After the post “Interview with a Rafter,” a lot of people came to ask me how to assemble a navigation object. Friends, I can’t even distinguish prow from stern in a ship. As a sailor I only have the vertigo that I get from this island adrift. I am one of those who learned to swim as a child, and one of those Cubans who have never seen, from the high seas, the hidden side of El Morro. Something is clear to me from this blue vastness that surrounds us, and it’s that every day it belongs less and less to us. Otherwise, why is it that we can’t navigate it freely or take its seafood? Certain legal regulations make us live with our backs turned to the best we have. A people with a Sea, alien to dizziness and sea-sickness. This was confirmed by the text of a fine imposed on a friend, chronic seaman, who was found, the engine stalled, floating in Cuban territorial waters. The description made by the tribunal that wrote the sentence speaks by itself:
“…were detained by members of the Border Patrol when they were navigating through our territorial waters without authorization from the Port Authority, for which they incurred in the infraction provided by the item G from article 1, considered very grave, in accordance to the established by item C from article 21, both from the Decree-law 194/99: “Of the infractions Over the possession and operation of sea craft in the National Territory.”
Here I put the penalty that they imposed on my friend and each one of his companions:
“First: Impose the fine of three thousand pesos ($3000.00) m/n to the citizens.”
And for those who believe that a bureaucrat can’t make literature, I suggest they read this:
“Second: Dispose in favor of the Estate the impounding of a rustic sea craft, made out of canvas and polymer foam, three empty 5-liter tanks, one rope, two knives, and half a binocular.”
So that in that every-day-longer list of things that we have to recover, we need to include the Sea. The same that, according to Borges “was and stayed,” long before men, ideologies and laws.
* From “I have,” a poem by Nicolás Guillén, published for the first time on June 18th, 1963, in “La Gaceta de Cuba.”