Relics and souvenirs

A Generation Y reader sent me a piece of the Berlin Wall. The fragment of concrete has come to me, a person also surrounded by certain limits, not less severe for being intangible. The stone painted with remnants of graffiti suggests to me an impossible collection of what has contributed to the separation of Cubans. According to a Latin American writer it would be a list of “the things, all the things” that have intensified the division and tension among those of us who inhabit this Island.

You could put in this particular collection of objects a stretch of the wire fence that once surrounded the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP*); a shard from the nuclear missiles* placed on our land which brought all of us to the verge of disappearing; one of those pages where millions signed—without having the option of marking “no”—that socialism would be irrevocable*; and a sliver from one of the clubs that cracked heads on Havana’s Malecón on August 5, 1994*. The display of samples would not be complete if I didn’t add a shell from the eggs thrown during the Mariel Boat Lift and some millimeters of ink from the reports and denunciations that have abounded in recent years. There would not be a museum capable of also housing the beings and situations that have acted like a great barrier of brick and cement among us.

Each Cuban could create his own repertoire of the walls that still surround us. What seems more difficult is to draw up the list of what unites us, of the possible hammers and picks with which we tear down the walls that remain. For that reason the gift of this frequent commentator has made me happy because I have the impression that our barriers and divisions will also—one day—be pieces valued only by the collectors of bygone things.

Translator’s Notes:
Please use your search engine to find more information on these events. Briefly:
Military Units to Aid Production were forced labor camps. Among those incarcerated there were homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Nuclear Missiles: Placed by the Soviet Union in Cuba in October 1962.
Socialism irrevocable petition: In 2002 the Cuban constitution was changed to make socialism “irrevocable”, following the distribution of a petition which 8-9 million Cubans reportedly signed calling for the change. The petition was launched in response to the Varela Project, which reportedly collected 11,000 signatures asking for a referendum on individual rights such as free speech.
Malecón on August 5, 1994: A spontaneous riot along Havana’s waterfront boulevard and seawall.


12 thoughts on “Relics and souvenirs

  1. That wall like everything else in Cuba looks like a good puff will blow it away.
    The Geriatric Hiarchy will soon blow away also.

  2. translator- in Cuba “tirar ” also means to throw as you translated but in this particular case he means “to shoot” (They took the statement out of context so you will not be able to tell exactly what he meant there, but we know what he meant :-)

    In some other countries in Latin america they will laugh at this statement from Fidel Castro since on their Spanish “tirar” is a slang for having sex!

    As you probably know in different countries there are some words that drastically change the meaning. This is one of those words!

  3. Hi Yoani,

    I’m from Portugal and I will be in Havana at the beginning of August can we possibly meet?


    Note from English Translator: You can email Yoani at the address in the sidebar. It’s best if you can do it in Spanish… or Portuguese which is very like Spanish of course.

  4. More about UMAP Camps in CUBA! LOVE THIS DOCUMENTARY, SAD AND FUNNY!Check out the transexual named “Caracol” and the heavy set gay guy talking about when fidel came to inspect one of the camps looking like a “Countess” in his jeep! FUNNY!

    Mauvaise Conduite or Improper Conduct is the title of a 1984 documentary film directed by Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal. The documentary interviews Cuban refugees to explore the Cuban government’s imprisonment of homosexuals, political dissidents, and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps under its policy of Military Units to Aid Protection. The documentary was produced with the support of French television Antenne 2 and won the Best Documentary Audience Award at the 1984 San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.

  5. I wish we could repaint,or better yet tear down the old crunbling walls that bear the sign’s of various political partie’s.All these partie’s have done is create more difference’s,& become a burden to us.

  6. Regarding “Tirar y tirar bien” shows the mentality of this psychopath. I agree with Julio below, but I’d go further. I’d say in his mind in trying to indoctrinate the population, especially the youth, he is thinking “kill your oponent and and kill him well” meaning if you don’t get them on the first shot, make sure you administer a “coup de grace” to the head, just as he himself has done often in his lifetime.

    The more I read about the actions of the Coma-andante, the more similarities I see between him and World War II butchers from Germany and Russia. TV’s History channel is constantly exposing Hitler and Stalin as the ultimate criminals to ever inhabit the planet by showing mass graves, with bodies by the millions, and how they enjoyed filming the execution of their political opponents – a feat that is said Hitler in particular enjoyed watching to his delight. Surely, up til their time and beyond, nothing comparable had been witnessed by the human race. I’d say it’s about time they do a show on the Castro dynasty, exposing their numerous and ongoing bloodthirstiness.

    I’ve now heard from a recent visitor from Cuba that there is a film circulating in the island of General Ochoa’s execution, supposedly commissioned by the tyranny for their own amusement, showing Ochoa at the moment of execution.

  7. Thank you for the precise translation, Julio. It does illustrate more brutality.

  8. Desde que visité Cuba hace ya muchos años deseo cambios para la gente en esta isla tan linda, siento para los cubanos como si fueran mis hermanos. Espero libertad para ustedes pronto. Adoro tu trabajo, sigue luchando!

    Federico el sueco

  9. Rationing books will be a nice piece for collectors.

    Translator the word “tirar” in this case on the picture means “to shoot with a weapon”
    So the translation will be a little bit more brutal

    It is necessary to know how to shoot and to shoot well.

    Note from English translator: Caption on the photo has been re-translated. Thanks so much for the clarification. I wasn’t sure if he was talking about baseball or what, and it seemed rather weird! Now I’ve learned one more piece of Spanish!

  10. Be careful with the fragment, Yoani, the structure was loaded with asbestos! Rated according to death-toll, compared with the sea around Cuba (where more than 70 000 have perished trying to escape the regime) the Berlin wall was little more than a piece of playground equipment.
    How close the Cuban people came to annihilation in 1962 was revealed to the British Communist Party newspaper “Daily Worker” (since relaunched as the “Morning Star”) by the Rosario psychopath himself: ‘During an interview with the British Communist newspaper The Daily Worker a few weeks after the crisis, Guevara still fuming over the perceived Soviet betrayal, stated that if the missiles had been under Cuban control, they would have fired them off. Sam Russell, the British correspondent who spoke to Guevara at the time came away with “mixed feelings”, “clearly a man of great intelligence”, but “crackers from the way he went on about the missiles.”‘
    And the regime complains about a trade embargo in response! One can’t see the bon-viveur Castro brothers as suicide-bombers, so we may assume they had the means to escape the radioactive slag that their island would have become.

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