Pinch of Salt / Lilianne Ruiz

To get freedom we must escape from what oppresses us.

To leave the ranks, dissent, desert what we haven’t even been consulted on. What we have been forced into by necessity. The first reaction is to accept, to resolve, to wait. Until one day you discover that no one is going to do it for you, and you die as a person.

The great conflict of totalitarianism is with the individual. The desire of the system to dissolve you, and the personal decision is not allowed.

The government clan is disposed to make some concession to continue dominating souls which is the ultimate meaning of this class of politics.

Some steal, others have a good job where they can travel abroad and keep their mouths shut and sing hymns to Socialism before the world’s Leftists who should move over here.

There is definitely a gap between those who abhor their freedom and those who know the happiness, light, creation, prosperity, that comes not from any entity outside ourselves and that we must be free and not stand as before a master with police, jails, soldiers and disgusting discourse: ideology. Abiding by the system that demoralizes you, annuls you as a person.

I’m going to give you an example of what happened to me yesterday walking along a street in the neighborhood. There was an old woman sitting in the doorway to the platform of the Tulipan train station. The lady is very old and she sells avocados. If she didn’t need to she wouldn’t be sitting there all day with a box of avocados. She looks like what we Cubans call a “diver” (as in “dumpster diver), or in Europe a “tramp.” Even if she doesn’t collect garbage, the reality is she’s very dirty and poor. Two inspectors pass in front of me and warn her that this is the fourth time today they’ve told her she has to leave and they’re going to fine her 1200 pesos for selling without a license.

The old lady started to cry, she doesn’t have anything to eat and she starts to rant, saying that a subject whose name I don’t want to remember and who is part of the government of this Island had given her permission. The inspectors look at me embarrassed when I tell them just don’t look at the phenomenon they have before them. They can’t invoke the issue of selling unhygienic goods, because avocados come in a package naturally sealed by mother nature.

The inspectors begin to explain to me what it would mean for them to lose their jobs and the bonus of 135 Cuban pesos (about $5 U.S.) more than their miserable salaries. They are afraid of the other inspectors who pass by on motorbikes and take photos of all the “trash” that they have failed to sweep up. They say they’re not happy with their work and because of that, understanding the sensitivity of the case, they’re not going to fine the old lady.

You have to abandon the ranks, explore other fields, dissent. All of us in Cuba have this incredibly serious conflict that reveals the nature of submission. There are limits that must be tested. Not the existential limits, those that mean never renouncing your own self. Jose Lezama Lima said something along the lines of we have to remain in our own night, in the very shadow of our inner self that many times we barter for various forms of dependence.

I’m definitely left with the possibility, as far as work and subsistence are concerned, of knocking on a door that seems to lead to the abyss and in reality it could be the door to freedom. I heard of the case of a person who was interrogated by investigators of the Secret Police at Villa Marista and one of the questions was: How do you live?

Well they know that leaving the ranks also means losing your job and that keeping a job in Cuban inevitably means losing your freedom, taking part, not dissenting, not being an exception.

I am out of work and it’s also demoralizing. In a totalitarian State the individual must renounce being a person and become part of the mass, a sheep, who eats and defecates and grows old watching how evil and unhappiness occupy the space of the light that lives in every person.

Man does not live by bread alone although he lives on bread.

September 10 2012