Less attention grabbing than a hunger strike is the matrix of people that is expanding —node by node— among people in this country who are interested in change. This is an effort that I would say is being directed toward true emancipation.
The “Observatorio Critico” (Critical Observatory) is the name of one of these networks, whose work is focused on the community, spiritual development and critical thought.
Several times a month we get together to work in some neighborhood, learn about the efforts of others, watch audiovisual presentations together, discuss various issues or simply socialize in the manner we Cubans know so well.
Founded more than five years ago, this network has been expanding around the country, maturing and enriching itself with new members. All of this has taken place in a difficult environment, since non-official activism is often looked down upon with mistrust.
Every year the Critical Observatory assembles its members in a national gathering. In these, people come to recount their experiences and to learn about those of others who are connected to the same network.
A few months ago the fourth such gathering took place in San Jose de las Lajas, in Havana Province. This was a great opportunity for face-to-face contact between people who had only heard about each other but who had still never met.
At the meeting I presented the project that a group of friends and I are leading in the Reparto Electrico community on the outskirts of Havana, where I live. For the past few years we’ve been planting trees in vacant lots, trying to secure these areas for green space before others lay claim to them to build pigsties or other private junk heaps.
That national gathering is past but we continue working, plugged into this network. At this moment I believe the Critical Observatory should be considered one of the most important social initiatives taking place in this weary country.