When I interviewed a Babalawo [a priest of the Yoruba, or Santería, religion] a few years ago for Havana Times, I was alarmed at the murky vapors emanating from the religious offerings that are common sights in Havana.
Veronica Vega’s diary
When I wrote the series of articles called “The advantages of being poor”, I mentioned what it meant to us in the 70s to find that a favorite film had by chance been included in the TV line-up or was showing at the movie theater.
I can’t help thinking how old and oft-repeated this scene is in my memory; and in an effort to avoid the effects of the heat and the near claustrophobia, I gaze outside. I observe the dome of the Capitol building, now bristling with walkways and veiled in mesh. Then, I hear someone behind me say…
I wonder what kind of debate we would have if everyone exposed what they are protecting from the word go, where everyone was aware of their unavowed commitments, and whether that could be a point of departure for change, beyond cyberspace, in the tangible Cuba.
Some years ago, I interviewed Cuban writer and filmmaker Elvira Rodriguez Puerto, who lives in Munich. When I asked her why she left Cuba, she replied: “Every time a Cuban who travels abroad decides not to return to Cuba, people say: ‘they stayed, they didn’t come back!’…”
I have the sensation that Cuba is changing at a much more frenzied rhythm than can be perceived by plain sight.
When I talk with friends and acquaintances, the twists in the conversation reveal a surprising and frightening panorama.
If there is something we can reproach progress for is having weakened human beings in terms of self-control. The virtuosity of machines, our high-tech prodigies are useless if humanity does not come to terms with those things it cannot change: attachment, suffering, mortality.
When the decades of the 70s and 80s in Cuba are termed the “innocent years”, I can’t help feeling a passing shadow, remembering the official “repudiation” of those who had the courage to confess that they didn’t feel satisfied with the shared poverty nor with the simulation of freedom.
I want to talk about this sensitive issue that people leaving comments mention: What have we ordinary Cubans done to get out of this mess? Why don’t we protest the low wages, price gouging, poor product quality, deteriorating education or medical care, lacking public transportation, etc.? Why is the solution still a raft or a visa?
If I said that my country’s dysfunctionality has afforded me great opportunities for spiritual growth, most would think I’m being ironic. However, it’s true. The slings and arrows that daily put my patience to the test (and even my physical condition) vary from…