded by State Security, almost shivering from it. Meanwhile, a filthy mob, ignorant to the point of fanaticism, carried a wooden doll with bright rags, and literally beat each other up in an effort to touch it, for the inert icon to heal them or to finally get them out of the damned country. To get them out as soon as possible, before Day F, for example; preferably to get them out right now, before the war with the Eskimos breaks out. Because American literature never lies: there will be a war to the death with the Eskimos. In fact, we all live in our igloo (cold in the mind, cold in the soul, cold in the heart: we are serial murderers).

It will be as easy as crushing skulls with tools made out of ice, the only ones that don’t leave expert fingerprints. This is how they’re already killing the Cubans, as political experimentation and as an adjustment of environmental parameters. But, since this an extermination under Cuban institutions, sloppy because of small salaries, there are always traces of its criminality (if no one cares, it’s obvious, because without corpses Cuba would be a chaos).

The ships stranded in the bay can also be heard thundering from my room. The moon is absolute, and the mango tree looks alive (it isn’t, no form of life is). I wish this instant never fled from my window. The sun would be, in this moment, as insulting as a glob of spit.

The future threatens. We don’t realize it because we have worked hard and honestly to humiliate ourselves. We have each given our very best to make sure that at least our kids have the comfort of being slaves. Such are the genes in this island: docile, like the poet Dulce María Loynaz chirping in her almost confiscated garden (who, by the way, is still alive, and the persistence of words is today her inferno).

There isn’t a single leader who is not dying. There isn’t a single book that can be finished before first bidding farewell to the mourning of its author. The hope is that no one resurrects. That this slice of planet be at last emptied. To renovate the race. To run, run without legs in a marathon of those crippled by cancer. To dance on a thin plaster board, made out of male saints sacrificed in exchange for what.

Democracy is a hot pistol. The Tropic of Cancer line reeks of bodily decay. We rotted. Time is a hereditary flaw that we have carried because we have been unable to jump from our own balcony (the staircase in Lawton may be very high, like a planetary observatory so that no shower of cosmic objects can surprise us). I nod. I start falling asleep with the deepest rays of socialist sun in the horizon, which burn like an acid with a pH of zero.

I’m leaving. My dreams of Cuba can go perch on any another criminal Cuban. I don’t want to participate in one more single death in this orgy. Every orgy is morbidly childish, a dismal theater. And I wanted to grow. To want.

Lastly, I want to warn you, that among my books there are several rulebooks for guevarist guerrillas. They are written with the feet, but they are sharp and definitive. Solemn, forgettable, and again childish (as every death is). Materialism for butchers with a metaphysical life. And that osmosis is always good for those who float dispersed in the bubble of the days. Of God.

Why do I feel so happy? If I cannot forget you.

Enough, voice.

Translation by JT (thank you Orlando, for writing simply), by Mariposa Soñadora, and by Claudia D.

1 March 2013

We Intercede for Angel Santiesteban / Mario Lleonart

It was he who opened the door at Antonio Rodiles’ house for us this past Saturday the 23rd: for Lilian of “Geronimo’s Blog”, to my wife Yoaxis, and for me, when we came to participate in the Estado de Sats special dedicated to “The United Nations Covenants, Five Years Later” in which, as a part of the panel, I denounced violations of Cuban religious freedom.

When we’d thanked God, we got together to pray as thanksgiving to God, for having allowed us to arrive having circumvented so many risks, I was thrilled on discovering his participation with us and his assent to our prayer.

It was then I conveyed the support we’d been giving since we learned of the plot they were inventing against him: the five years of prison to which they were about to submit him. Now as we’ve already known since past Thursday, February 28th, an unjust sentence is to be carried out; I beg all brothers of good will in the world to unite in intercession with us on behalf of Ángel Santiesteban.

We’ll pray to God for him but also will do our part in denouncing this adjustment of accounts on behalf of the regime that doesn’t forgive him for his blog, “The Children Nobody Wanted.”

We won’t permit it! I am Santiesteban!

Translated by: JT

26 March 2013

The Departure of a Mortal / Rosa Maria Rodriguez Torrado

Image found on Wikipedia Kiwix offline

I won’t judge the politician or military man, I’ll identify with the man, the son, the father, the grandfather, the Venezuelan leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the idol of his supporters: Hugo Chávez died, the 52nd president of Venezuela. On February 2, 1999 he became the elected ruler of his country and this past October 2012 he was reelected one more time for another term. Beginning with his arrival at the throne of government, he tried to goodly prolong his stay in power and to accomplish this he was behind a ’just’ referendum and modified the constitution — a practice repeated in other so-called revolutionary processes — to guarantee the continuity of a small group at the head of the country and to eternalize himself in the job with the “revolutionary” pretext of developing his programs of government.

Fidel Castro took note of him in February 1992 when he headed a “justified and good” coup d’etat against the constitutional president Carlos Andrés Pérez. For that event he spent two years in prison — had he done so in Cuba, they probably would have sentenced him to more than three decades (although it’s speculative there are certain precedents) or condemned to death — and he was invited by the Cuban government to visit our country.

Here they treated him like a head of state and apparently arrived at commitments that marked his journey in politics, which culminated with his arrival at the presidency of Venezuela, his eternal thanks to the Cuban ex-ruler sealed publicly and repeatedly. Nobody has described the genesis of the political marriage between a high-ranking official of the savannah like Chavez with a mountain fighter like Fidel; between a man from humble roots like Chávez and one of bourgeois origin like Castro; between a dictator who killed the liberal structures of Cuba and the commander with the most democratic image recorded in the history of Latin America.

A form of government has to be created in the countries of our America in which the leaders who come to power democratically defend the maintenance of the mechanisms that made it possible for them to get there; no political system that sustains itself on duress, physical or verbal violence, the violation of rights, or on the denial of freedom of expression on the part of the people, and fear can really consider itself free.

Although I never sympathized with the ideas and plans of Chávez’s so-called Boliviarian revolution — so similar to those that have impoverished Cuba for over 54 years — I lament his death and identify with the pain of his family, and with that of the millions of followers who still mourn his physical loss.

Translated by: JT

14 March 2013

The World Baseball Classic / Rosa Maria Rodriguez

Image downloaded from

The third World Baseball Classic ended early for the Cuban team and left many of us with wishes to see them win over their neighboring ball club and Cuban sports narrators with wishes to travel to the Californian city of San Francisco in the United States.

If the Classics have brought us anything positive, these have been the possibility of seeing good stadiums on television, quality officiating — despite the fact that it’s not perfect — and the possibility of comparing averages and the conditions of our stars with the records and the caliber of the ballplayers of other latitudes. Nobody understands why only they permit ours to contract with leagues from other countries like Venezuela, Mexico,  Dominican Republic etc.; or why, when they retire, that they pay much less than to active ballplayers. To what or to whom do we owe this bad idea?

This Classic has been exceptional in that the games were broadcast of our teams and our commentators refer to them with respect . Could this be the preamble to a change of mentality or of flexibility of sports politics followed until now? A very little while ago we learned that the authorities respected their right to visit their country and the province of Pinar del Río, for pitcher José Ariel Contreras, who stayed abroad* on one of the trips with the Cuban baseball team and was contacted by the big leagues.

The “balls and strikes” athletes in my country play for love of the sport and in deplorable conditions in comparison with many other teams of the world. They train like professionals, but they are treated almost like slaves. All to defend an amateurism that played its propaganda role during the so-called revolutionary era, but in reality is erratic and oppressive.

Fields aren’t in optimal conditions, balls are counted and used too many time in each game, the officiating is horrible, and those chosen to make up the team that represents us internationally are victims of different pressures: seen off in political acts of our country’s leaders, “commitment to the Motherland”, speeches, display of the flag — as if they were going to war — and now, at last, also subject to the despotic attitudes of their manager.

I’ll continue defending my thesis that to be a manager you don’t have to have tyrannical characteristics or roots. In a frank summary of stress, personal needs are also present; the pressure of finding the time to go to the store to buy a team to replace Cuba’s broken one and other compromises. And to do it watched over by maybe it’s that the “guardian angels” that always accompany sports delegations which guarantee their safety suspect that it’s a pretext to stay abroad and act “in consequence”, as usual.

I can only imagine how our ballplayers feel interacting with those of  the other countries in hotels and stadiums: like orphan children whose wealth is the “dignity” of playing according to the managers and the whim of a small political group and its political model in decadence. Beyond who ends up the winner of the Classic, there will also be the Cuban fan who will have won, who has expanded his culture of baseball, enjoyed other styles of play, of management, batting and pitching coaches, and above all, better conditions in which to develop, play, and enjoy our national pastime.

*Translator’s note: These ’defections’ of Cuban sports figures have been seen as treasonable acts by the Cuban Government in the past. The fact that a defector would be allowed to visit his family home is remarkable.

Translated by: JT

16 March 2013

The Violence that Touches Us / Regina Coyula

I believe I have successfully crossed the threshold of the 21st Century, a century that I prefer to believe more inclusive, comprehensive, and cohesive. After having been educated in certain social and ideological intolerance, I’ve gotten past them. My lesbian friends — they aren’t my friends so I can be “tuned in” — rather because their friendships enrich my life. I have other friendships whose political or religious posture could make us enemies, but for a long time my values of good and evil are established according to my beliefs; no more will I leave in other hands the thinking I should be doing for myself.

Gender-based violence just hasn’t not disappeared, but it remains buried, and sometimes so much so in our machista society, where the publicity campaigns look very pretty on the posters and audiovisuals; but looking at it closely, or listening to reggae music, you see it like a persistent bad weed.

The quantity of women with whom I’ve discussed this subject who have confessed to being victims is alarming; victims of the passions of a boss and of the consequences of rejection, and the higher the position of the boss, the worse it is for the woman; some end up giving up and almost all remained silent about it in shame because they (we) were educated in blame.

It might seem contradictory from the above that I should defend Ángel Santiesteban. As I have known him for many years, and I’ve taken interest in this case from the beginning, I allow myself to doubt the transparency of the trial and the objectivity of the witnesses, and I allow myself to think that the accuser has been manipulated, “another subtle form of the exercise of violence.”

I see a group of intellectual women passing judgment on this case of which they do not possess sufficient evidence, despite adding that … nobody can judge these facts without knowing the depth of the damage …. I want to point out a quote from a letter these intellectuals circulated on International Womens’ Day … whoever uses these theories is reproducing aggression; like those who blame the victim of a rape of having provoked her aggressor.

It’s inevitable for anyone who knows even minimally the hostage state to which the Ladies in White have been subjected to keep that in mind. On the margins of political beliefs, to ignore the copious testimony of the violence exercised against them, is to blame them for having provoked their aggressor.

It’s not enough to bring focus on the phenomenon through a particular mention of an alleged act of violence and a general mention of the rest of the violence against women in our society.  Anything one might do with this approach isn’t enough, given the environment tainted by the stereotypes in which we’ve lived. It won’t be with a bland and superficial reading of a text filled with ironies that the poet Rafael Alcides might write that the struggle for equality and respect. will be won. Equality and respect for women and for any other form of discrimination.

Translated by: JT

15 March 2013