Archive | August, 2012

Three Crosses Over Julian Assange

26 Aug

As incredible as it may seem, Julian Assange is (in his own way) a cyber-dissident.  In some way or another, he enjoyed the benefits of democracy, he was born in it, he grew tired of what he said were its errors, and turned against it.  But, what would have happened if amid the thousands of cables he filtered to the press there were those which spoke of the abuses of power in governments such as those of China, North Korea and Cuba, or the connections between Venezuela and the populist fleet of ALBA?

That is a cross which Assange must carry, a question he must answer.  The diplomatic cables in which they speak of Chinese cyber-dissidents locked away in the dungeons of Canton, the complaints of Western diplomats in regards to the poor handling in Caracas, Quito or Buenos Aires shine in their absence.

The government of Havana reproduces information of European newspapers, but does not publish any analysis over cases of Cuban journalists.  Up to the moment, there are no official opinions with respect to this.  If Assange would have snuck into the British Embassy in Havana, the mild Fifth Avenue would have already seen the deployment of mobs of repudiation and the assault troops of the extinct Colonel Tony de la Guardia would have assaulted the embassy with physical blows.  As said in Cuban terms: A different rooster would have crowed.

The images which the sole television programming of Cuba lets us see show dozens of demonstrators (apparently Ecuadorians in London) asking for the respect of freedom of expression.  In that instant, Julian, the exile, steps out to the balcony to defy the American government, salutes his sympathizers and appears in numerous channels which some uninformed people like us were able to see.

Even with the diplomatic jams which have taken place, Julian Assange enjoys a promotional health which many would like.  What does not convince me of the Assange affair are the interests of the cursed triad: Moscow-Havana-Quito.  We must have to wait for the end of the soap opera, to see what will happen.


26 Aug

This article- written by Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal- was published on the digital newspaper “Diario de Cuba” on August 23rd, 2012. 

Jacqueline Rush Lee, ‘Slice Trio: Volumes Series’, 2001. (JACQUELINERUSHLEE.COM)

Every so often I cleanse my soul and body. Better said: I cleanse the area around my body, because I can’t cleanse my soul any more. I organize the room where I write in a bit, I read, I drink something, and I sleep.

Recently, I started to pile up the books which I will definitely not re-read, or which I won’t read at all because after I bought them I discovered that I didn’t like them or because I am partially anti-conceptual, anti-theoretical. There are essays which I can’t read past the first few pages, ever. I am a chaotic being who can play at others essays but not my own. That, I hope, is a fortune…for possible readers.

I was re-reading and throwing some out when I found myself with no other option than to give some to others. I cleaned the shelf and my memory, and then I received a message from #OLPL: “Where do you cross Linea and 19th? In which Havana-Valkyrie crossing?”

I was stupefied. The linguistic branches of #OLPL tend to be mangroves within themselves, so I asked him again and he told me that he was quoting one of my verses. I jumped from a jump, I woke up with my eyes open, I rose up, and I nearly fell down.

The Book of the Dead

A Havana-esque and urban guy, a laboratory and library street rat, was quoting me at around 11 PM when CUBACEL opened the doors to the slaves and allowed them to use their phones for 10 cents per message; but I didn’t call. Instead, I turned to the book ‘Songs of Bad Living‘. It’s a ball of paper, which the Loynaz Editions (operating out of Pinar del Rio) gave me as a prize for my insolence of believing myself to be a poet and launching myself in a competition, which has already left four dead, including myself.

On the cover, there appear three people as the jury. One is the poet Alberto Acosta Perez, who suddenly died a few months ago; and the other two are Holguin native George Riveron (who crossed the oceans of the Antilles, stepped on Mexican soil, and got lost in that other Havana which never becomes smaller, that Miami which everyone wants to touch with the sole of their shoes). George is the other deceased in the official lists, because until the day he comes back tame and begging for forgiveness, he won’t stop being a deserter. For the bandit-hunters of the MINREX, he is a disgraceful being who betrayed their trust in a letter, a permission of freedom for some weeks.

The other deceased person on the official lists is Jorge Luis Arcos — recidivist, dissident, sketched, and sheltered in his Argentine den. Arcos, without a crossbow and some good ammunition, will not return to Havana. His punishment is double for having left and augmenting the editors council of the disappeared magazine “Encounter of Cuban Culture“.

A few years ago, publishing anything on “Encounter” was a sacrilege, according to the Ministry Council. The Central Committee would “pull your ears for it” and so too would the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, with a committee in every block against those who publish, read and traffic the magazine. Arcos, after the official insults of the ‘La Jiribilla‘, managed to make it out of the public light unharmed. Of course, him by one side and his head by the other.

Stirring up editorial trash

The question, in verses, of #OLPL has to do with Havana cartography, because Linea and 19th Street never cross each other without the legs of a woman, a Valkyrie, at least in El Vedado, and it’s true. I didn’t write those quarrels looking at Havana to cross the streets or the inactive traffic lights of the 90′s, that century of horror.

The poem “Lessons of Terror” has a fragment which reads: “…I don’t want anyone to take me by the arms/ pushing my back against that wall which is Saturday night/ where I don’t know which woman to kiss/ if the Valkyrie of Linea and 19th, or the black girl with the money/ one awakes like that, asking how many ways of betraying for the money we stole as children…”

But what #OLPL has is “Obverse of the Beloved Beast“, from April Editions, 2004 (and which appeared in 2006), and later disappeared during the middle of that year due to an official decree (without decreeing). The Havana cartography which #OLPL demands are due to the fact that those streets never cross each other, just like those of us, the dead of that book, will not cross: Alberto Acosta, Jorge L. Arcos, George Riveron, and me, a deceased person according to the official media, by decree of colonels which, at that time, commanded and prowled through the Cuban Book Institute and the Ministry of Culture: Abel Prieto, Iroel Sanchez and Fernando Leon Jacomino.

They will see, or not see, how I have passed from dead by official standards to being officially published due to a decree which no one has signed but which has made it possible for “Obverse…” to be distributed even in the lost bookstores of Eastern Cuban towns. They, who for decades made irreversible scars with their scalpels and cotter pins on books, records and theatrical plays, now spread a shadow which they will have to share with us, the ignoble dead who cross each other in a Havana, a Cuba, a street which goes beyond the consonance of being or not being on Linea and 19th.


Summing It Up

6 Aug

I’ve been meaning to complete this request for a while.  Anier, who lives in Pennsylvania, asked me to do it, and his father asked him to ask me.  His ‘old man’ wanted to see the signs, how the modern self-employed sell their things.  I know their are wonders, there are very professional people who have truly created ingenious things, simulating the neon and colored stars for the nocturnal hours, but I was able to snap these photos during the daytime in the city of Holguin.  The new store owners advertise themselves this way.  These are not idealized photos of today’s brightness.  They were made by chance so that my friend from Pennsylvania and his father can have a selection of what they asked me for.

Sign reads “Watchmaker; Digital or Analog Calculators, Change of Batteries”

Everything is re-sold: coffee, sodas, pastries, varied salads and the best creole food.  On the corners of ‘Luz and Caballero’  and Jose Antonio Cardet streets, they sell a delicious pork stew- in my opinion the best in all the area; though I don’t know how they are doing it now with all the elevated taxes and new sanitary regulations for handling food.

I took these photos so that I could pass by here a year from now and see just how far Cuban persistence has gone.  For that moment, I would like to see that the landscape has changed.  I’d like to see a forest of signs announcing services which have been falsely lent or prohibited from us for decades.  I want to be optimistic and think that small businesses will flourish in Cuba.  I have taken these photos so that the illusion won’t blind me.  I cross my fingers so that I do not have another deception.

Sign reads: “The Brothers’, Restaurant and Bar”

Sign Reads: “Cuban Kitchen”

Sign reads: “Cafeteria, Milk and Coffee… Pastries”

Signs read: “Ice Cream”. Back letters say: “Jewelry”

Touched by Time

2 Aug

Macerated by the day and the night, wrapped in the mists of the almanacs that are about to end, the shadows walk across the city where I live.

They are people who come and go from one abyss to another, from the certainty of birth to the incognito of time to come.

Withered, shrunk, their figures cut out against the apparent happiness of the other pedestrians, they are men looking for an answer at random.

A man, a city, a country, a world that is disintegrating.

July 29 2012