A Viral Infection Within Us

Irina Echarry

Photo by Pam Martin

I’ve been a little more apprehensive of late. Everybody seems more aggressive, and I believe I’m less tolerant of people. To make matters worse, the death of several puppies a friend and I found has affected me. To feel those little hairless beings so close to me made me understand a lot of things (suddenly we can cease to exist) and it awoke other concerns. I won’t recount the questions that surround me; I’ll only explain how I feel.

Life of late turned very aggressive. People talk louder; they tell horrifying stories on the bus, like how a woman stabbed her son’s stepfather because he had drank the powdered milk she had bought the child after so much sacrifice. Plus people holler insults, like when a bus driver opened the door suddenly and caught the foot of some guy who then screamed “open the door you maricon (“fag”). After that, the driver did nothing for several minutes while the guy’s foot remained caught by the iron door.

Controversy arose among the passengers over whether the guy had demonstrated a bad attitude when he offended the driver.

But no one said anything about the time the door stayed clamped against the guy’s foot; it was normal for the driver to retaliate against someone who offended him like that.

All this is without mentioning daily life in the neighborhood, which is always present when we’re not alone.  A friend of mine, Gissel, was almost dragged to her house by another guy. Though she struggled, he held her with his hands and forced her to walk. Then he told her, “Who’s going to want to be with you if you’re a bitch?”

No one came to Gissel’s defense, though she’s just 16 and pregnant; on the contrary, all of the women on the block looked at each other with complicity and said smugly, “That girl is a lost cause.”

We’ve just ended the month of September, and after seeing all this I’ve realized that eradicating all the violence we suffer will be difficult, almost impossible.

Why? Because it’s not just a little animal that you can scare and that runs away in a panic. It’s not even a stain that will rinse away when we wash ourselves with the right soap. No, I’m talking about a plague that has infected us with a virus, and I don’t still know if we’ll find a medicine that can counteract it.

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Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

Irina Echarry has 232 posts and counting. See all posts by Irina Echarry

3 thoughts on “A Viral Infection Within Us

  • Passando aqui ví uma história, divina mesmo não a conhecendo suas palavras me causam emoção,então passo a conhecer principalmente sua personalidade e caratér de ver além… buscando seus objetivos com os olhos de esperança só tenho que agradecer por DEUS ter enviado um presente como vc em nossas vida chegarás no ultimo degral com as bençãos dos céus bjs tua fã Mary Gláucia.

  • A very touching story, Irina, and beautifully written. My prayers are for Cubans to retain their humanity.. do to others as you would have them do to you….

  • Irina: I think the rudeness and violence of which you speak comes from a misunderstanding by the PCC of the key economic component of an authentically socialist society.

    Socialism was theorized–by the mid-1800s–to be a dynamic social period allowing the people to move from capitalism, on the near shore, to a class-less, state-less, private property-less society, on the far shore. But state monopoly socialist theory brought in the principle that the socialist state ought to take over ownership all the instruments of production from the get-go.

    This moved the “private property-less” attribute from the far-shore society back to the present-day bridge period, making state monopoly socialism a form similar to the unworkable communes of people like Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owens and hundreds of other privileged-class socialists.

    When socialist regimes were established in the 20th Century, this mistake as to when and how the institutions of private property and the market were to be “abolished” caused catastrophic political and social absolutism, massive bureaucracy and ultimate economic collapse.

    I think what you are seeing, Irina, is the same sort of citizen deformations that other post-capitalist regimes have brought about through a pre-mature abolition of private property rights. If Cuba can come to its senses and reconstitute its socialism as cooperative, with a return of private property and the competitive market, the rudeness and violence you are witnessing may begin to diminish and hopefully vanish within a few years.

    But then it is said that, if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its bottom every time it jumps.

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