Jaw Clenching and the End of the Year / Regina Coyula


To try to defuse the tension that comes over me by surprise and makes me clench my teeth, I decided to take these last days, nothing special, to enjoy doing nothing. Noting, indeed, the Cuban governments’ announcements for 2011. I try to be objective, I try to be dispassionate, I try to be optimistic, until the moment when the President speaks to Parliament, I thought in a fit of civility he would present his resignation in the name of the whole government; and stepping aside would give the younger ones a chance to do better; so many years of experiments and failed policies should seem like too much. But no.


The block where I live was adorned with many lights for the end of the year. Some neighbors created decorations like you see in the movies, but mine created an exceptional block. From the next block, on the last night of the year, I walked through a dark city, with pockets of music and rarely the unmistakable odor of roasting pork. Places like La Pelota, Cinecittá, el Pekín and Loipa, along central 23rd street, were closed and had no customers. It was the same at 10th and 17th and at 12th and 17th. On the way the home of a cousin of mine where we are accustomed to seeing in the New Year, I sat next to Lennon, again without his collectible eyeglasses, and to take this photo I had to use the double flash because the darkness in the park was absolute.

It was the wall clock that confirmed for us it was midnight, and not how it is announced elsewhere, with horns, firecrackers and cheering. 2011 arrived in Havana like a cop. The day before yesterday I learned that in City Historian Eusebio Leal’s precincts there would be fireworks, the areas of Old Havana that have been restored confirm to the barely curious tourists their “very typical” image which confirms what they see in the leaflets.

Returning home, around one in the morning, the fire of the party had been extinguished. Just some drunkard, a lot of water on the sidewalks, and two or three houses with music coming from them. The rest of the city in retreat or sleeping. On my block, the most lit up of all I walked along, just a few of the Christmas lights were still lit. The spirit of these days are not reconciled with the new electricity fees.

January 3 2011