Cleverness vs Hard-headedness: My Fate at Stake

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo from a river in Viñales by Caridad.
Photo from a river in Viñales by Caridad.

HAVANA TIMES — The first of September this year I, a professional educated by the Cuban revolution, found myself inside a prison cell. They detained me for delivering food products without a license and fined me 1,500 pesos, around what I’d managed to earn during the stifling month of August, pedaling my bike under the hot sun and inhaling tasty mouthfuls of diesel smoke.

After going through that disagreeable experience, did I quit my job as an unlicensed delivery boy? Of course I didn’t. I had to recover the amount of the fine and put food on the able, so I continued to transport the merchandise illegally on a box secured to my old, Forever-brand bicycle.

It’s very stressful to head out in the morning, not knowing whether you’ll end up in a cell that day. I like to confront life’s challenges with realism but, on several occasions, I caught myself fantasizing about a relative leaving me an inheritance, finding a wallet full of money on the street or being invited to travel abroad by a friend…anything that would allow me to get away from it all for a while.

One day, I got home, fed up with a number of setbacks I’d run in it and, surprise surprise, the miracle had come true. The US embassy called me and invited me to take part in an investigative journalism course that would be offered in the United States. I accepted immediately.

I have a love-hate relationship with that tumultuous and brutal empire. I hate it because it is the chief pillar of the unjust and ecocidal world order. I love it because it is the cradle of the countercultural and anti-establishment currents that have inspired me so much.

I don’t want to offer a rational explanation for a decision that wasn’t entirely that. I accepted the offer because I was tired of my day-to-day reality, because – an islander through and through – I’m dying to get to know the outside world, and because this scholarship gives me an opportunity to improve the work I devote my free time to.

Here on HT, I have given voice to all of the negative opinions I hold regarding Cuba’s political order and its chief culprits. In response, they have closed all doors on me and almost stifled me, financially.

I have also expressed all of the terrible things I think about imperialism, capitalism and Obama’s policies here, without mincing my words, and they, on the other hand, have offered me this opportunity.

Could there be an ulterior motive? It’s possible, but that’s out of my hands. When the CIA contacts me, I’ll tell you all about it.

Nota: I am currently in San Diego, California.  If anyone wants to converse with me I would be delighted.  However, I don’t speak a lot of English. 

3 thoughts on “Cleverness vs Hard-headedness: My Fate at Stake

  • would love to learn more of your story. how can i connect with you?

  • Almost certainly there is an ulterior motive. They aren’t doing it from the kindness of their heart. I would investigate further the source of the money to fund your studies and why the offer came through the embassy and not from an educational establishment. It is sad that there there appears to be an attempt to buy off, manipulate and subvert the independent debate here at Havana Times.

  • Relax Erasmo. In the scheme of things, you are not even on the CIA radar. Your criticism of US policy is what we call democracy and free. I encourage that you arrive on the US with an open mind. Try to set aside everything that you have read in Granma about the US. Just have a good time.

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