Cuba: the Invented CountryMarch 14, 2014 | Print |
HAVANA TIMES — I have never understood that device so often used in the popular soap operas, whereby the romantic protagonists who have finally managed to get together after numerous reverses (and chapters) are then separated again through the machinations of a rival. There’s always such a simple strategy employed: a dubious letter, a supposed infidelity, a coarse piece of gossip that can’t be proven.
It seems to me a cheap recourse and a mockery of the most basic intelligence. Maybe the viewers don’t protest because they already know the formula: the lovers will meet again in the last chapter, and if there are a hundred left to go that only means more hours of entertainment.
But – When it happens in real life? And when the thing at risk is the physical and psychological integrity of a real person of flesh and blood? When irretrievable years are lost to a fiction that we accept as if we were an unflinching television audience?
Finding out about the recent death of Huber Matos has left me with that bitter taste.
Despite having fought side by side with those who today fill the walls of our schools and offices, or stare at us with frozen eyes from marble pedestals, he is never mentioned in the Cuban history books. Those who knew him could identify him in a group photo or in those faded videos where you see the happy bearded guerrillas enjoying their moment of glory.
Twenty years of jail and exile are enough to dissolve the doubts, the rumors, the airy reproaches. They’re enough to convert light into darkness, truth into falsity, presence into nothing. After all is said and done, history is drawn in the sands of time, and one single lick of the ocean leaves the surface wiped clean and ready for new tracings.
Matos was condemned in a public trial where he wasn’t even conceded the right to speak. Why didn’t that incensed multitude, instead of shouting: “firing squad!” demand that he also have his turn to speak? Why, just like the bad imitations that try to copy real art, did the audience content themselves with only one version?
When I look at recent examples, it pains me to admit that in five decades nothing has changed in this sense.
The same thing occurred with the poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela who disappeared in another cloud of exile and lost memory; ditto with the victims of the Black Spring and with Orlando Zapata who died in prison while the official media ridiculed the motives for his hunger strike. None of them were interviewed for the television or newspapers. They were never offered their turn to speak.
It happened to Yoani Sanchez, who is only mentioned in the official media as a cyber-terrorist or a betrayer of her country with the vile advantage of absence and imposed silence; with the State of Sats Project; with Oswaldo Payá who received official existence when he hadn’t any voice left to defend himself with.
It’s happening right now to the news about Venezuela, received through a channel where the voices of Henrique Capriles or Leopoldo Lopez are not heard, or heard only after extensive editing.
Aren’t we thinking beings? To want to know what the opposition (or the accused) thinks, to have their version in order to finalize our own judgment – isn’t that simple common sense? Who will guarantee that tomorrow we ourselves won’t be victims of the gag or of the reconstruction of the story?
A monopoly over information is power. I don’t doubt this, but the truth has its own wings. When I come to feel that we’re in an invented country, where mountains of drowned voices wander in the fog of omission, I recall the movie “The Truman Show”. And I remember that only those who don’t search for the truth will content themselves (forever) with a fictitious island, admiring a sunset….made of cardboard.