Translator: Raul G.

The discourse is once again repeated.  The criticisms start to dissolve, without any first names or last names, but implying all of us, or all of us except a certain few.  In sum, the same situation as always.

Hearing all the latest calls for austerity, the reading of the Guidelines, the imminent unemployment rate, etc., reminded me of something Cicero, the grand philosopher, once said:

“The budget should balance itself.  Treasure should be re-stocked.  Public debt should be reduced.  Arrogance among those who take on important public roles should be moderated and controlled.  And foreign aid to other countries should be eliminated in order to save Rome from bankruptcy.  The people must once again learn how to work, as opposed to living at the expense of the State.”

Year 55 B.C.

I ask myself- now who are we going to blame?

Translated by Raul G.

The famous black nectar that once categorized us as one the countries with the highest production and consumption levels has, bit by bit, been converted into other various inventions that have nothing to do with all those marvelous kinds of coffee that historically were produced here on my planet.

“Untenable”, that’s how the members of the Agrofood Commission referred to the descent of coffee production.

The current harvest only reached the level of 6,000 tons, very far off from the 60,000 tons produced in years past.  (Granma Newspaper, Thursday July 29th 2010.)

The little bag (one per person monthly at the cost of 5.00 pesos), reads “Coffee 100%.”  The population of my planet has still not been able to figure out what it’s made up of, for it doesn’t have a scent and it tastes like tree bark or medicine.

Then the words rescue, recuperation, and revert, come up again.  It’d be very beneficial to see the documentary The Abandoned” made by the Serrana tv station, which clandestinely circulates on my planet.

People, we have spent more than half a century with the same system; which previous government are we going to blame now for this, and many other, failures?

Meanwhile, we survivors continue taking in this black nectar that is nothing like the previous one.  It doesn’t even look like coffee, everyone calls it coffu.

Translated by Raul G.

August 5 2010

Lately, there is a lot of talk about savings.  However, that verb is specifically reserved for the inferior people of my planet, not for the native leaders.

Less than a year and a half ago, an apartment building for the workers of Tecnoazucar was finalized, here on Nuevo Vedado street at 41 and Conill B.  Logically, a wall was constructed with a very narrow entrance (the entrances here are very narrow).  But anyway, they put colonial roof-tiles on the building (that has nothing to do with alignment, it’s just the trend now).

This morning I heard the loud noise of a large hammer. I looked towards the direction of the sound and I figured that they had been tearing down the old wall for a while. Apparently, the person who is moving in does not like the previous design, and since it surely does not cost them anything, then it doesn’t matter.

This whole situation, which is constantly repeated at such levels, is sharply different from the situation of the ordinary Cuban citizens.

On 2nd street, between Ayestaran and Ayuntamiento, there is a woman who lives with her son, both with serious health problems.  A small porch (of a former business) and a small room is what they call home.  Through lots of sacrifices they were able to purchase the materials and ultimately were able to build another small room on the roof area.  Eventually, someone was bothered by this and they denounced them.  As is logical, they didn’t have any papers for the cement nor for any of the other materials.  So the authorities decided to demolish everything.  The worst part of this, and the most painful part, was that it seemed like there was a Committee of the Revolution party going on.  There were so many people clustered over there just watching what was happening, while no one did absolutely anything about it.  I arrived at my sister’s house, who lives nearby, at that very moment, and a friend of mine told me what was happening as she ran towards the scene.

The saddest part about all of this is that on that same block, on the opposite sidewalk, a party member who had been given the house of someone who fled the country, was remodeling his property, almost at the same exact time that this was happening, while he used and abused all sorts of important materials.  However, nobody denounced this man.

Translated by Raul G.

Another celebration, more evidence of lack of spontaneity which we have all become so accustomed to.

As always, many expectations were created, especially for those who continue to refuse to accept the cruel reality.  My grandma would always say, “The worst blind man is he who does not want to see”.

The event took place very early in the morning, almost at sunrise.  The person who most used, or abused, speech was an alien from our sister republic, later the maximum chief of the party in the province, and the closing act was done by someone whose name reminds us of two disastrous personalities of my small planet.

It was expected.  What was the point of the second one talking if the first one has already said everything.  Nothing people, I have said it in other occasions, this is just like a bad marriage under the church: Until death do us part.

Translated by Raul G.

The sad news came through short wave radio during early hours.  After a very fruitful life and at the age of 87, one of the most beautiful voices of our country has left us.  She was silenced for those of us who still live here for more than half a century.

Like I’ve said before, I requested her songs numerous times in the Sunday morning show known as “Memories of Rebel Radio”.  They never fulfilled my requests, they always used the most outrageous excuses.  They became accomplices of an absurd censorship that should have never existed.  Perhaps now that she has passed away, and that her declarations don’t pose a threat to the ideology of ‘the “New Man,” now those of us who knew who she was will have the luck to once again hear her interpretation of “Campanitas de Cristal” (‘Crystal Bells’), which, together with many other songs, became unique when sung by her beautiful voice.

May God keep you in Glory, Olga.

Translator’s Note:  “Bolero” is a genre which hails from Cuba, it is a ballad, a love song.

Translated by Raul G.

When I first heard someone speak about a blog I had no idea what it meant, yet I was still interested and decided to attend the classes with my friend Regina.

I recall that my first post was actually published on her blog, for I had not yet opened mine.  I would have never imagined just how far of a reach this would have, nor how much personal satisfaction it would bring me.  Through this, I have found long lost friends, while I have also made new friends like Gustavo and Aracelis.  I just found another one of my very loved friends whom I have not seen in years, but who I still keep very close to me through many cherished memories.  She asks me to please post photos on my blog of all of my work.

However you paint it, we have gained a bit of relief with the positive outcome of the hunger strike of Coco Farinas.  Meanwhile, the World Cup has everyone absorbed.  I am going to publish, especially for Felita and for all of my readers, some photos of my recent works on patchwork.

Translated by Raul G.

How sad is the country where its children must reject food as a form of protest.

Even sadder when in that country the struggle for food has become the main emblem of the citizens thanks to the prolonged absence of the majority of products.

In these very moments Fariñas has been on hunger strike for more than one hundred days and all he is asking for is freedom for his compatriots who have been unjustly jailed for many years now only for disagreeing with the regime and having the courage to express it publicly.

Yamil has spent numerous months asking for a response to his demand for a just trial for he has been in prison for more than two years and still does not know the reason for his captivity.

Now, Juan Juan Almeida, the son of one of the most charismatic commanders of the revolution who recently died, started a hunger strike a few days ago.

The only thing Juan Juan is demanding is permission to leave his country to be able to receive medical help in Belgium for his rare disease.  He has been asking the Red Cross (which has no office here), and is trying to reunite with his family which he has been separated from for two years.

Those of you who are governing, until when are you going to sustain these absurd and inhumane situations which, as shown by these three cases, simply ask for freedom of thought and action which are supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory.

I hope that everyone who reads this post will echo this situation and advocate for an end to it.

Translated by Raul G.

Following in the footsteps of my grandpa, I had no other option but to visit the National Archives.

Photo of the rear entrance where the public enters.

Upon arriving there at 5:00 in the morning and while it was still dark, I was able to make out some shapes that slept in the sidewalks of San Isidro right in front of the National Archives.

Two hours later, the line had grown but I was one of the first ones (or so I thought).

The hour of truth arrived.  There were more people here than in Noah’s Ark, but I still was confident that I would be able to get in.  There were supposed to be 25 appointments and I was supposed to be more or less the tenth one.  Imagine, if I hadn’t paid that driver 5 CUCs to drop me off, I would have never been able to get in.  Once all of us fortunate ones got inside they closed the door with a huge lock.

Already ensconced in those gorgeous gardens under the full sun, as if I were in a movie from Alain Delon, I waited until 12:00 noon  to finally be attended to.  And I was the 14th, with the number I purchased and all!

The rates for the prices were:

Search for a family member (maximum three years):  15 Cuban pesos.

If the search has a positive outcome: 100 pesos plus a seal, upon picking up the certificate, which costs 5 pesos.

If the search is negative: 60 pesos plus a 5 peso seal.

Length of the process:  60 working days.

Does this inspire you to search for your grandpa?  If you decide to go make sure you arm yourself with lots of patience to be able to survive the long wait and the bad attitude of the employees who, according to the kid who is in charge of locking and unlocking the door, have been eating flour for three days straight.

Translated by Raul G.

In my planet, carelessness has, both constantly and gently, done away with entertainment, whether it be due to lack of maintenance, production, or importation.  Leadership has once again taken up the old past time of making pieces of the island.  Just like the Gray Cat:  change everything so everything stays the same.

Here, I offer all of you, an anonymous analysis which was sent to me.

It’s about the new political-administrative divisions.

The City of Havana will now just be called Havana, just like it has always been called.  It is speculated that there will be municipalities within Havana that will be joined with others.  I suppose that el Cerro will join with Vedado, so that no one will continue saying that el Cerro holds the key* because the key is, and always has been, in the Plaza of the Revolution, and you can’t even mess around with that.  San Miguel will join Cotorro, which in sum is the same crap- it looks like the countryside and it’s a mission to get there.  La Lisa will join Marianao, since they live the same social fiasco throughout some of their neighborhoods and in the end no one knows where it starts and where it ends.  It’s probable, though, that they will remove La Tropical and Buena Vista and relocate it to the municipality of PlayaCentral Havana and Old Havana will intertwine because both are similarly falling apart- the threat of collapse makes them sister cities.  Also, Regla will join Guanabacoa, because both are where you go to engage in acts of witchcraft.

The new province of Mayabeque will consist of all the current municipalities of Northern Santa Cruz, Jaruco, Madruga, San Nicolas, Nueva Paz, Batabano, Guines, Southern Melena, Quivican, and Bejucal.  The new capital will be San Jose de las Lajas, ignoring the fact that the largest town is Guines.  Those from San Jose have presented their candidacy for the spot while those from Guines have not even finished building three parks and 7 banks, along with their signs of “We are Happy Here” which they display in order to promote the urban tourism of the area.

Artemisa, the new province, will embrace the territories of San Antonio de los Banos, Mariel, Caimito, Bauta, Guanajay, Alquizar, Quivican, along with the municipalities of Pinar del Rio- Candelaria, San Cristobal, and Bahia Honda.  The inhabitants of these places will no longer be able to be referred to as “Pinar natives”, which is a title that carries much social prestige.  Artemisa will be their new capital, even though it’s falling apart, at least they still have the Martyr Museum of Artemisa and the ruins of the Angerona coffee plantation- sites that no one remembers, but that are still there.

Food is already guaranteed with these new divisions.  Mainly because now people will take 5 years longer to find the location of the corresponding Oficoda — the central rationing office.  This will drastically minimize the number of claims.  Besides, school maps will need to be substituted with new maps purchased from Venezuela (the former RDA no longer sells maps) and if you are mistaken and forget to draw the border between Artemisa and Pinar del Rio you will still pass Geography class because it will also take 5 years to get used to these changes.  But be sure that the proliferation of rented machines, which once enriched a privileged class, will be eliminated.  Now, they will have to waste much more gas and will not be able to charge for a ride to Bahia Honda as if they were going to Pinar del Rio, because it’s clear now:  It’s no longer Pinar del Rio!

Is everything clear?

Translator’s Note:  “The Cerro Holds the Key” (El Cerro Tiene la Llave) is a popular phrase which refers to that neighborhood’s location- an aqueduct brought water through this area.  The phrase has also been popularized throughout Cuban music, starting with Arsenio Rodriguez and his song which has that same name.

Translated by Raul G.

For more than 40 years, thanks to the work of someone who wanted to save, at the expense of the user (euphemism which is substituted for the concept of a client), paper and plastic bags have disappeared from my planet.  All in all, they did not offer any other alternative option. Starting from that moment, the problem of trying to transport foods and other products was now solely the responsibility of the citizen. Popular ingenuity led to the creation of huge bags made of pants, pieces of shirts, and the remainders of dress jewelry. Lots of things, or very little things, could fit in such bags. Since then, men and women have taken them with them as if it was part of their body.

With the liberation of the dollar and the rise of the so called “shoppings”, plastic bags emerged once more like the Phoenix. This time they went by the name of “Cubalse Print,” for it was this company that was the first to open stores in which money was able to be converted. Now, people referred to the bag as a “cubalse” throughout the island.

These bags have, time and time again, served for every need and have indirectly solved the decanting of products after they have been used for anything that is purchased.  Upon arriving to its final destination at our homes, the bags are cleaned and put out to catch some air in order to dry.  Later, we store them somewhere so we could use them again, time and time again, until they break.  It is common to pass by any house or apartment and see the bags waving back and forth on a clothes-line as if they were white flags asking for peace.

However, no one in my planet has fixatives, for months now these products have been conspicuous by their absence in the majority of the hard currency stores.  The user must transport their products at their own risk.  When I ask the employees why we don’t have any of these products in the stores they do not have any response to offer.  They simply place blank stares upon their eyes and shrug their shoulders.  Since recycling has become such a trend, it’s possible that some smart person may be using this method in order to conserve.

At the rate at which we are going it’s quite possible that when a journalist asks a professor many parts the human body is divided into, we might get this as a serious response: head, body, extremities, and bag.

Translated by Raul G.

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