HAVANA TIMES – I’ve been under this bridge for nearly two hours. Luckily, I’m in the shade and I’m sitting on the small wall on the side. The highway is pretty much empty, two girls could play jacks in peace. Two girls from my generation that is, girls nowadays would go for more sophisticated, and maybe less healthy, games.
I’m waiting for somebody who hadn’t agreed to come pick me up, and there are approximately 20 others in the same boat as me. This is Life now, waiting for something that never comes and days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years and the brief time the Divine gives us mortals to do something on the face of this Earth is passing by between hardship and a lack of future, so you have to withdraw with the feeling that you never lived.
But I’ve learned to take things easily, there’s no other choice, and so I calmly listen to stupid things that don’t even get on my nerves any more.
Two ladies are talking about a certain violent incident in the US, the violence in that country surprises them. One of them exclaims that our country is the best in the world to live in, that the only problem here is food because there is a lot of safety. The other woman says that every country has its problems, ours is food but in others they don’t have any peace and she points out how Palestinians are being massacred in Gaza. Well, she didn’t name this strip of land exactly, she doesn’t even know where it is, much less the roots of a seriously complicated conflict.
In the past, I would have intervened to tell them that we not only have hunger, but also a great deal of violence. Every day, you hear about a fight, a murder, an attack or theft.
Everything is in shortage too, there isn’t any medicine, hospitals are disgusting, houses are collapsing, the regular blackouts, lack of transport and especially a lack of freedom. But there is plenty of hardship and repression to go around.
But it’s not worth the effort, the women don’t seem to understand anything. They are living in a slavery bubble like the majority of Afro-Cubans from the colonial era when they used to think their owners were good just because they filled their tummies and gave them days to dance and play drums, and they weren’t whipped if they behaved well. If one of them dared to rebel, they were ungrateful. There’s a reason for the saying that has withstood the centuries: “Worse than Aponte.”
They’re like the crowd of people I saw recently, I don’t know in which province, but they were cheering the Black Berets during a public exhibition. Over 100 persons gathered to enjoy that disgusting spectacle while those hitmen displayed their martial arts techniques, the same techniques they use to beat any Cuban who dares to protest. But there they were applauding like good slaves.
I lost my thought when I saw a Ford truck belonging to my friend Osniel pull up. I wrote a chronicle called “Gente Buena en Cuba” about him three years ago. He stopped like he regularly does to pick up people standing there.
Without making too much small talk, he went straight to the point and began to ask me what I was still doing in Cuba, and he told me that he couldn’t bear it any longer. He was run down by inspectors, corruption and red tape. “I’m up on my feet at 5 AM every day, but I woke up at 9 AM today, I don’t want to do anything, I only struggle for my kids, because I want to leave.”
The conversation continued about the national situation and before arriving he told me: “You’re right, part of the blame goes to this very same people who don’t want to be free, that’s why this will continue for 100 years.”
It’s nighttime and I switch on the TV which is in the bedroom, and whilst I shower I listen to them talking about the IV Conference about Nation and Emigration on the news. Attending a few shameless people who have come on the show to play into the dictatorship’s game, which always humiliated them. I can’t help but listen to the sickening statements because I forgot to turn the volume down and I listened to one of them thank the regime for allowing them to take part in the national economy.
That is to say, the heirs of Fidel Castro and real owners of the county are deciding – as always – who is Cuban, who isn’t, who can enter and leave the country, when your Cubanness can be recognized. These unprincipled freeloaders, who treated most of them like scum, state the conditions they need to invest in their own country, while they are thankful for the breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs that the regime hands out depending on its interests and right now, it desperately needs to attract more tourism and remittances for its coffers, that’s why it’s talking about unity and other manipulative nonsense.
For example, the great chess master Leinier Dominguez is now able to join the national team if he so chooses, after deciding several years ago to emigrate to the US, and the government-controlled press said that he doesn’t deserve to be called Cuban.
Not only him, but other good chess players too who have defected in recent years. I don’t doubt that some of them will accept the offer, because the anthropological damage has been so great over these past 64 years that we carry slavery in our DNA, wherever we go.