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Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate as a spectator at the most recent edition of the Estado de SATS event where a group of young art promoters met to discuss alternative projects and censorship. The presence of an attentive and respectful audience, despite the threats that loomed from the authorities and their intentions to discredit a narrow sector of the opposition, was significant.
It was made clear that anyone who intends to undertake any independent project in the area of the arts will have to be willing to live with the anguish of a permanent state of war. The institutions whose ultimate goal is supposed to be promoting culture function as braking mechanisms, not only in terms of their pretensions to audit content, but also through the petty jealousies of their prominence.
In the year when the home-grown intellectuals have celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of “the words to the intellectuals” many of them have tried to clarify that maxim: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing,” does not mean a state of “being outside” the Revolution, but only one of “being against it.” However, the testimonies expressed in this discussion clearly showed that the process of institutionalization resulted in substitutions for the elements of the equation, leaving an unspoken rule: “Within the institutions some things; outside the institutions, nothing.”
Nevertheless, the oppressive force of this rule has not achieved its purpose of extinguishing the yearnings for freedom that dwell in the natures of creative people. Sometimes through playing with ambiguous language, other times appealing to clandestine tricks, or in some cases openly defying the censors and repressors, numerous Cuban artists have made their own a phrase attributed to José Martí: “He who is not able to create, is not obliged to obey.”
This Monday, early in the morning, I turned on the TV to find out what was happening in Tripoli. The lead international story, read by the announcer at 7:30, was that the United States was going to dismiss the charges against the former head of the IMF. In the expanded report we learned that in Cairo there had been protests against Israel, that Syria had announced elections, and that there had been a tribute to those killed in the attacks in Norway.
Minutes later, as if it were of minor importance, the speaker presented “a summary of the latest events in Libya”: An excerpt of a speech by Gaddafi calling on the people to resist the colonizers, the intervention of Hugo Chavez, and a report by a Cuban correspondent in Tripoli who limited himself to saying that there had been no confirmed reports, and that the sound of gunfire in the background was fading. In the background we saw images of Green Square crowded with people celebrating, but there was no explanation. The flags being waved by the multitudes were tri-colored.
To learn more we had to wait until 6:30 in the evening, when the Roundtable show, under the title, “Libya under the bombs of NATO,” offered, finally, the official version of events.
All this reminds me of those cave drawings where an arrow reaches the antelope as a magic talisman in anticipation of a successful hunt. The difference is that in our cave, those who have a monopoly on information paint, for us, the arrow flying in the wrong direction, perhaps with the primitive belief that facts will arrange themselves as in the drawing.
22 August 2011
I had the enormous privilege of being the best man at the wedding of Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada, the first in Cuba between a transsexual and a gay man. I transcribe here the toast that I made:
I want to toast by the sun and by the moon. In Spanish, the first is masculine, the second feminine.
But in other languages, for example in German, they say “die Sonne” and “der Mond,” or the equivalent, completely the reverse of our language from the point of view of the assignment of genders. There you have grammar with its narrow concepts! Who shines more than this couple? Which here eclipses the other? Who emits, who reflects? Two stars, two people who just entwined their destinies. For as dark as the clouds may be, they always pass. We toast these newlyweds, be the word masculine or feminine as you prefer, by the light of each, and by everything they can reflect.