Two Griefs, Two Citizens, Two Countries / Luis Felipe Rojas

From time to time, in the middle of conversations between Cubans, a couple of unanswered questions spring up: when did we become two countries, two citizens, two forms of enjoying ourselves, of suffering or of living, simply? There are those who say that it happened around 1989, when the utopias and the innocence vainly fell to the ground from a wall which stopped existing a long time before.

In Cuba, the neighborhood know-it-alls assured that it happened around 1992. The discussions begin and, with them, so do the adapted maps in which individual calamity comes together with collective calamity without any visible seams. If there really was a Special Period…what was the previous one called?

Two ways of doing tourism: the beaches prohibited to Cubans and a couple of stick huts within the “popular camping” scene for the socialist and proletariat vanguard; a bunch of channels on the satellite television service of luxury hotels and that televisual insult, adapted to four missiles which repeat the same thing every day and which no one can stand; comfortable and safe airplanes, cars, and buses against vehicles which are re-built and re-nailed onto the nostalgia of the 40′s; two kinds of diets: the one which every human being should consume, which no one should ever prostitute themselves for, and the other, the one they sold us wrapped in the most criminal of collective rations (a smelly oil to lubricate our stomachs, some grains and a bit of brownish-gray sugar) and which we accepted as an act of state subordination without any historical antecedents. A parliament, a Single Party which aims to govern, which dreams of popular respect and acknowledgement and which drowns in the anonymous massacre which bleeds us dry through the worst style of corruption, while the citizen-ants lift the foundations of a civil society which, more sooner than later, will impose itself…if it manages to escape the beatings, imprisonments, and the public scandals.

Two ways of clapping: accepting everything with resignation, tightening our teeth and closing our eyes and ears before the puppets, saying yes, but no, saying no, but saying yes. We scream loudly in the plaza, at the top of our lungs, up to the point that we skin our hands of hating and envying our neighbors so much, and yet we mumble our failure on the oven, in silence, so that we do not lose our last rations of respiration, like he whose life is full of pain, like he who is to blame.

Translated by Raul G.

3 July 2012