Kapuscinski and Walls

1390604593_viajes_con_herodotoThat house had a protective fence bristling with iron spikes, and the one next door had a huge gate and double locks. On the doors of certain offices signs warn, “Authorized Personnel Only,” and around the Council of State the armed guards are stationed every ten yards. Protecting themselves from others, avoiding contact, keeping strangers out, are the objectives of these physical and legal parapets. They are just like what the masterful Ryszard Kapuscinski described in his article, “Chairman Mao’s One Hundred Flowers,” during his trip to China.

In this vivid and sharp text, the Polish journalist brings us the human mania to construct obstacles to separate us from the different. The perfect example is that serpent of bricks, stones and various materials that snakes across the geography of the great Asian giant. All to defend itself — or isolate itself — from those who were left on the other side of the wall. In the Cuban case, it has been simpler, because the sea distances us from the rest of the planet. A strip of salt water that has marvelously served the political discourse of a “people under siege” and “the enemy” on the other shore. All out of fear, out of pure fear of diversity.

Kapuscinski reflected on the human and material costs of the construction–real or discursive–of walls. An exercise we could try in our own country. How much has isolation cost us? How many resources have been spent on trenches, tunnels for war, aggressive diplomatic campaigns, indoctrination in schools to foment the idea of a foreign enemy? How many lives have been destroyed, diminished or terminated because of these walls erected for the benefit of a few? “The wall serves not only to defend oneself… it allows one to control what happens within it,” reads Travels with Herodotus, and it’s painful that sixty years later it continues to be a reality in so many places.


3 thoughts on “Kapuscinski and Walls

  1. Yoani’s current post and last post are about the walls of a totalitarian dictatorship.

    Sort of the like the Berlin Wall, or the borders of the former Soviet empire. A huge physical and psychological barrier between Cuba and the outside world.

    The wall works both ways. You can’t look in and you can’t look out.

    For example, foreign visitors are not allowed to freely visit a Cuban hospital, unless it’s the Potemkin ward of Potemkin hospital. A journalist who walks around and takes pictures without permission will be sent on the first flight home or to prison, which has happened many times.

    Yoani’s current post is also about the isolationism of Castro and his attempts to get 11 million Cubans to fear and hate the outside world and throw rocks at anybody who dares to criticize Castro.

    As in all Marxist dictatorships, the effect was the exact opposite.

    All the raft traffic has been one way for the past 55 years, Cuba to Miami, Cuba to Mexico, Cuba to Honduras, 11 million Cubans trying to get anywhere without such huge walls.

    A last thing, the economic walls and walls of power in Cuba are far stronger than any Western European can imagine.

    Unless they can remember Hitler and Mussolini. The ones who can may be able to understand how Cubans feel about Castro.

    I don’t know how to put it any simpler.

    Nothing Yoani has written suggests Cuba is unique with regards to security at an international conference.

    Other posters are free to let their imagination run wild.

  2. Yoani’s posts are coming too quick for me to pass comment.
    Perhaps I should be quicker try to and pass comment on her posts rather than responding to the abuse of some of her more sycophantic and desperate disciples.
    Re previous post ‘Zeal and CELAC’.
    Here I am slightly mystified.
    Dunno about anywhere else, but when an international conference takes place in a British city it is perfectly normal for the cops and security services to sweep clean the area around the conference venue.
    For example this is what happens each time the G8 summit is held here.
    They clean up the surrounding area, pick up any homeless, they pick up the prostitutes, the drunks, they set up an exclusion zone, they stop the massed ranks of protestors from getting in the way and do this with varying degrees of brutality depending on mood etc etc etc
    This is normal. I have always presumed that this happens everywhere in the world.
    However Yoani seems to suggest that this is unique to Cuba.
    How very odd.
    I even recall the G8 being held in one British city and Bill Clinton being chauffeured to the conference venue past grass that had been sprayed green with aerosol paint….

  3. Hank,
    re your last comment:
    So what exactly do you think you’re going to achieve with your useless whining insults?
    It just makes you come across as a little bit foolish.

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