It Will Change / Mario Barroso

The city that looks toward the heavens, that looks toward the sea, at the infinite / asking itself from within what our destiny will be

A neighbor from Taguayabón, scandalized with the growing brutality of the system, peculiar to dictatorships in decline, and sincerely worried about me, begged me with all her heart after my arrest last October 19th, that I stop talking and start acting in accordance with the prophetic role to which I have no doubt been called by God before the beast that is Cuban Castroism. To compensate, I told myself, use music. Although she didn’t attend our church, she was referring to the chants she heard with such frequency coming from there, which I so often amplify in order for the many pedestrians to hear them, as well as to the concerts we offer from the vestibule, filling the streets with people alive with faith and feeling, but with high doses of fear about crossing through the doors of a place where we preach, in the words of Bonhoeffer, the gospel that frees from all who oppress and overwhelm.

I confess that I am very thankful for this neighbor’s pleas, and those of so many other people who truly love me and approach me with worry, but I cannot silence God’s encouraging push: do not be afraid! I must recognize nonetheless, something very wise in the appraisal of my neighbor: the power of music against this tyranny. My experience related to this past International Day of Human Rights in homage to the universal principles signed on December 10th, 1948, supports the certainty of my neighbor.

A brief trip to attend to some personal matters placed me in Havana in the maelstrom of December 8th and 9th, at the same time they led me away from the hunt, this time unsuccessful, that was organized against me in Taguayabón to prevent my free movement on a day as transcendental as that of the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration. In the midst of dozens of arrests of friends and the immobilization of so many others, I became aware of the things that were happening through my Twitter account @maritovoz, things like the civil act of Cubans from the other side who had the healthy intention of shooting off fireworks only twelve miles off the coast of Havana’s seafront. I thank God I was offered the inescapable opportunity to discourage some desperate youths, who without doubt were incited by the bad intent of State Security to throw themselves into the sea under the deceit that some fleet of Democracy would be a way of escaping this island prison, when in reality they were to be used as a boycott of a healthy act free of all provocation by being bearers of a message of love and peace.

I don’t know if it was UNICEF or someone else that made the wise decision to convene an open-air concert with the successful singer-songwriter X Alfonso at just a few blocks from the seafront (Ave G and Calzada), and right at the end, greeting the brothers from the other side on the night of December 9th at 10:00pm! This allowed many to see the fireworks, charged with significance on the horizon, closing with the culmination of a silver so strong as if it were the presentation of the disk of X “REVERSE”, completely free and in the open-air.  Thousands of young people, still without the courage to go out on the street like those admired women dressed in white brandishing gladiolas like swords of peace, nevertheless had the courage and passion to sing with energy and a certain freedom words charged with authentic rebellion and nonconformity like those of the talented X Alfonso, so sensibly named an Ambassador of Good Will by UNICEF.  Again, art succeeds where the harassers have not been able.

I was one among the multitude. Before the seafront, on one side without access because of the enraged sea, and hundreds of policemen watching its access on the other side, I climbed unnoticed to the top floors of the Giron building, on the corner of F and Malecon. Running the risk of being taken for a thief, since I was a stranger, I stayed an hour, between 8:30 and 9:30, stationed like a guard to watch the signals on the horizon in one of the corridors. A number of curious neighbors, not because of my presence, but because of the lights of freedom in the horizon, gave me peace. I imagine the same show was happening in all the buildings along the eight-kilometer strip of seafront, and furthermore, especially in the neighbors of Eastern Havana like Cojimar and Alamar, where there were many reports and photos of this luminous embrace that will one day cross the twelve miles that remain for us to melt into one single people. Undoubtedly, the emotion of being able to make out physical lights was much smaller than that of the lips of a people divided for more than fifty years trying to kiss each other in spite of the weight of those twelve miles.

Leaving the Girón at 9:30 to melt with the mass of people that gathered on Presidents Avenue in spite of its being a military zone, and singing with an enormous crowd that seemed to not notice such worried uniformed civil police was an unforgettable emotion. Words like those in this song sum up everything:

The city that looks toward heaven, that looks toward the sea, toward the infinite

asking itself what our destiny will be

hiding its answer in the air of a breath

and waiting for the time to pass, like bored fish.

Politics incapable of resolving any conflict,

government taxes that make them rich,

officials who waste the effort obtained,

workers rising early, giving their souls for their children.

Everything will change, oh, some day it will change,

everything will change, I have faith that it will change.

The poisoned lie that preaches fanaticism,

the ban, speak softly, that you get me into trouble,

the importance of selling a paradise to the outside,

the reasons for taking away my rights, my principles,

those that ignore your problems for obeying what is established,

who point with a finger for thinking differently,

make families unable to share the most beautiful moments,

loneliness that is not a name, is a really messed-up feeling.

Everything will change, some day it will change,

everything will change, I have faith that it will change.

The city that looks toward heaven, that looks toward the sea, toward the infinite

 asking itself what our destiny will be,

this anguish of the silence of knowing if we are alive,

sacrifices without an answer at the end of this road.

Everything will change, someday it will change.

Everything will change, I have faith it will change.

Everything will change.

I should confess that I often remember the words of my neighbor and recognize that art and faith, in the case of Cuba, are achieving what political orders and tendencies cannot, decimated by too much aggression by an intolerant system and concentrated on ways to confront so many valiant people, while a people expires from physical and spiritual hunger. As if to corroborate this, I submerged myself in another sea of people the next day, in Villa Clara, in a provincial gathering among my Baptist brothers, accompanied and protected by the people of my church who, to demonstrate valor, only need to accompany me, as they did. There I sang, our Cuban gospel music this time, and I felt the certainty of what X Alfonso predicts will happen with the impulse of art and faith, like this faith in Christ that not only frees and saves the soul for eternity, but also converts enslaved human beings into citizens with dignity, full of civic consciousness in the here and now, as it did with the possessed Gerasene. I have no doubt that everything will change; what is more, I have faith it will change.

 Translated by: Kimberly De La Cruz, M. Ouellette, AnonyGY

January 3 2012