The Coca-Cola of forgetting or the cane juice of nostalgia

For Roberto San Martín

I’ve lived here and there. I’ve been a voice asking permission to leave my country and an exile waiting for permission to enter. The machine has crushed me between both sides of its serrated cogs: for being outside of, and for deciding to stay in, my Island. I went to the consulate to pay the high monthly tariffs to stay in another country, and have also faced the costs of return, the enormous personal sum of being a returnee. For two years I looked at the Island in the distance and faced the dilemma of whether I could drink the “Coca-Cola of forgetting” or the “cane juice of nostalgia”, but neither of the two went down my throat. I preferred the bittersweet taste of this reality.

I have nightmares where I go through Cuban customs and someone in uniform leads me to a grey room. Surrounded by unpainted walls and a huge photo of Fidel Castro, they take my passport and tell me that if I come in I can never again travel to another destination. All this is explained to me by an official with a sweaty face, a pistol on his hip, and a ballpoint pen sticking out of his pocket. I have a presentiment that I will spend eternity facing this being of sullen words, with no opportunity to pass through the door into the room where my family is waiting for me. The anxiety rises to the point where I wake up and verify that I am in my house, still prey, but happy to be back.

This obsessive dream alternates with another where they will not let me fly to my own country. I am in a far away airport, trying to board a plane destined for Havana. The girl who checks the tickets tells me I cannot depart. “We have orders not to let you board”, she concludes, without the dramatic weight of someone who has just notified another of their expatriate status. There is no one around to appeal to while the electronic blackboards display the next departures for New York, Buenos Aires, Berlin. I sit and put my suitcase between my legs so I can lean on it and try to sleep. This can’t be true, I tell myself, I have to rest and when I wake up I’ll be in the cabin thousands of feet in the sky.

I’ve tried tea with lime, reading stories of pilots before going to bed, playing relaxing music in the room. But the only thing that will end this oneiric sequence of being shut in and forced out, is the end of the immigration restrictions for Cubans. I want to have the right to travel, like I want to be able to sleep without seeing someone in uniform taking my passport, and without hearing the roar of an airplane as it takes off, leaving me in a foreign land.


87 thoughts on “The Coca-Cola of forgetting or the cane juice of nostalgia

  1. Everyone, leave Exile alone–he can’t help it. His idiotic observations from afar are not even worth the bytes it takes to respond if one were to seriously attempt to do so. But why bother arguing with or responding to someone who thinks 50 years of defeat are the exiled Cuban community’s experience? Pobrecito, he can’t help it–having bad teeth is not the only thing Her Majesty’s subjects are known for, apparently bad teeth affect one’s ideas and thinking as well…what with teeth being so close to the brain.

    I have a rule about never arguing with small children in the throes of a temper tantrum, mentally ill people in the midst of an episode resulting from their illness, and just plain old idiots. I believe Exile fits in at least one of these categories.

  2. exile #85
    I must have touched a sore spot …
    By the way … glad you moved from under you handler’s desk & in your way to the UK!
    Merry christmas little boy & hope you grow up.

  3. White man may speak with forked tongue, as they used to say in the old B-westerns Albert, but at least we do it in legible English. Your comment makes no sense whatsoever.

    I doubt if you will understand the posting, but try reading it, very slowly. And stop spending your life on your knees.

    Right, thanks for the jolly times and I will be back sometime after Boxing Day. I’m off to the UK in about six hours.

    Merry Xmas to one and all, even bum sucking gusanos.

  4. exile @ #81
    Your “bastard hours” and getting paid, nothing more eh?
    The attention you are bringing to yourself is of pity.
    Spending your days waiting for something to happen; getting yourself in a frost for something you (by your statements) don’t even care …
    Being used & abused by everyone; controlled by everyone’s whim.
    You are right … what a poor life.
    Hey! still under your handler’s desk?

    Still say to you … grow up little boy

  5. Exile,

    It’s more like “I maze myself sometimes”! Blind FOOL! Luckily you will have NOTHING TO SAY about the future of CUBA, Governor!

    Humberto Capiro

  6. Do I sound as if I give a stuff what some scrote thinks about me? Annoying middle class maggots is what I do.

    Merry banter aside, I am quite prepared to do my bastard hours at some job or other, and all I expect is that management vermin mind their old buck and that I get paid on time.

    My liberalism amazes even me at times.

  7. Excerpt from Raul Castro’s speech to the trained monkeys assembly:
    “Also in recent months, there has been a concerted anti-Cuban campaign orchestrated by the American establishment with the aid of the major communications media for the purpose of showing that repression increases in this country. To this end, they organize and incite their antipatriotic hired hands to increase their provocative activities in our streets, and they even arrange for the international press and diplomatic officials to accompany them […] in an open challenge to international conventions […]. I counsel the former and the latter to cease all provocations of any type.”

    So Raul, I guess this means that Yoani can’t expect an answer to her recent letter with the 7 questions anytime soon?

  8. Exile
    Diciembre 21st, 2009 at 21:25

    ……Cuba has many problems, most being as result of Moscow’s betrayal 20 years ago……..

    5 000 000 000 a year, every bloody year since 1964 to 1989 ……25 years of subside…… is that a “betrayal”???????……… free supplies to fill all necessities of castro under this 25 years, wood, oil, machinery, weapons, flour, paper, technology and an infinite list of items that soviets sent to castro, is that a betrayal?????…… The USSR bought Cuba’s complete sugar production at preferred prices, the same with, coffee, citric, fish, nickel, copper, etc, etc……… is this a betrayal????
    Only the given cash is equivalent to 100 Marshall Plans. Only one Marshall Plan was enough for Europe to become powerful and rich countries again after destruction caused by WWII…….. why castro could not to transform Cuba in a country 100 times more rich and powerful than any European country?????……. Any single normal person would find that the traitor in this history was castro…… a traitor that helped USA to drive exhaust the USSR and make easy for USA to win the Cold War using the huge resources the soviets gave to him in increasing his personal fortune. USSR not betrayed no one, they simply found the true and stopped the scam…….. castro is the traitor and is not the soviets the first ones he betrays.
    But after your comment 76 I understand why you can not see the true in history and actuality……. yours is an inherited problem…… only mental weak people can spend decades unemployed or underemployed living in one of the richest countries of the world…… I started my emigrant life in Europe and I know there is much more harder to find a job then in USA but I never met sane people that lived decades unemployed……. even immigrants find its life in Europe!!!!
    But now I understand….. you are retarded….. that’s why you are sure about a cubans in Cuba earning 0.50 or 0.70 cents of dollars a day can have a better live then your family in England living of social aid for handicapped people!!!!!!!


    ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE: Top Cuban official says Obama lied in Copenhagen

    HAVANA — “Cuba’s foreign minister called President Barack Obama an “imperial and arrogant” liar Monday for his conduct at the U.N. climate conference, a reflection of the communist island’s increasingly fiery verbal attacks on the U.S. government.

    Bruno Rodriguez spent an hour and a half lambasting Obama’s behavior in Copenhagen, telling a news conference, “at this summit, there was only imperial, arrogant Obama, who does not listen, who imposes his positions and even threatens developing countries.””

    “Rodriguez would not answer questions about the status of an American citizen who was detained in Cuba on Dec. 5 while working as a U.S. government contractor.

    Castro first publicly mentioned the detention Sunday, when he told the Cuban Parliament that the American was arrested for distributing illegal satellite communications equipment.”

    “Raul Castro over the weekend mentioned recent war games Cuba conducted to prepare for a U.S. invasion and hinted that the contractor’s arrest shows further American aggression against his country is a real possibility.

    “I just want to note that here we have a people who are ready to protect, at any price, the successes of the revolution,” he said. “I’d advise one and all that they cease provocations of this type.””

  10. Exile I think that you are just lousy , you don’t like to work you want the government, take in care of you. That is not socialist.That is to be and dependent scum . In here you got a lot of them too. But you got the right to have your POV. And what we want for or country is that every body can put their on POV w/out been afraid of been mob or persecuted like to many Cuban are in this moment. Ex: Yoanis and her husband, Las damas de blanco, Oscar Bicet and many others on Jail . THE ONLY REASON HAVE A DIFFERENT POV.

  11. Sure I can talk to ordinary people as only the scum in Miami think that folk are afraid to speak. I speak Spanish and sitting in a bar drinking the local firewater is not something that I object to doing.

    Cuba has many problems, most being as result of Moscow’s betrayal 20 years ago. That said when I compare the lives of the average Cubans with my family back in England then the Cubans have the better of the deal. My family has now spend long decades either unemployed or underemployed, and when they do get jobs they have to put up with some snot-gobbling lump of management filth telling them to jump or be sacked.

    In Cuba you do your bastard hours, you get your social wage, and nobody busts a ball to earn a crust.

  12. HAVANA TIMES ARTICLE: The Golden Mean

    ‘In the face of the extreme opposition (I guess, skinny and old women along with young student artists fall under that category) posed against Cuba by the US, the position of the island’s State has been equally extreme. Its reaction has been to simplify its palette, eliminating all shades of gray. Speech exists only in black and white terms, as one can only be “within” the revolution or “outside” of it.
    In the belief that criticism offers “comfort to the enemy,” any critical voice (even a constructive one) is painted as “counter-revolutionary” and treated accordingly.

    It’s that simple, and -if your aim is to effectively stem opposition- it works…for a generation or two.

    Of course there are the obvious and painful tradeoffs. Devoid of transparency and accountability, the State hardens, it ossifies, it institutionalizes into a narrow top-down system of winners and losers – with the winners firmly holding incontestable power.

    Ironically, the State becomes the mirror image of the elitist enemy it seeks to resist, gradually becoming more distinct from the original aim of the red “workers state.”

  13. REUTERS ARTICLE:Creditors still fret despite Cuba improvements

    HAVANA, Dec 21 (Reuters) -“Cuba managed to stop the hemorrhaging of foreign exchange that left it unable to pay many bills the past year, officials said this weekend, but creditors who are owed an estimated $2 billion do not expect to be paid in full any time soon.”

    “Cuba, which is heavily dependent on imports, stopped paying many suppliers last year and froze the Cuban bank accounts of most foreign companies operating on the island as the crisis drained its cash reserves.”

  14. 60
    Diciembre 21st, 2009 at 15:47

    ……..The memories of 50 years of defeat and disgrace must really hurt.

    I have read several time this sentence in the comments of “different” activists of the castro-fascism….. those that uses to copy the proffered word of Hitler to “qualified” his enemies, Worms, following in such way theirs leader castro that copied also the word, the speeches and the philosophy of those bloody grounders of his thinking.
    My answer to this triumphalism is always a relate of the defeats the dictator has suffered in the imperialism hands, a relate about how our country have become one of the poorest countries in the world, a relate about the difficulties and disgraces our people has lived ……… I always end the relate asking……. are these the “victories”?????……. with these victories even Pirro would be ashamed….
    But the new-fascist never answer the question and Mr. exile always evade the answer….. in the same way he did not want to comment about the “pissed mobster”

  15. I suspect the Castro regime will be able to cling to power until Fidel Castro is permanently out of the picture. In a weird sort of way, Fidel Castro’s insistence on maintaining a largely Marxist-Leninist economy may well work against this bankrupt regime’s attempts to stay in power once he dies or is permanently incapacitated.

  16. Exile, let me ask what makes you think that the Castro regime is not even worst than capitalist?

    You have mentioned you have travel to Cuba
    Have you been able to talk to normal Cubans?

    I you have talked to them and see the situation and their life is not possible for you to side on Castro’s place because is so obvious they are using Cubans as slaves!

    Even Fidel Castro recognized it that the honey of power was his.

  17. Hank#32
    I don’t live in Miami but I was able to watch the program called “María Elvira Live” which broadcast on channel 41, every night from Miami. Herewith the path to her page:
    If you subscribe to her post, she will send you a weekly update with the latest videos of her program. I would say she is a very gutsy Lady.

  18. way back in the low #20s in these comments there was a bit about Cuban science and how things are for the people who work there. My experience with some friends there who are involved in certain water and geology earth science disciplines in Cuba is that they are a couple of decades behind the thinking we have “outside” a Mexican friend was translating a manuscript for one of these Cubans and she stated that there were a lot of ideas in it that we had in the 60s and have since discarded. Hopefully the day when those amigos of ours can be unleashed into the vast realms of new thinking available in cyberspace will arrive shortly.

  19. Haed up Exile is a trol .Yep he is Castros goon doing his bedting in London.I just read his coment, Exile get a life.

  20. Naah, voted CP a few times in the old days but I am basically Labour. Well, I was until the party got taken over by the middle class and dropped all it economic policies in favour of being nice to poofs – what you call faggots – ethnics and bloody women.

    You see, what a lot of people just don’t get is that folk like me are socialist for economic reasons. I never sat there with my dick in one hand and the Communist Manifesto in the other. On the other hand I have never had an employer, or an employer’s man, that I have not wanted to see swinging from a lamppost.

  21. “I believe the regime is at its end here.”

    Julio – you old optimist, you.

    Does anybody remember a book written by, I think, a fellow named Oppenheimer that was called The Last Days of Castro, or something similar? Let me think… It was written in about 1990… An awful lot of days have passed since then, but that doesn’t stop the denizens of Bananalandia dreaming their pathetic dreams.

    Changing the subject completely, Elian Gonzalez is 16 now! I can remember his birthday because he is a month younger than my eldest son. It only seems like yesterday when you were getting yourselves all worked up over the little lad, then howling like deranged dogs as his father took him home. Now he is an officer cadet in the Cuban army. How time flies; how one defeat piles on top of another.

    The memories of 50 years of defeat and disgrace must really hurt.

  22. Andy just the fact that he(Raul) so far seem to have fail to deliver on the changes the Cuban people wanted. I believe the regime is at its end here.
    We can see all the signs pointing to the final moments for the Cuban regime.
    That is why they have been so active repressing lately
    They know they need to patch the holes before it becomes a big explosion
    If the economic situation deteriorates the way it looks it will
    it is actually all their own making!
    As Albert mentioned there have been a great conjunction or alignment of factors that have put them in that situation so I believe we are witnessing the end of the regime.

    Unless someone gives them help soon.
    I just do not understand how can they have a liquidity problem when everyone in Cuba pays on those stores with real money.
    The only think I could think of is that they have been taking the money for other reasons. Who knows.

    One thing is obvious is the accumulation of 50 years of mismanagement of the economy that is bringing the system down. This is basically the same reason why the communist system in Russia failed.
    So far they have survive because of Chavez but it is clear that Chavez got problems on his own now. So not sure how much help he can be.

  23. Oh and then get this, Raul again of course:

    “I limit myself, for now, to expressing that in the update of the Cuban economic model, an issue on which one advances by an integral approach, there can no be room for the risks of improvisation and hastiness.”

    That’s right… we want to get it right. We’ve had about 50 years to work on it… give us 50 more and we’ll be there.

  24. No surprises at all. With no new tools in the tool box, a completely failed regime pulls out the old playbook. They don’t even have a Hail Mary pass in their arsenal. Pathetic.

    Raul’s speech as reported by AFP:
    “The enemy is as active as ever,” Castro charged in his annual address to the National Assembly.

    “In recent weeks, we have witnessed an increasing number of efforts by the new (US) administration with that objective,” the 77-year-old president added.

    “The fostering of open and covert subversion against Cuba is on the rise.”

  25. BBC ARTICLE: Cuba President Raul Castro lashes out at Barack Obama

    “But Mr Obama has said that, like previous American presidents, he will only consider a full lifting of the embargo once Cuba’s communist government makes significant moves such as the holding of democratic elections.”

    “Mr Castro’s comments were the first to acknowledge the detention of the US citizen, who works for a Maryland-based development organisation which regularly carries out work for the US government’s agency for international development.
    The contractor is reported to have been detained while distributing mobile phones and laptops. The US has made repeated requests for access to him.”

  26. Julio @ #51
    I tend to agree, many factors are comming together.
    The countries supporting the Cuban economy are reducing their support due to the world economy.
    The “technical” exchange the regime uses as income, (doctors and others)in liu of payment for goods delivered to Cuba is becoming expensive for the “host” countries.
    The people in the island is becoming more aware of the situation since underground comunications in Cuba are & they are getting more sofisticated.
    The advanced age of the present leadership.
    The lack of anyone withim the regime with the “presence” to become the new leader/s of socialist Cuba.
    The lack of philosophical flexibility.
    All this things & many more are begining to pressure the regime for inmediate solutions however: the regime is unable to come up with any which would not contradict the over 50 years of “practice”
    It seems to me the regime has painted itself into a corner,; they did not forsee this comming because their sense of future and the lack of understanding of the world as a society.
    In other words things have evolved but the regime has not & now is begining to “feel” its consecuences.
    I realize this to be a simplistic way of looking at things yet: the regime has set itself up for an implotion of its own making.
    When fidel dies, after the “mourning” the system will lack a caudillo type figure.
    Note the difference between figure & symbol.
    fidel (to me) is only a figure, powerful yes but a figure since all “good & all bad” starts & finishes with him, that is the perception he created to represent himself.
    The people that will follow the regime’s power… can’t criticize him even after his death without contradicting what his figure represents.
    If they do … it will be an admition of failure and wrong done to the people of Cuba … by fidel & in reflexion by anyone who followed him.
    Its wait & see …

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