Alfredo Fernandez’s Diary

Two Decades That Are Three

At midnight on December 31, the world will enter the second decade of the 21st century – but we Cubans will enter the third. And it’s not that Cuba opted for a calendar different from the Gregorian one; other pressures forced us to change two for three.

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With Laughter and Affection

As mediocrity and deterioration become the norm in all settings and institutions of the country, there exist people who say “that’s enough.” With humanism, free of indolence and apathy, they carry out work that -if only because of the conditions and the time in which it is performed- is more than enough to be admired.

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Havana’s Watching You

Havana’s urban landscape has been invaded by new residents: high-tech street surveillance cameras. These magic eyes are located on the four corners of key locations and intersections, at tunnel entrances and around bridges.

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The Squalid Money Box

When I board a public bus in Havana, I pass my one peso over the money box and put it directly into the hand of the driver, who returns the look of an accomplice and silently pockets the change. This scene occurs routinely.

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Fear of Blacks and Gays

A few days ago, when concluding a departmental meeting at my job (The Carlos J. Finlay National Museum of the History of Science), a black female co-worker who recently graduated in history expressed with no qualms her indignation for the repeated appearance of homosexual relationships on Cuban television.

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Letters that Leave a Bad Taste

During parts of August and September, several letters were published in which readers, in one way or another, advocated for the elimination of the ration book to aid the ailing national economy. The ration book is a small 20-page booklet with which the Cuban people have been able to buy basic food staples at very low prices since the 1960s.

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Discussing the Un-discussable

I have to wonder, what would have happened with the US civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s if it had been led by a white person? Would it have been possible for a non-Black to deliver the extraordinary “I Have a Dream” speech?

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A Delicate Operation

Maria del Carmen has worked for almost 20 years in a warehouse of the Ministry of Education. Over this time she’s had to grapple with weight beyond her true capacity, producing serious spinal problems: a herniated disk and a spina bifida. In addition to causing horrible back pain, this has also forced her walk with a stoop, making her look older than she is.

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Hospital Blues

The bathrooms are unisex, not because of progress made by CENESEX (the Cuban Center for Sexual Education), but as a result of the general physical decline that this institution has experienced. In the few toilets that function, men and women carry out their needs around the clock.

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