From Tatlin’s Whisper to Tatlin’s Cry

Images from the first Havana edition of "Tatlin's Whisper"

Images from the first Havana edition of “Tatlin’s Whisper”

Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 31 December 2014 – Those of us who participated in that first edition of Tatlin’s Whisper in Havana will never forget that minute of freedom in front of the microphone that would cost us years of official insults. The project to reenact the performance, but this time in the Plaza of the Revolution, invariably brought back to us memories of that night in the Wilfredo Lam center and the hope that this time the microphones would be open to a larger number of Cubans. I confess that I came to reflect on where it would be best to raise the podium, to place the actors dressed in olive-green who would regulate the time of each person’s speech, and how the white dove would look, fluttering over the shoulder of each orator.

On the eve of December 30 I talked with Tania Bruguera who, hoarse and exhausted, already felt the cage closing around her. All the signs pointed to their not allowing her to even reach the Plaza and the political police unleashing a wave of repression against those who wanted to accompany her. I ventured to describe three possible scenarios she might face: that they would not let her leave her home, or would arrest her; that they would let her get to the plaza which would be taken over by a last-minute popular festival with cheap beer, parades and loud music; that they would let her stage Tatlin’s Whisper, but fill the time at the microphone with voices shouting official slogans. There was no way to add to these variables one that would conclude with a chorus of plurality and tolerance making itself heard in front of the statue of José Martí.

In that conversation I told her that “The performance is already done; the artistic action achieved,” because with her project Bruguera had unveiled the framework of censorship, cultural cowardice and repression that immobilizes Cuban life. Many of her artist friends had declined to accompany her, some acquaintances had called on her to concede and move Tatlin’s Whisper to the interior some institution and others, more committed, had warned her that there was a plan to “abduct her from the Plaza.” From the early hours of the morning the macabre dance of arrests and intimidation began.

Ladies in White, activists, journalists and dissidents were jailed or blocked from leaving their homes. Many communicators had their cellphones cut off, text messaging cancelled and access to the government-operated Nauta email system restricted. In a whisper, information about what was happening began to surface. The 14ymedio team suffered a hard blow, with two reporters and a contributing writer arrested and our press office under a police operation for hours. The list of the jailed was growing and as communications began to work again we started calling each other to keep ourselves up-to-date.

But the whisper turned into Tatlin’s cry. One that is now heard through the phone lines, on Twitter, outside the police stations, where family members demand to spend the last day of the year with their loved ones. There is no microphone, no white dove, no one minute of freedom, but rather long hours of suffering and uncertainty.

Tania, among all the scenarios we projected, we missed this one. You in jail and from there, dressed in the gray uniform of an inmate, you performed the most devastating and unforgettable of all your artistic actions. The Plaza is today in each one of us.

159 thoughts on “From Tatlin’s Whisper to Tatlin’s Cry

  1. sandokan, you slept it over.

    A few weeks ago, the US Cuba policy has moved from Florida to Washington, DC

    If you keep quoting the dinosaurs of the cold war like Marco Rubio one might think that you a dinosaur, too

  2. REUTERS: Cuba says U.S. climbs to 5th leading trade partner-HAVANA | Thu Aug 14, 2008
    (Reuters) – The United States ranked among communist Cuba’s top five trading partners for the first time in 2007 despite the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, as U.S. agriculture sales increased by $100 million. Trade data for 2007 posted on the Web site of Cuba’s National Statistics Office placed the United States fifth at $582 million, compared with $484 million in 2006, including shipping costs.
    The United States, which began selling food to Cuba in 2002 under an amendment to the embargo, placed seventh in 2006 and 2005.

    ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA- February 2012 – Report For Calendar Year 2011

    The following is the data for exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba relating to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, which re-authorized the direct commercial (on a cash basis) export of food products (including branded food products) and agricultural products (commodities) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, irrespective of purpose. The TSRA does not include healthcare products, which remain authorized by the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992.

    The data represents the U.S. Dollar value of product exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba under the auspice of TSRA. The data does not include transportation charges, bank charges, or other costs associated with exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba. The government of the Republic of Cuba reports data that, according to the government of the Republic of Cuba, includes transportation charges, bank charges, and other costs. However, the government of the Republic of Cuba has not provided verifiable data. The use of trade data reported by the government of the Republic of Cuba is suspect. The government of the Republic of Cuba has been asked to provide verifiable data, but has not.


    Click to access CubaExportStats.pdf

    THE HILL: New policy puts onus on Cuba – By Sascha Meinrath
    Today, Cuba has an Internet penetration rate of roughly 5 percent, one of the lowest on earth, in part due to U.S. restrictions, but it is also a result of the Cuban government’s insistence on controlling and limiting information flow. It’s no surprise that the White House called for “new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate freely” — what would be remarkable would be Cuba taking advantage of this opening and embracing actions to springboard their economy into the 21st century.
    The Cuban government promised, as part of this new stage of diplomatic engagement, to increase Internet connectivity. Cuba is in a unique position to leapfrog the rest of the world and pioneer new forms of digital enfranchisement — empowering communities and constituencies through the use of open communications and decision-making resources that are second-to-none on the planet. The Cuban people can thrive if they are connected to today’s information economy, the U.S. government should take advantage of the substantial investments it has already made in free, fully open source, Internet Freedom tools and help get them into use immediately in Cuba.
    In 2010, the US State Department invested in the development of the Commotion Wireless Project (a.k.a., the Internet-in-a-Suitcase) to help bring low-cost communications to underserved areas and to regions rife with surveillance and censorship. Over the next three years, the Commotion technologies were diligently developed and these open source tools were then made freely available to anyone who wanted to set up their own networks, from Detroit to Brooklyn, and Somaliland to Tunisia. The driving force behind these early efforts was enabling communications but also, in a post Arab Spring world, post-conflict stabilization. In essence, open communications has begun to be seen as a fundamental building block for contemporary civil society, as important as schools and roads and electricity.

    In 2012, USAID asked the Commotion team to develop a solution that could be used within Cuba as a part of our goal to bring free, safe, ubiquitous, communications to everyone on the planet. To be clear, this is a very different set of tools than those imposed by democracy promotion programs that got the Obama administration so much negative press. These tools don’t create fake twitter networks or collect information about their users; instead, they empower ordinary citizens to build and own their community connections, with zero interference from either government.



    Agriculture Groups Unite to End Cuban Embargo

    January 9, 2015

    U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, congressional lawmakers, and food industry lobbyists formally announced yesterday the formation of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), which seeks to expand food trade between the U.S and Cuba.

    Cuba, which does not grow wheat commercially, is the largest wheat market in the Caribbean, purchasing almost all of its wheat from the European Union and Canada. …..


  6. USD 20 billion in 10 years to Vzla from the Chinese is a ridiculously small amount, peanuts compared to what’s needed.
    – And yes, the Chinese should absolutely be afraid of dealing with the Chavista govt. The Chinese system is far from perfect, but at least they are trying to build their country. The Chavistas are trying their level best to destroy Vzla, and they’re close to succeeding…

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