My Trip to Maisi that Never Happened

Luis Rondon Paz

The entrance to the Ministry of Culture.
The entrance to the Ministry of Culture.

HAVANA TIMES — Since October, professionals from different sectors of society have been transferred to Cuba’s Far-East from several provinces. The main reason for this national mobilization was to provide support to the local population in different ways because of the great blow the province of Guantanamo suffered from hurricane Matthew, especially Baracoa and Maisi.

Ever since I can remember, Cuba has a strong national and international tradition of providing aid to those who for reasons out of their control, fall into misfortune, this is a value that distinguishes the Cuban people. Community action which uses art to empower and return hope to the hearts of people affected and the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew wasn’t an exception. In early November, I was called, along with another actor, to participate in join the artist’s brigade that was already giving the gift of their art to people in Guantanamo.

As an artist, creator and communicator, I was excited about the idea of being able use my skills to provide moral and emotional support to people who had literally lost everything. Especially children, who suffer so much in a situation of this magnitude.

I spoke with the assistant manager at the “Actuar” agency on the phone on several occasions, so that everything would work out well, as I had to plan my time so that I would be available for the week that this mobilization would last. It was important to highlight the fact that my services as an artist would be completely free of change. However, I was informed that the only thing they would give me was food and healthcare.

After several conversations on the phone, it was decided that I would leave on Sunday November 6th at 7 AM.

I must also point out that, as well as being an actor, I also write independently, so I took the precaution not to make my visit to Maisi public until I was completely sure that I would travel without any problems. This I was able to personally confirm on Saturday November 5th at around 2 PM with the director of the Agency who would answer for me on this adventure.

On Saturday November 5th, I was busy until late picking out some theater scripts for children and adults, poetry books, stories, educational games and a few songs to liven things up.

Everything was ready.

On Sunday, at 5:15 in the morning, carrying my backpack and tripod, I made my way to Havana’s Vedado in the rain, and as had been planned, I showed up at the Ministry of Culture’s entrance at 6:15 AM. I already imagined myself on the bus heading towards Cuba’s far-eastern provinces. Well, that’s what I thought, until I was faced suddenly with a completely different reality.

However, the place was empty, there weren’t any buses and there weren’t any employees from this institution who could tell me what that meant. There was only a security guard who knew nothing whatsoever about my trip to Guantanamo, much less about some kind transport that would leave this place at 7 in the morning.

In such an unpleasant situation like this, I called the vice-director of the agency that represents me, because I had been informed up until the last minute by her about this journey.

To make a long story short, nobody at the Ministry of Culture knew anything about my supposed trip on November 6th, and Performing Arts, the institution which was responsible for dealing with me for this event, outdid itself with its absence.

In the end, I waited two hours for an explanation or a clear answer about what had happened and nobody knew what to tell me about such a fiasco.

The next day, I called up the institution that represents me as an artist to ask for an explanation as to why I had been put in such an unpleasant situation. That’s when I found out why. “According to an employee at the Programing Department at the Performing Arts Council, they had informed the Actuar Agency that there were problems with transport in advance and that they had got in touch with me to tell me that the trip had been cancelled until further notice.”

Unbelievable, I said to myself. And I demanded an apology for having been made to lose my time and money. I received this apology on behalf of the agency that represents me, but up until today, I still haven´t heard anything from the other institution involved in this mess.

Nevertheless, what I did make perfectly clear was that the Actuar Agency and definitely the Performing Arts will never be able to count on me again, as my time is very valuable to me.

I like to think that my trip to Maisi couldn’t be thanks to one of the great ills that the majority of Cuban institutions have: terrible communication management between institutions.

Luis Rondón

Luis Rondon Paz: Activist, Queer, computer scientist, actor, photographer, student and apprentice journalist. Originally from Santiago de Cuba. I believe that people are life projects in constant transformation. I am consistent and responsible for my actions, committed to just causes and a lover of good deeds. Today I write about Cuba in exile, free of psychological torture and persecution of the Cuban dictatorship.