Between the two walls

Today at 3 in the afternoon we managed to present Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo’s book.   After sneaking through the alleys of Cerro to lose the two “securities” who were following us, we ended up at the Capitol and took a bus through the tunnel under the bay.  Tension, fear and doubt joined us on our brief journey to the fortress of La Cabaña.  Orlando was thinking of his mother, with her high blood pressure, frightened by the threatening phone calls.  My mind was on Teo at his school, unaware of the fact that maybe nobody would be there when he returned home.  Fortunately, they were only ghosts.

The police operation had—we understood it a posteriori—an intention to intimidate, but there was little they could do in front of the cameras of the foreign press and of the writers who were invited.  We began, sitting on the grass, speaking with a group of fifteen people, and ended with the closing applause of more than forty.  We were surprised by the presence and solidarity of several young writers and poets with books published by the official publishing house.  Also by the attendance of some Latin American novelists who supported us with words and hugs.  There were Gorki and Ciro of the group Porno Para Ricardo, Claudia Cadelo of the blog Octavo Cerco, Lía Villares, author of the blog Habanemia, Reinaldo Escobar, blogger of Desde Aqui, Claudio Madan and others whose names I won’t mention, so as not to cause them harm.

From the other side of the street a group of persecutors was filming, with a telephoto lens, everything that happened in the green esplanade.  Several primary schools had been invited to fly kites in the same place and a raucous reggaetón concert started just at three in the afternoon.  However, we managed to isolate ourselves from all that and enter the door of Boring Home; to raise ourselves a few centimeters above the dusty reality of the watched and the watchers.  From where I was sitting, the wall of La Cabaña looked to me more deteriorated, full of small porosities that opened in the stone.

* To download Luís Orlando’s book, please click here

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40 thoughts on “Between the two walls

  1. #37 Well you have raised more questions than you have answered. The biggest one being… HOW CAN PEOPLE BE SO STUPID? Don’t they see that can have both ‘socialism’ and FREEDOM… a free society like in Scandinavia but with generous social protections for people, outstanding health care, education, worker protection and so on? Haw can they not see that Fidel is a monster (and Raul is mini-monster) and that Cuba is a basket case?

  2. Andy #35
    What is the interest of these presidents in cuddling up to the great disaster?. Any ideas anyone?

    Here is my 2 cents. I you analyze what is happening in Latin America these days, it will be ease for you to figure this out since they don’t deem Cuba as a disaster.
    The trend in most Latin countries is leaning to the left based on the example set by Fidel and his “robolution”, here are some examples: Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela (probably miss some others).
    If you are a head of State with leftist ideas they will try to emulate their idols, like Fidel and Ché; they will never try to learn from a country were freedom has lasted over 200 years. We are not perfect, we have committed plenty of mistakes but by far this is a Country were every individual is free to think as they wish and become anything you set your mind to. (Like in the case of Obama).
    You would think that the Venezuelan people have learned a lesson from what happened in Cuba. Unfortunately, Venezuela is becoming rapidly another Cuba. Hope I have clear the smoke.

  3. #15 Iain… I’ve never met a humble physicist. We shall have to meet someday. It would be a rare treat.

  4. Hey folks, we got off track here, with Raul the jamonero… my original question was… why the great trek to Cuba by Latin American presidents? They’re crossing on the tarmac. Lining up to kiss the sacred feet. (And the women, only the women, are getting their pics taken. Why is that? I read Fidel is “too busy” to meet all the men. Doing what? Dying? We can only hope.)

    But WHAT IS THE MESSAGE THAT IS BEING SENT HERE? AND TO WHOM IS IT BEING SENT?

    The home team? (That didn’t work out too well for Madame Bachelet.) Obama? What is the interest of these presidents in cuddling up to the great disaster?

    Any ideas anyone?

  5. So the ON … DOES mean better.

    How fun!!!!!!!! I thought I’d made a joke but the joke was on me.

  6. Andy dice: 19 Febrero 2009 a las 01:58

    #28 Improving my Cuban… ok … I’m not clear… is it
    Mango = good looking woman
    Mangon = good looking man
    000000000000000000000000000000

    Andy, the termination “on” in spanish means “big”…….. so “mangon” is a big mango………. but, nowadays, both males and females refers about good looking opposite sex as mango (good looking) or mangon (extra good looking)

  7. #28 Improving my Cuban… ok … I’m not clear… is it
    Mango = good looking woman
    Mangon = good looking man
    ?
    Or is the extra N on the end mean EXTRA good looking?! (Just joking… it’s got to be the first… right?)

    any time you guys want to help us out with this stuff… it’s a lot of fun to learn new words!

  8. SilentVoice dice: 19 Febrero 2009 a las 00:35

    Yes, it comes from Ham (Jamon).
    That is the way some Cubans refer to good looking women.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It were long time ago. Now they use (both genders) to call the good looking member of the opposite sex as ….Mango or Mangon if she/he is an exceptional one

  9. #25 — You give me too much credit. I read both the spanish and english versions of Yoani’s blog and she used that word in an article about riding the camels. I could see that it came from the word for “ham” — or at least I thought it did — and I was asking some friends if “groping” was a good translation… they said they thought it meant something much more invasive! Not that being groped on a public bus isn’t bad enough!!!!

  10. Andy, I am amaze of your command of Cuban slang! :D
    You maybe more Cuban than many Cubans I know here in the US that do not even know the Cuban slang because they came here when they were very young.

  11. Jamoneo
    Let me give you an example. Is the sick person that loves to stand behind a woman to grope her, that be in a crowded bus or in a movie house.

    Jamonero: Refers to the person who commit such lascivious acts.

  12. Clarification: Jamoneo refers to a particular form of female assault that happens ON the Camels… it does not refer TO the Camels.

  13. Meanwhile — nothing is ever as it seems.

    But what it is, I do not know. As I mentioned previously — the ‘ancient demented one’ — aka fidel — does not take me into his confidence.

    But here we have suddenly not a trickle but a FLOOD of Latin American presidents hightailing it to Cuba to worship at the feet of the nearly rotted corpse and his besotted baby brother. Not to mention, in the case of the female presidents — and why exactly is it we only have photos of the ladies with the corpse… why were the men kept away? — ah yes, but my point was, in the case of the female presidents, to be humiliatingly groped by by the drunken one who acts like he’s had decades of practice in the Island’s cattle car form of public transport, the notorious “Camels” for which the language has a unique word: Jamoneo. (I’m not exactly sure what this word means but I think it means a certain act which probably does NOT occur, or at least not with any regularity, on a public bus no matter how crowded the bus… but the fact that the women who are the victims on these journeys feel as if it does, says all that needs to be said.)

    What gives?

    All I can think of is blackmail. When I think of blackmail I think of international drug profits. Arms deals. Long buried secrets of betrayals. WHAT?! It’s driving me nuts.

    Clue me in somebody. I learned the real what and why of General Ochoa here (I’d never known about the yanks being on to the drug running thing) — maybe someone can clear up what’s with the pilgrimages.

  14. Contacting news media

    I think this is a fantastic idea. I’d encourage any of our well connected readers to add to the list and also to get names and email addresses of the individual reporters who work on Cuba for these publications so we can email them directly as well.

  15. I just wrote to the Editors at TIME asking that they make the correction… We will see how long it takes them to correct.

    If anyone else whats to write to them..this is the email… letters@time.com.

    This is what I wrote…

    Dear Editors…
    I am shocked by the error that I saw on your website concerning the Generacion Y blog.
    Did the writer that put this together even look at the website ? Did he click where it said profile ?
    It is written by Ms SANCHEZ, not he or him., therefore… please correct…. and apoligize to Ms Sanchez.

  16. Andy I have read what is posted in the link you place above

    this is a fragment

    “We never knew that the stage had already been set on behalf of these artisans of lies and deceit. The scene was the office of the deputy director of “Selecmar”; the actors, two officials from State Security (the “good guy,” conciliatory, chatty, almost loving; and the “bad guy,” silent, austere, severe); the script was, as always: “We know who your wife is, the people she meets, your car has been used to transport counterrevolutionary documents, we will not allow anything that threatens the security of the State…etc.” An “interview” peppered with barely hidden threats, such as referring to losing one’s job (“Do you like your job, Oscarito? You’ve always been very professional…”); questions apparently designed to play on his macho ego (“You are the head of the family, not your wife… but this Yoani and her group with whom she’s carrying on…”); suggestions about having been deceived by me (“You think you know everything…?”). And, as a culmination, like the master thrust at the end of the sweet encounter, the most infamous question, “And your son…?” A direct threat to our youngest son, a 20-year-old student with no connection to any kind of political activism, dedicated entirely to his studies and his hobby, music. Just a sample of this despicable and sordid system, with a total disregard for family values, the true face of Cuban socialism.”

    This is typical of the type of intimidation use by the Cuban government. Since we Cubans do not have a free press and the Castro regime does not like to get bad press.

    We should do something for them. We can do something for them.
    We can email Reuters and the new York Times and other news agencies to ask them to please report on this.
    We the people of Cuba may not have free press in Cuba but the rest of the world does have free press and we need to use it to our advantage.
    And let us see then who is more afraid.

    Please to all that care for freedom let us write to Reuters and others and others referring to that blog post for them to research and publish this news.

    We need to let the whole world know the way the regime works. The way it intimidates people and subject them under control.

  17. Chuckle! As a humble physicist, I’m under no illusion as to my skills as a communicator but one does one’s best.
    The question of the support of authors for their persecuted brethren was prompted by the dismay felt in some Chilean quarters by the sycophantic attitude adopted by their President Bachelet during her recent visit. This notoriously included the trip to the parody of a book fair. Writer and erstwhile Chilean ambassador to Cuba (and 1999 winner of the “Cervantes Prize” for literature) Jorge Edwards reminded readers of the Spanish EL PAIS yesterday (17th) of equivalent trips to the Soviet Block. He talks of the humiliation felt by jailed Hungarian poet Goergi Petri when a similar event was held in Budapest. Chilean born poet, and holder of the 1950 Stalin Peace Prize, Eliecer Neftali Ricardo Rayes Basoalto (sorry about the accents), who wrote under the pseudonym Pablo Neruda (ah! Better for accents :-)), came to bitterly regret his participation, and made his feelings clear in his “Sonata critical.” This prompted a vitriolic missive from his “hermanos” in Cuba.
    Bachelet reprises the days of the “People’s Democracies” by asserting “sin pestanear” (without batting an eyelid?) that “Cuba is a different democracy.” Well, it’s certainly different!
    But will Gabo ever face up to his own acts of betrayal, as Pablo did?
    Incidentally, Fidel has just given Bachelet her just reward by backing Bolivia in an attempt to reopen a 130 year-old dispute with Chile :-))

  18. SilentVoice dice: 18 Febrero 2009 a las 01:38
    0000000000000000000000000000000000000000

    SVoice, I am pretty sure the most people that read our comments and maybe the most that write those comments doesn’t know who are Mitat, Alvarez, Leon, Tondike, Jimenez, Novo, Remon and thousand more people that fight the castros in other ways. Theirs names are not popular because they are not good writers but good fighters. Most of them has been decades in castros prisons and some of them are in USA’s prison.
    Yoani alone with all other pacific and frontal fighters can’t by them self overrun castro’s regimen, they going to need the help of all other fighters with each particular style…………….. or viceversa.
    Don’t make the old mistake of the Old Exile… to pretend that everyone have to be a hero. There is plenty of cubans that not are heroes (like Yoani or Bicet) but they does help in a way or other.
    I prefer Andy and Ian here, writing and letting know all visitors the true about Cuba and I prefer them anonymous so the long arm of the tyranny can’t reach them and maybe make them cease theirs writing. In such way they are helping Yoani and Cuba more efficiently.

  19. What we actually need is
    one Yoani ,
    One Paya and
    One Beatriz Roque
    in each of us.

    All I can say to this is… YES!

    I can also suggest everyone read… and send to your friends… this post from another ‘desdecuba’ blogger that was posted yesterday:

    http://desdecuba.com/sin_evasion_en/?p=65

    I think that Canadians, Americans, Europeans, have a very hard time believing things like what is reported in this blog entry. That they actually happen. They think that the people in Castro’s gulag must be only the “worst of the worst”… people who stand on the parliament steps and shout “DOWN WITH FIDEL”, who really ARE paid by the CIA to disrupt the country… “weirdos”… and that while the country might be a “little over-controlled”… well we all know it is all the fault of those damn yankees and THEIR evil ways, and what’s a nice communist dictator to do in the face of such a neighbor…

    But this article, like Yoani’s blog, describes it. It doesn’t only happen to “them.” It didn’t only happen “in the past.” It happened last week. To me… to my husband, an ordinary seaman. To my son, an innocent student. It’s happening now, every day, to normal everyday people whose only crime is to put their thoughts in electronic pixels and allow others to view them.

  20. One more time just to be clear.
    My understanding of what you wrote above was that we should let Yoani, Paya and Roque do all the front row stuff for us. While we wait in anonymity.

    That is something I do not agree with.

    For example you can see the regime claiming that the majority of immigrants to the US and other countries are economical immigrants and the plain truth is that what they claim to be true is a lie.

    Cuban immigrants are political immigrants!

    If we all stay comfortably and do not speak up then people that do not know any better will believe their lies.

  21. Carbo

    I suppose you are right. Everyone is got a different approach of attacking the issue at hand.
    The repressive government of Cuba!
    I do particularly like the style of Yoani. She keeps everything on the open for all to see without secret agendas.
    I think violence will not solve our problem.
    I like the ideas of Gandhi of nonviolent resistance and
    I do believe that is what this amazing group of Cubans
    are doing in Cuba and hopefully more will join.
    They know they have the right to freedom and they are using it.

    If they sat back home because they were intimidated by the Cuban governments telephone calls and been afraid then they would have fail. But at least forty of them attended! Maybe next time it will be 80 and so on. The important thing is that people need to loose their fear of the regime.

    As for the question about Andy and Iain I am not sure what that has to do with what we are talking here.

  22. SilentVoice dice: 17 Febrero 2009 a las 20:25

    What if all of us are on that first row?
    What if we are all united with the objective of being able to express what we like?
    What if we all loose our fears of the Cuban government? (Real or imaginary)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear SVoice, What make you thing that I don’t agree with you?????
    I going to cut and paste some sentences of my comment that contain the answer to you questions:

    “………….we learned that each one of us have to find the better way to fight in accordance ones possibilities and limitations. Some of us can do like Yoani, some of us can do like Paya, another can do like Boitel, others can do like Mitad, or Gorki, or Sargent, or Antunez, or Roca, or Andy, or Servia (no Servo, please), etc.
    We all are fighting, we all are free and we all together are giving the dictatorship a jab in the nose, but this time the dictatorship can’t see where comes the hand from because we are fighting now in a different way…………….”

    The best example of this different way of fighting is Yoani. The other day someone wrote in the spanish page, commenting about Yoanis and Lazo plans of challenging the dictatorship publicly by doing what they did at the Havana’s Book Fair, fthe following: ” I can hear the dictatorship knees shacking because whatever the result of this action be, it going to be a victory”. Another commenter wrote that the amazing of Yoani’s way of fight is that she get positive results where other fighters, more experienced, more strong and more valiant than her, only gets jail, harassment and isolation.” What means to me that all we are differents and however have to fight in different way.

    Even people that develops a deep underground way of fight because theirs radicals method has seen frustrated theirs effort by our enemies or “allies”. Such is the case of Osvaldo Mitat and Santiago Alvarez. They were apprehended trying to infiltrate weapons inside Cuba, the weapons were confiscated, their plans were publicized and they were put in jail by………… the US gov.!!!!.

    I can give you more reasons, but first I would like you to answer the following question:

    Do you think Andy or Iain Salisbury are good communicators and theirs comments can make the readers understand the cuban’s nightmare?

  23. It makes me wonder if this reporter from time actually when to see her site? Since
    “Sánchez’s own photos accompany many of the entries, which offer a fascinating and brave peek behind the curtain of a still-closed society.”

    If he has seen Yoani’s picture then how can he think she is a he?

  24. I remember a few post ago I suggested that instead of making the post anonymously we should attach a real name to it. I got back two points of views one from Andy and one from Carbo.

    I like to comment on the reply I got from Carbo because it is emblematic of the way many Cubans think.

    This is what he wrote

    “Cuban people have learn how to fight a tyranny supported by all superpowers in the world, We learned it in a very hard school:
    In the beginning we acted like kamikazes, we went without shield, without armory, almost without weapons directly to meet in frontal attack an enemy backed openly by the whole Warsaw Pact and also backed from the shadows by whom we believed were our allies, USA. The cost of such a immature act were tens of thousands of dead fighters, tens of thousands of jailed fighters, millions of emigrates and 50 years dictatorship.
    After such a horrendous defeat the cuban people got crouched and still is crouched waiting for his time to revenge. We learned that with such powerful enemies we can act like tough boys and we learned that each one of us have to find the better way to fight in accordance ones possibilities and limitations. Some of us can do like Yoani, some of us can do like Paya, another can do like Boitel, others can do like Mitad, or Gorki, or Sargent, or Antunez, or Roca, or Andy, or Servia (no Servo, please), etc.
    We all are fighting, we all are free and we all together are giving the dictatorship a jab in the nose, but this time the dictatorship can’t see where comes the hand from because we are fighting now in a different way. Dictatorship can see a Yoani, a Marta Beatriz but can’t see the thousands behind, that’s why they think the thing several times before putting in jail the ones that are in the front.
    It doesn’t mean that everybody has to go underground, but for some of us that do other things aside this Blog and other of us that has maybe a handicap in theirs life that can put them in a disadvantageous situation if the dictatorship take notice of theirs identities is better to keep a low profile.”
    This was in the post of “Nostalgia for pizza.”

    As we can see from this post there are Cubans in Cuba that are not seating up and waiting for somebody else to do the things that they as Cubans need to do. They little by little are fighting the fears the dictatorship has embedded in all of us to suppress our rights to Freedom. Thinking more I realize that nobody is going to come and tell us –“hey Cubans here is your freedom!”

    Freedom is something we need to earn and the only way to earned is by being free. If that takes for me to put my name in what I post and by no hiding what I truly think about the Cuban dictatorship or if that takes keeping in contact with people the Cuban government tries to isolate because of their dissident status or any other peaceful means.

    If we want freedom the only way to get it is by being free.

    In particular this sentence “that’s why they think the thing several times before putting in jail the ones that are in the front.”
    I will say.

    What if all of us are on that first row?
    What if we are all united with the objective of being able to express what we like?
    What if we all loose our fears of the Cuban government? (Real or imaginary)
    Carbo as long as it is
    only one Yoani ,
    one Paya ,
    one Beatriz Roque
    we would not archive the goal of freedom.

    What we actually need is
    one Yoani ,
    One Paya and
    One Beatriz Roque
    in each of us.

  25. ***
    Hi Yoani–Time Magazine lists GeneracionY as one of the best blogs. But they think you are a man! What dummies! You are the Cuban Joan of Arc–and a good looking lady.
    ***
    Hola Yoani–La revista Time puso GenerationY como uno de los “blogs” mejores. Pero piensan que Yoani es un hombre! Que tontos! Yoani es la “Yoan de Arc”–y una mujer bonita.

  26. What a relief. The audacity, and good strategy of la Flaca and her friends won the day. The foreign cameras ensured that the savagery and bullying by the regime did not take place.

    As far as Marquez, he did not show up because he’s a self avowed communist. If after the collapse of Marxism world wide he did not recant his believes, I don’t think he’ll do so now. Pity, considering his country has been torn to pieces by his Marxist brethren, while he enjoys the luxuries of good life in a high rise in Bogota well above the fray. The archetype of the life a classic communist enjoys: Overthrows the existing order, overturns the economy, confiscates as he wishes, then bestows upon himself and his groupies all the spoils, in order to live what the italians call “la dulce vita”. The good life as documented through the years include fishing vacations, good food, extensive traveling, access to all literature and foreign programming, and plenty of sexual promiscuity to boot, as exemplified by the maximum leader.

    That’s why Marquez and Castro have been toasting with good rum through the years. They’re celebrating the good life they’ve both enjoyed. Now it’s our time to laugh as they both decay into the sunset, thank goodness.

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