This past Friday, September 7th, I returned to that joyful encounter among friends. I assisted the presentation of the 16th edition of the Cuban Voices Magazine, dedicated this time as a tribute to Oswaldo Paya Sardinas. With a forward by Orlando Luis Pardo, the dossier is filled with signatures of essayists like Rafael Rojas, Manuel Cuesta Morua and Mijail Bonito as the main ones. But as in each edition of the magazine, there are other analysts, others artists, like Yoani Sanchez, Miriam Celaya and Enrique del Risco.
Voices has become one voice, because its publications are polyphonic and inclusive of other points of view. Paya, now, as in life, did not deserve less. The testimonies of Rosa Maria (the daughter) and Ofelia (the widow) form part of the outline of the remembrance of that image, which little by little, sooner or later, will pass from an immediate tragedy to an example of a friend “who has left”.
This was an opportunity for me to re-connect with the strings of that culture of being which they try to whisk away from us under an official mandate. Ever since the time of my literary rows, I have not shared a night with Polina Svietsova, a Camagueyan-Slav who, years later,transformed into the narrative pulse of the island. Also present was Yanier Hechavarría Palao, a poet from the interior Cuban provinces, from a little town known as Bijaru. Yanier was there to cheer us up with his presence and to share his texts which now appear in Cuban Voices. I hugged my friend Nilo Julian, an indispensible part of Omni-Zona Franca, who without fear, offered illustration for our first edition of the extinct Bifronte Magazine.
I spent some time with the Twitter user and friend of the freedom cause @maritovoz, Pastor Mario Lleonart, but there was more: artists, writers, independent journalists, everyday people who didn’t want to miss a good time in this Havana which everyone talks bad about nearly all the time. That’s what these 16 editions of Cuban Voices have been for, to unite the voices, to listen to the choir, for that: to hear each other, all of us.