Neither subjugated nor conquered

By Caridad

This country will never by conquered or subjugated
This country will never by conquered or subjugated

An eagle fallen on its head is split in two by a red triangle.   The triangle, with a white star in the center, splits the eagle at its thorax, just where the eagle itself (in an ancient Greek myth) ripped out the entrails of Prometheus, day after day.

Day after day I have to see this billboard, with a slogan stating that we will never be conquered or subjugated.

I don’t worry much about the contrast of so many billboards of such bad taste along the roads that lead to the most beautiful beaches in Havana province.

Neither am I overly concerned about the fact that the billboard is wrong: we were already conquered in 1492, by the fun-loving Spanish and we were subjugated to them (nearly to the point of exterminating our native population) and then again by those governments all-too friendly with the North Americans, including the US government itself.

What really worries me is the return of the nightmare. Constantly seeing this poor quartered bird, with the aggressiveness hidden behind the slogan, I could start having war dreams.

War is not a figment of my imagination. It was real.

I believe it was during the years of the Reagan administration. On several occasions my father would arrive home with specific instructions of what to do in case of an air raid.

I was no more than 10 years old, but I had already seen enough Russian (war) movies in which the bombs had no respect for anything. They might blow to pieces a cute little dog, or obliterate a house or explode right on top of a child.

When the airplanes come, there is nowhere to hide from them. They find you wherever you are. If it’s nighttime, you can’t turn on the lights and the forced darkness causes terror even in adults.

They recommended that we dig out a shelter in the backyard of the house. I asked my father if I could hide my teddy bear, Misha, there. My father (who had already lived through one war, in Angola, which he didn’t enjoy) got very upset and told me no.

– Only necessities in the shelter, water and food, he said.

My teddy bear Misha
My teddy bear Misha

Thus the horrible clayey hole emerged in our back yard, which filled with water every time it rained. Thus began those dreams too, in which I heard the sinister sound of an airplane or helicopter ready to quarter my family. The nightmares continued until just a year ago. I don’t think they were only caused by those scenes from childhood.

My dreams of war were fed daily not only by my memories of those days, but also by the discourse I heard on the radio, the television and the propagandistic billboards dispersed along all of our roads; by every document that I had to pick up at the Offices of Defense (in order to start a new job) or by those Sundays (less common now) in which I had to participate in a Defense Brigade in order to be ready in case of War.

War. War. War.

It’s hard to believe that a person can dream so much about something they have not actually experienced.

Most Cubans (besides those who fought in Africa) have never experienced war, but we all use the language or, in one way or another, we maintain our preparedness to confront it.

How terrible it is to live life preparing to kill others, so that they don’t kill us.

The shelter filled with garbage, water, weeds and, little by little, it filled in with the same soil that we had dug out of it.

I stopped calling my teddy bear Misha, but it is the only toy that I saved from my childhood. Reagan lost his interest in our country and slipped into the arms of Alzheimer’s.

Every month at workplaces we give a small contribution to the Territorial Militia Troops. I still don’t know what I would do if for real, one day, my country is engulfed in war.


Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

2 thoughts on “Neither subjugated nor conquered

  • Hello Yordanka

    i have missed a lot here, and i wanted to let you know… esp u.. how much i feel u.. i know that i certainly enjoy your writings like none other however, this is not to say that others are good or bad, i am not here as anyone with enuff writing askills to criticize. Suffice that after reading your front and forward, in your face unbeaten unbowed writings i must say that my spirits are lifted.
    This article brought tears as most do and i cannot help but matter my politics..
    Yordanka everyone has forgotten us..Reagon, however did not slip into alzheimers he was ordered there simply becuzz he forgot..MAAT”

    Your words

    Neither am I overly concerned about the fact that the billboard is wrong: we were already conquered in 1492, by the fun-loving Spanish and we were subjugated to them (nearly to the point of exterminating our native population) and then again by those governments all-too friendly with the North Americans, including the US government itself

  • Today, i am sad because the US just lost a man who the NY statue of liberty spoke of in Emma Lazarus words inscripted on the statue which has heralded and welcomed in so many from far off lands.

    Give . me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shores
    Send there..the homeless..the tempest tost to me
    i lift my lamp beside the golden door

    Sister i use that poem because as an immigrant and an exile i as well as our family felt welcomed by the idea of acceptance, albeit not for long.
    Today we lost the lion of the senate in Senator Edward M Kennedy. This icon believed in others, he always put public service and the national good ahead of himself..He was the defender of the dream. Thus it was never about him but always about ..We the people”..This is not hyperbole or in a literal way, rather in his treatment of all peoples

    Personally, Sen Kennedy will be a had walk to follow we will never see his like again.


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