The Costly Frivolities of Percy Alvarado / Haroldo Dilla Alfonso

Eliécer Ávila and Yoani Sánchez at the CLICK Festival

I’ve been reading the whole imbroglio generated by Cuban State security agent Percy Alvarado with his article about Obama’s imperialist interference in Cuba. First he accuses everyone in sight of being pro-Yankee puppets, and later apologizes for having shoveling shit with such energy over those he wasn’t authorized to.

None of which is new to Percy, whose favorite hobby has been shoveling mud, as well as being mistaken in his unwholesome profession, because not too long ago the same thing happened with some Venezuelan Chavez supporters, to whom he gifted some shovels of shit and then later swore he didn’t mean to. It’s that there are people who, no matter the context they find themselves in, keep doing the same thing.

And now, reading about Percy Alvarado’s immature entanglements, I thought back to find the boy I met nearly forty years ago at Lenin High School. My first workplace.

At that time Percy Alvarado (PA) was a Guatemalan boy who taught high school literature classes and fantasized about his epic/guerrilla past and his decision to reunite the disbanded movements of Turcios Lima and Yon Sosa to march on Guatemala City. It was a little heavy but we all — students and professors — put up with it because, as our friend Pepín would say — without these fabrications Percy wouldn’t have existed. And perhaps because we sensed that that being who wandered the cold halls of “La Lenin” and discharged his frustrations on tolerant parishioners, was the best personal version you could get of this existence condemned to moral misery.

What followed has been terrible. Not because he was a spy — this is a profession like any other everywhere, and there have always been professional and honorable ones — but because he was determined to leave us his written memoirs. And to enter into the ideological game with some McCarthyism articles, like this now, the incoherence and humorous features of which did not omit their dangerousness as accusatory pamphlets in a country where there are no individual guarantees, nor independent judicial processes.

And it’s that PA’s article is not simply what it seems — a ridiculous burlesque — but a serious unfounded accusation that continues what the badly-paid-bloggers and Cubadebate were already cooking up when the CLICK Festival was held. Their intention is to create a state of opinion favorable to a crackdown on autonomous critical projects and the opposition, through their presentation of them as creatures of the American interference in internal Cuban matters, as anti-national boils that need to be lanced for the common good.

As an article, this poorly written pamphlet follows the rules of psychological warfare: a stunning collection of unconnected data, mentions of names with details of alleged activities (about 40 people were named/snitched on), a self-assured speech by the police in control, and the use of aggressive phrases that say nothing but imply a great deal. And above all, frighten.

It speaks, for example, of “known” things, about which “there is strong evidence,” accusations about about which “there isn’t a shadow of a doubt”; allusions to “secret meetings” with declared enemies and the promise that much more is known, but is being saved as ammunition for a future crackdown in which a guy like PA must feel like a pig in shit.

A favorite victim on this occasion is Eliécer Ávila — the young man who managed to draw out from Alarcón all the nonsense he harbored — who is called “the new favored son of the mercenaries.” He is accused of “harboring stupid ideas,” of wanting an “impossible Arab Spring,” and of using “fantasy concepts.” But despite everything he is warned that they are watching him very closely and will block the development of his “stupid-fantasy-impossible” plans with all “the resources and elements required.” All of which again demonstrates that Eliécer would be an excellent psychotherapist in charge of emptying decrepit minds, and that in this practice of saying nonsense there are no known limits: evidently Percy has surpassed Alarcón and his unforgettable metaphor of the skies filled with airplanes.

But Eliécer was not the only one. Antonio Rodiles comes in for his share, along with another four dozen people who are mentioned by name and supposed functions, with the same delight as a neighborhood snitch might find in it. This includes recognized critical figures and opponents of several new cultural projects and pluralist projects from the left like the Havana Times. And he adds, in a very odd manner, the prestigious Citizens Committee for Racial Integration which, he states, offends patriotic values with its recognition of the Independent Party of Color and Evaristo Estenoz. Who, according to Percy, were active in the nineteenth (sic) century.

And here comes the slip that accentuates the ridiculous appearance of this badly contrived — and worse written — plot. In his wild unbridling of repressive virtue, Percy touched on the edges of sin when he included in his list of “mercenaries” five intellectuals who not only have nothing to do with the opposition, but who in some cases have carried out glamorous pro-government acts of faith. And who, therefore, are officially recognized as intellectuals.

The Ministry of Culture (MINCULT), which had published PA’s article in one of its newsletters, was forced to apologize for it (the only moderately positive thing in this muddy mess), alleging that the libel is not consistent with their editorial line because of the attack on the five intellectuals. And consequently (and here they return to the swamp), accepting by default the rest of the repressive arguments, personal attacks, simplistic view of the world, and to putting dozens of people and institutions in danger by the accusations of a scribe in service to the worst snobs of the Cuban political class. And this is awful for MINCULT and, I believe, lost in opportunity to show the world that there is still some decency and good sense in the high political spheres of the Island.

In the end I am always assaulted by doubts about to what extent this was an initiative of Percy Alvarado, or the fulfillment of a suggestion from some higher up, with the intention not only of terrorizing Cuban intellectual sectors, but also conditioning the members of the political class themselves who already understand that it’s not possible to continue to govern a nation as if it were a herd of cows. In any case, I believe that the result will be inverse of that expected by the perpetrators. There are situations and processes in contemporary Cuba that are irreversible, and among them is the emergence of an independent public, pluralistic and diffuse space that could not be decimated with another Black Spring.

Percy Alvarado brought all his existential failures, twisted arguments and shovels of shit and threw them on Obama.

And the young people of the Critical Observatory told him something as brief as it is substantial: “Enough already!”

23 July 2012