The Whispers That Come

Silvio Rodríguez participated in the repudiation rally that was carried out against his fellow troubadour Mike Porcel in the turbulent days of the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. (Screen Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 7 March 2020 — Following the censorship of the documentary Sueños al Pairo (Dreams Adrift), which was removed from the programming of the Young Filmmakers Exhibition, the fact that singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez had participated in the repudiation rally that was perpetrated against his fellow troubadour Mike Porcel in the convulsive days of the Mariel Boatlift in 1980.

It was not necessary for the Revolution to collapse in order for the icon to fall to pieces. It was enough for the fool to reveal that he failed to define himself by hiding the body. It was enough for him to confess that he wasn’t able to understand, then, that they were inviting him to such shit.

To clear himself of guilt without going through the humiliating (for him) apology, he has simply explained that all he did was whisper something in front of his victim’s door. The same door that others tried to knock down.

Forty years later, the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara sits in jail awaiting a trial in which he can be sentenced from two to five years in prison for an alleged crime of property damage and for insulting national symbols.

With few, and honorable, exceptions, the plastic artists have kept an unfortunate silence, although they know perfectly well that the accusations are only a way of hiding the artist’s rebellion against the abuses of power, substantiated in decree 349. A vice minister has had the cynicism to clarify that Luisma, as his friends call Luis Manuel, is not being prosecuted for defying the unfortunate decree, but for other contraventions.

In a very short time some individuals will decide if the artist had the right to run down the street draped in the flag of his country, or if he should pay such audacity with the jail.

They are people who have names and surnames, mothers, children, friends. They probably even have religious beliefs and will find themselves in the dilemma of choosing between fearing the earthly consequences more than the divine ones. They will worry more about what happens this week or this month than what a future without a foreseeable date can hold.

This time it will not be necessary to spend another forty years to unveil the crime, nor will it be possible to mask with a whisper the sentence issued by the executioners. The volume of the voice, no matter how low, does not reduce the weight of the sentence, or the fault of those who unfairly impose it.


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