HAVANA TIMES — In a country where government media describes a make believe reality or true only for the privileged elite, those of us who are independent journalists in Cuba usually only see what disappoints us.
This makes us sarcastic, skeptical and unconquerable beings. However, walking through Havana, I have picked up on a gradual rebirth for quite some time now.
I tell my friends and they give me dismissive smirks. As if it were autosuggestion, or this cheesy nuanced optimism of the beautiful photos and sickly-sweet music which goes around cyberspace and which is labeled spam (junk mail).
I tell them about restoration works which reveal the city’s architectural beauty, about the built-in lights in walls which will highlight bas-reliefs and statues, competing only with our dreams. About the fountains which have suddenly come back to life, fountains which were dry and covered in dirt for decades, and now they spout clear water.
I tell them that when I get into private-collective taxis, I see every passenger get into the vehicle and say: “Good day, good afternoon…” as if our lost values (better yet, forgotten values) have suddenly woken up. I see small private businesses display their clever initiatives to attract people’s attention, all of this gives color to the landscape, giving it momentum, current: life.
I tell them about the bustle of tourists, about an undescribable commotion, like those noises which travel in the distance and only animals or psychics pick up on: unrest, movement, change.
And so what? they reply. If wages are the same, and prices are only going up? And what, if you see people begging, old people selling plastic bags, more alcoholics than ever before and even homeless people? And you have to see the state our hospitals are in…! And you have to swallow the slogans, and the TV with its eulogies for the “great leader”!
It must be that everyone only sees what they want to, I thought. Of living so long with our backs turned towards the velocity of this day and age, between promises which have faded (or are still fading) in time and restrained repetitions, between the urgency of saying goodbye and improvising, we have ended up giving into the suggestion that logic will never come within our reach.
However, it’s known that transformation is the first characteristic of the physical world. When we believed (or we were convinced) that we remained firm, static, homes fell apart in front of our eyes, people used to repeat (or repeat) the incredible by instinct, and our forbidden truth overflowed in silence, in apathy, in emigration statistics.
We knew that “surrealism”, in practice, is unsustainable. Cuba is also doomed to an order (which isn’t and will never be equal justice), whereby profits are made by work produced and not by what can be “scraped” off a State which allows the theft which in turn eats away at its own roots.
I saw this city (my city) in the sweet ‘80s and I was witness to the crisis in the ‘90s, whose end can’t be fixed with a certain date and has run over into this new millenium. And I was never witness to such an obvious recovery.
Even though I also see the frivolity of younger generations, the unspoken pressures, the government’s cooperation in destroying our morals, physical damages (broken streets, suffering animals, extended garbage), I can also see that reconstruction work (markets, stores, cultural centers) is happening at the same time, giving way to new spaces. And bright, unstoppable fabrics are being assembled which are regenerating our social fiber. The majority of reasons are selfish, the same as the ones which move the rest of the world: economy, comfort, power… but this reorganization is giving birth to more civilized co-living systems.
And the government is still there controlling things, but it has been forced to change, to give way a little, for its own survival.
If I believe in anything, that’s in the universe and its laws, which this island forms a part of, no matter how much our naive chauvinism makes us believe we are an exception. Nothing is really static, not even dead people. The decomposition process is a trance where elements boil; it doesn’t matter whether the process is sped up with fire or whether the body is hidden under marble gravestones.
Now that movement is clear to the naked eye, all we have to do now is know when to insert ourselves into the swing of things. At the end of the day, it’s not just Cuban society, but the human race which is divided into two groups, like Marti established: those who build and those who destroy. No matter how much our circumstances push us, every one of us makes our own choice.