In the Corridor of Those Condemned to Stay

cercaThe lady raises the stamp and brings it near the paper, then finally sets it off to the side without having stamped your permission to leave.  “You are not authorized to travel,” she says, and the whole office hears the phrase that condemns you to remain confined on this Island.  At other tables the applicants look at their feet to avoid meeting your eyes looking into theirs, searching for solidarity. The soldiers passing by scrutinize you from above with the reproach of those who think, “She must have done something, not to be allowed to leave.”

Until this last minute you thought that maybe the archives of the Ministry of the Interior would not be too well organized and your history of nonconformity would not come to light. You often imagined that a secretary would go for pizza at the exact moment she checked your file and the rumblings of her stomach would make her put it, as quickly as possible, in the pile of those approved. You know well the effect that melted cheese and tomato sauce can cause in a bureaucrat who looks at her watch at three in the afternoon.

But the option of state negligence didn’t work this time. They uncovered your case from the moment you presented the first papers for a trip south. Some boss with the rank of lieutenant colonel would have smiled on seeing you were finally in his hands. After you believed you could act like a free man, speaking your mind loudly and publishing articles without a pseudonym, you had reached the point where you would feel all the walls, all the bars, all the locks.

You have no criminal record, have never been found guilty by a court, and your most frequent offenses consist of buying cheese or milk on the black market. Nevertheless you have just verified that you are suffering a punishment. Your sentence is to remain behind the bars of this archipelago, confined by this band of sea which some in their naïveté consider a bridge and not the uncrossable moat it really is. Nobody will let you out because you are a prisoner with a number stuck to your back, even though you think you are wearing the blouse you took from the closet this morning. You are in the dungeon of the “immobilized pilgrims,” in the cell of those forced to stay.

Through the window a voice berates you for not having shut up, faked it a little… worn the mask to be able to travel. You will not see the light until the entire prison is torn down.


165 thoughts on “In the Corridor of Those Condemned to Stay

  1. Simba @#151
    we come from the same place even if we are on others.
    It is passion what makes things sound differently … nevertheless I speaking for myself believe Siggy yo be an honest caring man who meant no harm to you.
    Sometimes we (I) forget that my passion not just for Cuba but for freedom blinds me to any other thing …
    In the other hand (I think I said it before) I have a great appreciation for your contributions, the search for the truth & the sense of participation means a lot … to an old fool like me … it means soemone other than a cuban, a citizen of the world cares, like many others.
    A long way to say … stay w/us, share our passion the Cuba & the world neads all its citizens … by birth & by heart

  2. for Yoani on international womens day tomorrow

    Still I Rise

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may trod me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    Does my sassiness upset you?
    Why are you beset with gloom?
    ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
    Pumping in my living room.

    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.

    Did you want to see me broken?
    Bowed head and lowered eyes?
    Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
    Weakened by my soulful cries.

    Does my haughtiness offend you?
    Don’t you take it awful hard
    ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
    Diggin’ in my own back yard.

    You may shoot me with your words,
    You may cut me with your eyes,
    You may kill me with your hatefulness,
    But still, like air, I’ll rise.

    Does my sexiness upset you?
    Does it come as a surprise
    That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
    At the meeting of my thighs?

    Out of the huts of history’s shame
    I rise
    Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
    I rise
    I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
    Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
    Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
    I rise
    Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
    I rise
    Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
    I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
    I rise
    I rise
    I rise.

    Maya Angelou

  3. 151
    Marzo 5th, 2010 at 13:44

    Dear Simba…… the only name I have called you is Simba and dear…… and I mind dear as dear nothing else……. when I exhort in my comment to not be naive or about the necessity of study our history before draw unfair conclusions I do it in general way, to the readers not to you in particular…… so, I apologizes if my bad English made you feel directly named, I assure you it was not my intentions…… my intentions, even when I use names on evident castro agents, are just to bring to light things and facts that can help us all to understand Cuba’s history and actual situation…… you and me are in same side of the problem, so, we can’t be contenders…….. hope to continue the debate with you for ever.

  4. ***
    HI YUBANO–#155. I don’t think that the U.S.A. under President Obama would intervene militarily if a Romanian style revolution breaks out in Cuba. I think my country would stand by and hope for the people to win. We already tried proxy intervention when President Kennedy ordered the Bay of Pigs invasion. President Obama is a lot weaker than President Kennedy was.
    HOLA YUBANO–#155. No creo que los Estados Unidos con Presidente Obama en mando iba meter con fuerzas militarios si un revolucion en el estilo de Romania occuria en Cuba. Creo que mi pais va poner al lado y esperaria que ganan la gente. Ya hicimos intervention usando Cubanos cuando Presidente Kennedy ordeno la invasion del Bahia de Maranos. President Obama is menos fuerte que fue Presidente Kennedy.
    John Bibb


    REUTERS: Cuban hunger striker says ready to die if necessary
    Fri Mar 5, 2010

    (Reuters) – Cuba’s latest dissident hunger striker, Guillermo Farinas, walks with a cane and complains that his thin body is weak but he said on Friday he remained firm in his goal: to die, if necessary, to bring change to the island.

    “The 48-year-old psychologist and freelance writer stopped eating and taking liquids on February 24, a day after Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died from an 85-day hunger strike and became a martyr for the Cuban opposition.

    Farinas vowed that Zapata’s death, which Cuban President Raul Castro said he regretted, would not be in vain and undertook his own hunger strike to demand freedom for 26 political prisoners said to be in bad health in the Communist-ruled island’s jails.

    “Plain and simple, we want to say that if Raul regretted the death of Zapata, it’s normal that he would release them as a gesture of goodwill so he doesn’t have to regret any others,” Farinas told Reuters at his modest home in Santa Clara, 168 miles east of Havana.”

    “Analysts said Zapata’s hunger strike death likely killed any near-term hopes for improved relations between Havana and the United States and the European Union.

    Farinas, who says he has served time in jail for his dissident activities, is on his 23rd hunger strike — all with a common goal of obtaining change in one form or another in Cuba, he said.

    His longest was 18 months. Another lasted eight months, centered on a demand for access to the Internet, which is limited in Cuba. The other hunger strikes ended without much success but there is no turning back from this one, Farinas said.

    “I am ready in this hunger strike to go to the ultimate consequences, including my death,” he said.

    “If in the end they let me die, it will show that political murder in Cuba forms part of the government’s essence from 1959 to now,” he said. 1959 was the date of Fidel Castro’s Revolution, which subsequently installed communism in Cuba.”

    “Cuba has tried to defuse the criticism over Zapata’s death by making the case that he was a common criminal who became a political dissident because of “material advantages” bestowed on the opposition by foreign critics of the island’s communist government, including the United States.

    Havana also said he received good medical treatment but reached a point where he could not be saved.

    Raul Castro blamed the United States for Zapata’s death on the grounds that it was the result of a long U.S. campaign to topple communist rule in Cuba.

    Cuba views dissidents as U.S.-hired subversives, calling them “mercenaries” and “traitors.”

    Farinas said he was receiving no aid from abroad during his hunger strike but regularly gives interviews by telephone to international media, including U.S.-funded Radio Marti, whose broadcasts in Spanish to Cuba are jammed by the government.

    He said he was hoping his hunger strike rallied international support for his cause. “What we cannot do is leave our brothers to be so treacherously murdered,” he said.

    He insisted this could end easily if the government wanted. “If they release those political prisoners, I stop my strike,” he said.”

  6. “However, as him/her has practiced: only a small portion of a statement/comment has been used to quote (by the individual/s) with no regard for the context within the comment.
    To the individual/s you have been caught, CASE CLOSED.”

    Fat Albert – why don’t you demonstrate how this was out of context? Should be easy if true – simple – reprint any missing contradictory sentences.
    But of course theer aren’t any and just another example of you and your ilk’s close minded lies.

  7. #137 “One day this will happen again. Hopefully soon.”

    Doesn’t 50 years of plaintive hope cause you to think just maybe our tactics are wrong?

  8. “And if thousands had attempted to attend Zapata’s funeral aftre his suicide how could the police have turned them all away??

    Whereas it was easy to turn away the few that were impeded.

    None of you came even close to ATTEMPTING to answer this. Again confirmed it is much easier to dredge up ancient history and sit at your desk. Do ANY of oyu actually do ANYTHING concrete?

  9. Yubano, that is what happened in Romania once the chief commander of the Army killed himself. The new chief commander told the dictator that the army will finish the protesters ( by that time there were over 200 – 300 k roaming through the capital; also people took the streets in all major cities). He did not do it. He actually ordered all units to go to their barracks. It was so funny as the crowds were getting close to the presidential palace the army was retreating with their heavy equipment. In less then 1 hour the crowed roamed the palace and the dictator had to escape with an helicopter. One hour later he was abandoned by the crew in a cornfield in the country side. He had to hitchhike for a while till some cops picked him up ( and his wife) and took him to a safe place. Then some army officials came with the handcuffs. It’s a miracle kind of story about how one can lose power in a matter of hours and get executed for the evil done to his own people.His secret service was extremely powerful and efficient.They had the guts to execute murder of dissidents who lived peacefully in Paris and Munich.

    I wonder if some generals in the Cuban Army would turn their guns to the Castro Brothers ?

  10. Igor

    Interesting question about the inevitable outbreak onto the streets by the citizenery in Cuba and what the governments reaction will be. I think the regime has given every indication that negotiation is not in the cards. They have painted themselves into a corner of us versus them, there is no golden parachute solution for them. When the numbers in the streets become a problem they will either turn tail and run like batista to whatever godforesaken country will accept them or the military will have to take matters into their own hands and force them out. I don’t believe a Tianemen Square option is available to them either. In such a scenario the US will not stand idly buy and do nothing. The castros have been very careful about not provoking the neighbor to the north and a street massacre will invite an intervention. My hope would be for a coupe d etat by the military with a bloodbath aimed at the ruling elite, clean the slate, get rid of the criminals.

  11. Simba I may be wrong but I believe Freud is getting your comments mixed up with those of the blog’s resident idiot, juanita.

  12. RADIO NETHERLANDS: To die for Cuba is to livePublished on
    5 March 2010 – 4:32pm

    Today is the tenth day of Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas’ hunger strike. As he is refusing to drink, he could die at any time. He is determined to do so. “Everything that happens to me is the responsibility of the Cuban government,” he says from his deathbed.

    “The 48-year-old journalist and dissident hopes his death will be bring more embarrassment on the Cuban government. Wouldn’t he be more useful alive?

    “I do think about that, but then I remember a line from the Cuban national anthem: To die for your fatherland is to live.”

    Intensive care
    Mr Fariñas has just returned from hospital, where his family took him after he went into a coma. He was put on a drip and regained consciousness. But he did not receive further treatment, he says on the telephone:

    “The hospital manager Derby Jimenes Serrano told my mother and my wife that the hospital serves the revolutionary citizens who support the revolution. And that it is not for counter-revolutionaries who want to disrupt the country and that they would keep me on the ward for a while but then they would send me back home.””

    International community
    “According to Mr Fariñas the international community is very important to Cuba, because the country is deeply in debt and the economy is very weak. Governments could put huge pressure on the Cuban government, so that the 26 political prisoners, “who are only waiting for a signature”, are released.

    But the government is not prepared to make a gesture.

    “Since 1959 they have been used to killing people, just killing people. And if you don’t want to die you have to leave the country, because this country is their property. And I am not prepared to leave my country. I have never wanted to and that is why they have to let me die here.””

    Sunday March 21, 2010- Barnsdall Gallery Theater
    4800 Hollywood Blvd. , Hollywood CA 9027 (1/2 block west of Vermont)
    Pre-show social hour reception with Wine and appetizers 5:00-6:00 PM
    Requested Donation per couple $50.00 or $25 per person with all proceeds to benefit distributio…n of the “Oscar’s Cuba” documentary.
    Please RSVP Fernando Marquet or Ziva Sahl 310-973-8694 or 310-806-1972 by
    e-mail Make checks payable to: Media Serve Int’l a non-profi 503 (c)(3)-your donation is tax deductible. You must RVSP to give donation at door.
    Oscar’s Cuba LA
    p.o. box 90901, Los Angeles 90009-0901
    “Oscar’s Cuba is a feature-length documentary video that will help spread the message and story of Dr. Oscar Biscet, a prisoner of conscience currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in Cuba for his promotion of human rights. Oscar’s Cuba will highlight the courage, faith and hope of Dr. Biscet and others working for democracy on the island. The goals of Oscar’s Cuba include raising public awareness about the plight of the Cuban people, helping individuals to stand and work in solidarity with those unjustly imprisoned and, ultimately, helping to secure the release of Dr. Biscet and all of Cuba’s prisoners of conscience.”

    The Oscar’s Cuba documentary “sneak peek”

  14. Mr. Freud, Please relax a bit. Anything I say is not going to change anything. I merely comment as a bystander. If I made a historical error, please forgive me. I do not do it on purpose. I attempt to present facts as I believe they are, and give opinions in the same manner. I refuse to get into name calling with you. I was very hesitant to comment on this site in the first place, afraid that my forwardness would upset some, but I was assured by some that it was okay. Have a good day, and I hope you have lots of work now, and in the future.

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