Camila and her wicker basket

For a long time we had a New Year’s ritual, we met with several friends at Camilla’s house. Seated on the floor with everyone talking at once, we would put a slip of paper in a wicker basket with our name, a personal desire, a resolution and a prediction for the year about to begin. Many of us came to the gathering with our carefully thought out answers, but some Januarys it was particularly hard to predict or wish for anything, in the midst of the uncertainty of the crisis. Nevertheless, we undertook the exercise of at least imagining our lives, and of seeking or guessing what might happen to us.

Before the conclusion of this annual event, we would read the writings from the gathering of twelve months earlier, and compare them with those most recently added to the basket. That reading was a real tour of aspirations postponed, plans unfulfilled, but all we could do is laugh and continue planning new fantasies. I was rarely accurate with my auguries of what might happen on my Island, though I believe I have finished a good part of what I set out to do, more through personal stubbornness than because of the real conditions to achieve it. Among the participants at this celebration, the most repeated desire was to relocate to another country, followed, far behind, by the heartfelt desire for one’s own roof.

At each gathering around the basket, we noted that the number who managed to emigrate was growing. The so-called “party of the paper slips” thus became a roll call of the absent, an inventory of the illusions of a whole group of friends who—in the absence of expectations—preferred to weigh anchor. Even Camila, our sweet hostess, is thousands of miles from her little house in Ayestarán. These days, she may be revisiting the mountain of pledges and prophecies we wrote, and that piled up—year after year—in her room. I know that she keeps these yellowing sheets, testimony to a scattered generation, clear evidence that we never stopped dreaming, even in the hardest of times.

A big hug at this end of year to all these “pick up sticks” scattered around the world, to the commentators on this blog, to the Cuban bloggers here and abroad, of one point of view or another, to the translators of Generation Y who—voluntarily—make these texts accessible to so many, to those who transcribe the texts that I dictate over the phone and then post them on Twitter, to those who send me thousands of emails from all over the world and call my house to tell me those things that my handicap as a surfer do not let me know. To all, happiness, luck and perseverance for 2010, which begins in a few days.


112 thoughts on “Camila and her wicker basket


    HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT (November 18, 2009)-New Castro, Same Cuba

    “Dissidents are a small and significantly isolated segment of the population. However, their marginalization is evidence not of the lack of dissent in Cuba, but rather of the state’s ruthless efficiency in suppressing it. Fear permeates all aspects of dissidents’ lives. Some stop voicing their opinions and abandon their activities altogether; others continue to exercise their rights, but live in constant dread of being punished. Many more never express dissent to avoid reprisals. As human rights defender Rodolfo Bartelemí Coba told Human Rights Watch in March 2009, “We live 24 hours a day ready to be detained.” Ten days after making that statement, Bartelemí was arrested and taken to prison without trial, where he remains today.”

    “The Cuban government has for years refused to recognize the legitimacy of independent human rights monitoring and has adamantly refused to allow international monitors, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and international nongovernmental organizations like Human Rights Watch, to visit the island and investigate human rights conditions. In researching this report, Human Rights Watch made repeated written requests to the Raúl Castro government for meetings with authorities and formal authorization to conduct a fact-finding mission to the island. As in the past, the Cuban government did not respond to any of our requests.”

    Reporters Without Borders: Going online in Cuba – Internet under surveillance

    Reporters Without Borders:Authorities block websites, detain 26th journalist

    Human Rights Watch: Cuba’s Repressive Machinery:

  2. did castro buy cuba how much money did he pay to own the cuban people and to make them slaves put them in jail and then toture them.why we have let this situasion get out of control been that is so close to our nation,why does the cuban children has to suffer the consecuenses of this type of regime where in 50 years has not going any we just dont care.

  3. WHAT it is going to take so the world can understand what castro has been doing for 50 years.this men is the saddam hussein of the caribbean.

  4. CASTRO send young men to angola to war, send doctors to venezuela,teachers to russia,and everything that cuba produces from its own soil it is exported.

  5. CHINA was sending tons of rice for free to cuba for the cuban people castro turned around and started to selling it to other friendly leftist country for dollars.cuba does not need help-the cuban people do.

  6. Humberto, very odd that the Oregon church group would be denied entry to Cuba.

    Judging from the group’s website, these are the types of well-intentioned but naive church-goers that the Castro regime usually goes out of its way to curry favor with.

    “Cuba AyUUda is informed by mutuality and that concept is reflected in the name. Cuba ayuda literally means Cuba is helping or Cuba helps, but the word “help” doesn’t quite cover what Cubans give US Americans. I would suggest the word “transforms.” We also recognize that Cuba helps in Africa, South and Central America in its own unique way-exporting doctors instead of armaments; creating alliances and empowering through shared healthcare.”

  7. – Articles
    Yoani Sanchez: between blogs and lies – The contradictions of Yoani
    Frei Betto *
    The world learned that, on 7 November last, the Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez have been struck on the streets of Havana. According to her account, “threw me in a car pulled … a role that one of them took and took it to his mouth. I was struck to return the document. Inside the car was Orlando (her husband), a key asset for karate … They struck me in the kidneys and the head so that I return the paper … We started on the street … A woman came up: “What happened?” “A kidnapping,” I replied. (www.desdecuba. com / generaciony)
    Three days after the incident on the streets of Havana, Yoani Sánchez received into his house the foreign press. Fernando Ravsberg, the BBC, noted that, despite all the torture described by it, “there were no bruises, marks or scars” (BBC World, 9/11/2009). This was confirmed by the images of CNN. The France Press reported that she “was not injured.”
    In the BBC interview, Yoani Sánchez said that the marks and bruises had disappeared (in just 48 hours), except the buttocks, “which unfortunately can not show.” Now why, in the same day of the alleged kidnapping, it showed through his blog, lots of pictures, as he claimed to have in other parts of the body?
    There was disclosed that the attack occurred in daylight, in front of a bus “full of people.” Foreign correspondents in Cuba have not found so far only one witness. And her husband refused to speak to the press.
    The alleged attack on the Cuban blogger deserved more prominence in the media that a hundred murders, disappearances and acts of violence of the dictatorship of Honduras Roberto Micheletti, since June 27.
    Yoani Sánchez was born in 1975, graduated in philology in 2000 and two years later, “before the disenchantment and economic strangulation of Cuba”, as mentioned in the blog, he moved to Switzerland with his son Teo. He worked in publishing and taught Spanish.
    In 2004, he left the Swiss haven to return to Cuba, which it describes as “immense ideological prison walls. States that did it for family reasons. Anyone who reads the blog is terrified of hell Cuban described by her. Yet again.
    Could not have secured a better future for the son in Switzerland? Why is returned against the wishes of the mother? “My mother refused to admit that his daughter no longer lived in Switzerland and chocolate milk (her blog, 14/08/2007).
    In fact, the case of Yoani Sanchez is not alone. Many Cuban exiles return to the country after they were confronted with the difficulties of adapting to foreign prejudices against blacks and mulattos, the language barrier, lack of jobs. They know that despite the difficulties that the country is experiencing, in Cuba there will have food, shelter, education and free medical care and security because the crime rates there are negligible compared to the rest of Latin America.
    What Yoani Sánchez does not show in your blog is that in Switzerland, begged the Cuban diplomats the right to return, they had not found stable work. And you know that in Cuba it can devote full time to blog, it is the rare countries in the world in which unemployed do not go hungry or live in the open …
    The funny thing is that it never showed on his blog as street children who roam Havana, beggars played on the sidewalks, the poor families under the bridges … Neither she nor the foreign correspondents, and even the tourists who visit the island. Because there do not exist.
    If there is such a lack of freedom in Cuba, as can Yoani Sánchez, inside, issue such great reviews? It is said that in Cuba everything is controlled, including access to the internet?
    Detail: the niche Generación Y Sánchez is highly sophisticated, with entries for Facebook and Twitter. Receives 14 million visits per month and is available in 18 languages! Neither the Department of the USA has such a variety of languages. Who pays for translators abroad? Who is paying the high cost of flow of 14 million hits?
    Yoani Sanchez has every right to criticize Cuba and the government of his country. But only the naive believe that this is a simple blogger. Nor is the victim of security or justice in Cuba. So he invented the story of aggression. Insists that his lies become reality.
    The resistance to the blockade of Cuba USAmerican, the fall of the Soviet boycott of the Western media, uncomfortable, and very. Especially when you know that Cuban volunteers are more than 70 countries working mainly as doctors and teachers.
    Capitalism, which excludes 4 million human beings of their basic benefits, it is not even capable of withstanding the fact that 11 million people in a poor country to live with dignity and feeling mirrored in the healthy and happy Buena Vista Social Club.
    * Writer, adviser movements —-

  8. the rocks of the bottom of a river would like to navigate the bottom of the ocean and find freedom as well.

  9. THE OREGONIAN ARTICLE: Cuban authorities send Portland church group back to Mexico

    “”They said that never bothered the Cuban authorities before,” Rossio said. “They didn’t understand why that was a problem now.”

    Rossio said e-mails from detainees indicated that Cuban authorities appeared to be expecting them and intercepted them as soon as they landed. Some of those detained were in their late 70s, and found it uncomfortable to sleep on the airport’s cold concrete floor. She said some Cubans not affiliated with the government offered help and tried to make detainees comfortable.”

  10. MIAMI HERALD ARTICLE: U.S. envoys see American jailed in Cuba
    U.S. diplomats were allowed to visit an American government contractor who has been held for more than three weeks.

    ““Today the U.S. Interests Section in Havana was granted access to the U.S. citizen detained Dec. 4,” said Virginia Staab, spokeswoman for the department’s Western Hemisphere Affairs section. “We remain focused on the welfare of the detained U.S. citizen.”

    Staab declined to comment further, citing privacy restrictions. The two countries maintain Interests Sections in each other’s capitals in the absence of full U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations.

    Development Alternatives Inc., (DAI) a suburban Washington firm that manages an $8.6 million part of the U.S. government’s pro-democracy programs for Cuba, has identified the man as a DAI contractor working to help civil-society groups on the island.”

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