Red Sea, Blue Sea / Regina Coyula

In the beginning there was the word, before discovering his vocation behind the camera, still being a boy, Miguel wrote really well. Now, with this novel he should prove it, although he excuses himself by saying that it’s early. It doesn’t matter — in Red Sea, Blue Sea, the obsessions are there that would (will) become movies. Congratulations on your presentation.

Saturday, 19 October at 1 PM EDT (at) The Place of Miami in Miami. Go and cooperate with the artist!!

And… you can buy it here!

Translated by: JT

18 October 2013

The “Revoliquera” Experience (Reloaded) / Regina Coyula

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I put up this post this past Friday, but the WordPress goblins made it disappear. With my scarce connection time and my barely adequate technical knowledge, I wasted a copious amount of time looking for responses in a forum, and along the way, restoring this post. Management having failed, I’ll do this the old way: by repeating it.

The Revoliquera* Experience

If I ask a youth with occasional internet access which page referring to Cuba he visits, almost certainly he’ll respond with Facebook. It doesn’t matter that it’s not Cuban. The social network par excellence keeps him up to date with his artists and favorite athletes and let’s him meet up with his school friends, who today can be the same in Miami as in Madrid or Moscow.

But if I consult a young fan of technology or video games, or who is just growing out of his first childhood, the more sure is that he’ll answer that his favorite page is Revolico, the site of national sales & buying, born from the lack of a physical space inside Cuba to accommodate a classified ad.

It’s impossible to walk down the street and not see bills posted on phone poles announcing electronic musical concerts or house parties. On bus walls appear printed announcements of exchanges, nor does a car attract any attention with a cardboard box behind the windshield with hurried letters that read: “FOR SALE”. The yellow pages of the telephone book increasingly recognize the emerging private services sector, but even there the space is insufficient to insert a perishable or offensive ad. Here is where the online note triumphs.

No matter the real estate market, where the false image of an enormous (and overpriced) residential listing is for sale, poking around on revolico.com reveals that Cubans aren’t too interested in whether or not the government is going to build socialism; but meanwhile, each provides their own management style, and for some it doesn’t seem to be going badly. The productive forces of this country are in the starting blocks waiting for the starter’s gun to go off, and Revolico is becoming pre-competition training.

And if you don’t have access to the internet, that is no longer a problem. Inside a weekly or monthly 500 GB pack you can find an offline version of the popular site that now permits even the opening of links to photos; “It’s exactly the same as seeing it on the Internet,” a neighbor told me who copied her own version from me last week. As it is often forbidden to access Revolico from work and school, or the page won’t open and is redirected to the searcher, disturbed souls have posted alternative addresses and proxies that lead to the revoliquera (messy) experience.

Office services, translations, language classes, wedding dress rental, jobs, loans with interest, clowns, quotes … that amalgam makes up the pages of Revolico, a much better known site within Cuba than Generation Y, and more visited than CubaDebate.

Translator’s note: “Revoliquera” is an adjective roughly meaning “messy” created from the word “revolico” which in Cuban slang means “a mess”; it is the name of the Cuban site that is the equivalent of “Craigslist.”

Translated by: JT

13 May 2013

I, Citizen

The Laboratorio Casa Cuba makes a very interesting proposal, a space of which I have vague references. Invited to give my opinion, I sent some ideas after a first reading. We are many who dream about Cuba, although our dreams might be like life: diverse and even opposed; the challenge is in finding consensus.

I invite you to enrich this proposal with your opinions. (labcasacuba@gmail.com)

Translated by: JT

22 March 2013

The Violence that Touches Us

I believe I have successfully crossed the threshold of the 21st Century, a century that I prefer to believe more inclusive, comprehensive, and cohesive. After having been educated in certain social and ideological intolerance, I’ve gotten past them. My lesbian friends — they aren’t my friends so I can be “tuned in” — rather because their friendships enrich my life. I have other friendships whose political or religious posture could make us enemies, but for a long time my values of good and evil are established according to my beliefs; no more will I leave in other hands the thinking I should be doing for myself.

Gender-based violence just hasn’t not disappeared, but it remains buried, and sometimes so much so in our machista society, where the publicity campaigns look very pretty on the posters and audiovisuals; but looking at it closely, or listening to reggae music, you see it like a persistent bad weed.

The quantity of women with whom I’ve discussed this subject who have confessed to being victims is alarming; victims of the passions of a boss and of the consequences of rejection, and the higher the position of the boss, the worse it is for the woman; some end up giving up and almost all remained silent about it in shame because they (we) were educated in blame.

It might seem contradictory from the above that I should defend Ángel Santiesteban. As I have known him for many years, and I’ve taken interest in this case from the beginning, I allow myself to doubt the transparency of the trial and the objectivity of the witnesses, and I allow myself to think that the accuser has been manipulated, “another subtle form of the exercise of violence.”

I see a group of intellectual women passing judgment on this case of which they do not possess sufficient evidence, despite adding that … nobody can judge these facts without knowing the depth of the damage …. I want to point out a quote from a letter these intellectuals circulated on International Womens’ Day … whoever uses these theories is reproducing aggression; like those who blame the victim of a rape of having provoked her aggressor.

It’s inevitable for anyone who knows even minimally the hostage state to which the Ladies in White have been subjected to keep that in mind. On the margins of political beliefs, to ignore the copious testimony of the violence exercised against them, is to blame them for having provoked their aggressor.

It’s not enough to bring focus on the phenomenon through a particular mention of an alleged act of violence and a general mention of the rest of the violence against women in our society.  Anything one might do with this approach isn’t enough, given the environment tainted by the stereotypes in which we’ve lived. It won’t be with a bland and superficial reading of a text filled with ironies that the poet Rafael Alcides might write that the struggle for equality and respect. will be won. Equality and respect for women and for any other form of discrimination.

Translated by: JT

15 March 2013

In Baseball

My worst fears came to pass. Holland has us sized up. Like the majority of readers pontificated, we aren’t going to the next round. I’ll leave it to those who know the analysis of factors of the defeat of a team into which so many resources were invested. Marginally, my personal impression is that the charisma of Victor Mesa was adverse to the team and applied additional pressure to that it already carried. Differently than those who are happy about it, I so lament not being able to see them play in San Francisco.

Translated by: JT

11 March 2013

Virgilisms

I’ve been reading Virgelio Piñera a lot in this, his centenary year, and I’ve even written a couple of works about him. But Virgilio “might have given himself a banquet” with national absurdity. We have signs of this through tall tales and gossip, and also through Granma, which despite cherry-picking his works and the letters they receive, they have regaled us with this Virgilian story that adorns the Letters to the Editor section of this past Friday.

Unknown registrations continue in my house

Before I start, my sincere thanks for having published my letter this past August 3, 2012. In that letter, I denounced my situation about having two people registered in my house who’ve never lived in it, at the same time they appear as “transients” in their mother’s house, with whom they’ve lived since birth.

Following the publication of my letter, inspectors from MININT [Ministry of the Interior] investigated the truth of my claim, but nothing has come of it. The prosecutor’s office, after declaring that I’m in a “legal limbo”, has left me submerged in it.

The order that has the CIRP — the ID card — only under willing and express request of the person involved, is the equivalent in my view, of arguing that the thieves will only be caught if they willing present themselves to a unit of the National Revolutionary Police. When a person acts in bad faith, as in the case of those enrolled in my house, of course they will not give themselves up spontaneously.

It’s really inconceivable that such a simple and obvious case hasn’t found a solution after two years of all levels of effort.

A. Marín Rodríguez

After things like that, and as a tribute, we could rephrase that to say, If Kafka had been Cuban, he would have written of local customs to say: If Kafka had been Cuban, he would have written Virgilisms.

Translated by: JT

October 17 2012

Lessons

Sometimes the Cuban democratization process seems easier as I see it almost every day. Lay Space and the Felix Varela Center, under the supervision of the Church; Temas and last public Thursday, the magazine Criteria and other academic spaces seem to have, if not the magic bullet, at least an idea of how. In these environments it is common to hear terms such as participation, empowerment of civil society, multiparty, electoral system, all terms that converge and are consumed in democracy.

The government has chosen the ostrich technique, as if to look the other way, the problems discussed in the above forums, — and in others less conventional but equally active — will be solved, or rather, did not exist. This attitude is essential for the maintenance of power, but it is irresponsible to ignore that this active minority pronounced in forums or brief published magazines and retail distribution roll, is precisely the group of people who are thinking about Cuba.

Moreover, the government has had a delayed reaction, it is not until recently that there is talk in the media of Cuban civil society, for example, referring to the artistic intelligentsia gathered under UNEAC (the Writers and Artists Union). It was a bloody end, having long before been adopted to opposition groups, and therefore unrecognized, groups that in any normal country defend their space without earning the scorn of the government. Some organizations can not in any way rule out others, in this exclusion is implied a sort of political racism that is as detestable as other forms of exclusion.

I just said it, it comes in handy for commenting on a proposed initiative by the Critical Observatory, for the next elections, to vote with a D in the column blank, an initiative that has received much criticism. It is not a call to insurrection to seize power. It is a citizens’ initiative, one more of the many and varied that are needed for democratic learning.
It is true that all the D’s will go in the column of the voided ballots, but the presence of citizens in during the vote counting allows them to know the data base, that is how many ballots were voices (even if they don’t vote, they are on the list of voters, it is their right by law).
The more citizens take the initiative, the more interesting is the comparison of these numbers with the official figures. The government could also publish, in one of their tabloids that they print for any need, the outcome of the vote in every school in the country, divided into provinces and municipalities, and even districts if you wanted to be picky and silence those who believe that the result is manipulated.

I get lost in these topics that I think about so much and yet I find it difficult to write with the brevity I wanted. I remember blogger Yoani Sanchez in a police station facing an official who is warning her that she is disqualified for dialogue. This functionary at best didn’t know that to have a personal blog makes you responsible for yourself and your opinions; this functionary at best interpreted as political interest her interest in politics. Or maybe he thought of nothing and only complied with an order.

My son is starting at the university as an undergraduate, and in an introductory class on Commercial Law the emphasized the need to know the laws, the rights and duties of citizens, and when he asked who had read the Constitution, or at least skimmed it none of the students raised their hand. The helplessness involved such ignorance is an alarm with respect to the future, because I have the impression that these young people have been subjected to such politicization that they are immune to politics, and that is not good.

These two moments, though at first glance may it not seem so, are related to the exercise of citizenship as an inherent right. For now, I’ve left the little blue booklet of the Constitution for my son on his nightstand. I do not know if the political police who scolded Yoani already have learned that in a civil dialogue partners are elected by their constituents. And to grant or deny rights is the law.

Translated by: JT

September 17 2012

SECULAR PRAYER FOR LAURA POLLÁN

Courtesy of Rafael Alcides for Bad Handwriting

For you I could not ask, Laura Pollán, that you rest in peace like we do for the currently deceased, because you will never rest in peace.

On the contrary.

Pollen deposited by the wind on plazas and streets in its new form of life which for you is just starting, with more spirit such that you’ll never spend your days replicating yourself, multiplied by your Ladies in White in glory until, of your country is made, an entire island of Lauras, as I now remember her and celebrate her — I swear to God I’ve seen it — the new day is coming, and it’s here, pushing at the door.

To get rid of your body in the act was, I’m sure, the order. Cremate her at once. Do not permit her, in any way, a goodbye, a kiss, and a hand on your coffin from those who will continue applauding you on feeling you pass, invisibly, through the streets making skirts fly and caps point straight forward.

And when at the end of all this came the very considered authorization from above, it was not out of mercy nor from decency; it was, Laura, that they were threatened by this nuclear bomb named Berta Soler. The farewell obtained — that goodbye which lasted all night and part of the next day for the deceased, for you it was reduced to two hours from midnight and this — posted with midnight passed already, when all transportation has died, the city has been turned off and the world sleeps.

Such dread for Laura Pollán, such superstitious terror, such huge nervousness. You surprised them like Agramonte against the Spanish, that they’d burnt that son of Camagüey — according to a careless but emotional poem of my school days — because, even after death, his body frightened the King’s soldiers.

But Agramonte was riding a horse, Laura. Agramonte rode around armed with a machete and a shotgun, cutting heads off at a gallop with the enthusiasm of a liberator, able to hide himself in the mountains with his column if the enemy exceeded him in number or if in combat he’d run out of ammunition.

And you, Laura, walked on foot. On foot with your legendary Ladies In White through the Havana streets, on foot and without so much as a little garden along the side of the road where you could take refuge from the claws, the teeth, the stones, and insults. And you came to pray, not to kill. To pray. To pray for the political prisoners first, and then to pray for Cuba, carrying — like a regulation weapon — facing the wild pack, suddenly taken from a hat, a humble gladiola.

With no offense meant to Agramonte (may God preserve me!), today I shall stay with you, Laura Pollán. With you and your Ladies In White for peace.

Amen.

Translated by: JT

October 17 2011

Radio Reloj*, Again

Yesterday at 6 PM, I turned off the little AM-FM radio with which I “inform” myself. In Cuba, they don’t sell multiband radios, an urban legend affirms that if you take one of these to a State-owned repair shop, it will be returned to you mutilated and you’ll no longer be able to hear Radio Netherlands, the BBC, the VOA, or Spanish Foreign Radio.

There still remain — very well thought out — a few Selena brand radios left from the Soviet era. In the store they sell a little Chinese radio made especially for Cuba because it is presumed that it runs on solar batteries, and even comes with a crank to wind up a generator, something perfect in a season of storms — and even for when there aren’t storms, but they’ve taken the electricity down. All good basic features, only mine only seems to work when it’s connected. I have taken them down this radiophonic road, but I have this old habit of getting up and turning the radio on — always on Radio Reloj — so habituated is my BIR-04 to this station that when I try to change the station, the static is intolerable and it won’t tune anything well, so on Radio Reloj it stays (this isn’t so much the radio’s fault as it is mine that I have it all the way out on the stove).

According to the news summary at 6, Gadaffi continued on without dying and ETA continued on as usual. A broadcaster whose function is to give news and the time to the minute, fills its space with ideological propaganda. They don’t even have the editorial decorum to start every half hour; I know because I performed an exercise in patience starting at one in the afternoon. They add pearls like kid’s park for children, repeatedly mispronounced words and other mistakes. If someone important (and professional) at the Radio and Television Institute will listen to more than the time, the local manager will have to open a self-employment business. But that comrade should enjoy all the trust, because the “news source par excellence” doesn’t give the news: that which it gives is trouble.

*Translator’s note: Radio Reloj — “Clock Radio” — is a propaganda broadcast station which features a mind-numbing metronome ticking off 60 beats per minute …

Translated by: JT

October 21 2011

Busy, But Not Lost

I haven’t repented, it’s that after walking around “the countries”; my house, largely torn up owing to renovations, has been, the poor thing, the principal beneficiary. We aren’t imagining grand things, it’s repairing ceilings, plumbing, a broken masonry wall that wasn’t on the list but occupied priority number one immediately, and giving my boy a door to his room for the privacy necessary for an adolescent. I’m among cement – bought legally – iron bars – the same – plumbers and a pretty stressed-out mason, in a little house like mine, these kinds of gifts are chaotic because everything stacks up and gets dirty. But like a friend told me: you’re lucky to have a house to repair. And without internet after having been in the world, disconnection punishes me harshly. So much silence doesn’t mean I might abandon the blog, but not only a live blog, although it might give me life. Then a month of making an extraordinary life, routine will seize me again as a final end to my constructive experience.

For those who asked and also for those who felt curiosity, my trip was of an absolute normalcy. In leaving I expected questions, inquiries. Nothing. “On my return,” I told myself. Nothing. Well, almost nothing, thanks to some sausages without gluten for my celiac brothers, but just as tasty anyway, I passed through Customs at an explosive speed. I didn’t bribe anybody, I came prepared to pay what I had to pay, but the attractive sausages of “The English Court” recently bought on the morning of the same day opened doors for me without having to say a word. We’re in Cuba now, I said to my husband.

Translated by: JT

June 24 2011