By Lynn Cruz
HAVANA TIMES – “How sad when everything changes, when deep down we don’t want things to change.” That is the line of one of the characters of the German film Good Bye, Lenin, perhaps the most emotional of the film. When everything is gone, my childhood will disappear forever, and with it, the convictions of a little kid, a lover since then of the ideals of social justice.
An arbitrary and illegal decision on Thursday, January 9, led the visual artist Javier Caso, to an interrogation at the immigration offices of K and 17, in the Cuban capital’s El Vedado neighborhood.
There is only something compared to the reactions of empathy and solidarity in social networks, regarding the audio (below with English subtitles). That bitter moment when returning happily from a shoot, and by telephone, Javi, (as he is known among his relatives and close friends), told us that “they” were calling him in for the next day. I asked him if they left motives and he confirmed that there was no written motive, just that he show up at 10:00 am.
It was at sunset, so that the last rays of the sun vanished without our being aware. We had a plan, dinner together at home (we cooked pasta for Javi) and then go to the cinema to see Habana Selfie, by Cuban filmmaker Arturo Santana.
It’s funny how it starts to be a discomfort. We were not the same. While we were watching the movie, we couldn’t help touching on the subject for a few seconds, until we finally got our attention back. I felt anger, helplessness, hate, but I tried not to express it to Javi or Miguel Coyula, a filmmaker, and my partner.
How we got the audio is an anecdote that is not for me to disclose. We just couldn’t believe we had it in our hands. We knew the responsibility involved in owning that material. While Miguel edited and talked with Javi, we told each other again and again, this is something serious, it means stripping power. How could we be sure to make a right decision?
If there were no witnesses, which in this case constituted the telephone, it is most likely that our situation in Cuba had worsened. That the representation of the law of a country, such as the police, has the power to determine that an artist is no longer such for being independent of state institutions, and that this autonomy is due to the fact that he/she is funded by the CIA, very serious accusations. None of that can be overlooked.
The saddest thing of all is that while today there are social networks, how many people have suffered from the absolute darkness, without having the slightest support, just because they question or exercise their citizenship, as the Greeks said, you can’t be a citizen without being political.
Remember the case of the writer Heberto Padilla, who, like a Galileo, was forced to retract his writings and leave the country.
The image of Rafael Alcides appears again and again in my head. Perhaps because the documentary Nadie (Nobody) (2017) initiated a series of events, which have led us to survive on the fringes; since April 2018, I cannot exercise my profession as an actress. They do not allow me. I am censored, for my opinions in this column of Havana Times, as a culmination of the police raid to prevent the screening of Nadie in the Casa Galería El Círculo, directed by the visual artist Luis Trapaga. And later, the repression of our play The Enemies of the People.
This audio obtained from Javier, is similar to opening a window of the torture room. Of what the Cuban poet María Elena Cruz Varela would express in her testimonies about her political prison, the white tortures, which leave no visible marks, such as wounds or bruises. Those I’d say designed so that the world does not believe us.
This is the record of what happened from one of the many offices that exist throughout the Island, to neutralize people listed by the system as a threat to power. It means protection, but, at the same time, a commitment to that truth, while assuming the possible consequences.
When I first heard the audio, I felt the same as I have noticed in the reactions of all who are sharing their impressions, helplessness, anger and disgust. Of hearing so many times an agent of law and order, expressing himself like a common criminal. In the end, it leaves me with a deep sadness. I want to close with the statements we wrote on our Facebook walls as a political position, regarding the questioning of what we should or should not publish.
Javier Caso: The (1961) words to the intellectual’s speech of Fidel Castro and Decree Law 349, of 2018, are still valid in Cuba. This video shows the testimony of my personal experience, with Cuban State Security, when I was summoned for an interrogation, on January 9, 2020. One more piece of proof of censorship and repression towards Cuban artists, intellectuals and opponents. The first step in a chain of actions that the Cuban authorities attack with impunity against anyone who expresses a different opinion.
People still speak in low voices on the Island when talking about the Government. We Cubans have a responsibility to do something for ourselves. It is imperative that we express ourselves freely.
Lynn Cruz: The National Revolutionary Police (PNR) use all weapons to defame, intimidate, and separate loved ones. We have received a new attack from agents that leave me more questions than answers. How is it possible that the PNR is in charge of deciding who is or isn’t an artist? Who besides myself can say what I am?
How can they have a green light to coerce people who have only committed the crime of not bowing their heads? Is it incompressible for the Cuban government that a person can simply be brave, honest and dignified?
These agents only prove their ignorance about us and our life stories. It doesn’t matter that the reason for these actions are ridiculous. However, I understand that the more the enemy is unknown, it’s easier to defend the interests of those they represent. They only had the strength to accuse us of receiving financing from the CIA.
To what extent is all this just an episode, to make us see the loss of worth within the body that represents the law, whose agents behave like any common criminal. It’s painful to see all the morale of a people trampled, which can no longer distinguish between a bandit and a gentleman.
Miguel Coyula: Independent art in legal Cuba does not exist. What many commented, is now confirmed in this testimony of Javier Caso: A lesson in ethics and solidarity that is scarce in these times. Once I said that we will have to be the criminals of cinema in this Cuba of Decree Law 373. We are many accused of receiving funding from the CIA and of not being artists. The agents in this recording cannot understand that art does not sprout to earn money or to destroy a government.
Inspiration is born of mysterious contradictions, inexplicable, especially for an automaton. The satisfaction of a work done without compromises is priceless, nor does it need material compensation. Law, Money and Art are incompatible. That is why unjust laws exist only to be broken. You can always be free: NO to decree law 349 and decree law 373.