Us… the Food…

There are a few journalists on the TV News Broadcast that seem to be the only ones authorized to do critical reporting, whether it be about a construction site or about a hospital.

On last Tuesday’s nightly news, the source of indignation of one of these reporters was the distribution of agricultural products on behalf of the designated entity known as Acopio.  The camera panned an impressive amount of deteriorated or rotten agricultural products. But the best were the interviews. The farmers were protesting because Acopio had told them that they could not continue harvesting; the executives told them there are problems with transport, and here comes the best part, they added that the market is saturated.

Since the state-run market is not regulated naturally, the saturation of products is caused by the high prices.

I watched the report.  The agricultural products… us…  and always a boss with justifications.

Translated by Raul G.

International Conflicts and my Internal Conflicts

In his Friday reflection entitled “How I would love to be wrong”, Fidel sees potential armed conflicts with the countries of Iran and Korea.  In his concluding paragraphs he laments for the future, committed to the impending war now that the more revolutionary dreams are being reached and the Country is recovering strongly. I live in a country where the dreams of young people swing between a Spanish passport, emigrating to the US, or putting on a mask in order to survive in Cuba.  The country which I breathe daily is not recovering.  It needs transfusions and transplants and those who govern us have had half a century to test out their ineptitude.

If it was up to me, no one would play with countries, arms, or war.  But I am only an impudent housewife, whose only government is my small home, just like I have said before in my profile.

And yes, I do hope that in his predictions made on June 24, 2010 at 9:34 pm, Fidel has been mistaken.

Translated by Raul G.

Grammar and Mechanics

In the media of my country we have been hearing a lot about all the variants of the verb recover.  It’s used in conjugations, in the infinitive form, or in substantive form.  We will recover all idle agricultural lands, we are struggling to recover our construction and housing capacity, we impose the recovery of the quality of education, we should recover the ethics of the gastronomic and service sectors. That is all very well, but I ask myself if those journalists who engage in the usage of that vocabulary end up waking up after a dream, or maybe they just got to this country and do not know about its lamentable state and are looking in all the wrong places.

It is perceived that the orientation is centered on giving an image of optimism and of creative initiative like the productive achievements of a yoke to a poor old cow which no longer provides milk to a good ox.

I don’t know, I don’t feel infected by the enthusiasm of the media which I have at my disposal.  I make more of a connection with a comparison which was made for me during the days of the investigation which led to the post Theatrical May.  A mechanic I was talking to simply summed it up: When the motor of a car breaks down, you repair it; if it’s the carburetor or the spark-plug, same thing;  if the car rusts, there is always the body shop. But if you have that all at the same time, and in addition need to add new tires, fix the transmission, seal the seats, and change the wipers, then it’s irrecoverable.

Translated by Raul G.

Announcements

The circumstances of living underground, in a cellar (former garage and former salon), make it inevitable that you hear those who pass by on the street, whether they be screaming or whispering, announcing of some service or product.  At around 9 AM two young women, who are traveling salespeople, pass by with two aluminum jars, hangers, towels, shining products, brooms, and other products that make up their merchandise.

Towards 11 pm a strong and musical voice interrupts: Don’t tell me you didn’t see me, don’t tell me you didn’t hear me…Tamalero! Mattress repair, progressive lens glasses, grinder, cleaning gas kitchens, cutting crystals, gluing furniture.  There is also one who cries out about cement tanks to store water, though I’ve never seen him carrying any.  Now that I mention carrying, I’ve seen some guys pass by in a under doors or hand them to you.  They also pass by selling hangers, some delightful dried leaves used in interior designs, and right now I don’t remember what else, and notice that I have not mentioned food because those sellers don’t shout out, they mime instead, or whisper from a sidewalk or knock on doors and discretely offer what they have.

The most curious of those travelers was one who offered me a vault straight from the cemetery.  Since his merchandise did not interest me and he seemed to be a swindler, I sent him on his way.  The guy was very kind and explained to me everything I asked.  He even showed me his ID card so I could compare him to the owner of the vaults.  That could still be falsified even if he insists that 2,000.00 USD was a deal.  When it was time for him to say goodbye, his smile dazzled me.  In the bright summer 6 o’clock sun his golden teeth were hypnotic.  Noticing my fascination he assured me, “You know, aunt?  It’s because they can’t take them from me in customs”.

Translated by Raul G.

History Compared

The 55th anniversary of the liberation of those who assaulted the Moncada barracks is during the middle of this month.  The “live forces” mobilized public opinion and obtained amnesty from the tyrant Batista.  Those young men dressed in war gear assaulted the barracks of Santiago and Bayamo the morning after a Carnival.  The event resulted in lots of deaths on both sides, and the group which was captured and spared (others were assassinated quickly after they were caught), was condemned to sentences of up to 15 years.  It was around 1953.  The young assaulters completed less than 2 years of their sentences.  And as it has been said, it was an fecund prison: they organized an academy in which they elevated their cultural and political levels, played sports, and even learned how to cook certain foods that they craved.

But that was 55 years ago.  Many of those young men have grown old while governing my country.  That past punishment has led them to suppose that once reaching power, the enemy should never have an opportunity, because then what happened to Batista would occur.  For that reason, peaceful dissidents do not recognize the conditions of their political adversaries.  Those terrorists of words must serve long sentences under the labels of common delinquents, simply because they write their ideas.  They are dispersed in jails throughout the country in order to avoid any “focal points”.  They are not granted general amnesties, not even the prisoners who appeal to personalities like Danielle Mitterrand or Jesse Jackson.  The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are our modern day “live forces.”

And let’s not talk about the cooking.

Translated by Raul G.

Theatrical May

For those who did not see images of the May 1st march in Cuba, I shall tell you that the Plaza of the Revolution was packed with joyful people.  They took up their flags and signs which contained slogans against- what else would it be- the media campaign against Cuba. A short 7 minute documentary, which proved that those who were interviewed harbored such ignorance that it led to the failure of the project which tried to display this country as the most learned of the world, gave me an idea.  Those same ignorant people from the documentary, when asked about the wall between the US and Australia, simply repeated the political discourse that is expected in Cuba when someone speaks in front of a camera.  That memorized discourse led me to ask around:  1)  What does the terrible and famous media campaign consist of? and 2) What is its origin?

I’ll tell you.  In regards to speaking badly of the European Union and the United States, there was a 100% agreement with state propaganda.  With mediocre words, according to the capabilities of each, the whole world repeated the headlines of our press.  Where it really “went down” was in the second question.  A lady told me that it was all because of the 5 Heroes, another mentioned the Ladies in White.  Two people actually chose Obama as the culprit.  A forty-year old man mentioned the prisoner of the hunger strike but later excused himself for not remembering his name, and another told me: For that dead guy. The majority, however, did not even answer that second question as if it dealt with something very difficult.

The majority of the people I wished to ask evaded with faces that seemed to say don’t ask me that.  A young woman who was waving her fan in the air responded “correctly” as I finalized my inquiry.

“Why are you asking me this?”

“I’m curious.”

“Did someone send you to ask me?”

“Where would they send me from?”

“From the Faculty!”

At this point I told her I was doing it for myself because I had a blog and wanted to write about this.  Upon hearing the word “blog” she moved her head as if she was nodding.  When I finished my explanation the girl addressed me using the informal “you.”

“Look”, she said, “I want to protect myself without any problems.  And if I want to apply to get a degree in Europe or Canada, I should not be loud-mouthed, if I am the Faculty won’t give me the approval.  Please excuse me for not giving you my name.”

I am not Gallup, neither do I pretend to know the truth, but comparing my pocket poll with that May 1st parade, we Cubans could win an Oscar, or at least an Emmy, for our acting skills.

Translated by Raul G.

Memories

Being family has its advantages. I could see Memories of Development, a film directed by Miguel Coyula, the youngest son of one of my cousins.  I’m sure the title has already suggested that this is the film version of the novel by Edmundo Desnoes, also author of Memories of Underdevelopment which was adapted for film by Tomas Gutierrez Alea in an anthology version.

The new version freely recreates the novel, and brings us back another Segio, very Coyula, who conserves existential anguishes, banishment, and also the misogyny of the character of Desnoes, but also provides us with a dramatic density which the literal Sergio does not have.

The visual richness is dizzying: locations as distinct as Tokyo, Havana, New York, the desert. Collages, frenetic shots, and almost subliminal images all occur during the first half of the film. The end is characterized by a slow rhythm in an almost surreal setting which makes us believe that we are in a dream.

It’s very admirable how Miguel has managed to make us feel these Memories of Development with his digital camera, especially since that film is one which was made on a high budget.  He, along with a co-worker, edits, makes the music, and elaborates the special effects, as if he was creating a puzzle of many pieces.

Miguel perfectly understands the history of Cuba that has unfolded during the last 50 years.  For me, this was a surprise because I thought he was really consumed by the art of making films and his previous works never dealt with any specific geographic location and he had been living in New York for the last two years.  His project has given us a lucid and caustic vision, in contrast to the stereotypes thrust upon us.

I am thrilled that a relative of mine has made such a solid film within Cuban cinema that has generally been snubbed within the last few years.  A magnificent tribute to a Titan.  These Memories will be memorable.

Translated by Raul G.