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I too would have preferred it to be a Concert for Freedom, out of all the priorities, but if peace is understood as synonymous with reconciliation among the Cuban family, then I agree with Juanes in the name chosen for his performance in Havana.
Reconciliation not only among the most visible polarities: victims and victimizers of one group or another, but also among those who stopped speaking due to political differences, among those who were consumed by the suspicion that the other was from the CIA or the G-2, opportunist for hire or mercenary without conscience. It will be difficult, but essential, because if the foundations are not laid with the material that peace and reconciliation provide, freedom will end up being a rabid dog that will bite us all.
We already had, in 1959, what was called “The Year of Liberation” with those revolutionary courts passing sentences of death to be carried out immediately. I remember myself, just twelve years old, shouting “To the wall! To the wall! To the wall!” Yes, I know it wasn’t my fault, but it took too long for me to be horrified by it.
The Plaza was full, not only of people, but also of ways of thinking, of tendencies and beliefs. No one can divide an entire nation into two groups. Let’s see, you who are reading me, into which sack do you want to be thrown? In with those who blew up a plane in which our fencing team was traveling, or in the one with those who sank the tugboat filled with innocents on March 13th? In the sack with those who hung the literacy campaigner Manuel Ascunce, or in that of those who ordered the shooting down of two unarmed planes? The people I saw in the plaza this past Sunday did not fit in any. The young people who sang along had their eyes on the future, not to say it was a chorus of angels, but I will not demonize them as “accomplices of the dictatorship.”
That we Cubans might be a single family is a beautiful and necessary purpose, whether you like it or not.
In what might be defined as “getting off while the bus is running” the reknowned TV film and theater star, Armando Tomey, has circulated (via e-mail) an open letter which starts off with the usual complaints of a labor assembly in a work place and ends up with what a lot of us wish was a speech in parlamient.
As strong as his criticisms seem to be, we need to acknowledge that this man from my province (we are from Camagüey) is a moderate man and that’s the best quality of his open letter. It does not aim to start a fire, nor to place himself on the side of “the enemy”. He tells his truth, which stems from his experiences and emotions, which in many artists correspond to the truth all of us Cubans suffer every day.
I could cite many paragraphs here, but I’d rather everyone read the whole thing, though I can’t resist transcribing here the part I liked the best, where he states:
“At the outset, it must be acknowledged, “Where did we go wrong all of these years? And above all, let everyone participate!
I concur with what this artist proposes at the beginning.
Here is a link to the document as I got it from a friend.
When a literary work makes us laugh, moves us, provokes us, reveals to us and calls to us from beginning to end it deserves to pass into the category of recommended reading. Memoirs of an Unknown Cuban Guerilla by Juan Juan Almeida, released by the Spanish publisher Espuela de Plata, belongs to that group of books which one is proud to give to friends.
Its author does not try to break new ground in literature, nor play with time or grammatical persons. At moments, it seems to us that were are in the presence of one of these tourist guides who describe the marvels that one must visit, or that one is an intruder reading the memoirs of someone who was only relaxing; at moments it seems like a report written by an informer, the letter of a suicide, the confidences of a criminal who is confessing.
This novel, or “serial” as its detractors already call it, does not belong to the detective genre even though its pages are full of cops and robbers; the crime narrated is that which was committed against the innocence of a people. The victim smiles and takes pleasure and the culprit, who is already mentioned by the second line of the first page, turns out to be the hero of the tragedy.
Since I read the Useless Life of Pito Pérez (1938) by the Mexican José Rubén Romero, I haven’t come across an author as unreserved, or rather as shameless as this hedonistic bon vivant Juan Juan, who doesn’t hesitate to tell us his misdeeds, miseries, weaknesses and hidden perversions and who also has the infinite gall to amuse himself inviting us to be his accomplice, just at the moments we were preparing to be his executioner.
This book could have many title: “History will envy me,” “Don Juan in the Gulag,” or “Everything was a lie,” but the one chosen is perfect, you already know why.