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Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

El Centro Cultural Cubano de Nueva York organiza la presentación del libro Del clarín escuchad el silencio: 59 poemas de amor y una canción contrarrevolucionaria, del escritor Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, publicado por la Editorial Hypermedia.

El acto será este lunes 27 de febrero en el Instituto Cervantes de Nueva York. Pardo Lazo será entrevistado el galardonado periodista de PBS Rafael Pi Román.

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Yesterday I will leave Iceland. In a slow, gentle, painless way. Like a little prince. Between the sleeping volcano and a vision about to disappear. Pitted against sun and solitariness. Inspired and ephemeral. Dweller of insular Europe. Navigator to the point of nausea through deep steaming bays of delirium and desire. Tomorrow I left Iceland. Continue reading
Not a single Cuban is free in the world. If anything, the freest Cubans are the slaves who still live there, because they have nothing to lose. Thus, the Cuban passport is the biggest trap in the history of the world: The Cuban passport is our “Little Pioneer” bandana that marks us for life as slaves … Continue reading "I Love You Not Despite But Precisely Because of the Tyranny / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo" Continue reading
Note: Oswaldo Payá was subsequently killed in Cuba during or after a car crash in circumstances that have never been satisfactorily explained by the regime. The driver of the car, a young Spaniard who survived, said that the car was chased and hit from behind by another car and run off the road. Versions differ … Continue reading "Oswaldo Paya and the Varela Project / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo" Continue reading
1 The first thing about Saint Louis that hits you in the face are the gusanos* — the worms. Earthworms, twisted and charred. In the gardens, on the sidewalks, segregated on the public right-of-way or in the throes of gentrification. Worm cadavers, fossil worms that minutes ago ate and shat earth to better fertilize the … Continue reading "Being Saint Louis / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo" Continue reading
ROSA MARIA AND DEATH Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 11 May 2015 Since she was a little girl, death was a guest in her home. A guest no one invited in the midst of the family happiness, rather an intruder imposed by … Continue reading Continue reading
[embed][/embed] Castro supporters and Castro opponents fight in front of the Cuban embassy in Panama8 April 2015 Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39660" align="alignleft" width="710"] [1] The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)[/caption]PanAm Post, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 8 April 2015 -- A ghost ship haunts the halls of this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama: the Chong Chon Gang.The vessel, seized in the Panama Canal in July 2013, contained a deadly cargo hidden under 250,000 bags of sugar. The contraband ammunition and weapons on board, bound for North Korea, mocked the whole world and put half of Panama’s population at risk.It also served as an epitaph for the Castro brothers, who have stirred up all civil wars in the region, and served as a lighthouse of populism that has lured many nations and individuals onto the rocks.The same drifting-but-dangerous tyranny washes upon on Panama’s shores again this week, as the region’s (un)elected officials arrive to promenade in front of the world’s press for the Summit of the Americas.Raúl Castro’s arrogance after his arms trafficking deal with Pyongyang became public is now rewarded with an invitation to attend the Summit in Panama. The military general and head of state — never elected by the Cubans — merely shrugged at the time, claiming that they were “obsolete weapons,” and few cared about the humiliation of the Panamanian people. No one cared either about the embarrassment we Cubans of integrity felt at the aggression the regime committed against our brothers.Since the end of the Soviet era, the Caribbean island’s socialist elite have always used used Panama as its financial headquarters to launder drug trafficking money. Let the four military officers executed by firing squad in 1989 be a witness to that, plus the hundreds of people kicked out in Cuba weeks prior and during the US invasion of Panama in the same year.US President Barack Obama and his cheerleaders in the press corps come to the region not to reprimand countries that shoot students and curtail freedom of speech. Rather, reporters can’t wait to be the first to snap the photo between the civilian leader and the despot in army uniform, even while both their days as leaders are numbered.Only through observing this atmosphere of state-sponsored omerta can we understand how Rosa María Payá, daughter of Cuban pro-democracy martyr Oswaldo Payá — threatened and then killed on the orders of Raúl Castro on July 22, 2012 — was humiliated by anonymous National Security agents at the very door of her plane on Sunday in Panama City.Neither Cuba nor Panama’s Foreign Ministry have owned up to the blunder, so who leaked the name of Rosa María before she landed and who ordered her detention and intimidation, as if she were an international fugitive?Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is unlikely to sound at the official Summit of the elites, where the Castro regime calls the shots and the region’s governments duly obey.The Panamanian thugs acted, it seems, at the behest of Cuba’s intelligence agency — or perhaps they just enjoyed illegally intimidating a free Cuban, going through her underwear, photocopying her private documents (faxed to Havana for sure), and even threatening to deport her to the island where the Castro regime murdered her father and her best friend, Harold Cepero.They should have asked themselves: after all she has been through, how could she be afraid? They’d sooner be able to kill Rosa María, and more than a generation of young people at home and exiled abroad who proudly see themselves as Cuban (myself included), than scare us.The apartheid the Cuban military imposed on our people, leaving thousands dead and expelling hundreds of thousands decade after decade, never had any real prestige in the continent. That’s the international left’s doing. That’s why we Cubans distrust so much the backing of Latin American governments of whatever stripe.Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is unlikely to sound at the official Summit of the elites, where the Castro regime calls the shots and the region’s governments duly obey. They quake before the Cuban tyrant; the presidents of the Americas know that Castro can spoil their party with an eruption of Bolivarian diatribe, protests, and diplomatic boycotts.That’s why secret agents in Panama target Cuban activists, and why the press release in which the Foreign Ministry formally apologizes to Rosa María is not only disingenuous but pathetic.Panamanians, you should ask forgiveness, from Cubans and the whole region. Having once allowed a ship of war to enter national territory, you’ve once again permitted the forces of destruction and death to befoul Panama’s waters.Translated for PanAm Post by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Laurie Blair[1] Continue reading
[1] The potential complications  of the renewed diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Orlando Luis Pardo LazoIt was about time. Uber taxi drives agree. Academics agree. Minority leaders agree. American social activists agree. Radio, TV and press editors agree. Even comedians agree. It’s the only point of consensus in the polarized US politics. No need to argue anymore. The left was right and the right was wrong. Time to move forward. At least in this issue: Yes, We Can (a cloned slogan from the socialist Sí Se Puede in the posters and parades of La Habana). After 50-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions against Cuba, with Fidel Castro almost a nonagenarian and his brother Raul to step down from presidency in 2018, the road to transitions on the Island, as in 1898, starts in Washington, DC.A secret agenda had been held for 18 months, unbeknownst to the US Congress and the Cuban Parliament, but sanctified by the first Latin American pope. In a reenactment of the US-China ping-pong engagement, even the sperm of a Castro’s spy was gently exported from a US federal prison to beget a new life in Revolution Square. The long-sought family reunification as the libidinous metaphor of the national reconciliation about to come.The climactic hallmark was on December 17th, as a fulfilled promise on the day of San Lázaro Babalú Ayé, with two simultaneous speeches running in parallel windows of millions of web-connected computers all around the world except in Cuba: in one, the democratically-elected American president Barack Obama; in the other, the dynastically-appointed Cuban general Raul Castro. The former wearing the civil elegance of his suit and a hi-tech reading device; the latter in military uniform, rescuing a picture from his violent years before the Revolution in the fabulous fifties, and reading from pile of paper. Quite a pluribus duo, without liberty but with diplomacy for all.Calls immediately exhausted the batteries of my Chinese mobile. Everybody rushed for a quote about the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era. Only The New York Times was involved enough as to bet on a series of op-eds published weeks in advance (by the way, for over a decade now they also have prêt-à-porter the obituary of Fidel Castro by Anthony De Palma). Some American Cubanologists, like Peter Kornbluh and David E. Guggenheim were conveniently located on the Island that noon. The popular reaction was overwhelming, they claimed. Tears should have come to my eyes, according to the emotional interrogation imposed to me until my smartphone was silenced.A silence that lasts until today.Barack Obama told the truth in his allocution: “The United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” Raul Castro lied with impassive impunity: “We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations.” But this is still not the case.It’s too early to pretend to demonstrate my skepticism. Or cynicism. As a good Castro subject I know that time on the Island means not money, but more system’s status quo. To keep begging for US bank credits, the Revolution first needs to buy time. This is what biopolitics is all about. A family fighting to secure a second Castro generation in complete control after Fidel’s and Raul’s eventual deaths. Necropolitics.Obama’s hope was to reopen an embassy in Havana ahead of the Americas summit on April 10th, as he declared to Reuters on March 2nd. In fact, the US Interests Section in Havana has been for years the largest diplomatic mission in Cuba, and no special budget needs to be considered to reestablish the formal status lost in 1961.Yet, Castro’s hope might be to push back the US engagement to an intolerable limit of stagnation. Havana insists now that the term “normalization” will remain an absurdity while the US keeps Cuba on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. A list currently under expedited revision, as to the State Department to please the Cuban demands. The Democratic White House cannot afford to welcome a Republican president without having its job done —with or without Gitmo, for or against Radio Martí, plus or less the billions requested by Cuba as a historical compensation for decades of US embargo.As the good-spirited Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson flies to and from Havana, she’s been forced to smile for a selfie with Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machín, her counterparts of the Cuban foreign ministry. Technically, her company is sign of prepotency in the time of appeasement, since in November 2002 Machín was expelled from the US in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case —a Castro top-level spy at the Pentagon— while in May 2003 Vidal voluntarily left the US, when her husband Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera —First Secretary of the Cuban consulate in DC— was also expelled for espionage.After the mass media catharsis of the first round of talks last January, the third one ended in a hermetic “professional atmosphere” according to the Cuban official report, as abruptly as it was announced, and “with no breakthrough on sticking points in an atmosphere of rising tension over Venezuela”, as recognized with concern by the The New York Times.The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to explain why she announced “positive and constructive” progress in the discussions. She has now renounced to setting any “timeline or a deadline.” Again, totalitarianism is as much about tyranny as about manipulation of time.The last speech of Raul Castro in Caracas in support of the regime of Nicolás Maduro came as an ice bucket water challenge: “The United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba nor intimidate Venezuela” [APPLAUSE] and “we won’t concede one iota in the defense of our sovereignty and independence, nor tolerate any interference or conditioning in our internal affairs” [OVATION]. With their monologic belligerency in the Summit of the Americas in Panama, they will “expose the mercenaries who present themselves as Cuban civil society as well as their employers.”I won’t travel to Panama this time, but I am worried of what could happen to my colleague and friends there, faces with the para-civil society that the regime is organizing as platoons of governmental NGOs, as we all know that on this Island to “expose the mercenaries” means routine repression by the political police: family harassment (Omni Zona Franca Community Poetry Festival), censorship (Hip Hop Rotilla Annual Festival), defamation (independent blogger Ernesto Morales), job dismissal (intellectual Boris Gonzalez Arenas), imprisonment for years with or without charges or trial (Sonia Garro), not paramilitary but paracivil beatings (Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of Hablemos Press free-lance agency), temporary or permanent invalidation of travel documents (activist Antonio Rodiles and performer artist Tania Bruguera), repudiation mobs with or without throwing red paint (Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez) or tar (Digna Rodríguez Ibañez) on the dissidents, most of the time women —despite pro-Revolution feminists worldwide— and Afro Cubans —despite pro-Castro race activists worldwide, and selective extrajudicial killing (Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero from the Christian Liberation Movement in July 2012).Besides, after the nth resurrection of Fidel Castro last month he left an untimely text for the record: against “the eccentric politics” and “brutal plans of US government” Cubans and Venezuelans are united and “ready to shed the last drop of their blood for their country”. It was not only the senile nightmare of a García-Márquez caudillo, because a Cuban government official note denounced the executive order to consider Venezuela a US national security threat as an “arbitrary, interventionist and aggressive” move from President Obama.Maybe we’ll see in Cuba the masquerade of new investments and markets and local licenses for businesses and more access to the internet and even an electoral reform after the migratory reform, but each and every one understood as concessions, with no fundamental freedoms guaranteed as long as one and only one Communist Party keeps monopolizing all political life, with State Security from the Ministry of the Interior as the real source of governance of a model based on coercion more than in a responsible citizenry, able to self-organize to participate in life after Fidel.Is the Cuban self-transition from dictatorship to dictatocracy under way with the US as a new geopolitical ally? Time will tell. It will not be the first example of authoritarian regimes mutating into Socialist State capitalism for the sake of regional stability. As the assassinated leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times, we Cubans have the right to have all of our rights recognized beyond any dispute or complicity among power elites. Why what has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is not good for Cubans today? Is it too impolite to peacefully demand that the Cuban people be consulted in a free and safe referendum about the destiny of our nation?Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism is more than proud to Castrify democratic countries and still play the victim. Anyway, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against decency, since Cuban sovereignty is sequestered by a government that cannot be held accountable by our own people. Maybe this is another victory for The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts at the end.Certainly it is good news for America that the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes for the first time in our continent. In fact, as we keep on leaving in migratory waves to the US —both legal and illegal— Cubans are making space for Americans to reforest the Island. Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its undiplomatic relations with Washington, DC, at least while the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, remains in place.Unfortunately we Cubans got accustomed to voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite. Let’s see what the US embassy will imply in terms of profits and principles for the labyrinth of Cuban liberty.31 March 2015[1] Continue reading
[embed][/embed] 29 March 2015 Continue reading
No blogger, no cry.Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo1 In the beginning was the Blog. 2 But blogs were formless and empty. 3 Repression was all over the blogosphere. 4 And the citizens saw the blogs were good. 5 So that lacking other channels of expression, the Cuban civil society occupied blogosphere as a tool for dissent. 6 Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 7 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the State.[1]As early as in the summer of 2005, I opened a blog for publishing a literary and opinion magazine that three Cuban writers decide to edit in Havana: Cacharro(s) —in English, Junk(s).Lizabel Monica, Jorge Alberto Aguiar and I were posting our texts in cyberspace, hoping for a reader abroad to save us from the silence within. We couldn’t imagine that in a couple of years our initial experiment was to be ignored in the history of Cuban blogosphere, when our efforts to escape not only censorship, but also the mass media mediocrity of the Revolution, were displaced by new voices with high public impact both from the cultural and political fields.This happened when the Consenso —Consensus— digital magazine became Contodos —With All— and opened the website, directed by Reinaldo Escobar, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, among others, including a webmaster who, in April 2007, started a very simple WordPress blog called Generation Y. The trademark Yoani Sánchez was born, as well as the first virtual revolution in the time of Castro.This was the genesis of an independent movement of citizen journalism which challenged the lack of transparency of the public sphere in Cuba, a country still without private Internet today.Cuban top-level intelligence commanders like Ramiro Valdes have stated that the Internet is a “wild horse” that “must be tamed” before offering it to the people. After many promises and postpositions, including a submarine fiber-optic cable that connects us with Venezuela since 2011, Cubans are still waiting for a, although the vice-president Miguel Diaz Canel has warned our press not to be objective but “loyal to Fidel, Raul, and the Revolution”, while Fidel himself determined that the “internet is a revolutionary tool”.Elaine Diaz, blogger of La Polemica Digital —The Digital Polemics— known as critical of certain official measures, but at the same time a professor of journalism at Havana University and now a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, in her degree thesis about the Cuban blogosphere “scientifically” established in terms of topics and chronology that none of the renowned dissident bloggers were pioneers at all, thus diluting this phenomenon in an ocean of other blogs practically discovered by her, up to nearly 3,000 today, which outnumbers by far the dozens of local independent bloggers.Diaz quotes only those blogs that can be quoted in Cuba without risking her research position, like Patria y Humanidad —Homeland and Mankind— since 2006 administered by Luis Sexto, a winner of the National Journalism Prize; and La Isla y la Espina —The Island and the Thorn— since 2007 administered by Reinaldo Cedeño, both defined as open to “foreign authors” and to “hot heated debates” but, of course, within the temperature limits of political discipline on the Island.Diaz recognizes that the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and no less than the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, authorized more than 1,000 official journalists to open blogs from their workplaces or privileged home connections, in order to —as Milena Recio wrote in her article “Cuban blogs: an entrenched identity”— reproduce in cyberspace the same battlefield logic of the street propaganda, to “counteract the distorted and opposite speeches from hegemonic mass media” against the Revolution.The very Code of Ethics of UPEC rejects “hyper-criticism” in its article 7, while in articles 8 and 9 reminds their members to “maintain a social and moral behavior in accordance with the principles and norms of our society [...] to promote the best of our national values and the constant improvement of our socialist society”. And after paternalism comes a large list of punishments, which includes imprisonment, as happened to a journalist from the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Jose Antonio Torres, accused of espionage after one of his official reports.Diaz also proposes the “emancipatory and anti-capitalist usefulness of the new media and technology” in Cuba, and the need of “virtual symbols” for a country where it is “possible” the “horizontal dialogue”, beyond power hierarchies and all kinds of social exclusion: by race, by gender, by sexual preference, by economic status, etc. Although she omits to mention the cause of all discriminations in Cuba: the political intolerance and hate speech of the revolutionary government, summarized by Fidel Castro in his speech to Cuban intellectuals in 1961: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing.”Recently, this “dialogue” approach has been updated by the web Cuba Posible of Lenier Gonzalez and Roberto Veiga, former editors of a Catholic Church magazine that published some civil debates, where certain civil society activists managed to participate. Cuba Posible claims for the complicit concept of “loyal opposition” to the regime, if critics are to be considered legitimate. Besides, Gonzalez and Veiga urge the Cuban dissidence to commit suicide and stop all the support they receive from foreign NGOs, despite the detail that they both defended this viewpoint from Washington DC, invited in January 2015 by a compendium of US pro-Castro NGOs, like the Cuba Research Center of Philip Peters.During the last decade, the Cuban alternative blogosphere has expanded and contracted like the cycles of a claustrophobic universe. Its main communication strategies and activists have renovated only to remain identical.With my blog of fictionalized chronicles Lunes de Post-Revolution —Post Revolution Mondays— and my photoblog Boring Home Utopics, I have witnessed most of this Cuban digital e-volution, with its pro-human rights achievements and, unfortunately, with today´s drawbacks in front of a State involved in a self-transition to capitalism without capitalists, but with accomplices of Castros’ agenda.Most of free-lance Cubans’ blogs are linked in the websites and, where can be found the famous Generation Y of Yoani Sanchez, blogs from visual artists like the graffiti performer Danilo Maldonado El Sexto (in jail since last December) and the photographer Claudio Fuentes, blogs dedicated to new media and technologies like the one by Walfrido Lopez, blogs from independent lawyers to give legal advice like the unregistered Cuban Juridical Association of Wilfredo Vallin, blogs from religious leaders like the Baptist minister Mario Felix Lleonart, blogs of digital publications like Plural Thinking Notebooks, Notebooks for the Transition, and the magazine Voices edited by me, community participation initiatives like Pais de Pixeles photo-contest, blogs of filmed debate projects which then are uploaded to the web to impact on public opinion, like Razones Ciudadanas/Citizens’ Quests.Thanks to the volunteer amateur projects and many of these blogs are distributed beyond geographical isolation and the barriers of language.Mainly in Havana, much closer to the www than Cuban pre-technological countryside, events have been held to shift from the cyberspace to citizen mobilization, like the Blogger Academy where we teach the technical rudiments of self-publication, as well as the primitive option of tweeting by an international SMS sent from the Island, as local mobiles have no internet service in Cuba. Other events also held in private houses, like the two annual editions of Click Festival 2012 and 2013, had the privilege to count on international experts on blogs, and consequently they were stigmatized by the governmental blogosphere as being part of a subversive conspiracy to disrupt social stability.Indeed, cyber-bullying is the less brutal answer of Castro’s political police to Cubans exercising our right to freedom of expression.Two inflexion points in this abusive battle of the government against their own citizenry, occurred in 2011. First, the Cuban TV showed a weekly series on Cyber-mercenaries where all independent activists were severely threatened to be prosecuted (coincidentally, Elaine Diaz was used an example of blogging correctly). Then a suspicious video leak occurred from State Security, where an officer later identified by the social media as Eduardo “Tato” Fontes Suarez, delivers a conference for the Ministry of the Interior to teach them how to manipulate the internet in the era of an American president “much worse the Bush”, implementing a clone blogosphere to reproduce Cuban official press and saturate the web with convenient contents. This includes the logic of creating authorized local versions of Wikipedia (like Ecured), Facebook (like La Tendedera), Twitter (like El Pitazo), etc.This should remind us of the theories of Evgeny Morozov on how disappointing is the excess of web optimism, because repressors also learn how to take advantage of the interconnected world to channelize and control social discontent to their own convenience.Unfortunately, after the 2013 migratory reform that for the first time in decades allowed Cubans to travel abroad without the humiliating “exit permit” or “definitive departure”, international recognition of Cuban civil society leadership has meant a national weakening of our networks and the dispersion of our already limited impact on the Island.All the peaceful movements and prominent personalities of Cuban civil society, that in the good old days of 2008-2011 seemed about to integrate in a unified opposition front with political implications, are now splintered in their respective personal initiatives among themselves. The more successful their international projections, the more isolated among themselves are their national projects. We Cubans are still lacking a culture of open polemics and understanding of differences. After more than half a century, Castroism has castrified even their opponents.Here are some sad examples, as they all are my dear friends and have been fighting quite a long time for a better future in Cuba:The Ladies in White split one more time, in a fractal procedure that keeps the movement stagnated in number of members, and with an exponential increase of refugees fleeing to the US. Once in exile, most Cuban dissidents quit social activism or, in the best cases, end up as secretaries in Cuban American NGOs. The legacy of their founding leader Laura Pollán is at risk for the benefit of the Ministry of the Interior, now that their new leader Berta Soler carried out a shameful repudiation against one of its former members, and then had to hold a referendum to ratify her life-long leadership. But Soler was expelled anyway by the daughter of Laura Pollán from her home headquarters in Neptuno Street in Central Havana, where Laura Pollán junior expects to direct a new foundation that will monopolize exclusive use of her mother’s name.The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) is headless after the 2012 extrajudicial killing in Cuba of their leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. Internal rearrangements have displaced from any position even the daughter and the widow of Oswaldo Payá, in a dispute for the redemptive legacy of the martyr, as well as the strategies that should be implemented by this now virtually an exiled movement.The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) always has nearly half of their activists in jail. On one hand, UNPACU fostered the creation of an independent branch that broke out of the Ladies in White, the Lady Citizens for Democracy. On the other hand, they are obsessed with detecting and denouncing —and sometimes converting to the cause of freedom— Castro’s secret agents, like the infamous case of Ernesto Vera, but they lack a citizen mobilization strategy beyond their self-extinguishable street protests, partly because the Cuban people are unfortunately unmovable.The Somos Mas movement launched by Eliécer Avila relies only on his face and voice as a charismatic character, once himself a digital soldier that conducted the Operation Truth at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), a platoon of trolls devoted to defaming activists worldwide, distorting online forums and surveys dealing with Cuba, and hacking websites that expose the violations and fallacies of continental Castroism.The bitter debate of mutual distrust and discredit between those close to blogger Yoani Sanchez and her brand-new digital outlet —prone to take advantage of the US-Cuba new engagement to push the limits of censorship in Cuba—, and other previous digital citizen journalists, like the staff of Primavera Digital (who in turn last year publicly despised their Swedish funding partners), and also with the well-known Antonio Rodiles from the very active audiovisual discussion project Estado de Sats, who practically accused 14yMedio and colleagues of collaborating with the regime’s surviving agenda of allowing foreign investments with no guarantee for human rights, in a Putin-like or Chinese or Vietnamese or Burma post-totalitarian model.On the official part, in the monolithic digital headquarter of Cubadebate, general Raul Castro with his speech at the ALBA Summit in Caracas this month, and many other op-eds published in tandem, has warned that the “international ultraconservative right” is again deploying its “mass media weapons” to use the “concept of civil society in order to attack all the progressive governments from the hemispheric left, with the purpose to deceive and manipulate all the peoples of the world.”Cubadebate has even announced the popular repudiation that Cuban dissidents —namely, “mercenaries”— will receive in the Summit of the Americas in Panama next week, because we all are “conceived, paid and directed as drones from the US and the EU, through NGOs supposedly for the promotion of human rights, but in fact having met with confessed terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, and besides being directly financed by secret institutions of the American imperialism, including the Pentagon and the CIA”.In March 2015 the Castro regime still proudly calls Cuban social activist leaders “Washington’s puppets, in the line of the dictators Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, whose mission if ever we attain power is to surrender the wealth of our nation to the US monopolies”, and a white elite that cares not about the “black, aboriginal, farmer and workers minorities”.Although, paradoxically, it was Fidel Castro who dollarized the Cuban economy for over 20 years now, while his brother Raul Castro is demanding financial credit from American banks and corporations. Furthermore, Afro Cubans suffer much more than other dissidents in Cuba in the hands of the mostly white State Security top-officers, who assume that blacks owe more gratitude to them the rest of the Cuban people.These are only some tragic examples:The death of the Afro Cuban opposition activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo in a jail, after a long hunger strike in 2010 to stop torture against him. The 33 months that the Afro Cuban member of the Ladies in White Sonia Garro and her husband spent in prison without charges and with no trial. The harassment and beatings against of Afro Cuban leader Jorge Luis Garcia (Antunez), usually prevented from stepping out of his own house in Placetas town. The arbitrary political police arrests, plus the temporary or permanent invalidation of the passports of Cuban Afro Cuban intellectuals and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. The fascist-like mobs conducted by the government against the residences of Berta Soler and other Afro Cuban peaceful women of the Ladies in White, including throwing tar —yes, tar— with impunity against their bodies, like recently happened to Digna Rodríguez Ibañez. Or staining them by force with red paint to resemble human blood, like they did to Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez.The White House and the remains of the US economic embargo should not ignore that a market economy is not a tropical liberation formula, since it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for despotic control. The secret negotiations to appease our tired tyranny should remember that what has been good for free Americans since the Eighteenth Century is also good for Cubans citizens today.The rationale that, after waiting for so long, Cuban democracy can wait a little longer is a discriminatory concept implicitly legitimized by the US press and academics in their search of a lost Latin American Left.Maybe the hope of the White House is that the New Man will stop being a soldier and become the New Salesman, but bringing down the wall should mean more than opening up the wallet. In the urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer their Pearl of the Antilles, they shouldn’t forget that we “Cubans have the right to have rights,” as preached by Oswaldo Payá before the gerontocracy and their international accomplices took his life.In any case, according to the migratory statistics, Cubans are certainly making a lot of space for the Yankees to come home to our Island, as we keep escaping by legal or lethal means, in a kind of pedestrians’ plebiscite, voting with our fleeing feet instead of with electoral ballots.For the funerals of Fidel, the commander-in-chief will have achieved all the glories of history —which is the mother of all horrors— but also the frantic farewell of his own people —almost one-fourth of our population. This migratory crisis is what the US is really trying to stop by stabilizing the Communist dynastic succession to the Castros 2.0 generation: namely, Alejandro and Mariela Castro Espin, among other relatives, whether dandies or despots, many of them holding high level positions in the Cuban establishment while receiving privileged visitor status in the US.The hope would be in convoking a national referendum with international observers so that the Cuban people can freely and safely express our will for the first time since 1948. Otherwise, Cuba will become a Castro-centralized capitalist condominium, economically annexed to the US but with a hyper-nationalist speech to justify impunity on the Island.Now President Barack Obama can choose to extend his helping hand to the oldest Latin American dictatorship. Or he can consider if the Cuban people deserves to endure our apartheid until the last of the Castros manages to remain in power without consulting anyone (except maybe Obama himself).[2]1 Fidelism 1959, the temperature at which fundamental freedoms burn. 2 As time blogs by. 3 As I lay blogging. 4 The blogger in the ryevolution. 5 From dictatorship to dictocracy. 5 Blogged the Raven: nevermore. 6 Castrobamacare as the measure of all things. 7Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 8 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the States.29 March 2015[1] [2] Continue reading
[1]Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 22 January 2015It’s true. Although I still don’t believe it.But they’ve told me it in all the families I’ve visited since I’ve been out of my country. That’s what families are, a mausoleum. They don’t lie. There is no Cuban family which is not our death memory.That’s how it is. We Cubans die in the family. That’s the saddest part of dying. Not dying as such, which doesn’t bother the person dying, but the horror of imposing on exactly those people who loved us while we were alive. People should go and die among strangers. Get lost, and that’s it. That’s why I went to the United States. That’s why I didn’t die in Havana, in spite of the fact death whispered “Orlando” in my ear every morning where I lived.But it’s true. At first I panicked when I knew that somebody was going to tell me the same thing again. Without, of course, coming to any agreement, without ever having been in contact with each other. So, I only wanted to grab the phone, call my house and cry.Little by little I was thinking more about it. I calmed down. From fear of the mystery to admiration of the secret sense of a non-existent nation: Cuba. The stories repeat themselves. Every Cuban family can remember one, two, three, ten cases. In every Cuban family the same sparkle in the eyes, and the trembling of the hands of the person telling me about it. And maybe too many generations have passed. We are now in exile, without guides, and with no turning back. That’s to say, we are an empty space. We all now have a memory at home of one of us who died without love, without a home, without Cuba.They have told me it in Spanish and English. In Hialeah, which is La Lisa del Norte, and in Fairbanks, Alaska, where no other Cuban has ever been. Two details are always included:1) In exile you don’t die at any old time. You die at night, which is when our country is reflected in the sky and indirectly under the breastbone, and because of that it is easy to see it more closely than when we are there.2) When a Cuban goes away to die far from Cuba, he has a very intense moment of lucidity. And of youth. He stops being the scornful and cruel adult which he has always been, and gets back then an aura of the angel which he never has stopped being. We become good at the precise moment when we can no longer do any good. And every family tells me, in almost the very same words, irrespective of the level of education or intellectual pretentiousness, that the distant Cuban, before he dies, always pronounces the name of Cuba.Can you believe it? It’s amazing. A destroyed people, degraded, dispersed, unable to recognise each other. And at the time which is no time, totally stretched out on the beloved bed to create the following Cubans, who will later cuddle them while they grow between great big pillows which save them from the shortages in Cuba, collapsed on the edge of the tomb, watched without a goodbye by our people  where everything comes together into a death rattle. And we breath out this elemental pair of syllables: Cuba.I have never read this before revealing it here. I owe this evidence to the Cuban people, we owe it to them.  And it’s a perverse word which I detest as a killer of men. But after knowing how we will all die without Cuba, including you and me, I think we deserve to be some kind of a people. The nocturnal imaginary nation, hollow, like the human heart. The family remembering those who are going to die by themselves and neverthless with a chorus of Cuba, Cuba, Cuba.Don’t let me say goodbye to you. What with death and everything, I still love you.Translated by GH[1] Continue reading
[1]Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 March 2015 — Every morning we would lose ourselves amid the skyscrapers until we find ours. That one. The one with the artificial rain that would fall, even in the driest months of the city. She likes then to take a pause in our route. She would let go my hand and draw near to the false marble facades, until she would start getting wet almost without realizing it, from imaginary drops that would evaporate before reaching the asphalt. Imaginary but, even so, they would wet her in a dance that was greatly erotic and somewhat erratic.Her liquid hair, her transparent garb, in the megalopolis of limousines and suits. I would lag a bit behind. I did not want to interfere with those little mornings in liberty. They lasted so little, it was only an instant. Far from Cuba, far from the Revolution. Oh not so far. Because once, upon the end of an October of overcast skies and recurrent cyclones, it was raining for real in Manhattan. She said to me, “You smell it, too, right? Today is not New York, but rather Havana.” And she went out from under our umbrella, a grave bumbershoot more appropriate to those scenes of cemeteries at the end of the North American films of our childhood.Far from the “long island” [Cuba], so close to Long Island. She told me, “One day we are going to be like those imaginary drops that never fall. And another day it will be we who fall amid a tired rainstorm.” I just walked behind during the rest of that morning. I knew that she would never forgive me seeing her mix the rain with her foreign-city tears.Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison[1] Continue reading
[1] [2], Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 18 March 2015 -- The U.S. embargo against the Cuban government is like those recurrent childhood nightmares, for both Cubans living on the Island and abroad. Oh, the Embargo Embargo: limit of our life, fire of our leaders…During decadent decades the Cuban Revolution has been defined by that urge of surviving in a besieged place, where distrust and the hate speech are officially justified by the tricky threat of a foreign foe, where an invisible U.S. invasion was enough to promote impunity within the Island, including the need of a messianic savior: Fidel, just Fidel—because calling him Castro could be considered a first symptom of dissent.And public dissent begets personal disaster in dictatorships.We Cubans are fed with the populist paranoia of Fidel in our mothers’ milk. In turn, this rule of Fidelity feeds a paternalistic State where citizens always behave like children. All responsibilities rely upon the Revolution. Behaviorism in the time of barbarity. Discipline as the substitute of both duty and desire. Meanwhile all our fundamental freedoms were embargoed by the Cuban authorities as a displaced vengeance for the U.S. embargo against them.At first, with the Soviet satellite republics nourishing the Cuban economy, our Commander in Chief was making jokes about how useless the U.S. embargo was to prevent his Revolution from turning Cuba into a First World nation:“There will be enough milk produced in Cuba to fill Havana bay.” (1966).1 [3] "The effect of the American blockade has been to require us to work harder and better, it has been effective in favor of the Revolution.” (1967).2 [4] “The language of force does not intimidate us, we have been cured of it, so the blockade is now a subject of scorn and laughter.” (1969).3 [5] “Happily, we depend on the U.S. for nothing. No trade, no food, nothing.” (1975).4 [6] “Economic relations with the U.S. would not imply any basic benefit for Cuba, no essential benefit,” (1985).5 [7]In the 1990s, however, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the restoration of democracies in Latin America, Castro had to retool his propaganda machinery. The U.S. embargo suddenly proved to be the genesis of all social debacles on the Island. The economic sanctions threatened our sovereignty more than a coup d’état, and as such the world was to condemn them but with no mention of the scarcity of the fundamental rights for the Cuban people (including the exiles, now more than one-fifth of our population). Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has become synonymous with the fine art of waiting.Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has become synonymous with the fine art of waiting. From ideology to hypocrisy to idiocy, Cubans are experts in expecting with no expectation at all. Anything goes, from fighting the Ebola virus in Africa to signing a Major League contract worth several million dollars. Once we were austere, once we even had an astronaut, maybe we have just gone astray. Stigmatized as “worms” by the Castroites, many Cubans are indeed waiting for biopolitics—or rather necropolitics—to finish its work on a half fossil Fidel, a Marxterialist Methuselah about to turn 89, shrunken like a magic-realist character by Gabriel Garcia Marquez who, by the way, was his close collaborator and a spokesman of the Cuban Revolution.[8]The alternative to indolence is to emigrate to the northernmost province of our country: Miami-Hialeah and other post-totalitarian towns, where we can rent a so-called “efficiency” to watch this film from the burger side of the embargo. Big Brother Marx is easily overwhelmed by a Big Mac.The end of the economic and financial embargo against Cuba—still inconceivable since the U.S. Congress is reluctant to change the law—should then imply the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era, still ongoing by sheer inertia on the Caribbean island. And we all enjoyed a preview with the miraculous milestone of last December 17, when the simultaneous speeches of President Barack Obama and General Raul Castro announced the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, a pluribus duo, with liberty and justice for none—or perhaps only for the subscribers of The New York Times, after endless op-eds paved the way for the White House to pay the way for the Chamber of Commerce to invest in Cuba, just as their members did in the Fabulous Fifties.This adulterated affair of a democracy with a dictatorship is about to seal the self-transition from power to power taking place on the Island today. The Cuban dynastic model of State capitalism is already pregnant with a baby dictatorcracy called Castrolandia 2.0. The next Putin-like president is likely to be Alejandro Castro Espin, who, like the Russian autocrat, is a colonel linked to state security who happens to be the son of Raul Castro, who in turn has promised to step down in 2018 at the age of 87 years with six decades of control behind him.The pros and cons of this unexpected approach are not as relevant as the perverse point that there are no right or wrong options when it comes to monolithic regimes. No deal is dear with the Castro family. Every engagement is co-opted for their own convenience, because all the levers of society remain at their disposition without any limits.Despite Obama’s rhetoric that breathed life into the Cuban establishment, the alternative to Communism is not likely to be consumerism, but Communism itself. Or collapse. After Fidel, the Flood. And Obama seems to be advancing a helping hand to us before a migratory crisis extends its hideous hands to the U.S., as it is being announced already in the record numbers of rafters and Cubans illegally crossing U.S. borders, before and after December 17.[9]Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its dialogues or diatribes with Washington, DC. That is why on Island, the rumor is that theCuban Adjustment Act [10], which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, will vanish somehow with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the White House and Revolution Square.And so we keep voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite to kiss goodbye the Revolution—a fleeing flow that is 100% political precisely because 100% of Cuban migrants hurry to declare that they are only looking for economic benefits. What kind of benefits when they had free education, free sports, free arts, free health and free et ceteras on the Island? Farewell, Fidel.Americans can come to Cuba in the search of profits. Cubans keep quitting their proletarian paradise in search of only we know what.“Yankees, come home” echoes in the so-called Key to the Gulf for the first time in the history of our hemisphere. Americans are more than welcome to appease our tired tyranny with their new markets for the New Man to cease being a soldier and become a salesman. Money is time in this equation to build a stable status quo for the region, which is a major concern for America’s national security. In gold they trust: bring down the wall means open up the wallet. This explains the urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer the once-called Pearl of the Antilles. Meanwhile, a multitude of five-year multiple-entry U.S. visas is being granted to Cubans of all ages, before and after December 17.Photos in this essay appear in "Abandoned Havana" (Restless Books, 2014)If 50-plus years of U.S. diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people it is because these were never designed to bring freedom to the Island, but to penalize a regime that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty with anti-democratic procedures, including the violent illegalization of civil society and all forms of property—both private and public, including the press—forcing up to one-fifth of our population to live in exile today.Cuban democracy, like heaven, can wait. The 50-plus years to come of U.S. capitalist engagement with Cuba cannot guarantee fundamental freedoms for our people, because a market economy is not a redemptive formula per se, and it has been implemented by many authoritarian systems to deny all basic rights. But “rights” is a worn-out word that President Obama, Pope Francis, and General Castro have eagerly agreed to postpone during almost two years of secret negotiations: Cuban democracy, like heaven, can wait. What has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is still not good enough for Cubans in the Twenty-first Century. This is the basis of revolutionary racism, a discriminatory concept cruelly conceived by American academics in their search of a lost Left. First world democracies seem disappointed to support pro-democracy movements anymore in the Third World, while Castroism keeps on being more than proud to Castrify other countries —Venezuela is the most tragic example today.Oh, bama! Why not take advantage of these U.S.-Cuba negotiations to seat the historical gerontocracy in olive-green uniforms at the same table with the emerging civil leaders on the Island? Don’t we deserve this after we have achieved so much in the struggle for freedom of speech and to raise awareness of human rights violations and the overall anthropological damage in Cuba? If the Castros want to be treated as a normal government, shouldn’t the Castros constitute a normal government beforehand?But as it has been impossible to hold the Cuban government accountable, the lesser evil now seems to be to promote “Cuban civil society” only for political correctness in presidential speeches, while in fact excluding us from the establishment to come: State capitalism with the sheepskin of asoulcialism.[11]In moral terms the unpopularity of U.S. policies, given the popularity of the Cuban Revolution worldwide, should be less important than securing that a true transition to democracy will take place in Cuba soon. Unless, of course, advancing American interests in the Western Hemisphere still means advancing American interests in Western Union.Despite any goodwill of the U.S. executive branch enforcing resolution after resolution, involving certain congressmen and think tanks and NGOs and press magnates and corporate tycoons that shake Raul Castro’s hand without asking him a single uncomfortable question, what is being legitimized is a clan that abolished the Cuban Congress and Cuban think tanks and Cuban NGOs and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and all Cuban press except that belonging to the Communist Party.I am not sure about “what everybody needs to know about Cuba”—as the American scholar Julia Sweig might say—but rather about what nobody dares to know about Cuba. Even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against independence. And decency. The U.S. change in its Cuban policy is the latest victory of The End of History: from the Spanish-American War to the Anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “common marketization” of international relations is what really counts and “Cuban” continues to be out of date.Milan Kundera, maybe the best Cuban novelist who is a Czech who writes in French and lives in Switzerland—a perfect mix for liberty—knew that “the old dead make way for the young dead” for “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting [12].”“Dialogues between the elites are not the path of the people,” said the assassinated leader of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo Payá—winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Dead since July 22, 2012—like Polish priest Popiełuszko in the mid-1980s— in a traffic “accident” denounced as an extrajudicial killing by the surviving witness who was driving the car, Payá and his peaceful activists managed to collect more than 25,000 signatures on the Island to legally democratize our society, as established by the Cuban Constitution. The Castros’ reaction was dozens of incarcerations, forced expatriations and, ultimately, his murder by the Ministry of the Interior.Is the Obama administration willing to mention such delicate details in The New Deal with Cuba or will there be no solidarity with Payá’s family, who has been requesting an independent investigation since that sad Sunday that abolished the hope of an inclusive country? And not just a clowntry club for cowboys, a post-totalitarian museum turned into a tourist theme park or worse, into a mausoleum of martyrs like Orlando Zapata—left to die during a hunger strike—Laura Pollán—our second Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—and Oswaldo Payá?Respect for universal values like life, mercy, beauty, truth, and liberty—the most natural and yet so difficult to attain in times of tyranny—is the responsibility of every free man and woman who wishes to favor my people, who deserve not to wait any longer to be treated like real citizens, with or without whatever diplomatic decisions are taken one thousand miles away in the U.S.“Cubans have the right to have rights,” repeated Oswaldo Payá before the Castros took his life. And we Cubans have the right to have rights irrespective of all the Castros’ conspiracies to permanently prevail. I still skeptically trust in such a Cuba “founded with all and the good of all”—as the patriot and poet José Martí wrote more than a century ago—but most of my fellow Cubans already don’t. Our wisdom is weird, for we have seen things that you Americans wouldn’t believe [13][14][All photos courtesy of the author.]1. [15]Fidel Castro. Speech at the Meeting of the Federation of Cuban Women, (December 1966).2. [16]Castro. Playboy (January 1967).3. [17]Castro. Speech at the Plaza de la Revolución, Havana (January 2, 1969).4. [18]Castro. Speech at the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, (December 1975).5. [19]Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally. Fidel Castro: Nothing Can Stop the Course of History (Pathfinder Press, 1986).[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] Continue reading
[1]LET THE OLD DEAD GIVE WAY TO THE NEW DEADOrlando Luis Pardo LazoThe title is, of course, a quote from the Czech, Milan Kundera, an obsolete reference for the rest of a world, which believes it is living in the post-communist era. But in Cuba, it continues to be something referring to the future.Just as in global capitalism, “time is money”, in twenty-first century Castroism time is the essence of totalitarianism itself. Because of that, Cubans don’t have lives, only, barely, biographies. And because of that Cubans don’t live in human time, but buried, with the dismal defect that it could last for all eternity. And because of that, for the first time, the White House is so interested in co-opting us. Because of that Fidel Castro’s funeral fascism is rescued by the tyrranical resolutions of Barack Obama and his Democrat mates who hate democracy, in Congress, just as in the Plaza de la Revolución (before his disappearance as the Chief many of them travelled to the island to take supportive selfies with our dictator).After his 20 January 2015 State of the Union Address, the United States was ready for his presidential winding-down. The American union’s voters are awaiting his demagogic dissolution. To survive in a stable fashion, the democracies which are going to remain on the planet should now do it not just in opposition to  fundamentalist conservatives or lefties, or both, but also in opposition to the United States. And the Cuban case feels like a valuable precedent.As a part of the secret pact between the two elites, it was obvious that nobody was demanding anything from anybody, except mutual recognition of legitimacy. The 5 or 55 “heroes” or “brothers” of the horror-show arrived in Havana threatening that they were keen to carry out new assassination and infiltration missions, like the informant doctor who theatrically returned to Africa to challenge Ebola again. David and Goliath nowadays are only money and abuse.The first attracts the second to the island with no Commander, where time stands still, but where there are a thousand and one “decent” descendants of degenerate generals. The second is the mechanical gesturing of the most unknown North American civil president: his public programme is based on springing a private surprise. Even physically, he seems crafty. We don’t matter to him in the slightest, on the contrary, we irritate him. He has a different agenda and Obama is not going to miss out on the legal impunity he can enjoy in his last two years.In the case of Cuba, the communists’ revenge for Cuba’s exile has finally been accomplished. They fought for that for decades. They bumped off their  libertarian leaders with sudden post-soviet diseases. They empowered those who were interested in investing – and inventing – with a “Plattismo [2]” economic model. They collided with North American public opinion using little Elian [3] dolls and “sperm spies [4].” (It was easy to do this as they were dealing with an infantile and detestable audience). And now comes the grand orgy of reconciliation between the victims of post-revolutionary repression –  without the orgasm. Today there is not one sensible Cuban, whether in exile or on the island, who believes in the changes. Castroism ended. And, for that reason it is never-ending.Nobody will ever ask the Castros anything about their more or less famous deaths. In her conspiratorial path to Havana, Roberta Jacobson [5] must have gone cursing the plane from Washington DC on which she met Rosa María Payá [6] when she felt obliged to lie to the martyr’s daughter: “it’s something we can always put on the table” (the translation is mine, the deceit is hers). Always say always.Do me a favour. If nobody is against this farce. This disingenuous vaseline applied by the victors is unnecessary. Do less of the LGTB posturing, be less culpable, with fewer dirty needs, and come out of the Castro closet with the oppressor’s pride (the shame assumed is ours). The old dead are not yet good luck charms for our memory. The new dead can now wait to be recycled into the future dead, who are coming.The obsolete Castroism – except in the rest of the world – manages to survive because it knows many things. But the Czech Milan Kundera had the weakness of only knowing one thing. My fellow countrymen, you can finally hang up your Cuban passports. Now, the nation of the Castros, by the Castros and for Castros has finished being embargoed forever.Translated by GH21 January 2015 [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Continue reading
[1]Cuba I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing. Cuba two CUCs and 56 years, January 1st, 1959. You can’t stand my own mind. Cuba when will we end the human peace? Go fuck yourself with your Revolution I don’t feel good don’t brother me. I won’t write my poem till I’m in my left mind. Cuba when will you be angelic? When will you take off your uniform? When will you look at myself through the grave? When will you be worthy of your million Castroists? Cuba why are your libraries full of totalitarianism? Cuba when will you send your eggs to Indianapolis? I’m sick of your sane demands. When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my Gross looks? Cuba after all it is you and I who are perfect not the ex world. Your Marxism is too much for me. You made me want to be a serf. There must be some other way to settle this government. Batista is in Target I don’t think he’ll come back it’s minister. Are you being minister or is this some form of practical joke? I’m trying to come. To the point. I refuse to give up my obsession. Cuba still pushing I know what I’m doing. Cuba the rum blossoms are falling. I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for migration. Cuba I feel sentimental about the Bolos. Cuba I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry. I smoke Aromas every chance I get. I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the Raulists in the closet. When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid. My mind is made up there’s going to be transition. You should have seen me reading Mao. My psychoagent thinks I’m perfectly tight. I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer. I have mystical treasons and Cardinal vibrations. Cuba I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Sam after he came over from The Obama House. I’m addressing you. Are you going to let our emotional life be run by The New York Times? I’m obsessed by The New York Times. I read it every week. Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore. I read it in the basement of the José Martí National Library. It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Even the exile is serious but me. It occurs to me that I am Cuba. I am talking to myself again.Original in English27 January 2015[1] Continue reading
[1]We passed the book from hand to hand. A worn-out volume, despite being a new edition. An edition in Cuba means a foreign edition. As readers in revolutionary Cuba, we suffered from the oxygenating syndrome of xenophillia.The title was “Less Than One.” The author, an exiled Soviet dissident. In the early 90s this mixture sounded perfect for us. To be an author, to become a dissident, to commit exile.We worshiped every word of Joseph Brodsky, literally and literarily. We memorized sentences as we copied them by hand, with those remaining huge and hideous pencils imported by the ton to the Island from the Cold War Era.“The real history of consciousness starts with one’s first lie.” But we were spontaneously sincere in the naïve nightmare of our unconsciousness. Dear and dreadful daylight dreamers.“As failure goes, attempting to recall the past is like trying to grasp the meaning of existence.” “The more one remembers, the closer perhaps one is to dying.” But we hadn’t failed in anything at all. And life, like literature, was elsewhere and still waiting to be written, both floating in a totalitarian perfect present tense, with little meaning to grasp and less memory to recall.In the palindromic 1991, immortality was a common place taken for granted, as we dwelled not in Havana, but in city of books smuggled from abroad, while the so-called Special Period in Time of Peace was being dramatized by our omniscient omnipotent narrator, Fidel. No last name required after such an intimate and intimidating F, because calling him Castro was considered a first symptom of dissent. And dissent begets disaster in our proletarian’s paradise.“There isn’t an executioner who isn’t scared of turning victim one day, nor is there the sorriest victim who would not acknowledge a mental ability to become an executioner.” “That is the ultimate triumph of the system: whether you beat it or join it, you feel equally guilty.” But none of us knew any executioner or victim back then, being both ourselves without yet noticing it.The absence of all magnitude or quantity. The quality of a point of departure in reckoning, from which the graduation of every scale begins. The one and only whole entity between minus 1 and 1. Less than 1, more than minus 1. Not positive but still not negative, still useful as a “place-holder” to write all the other numerals. A closed cycle of zero revolutions per minute. A void paradoxically not devoid but full of properties. An unnatural number that had to be invented by the human mind, so that, as humanity itself, anything multiplied by it becomes it, including authors, dissidents, exiles.Their years 2000s were soon to be our years zero. Arid arithmetic for a literarid field. Playing to be marginal squatters, positioning ourselves among sequestered cultural institutions that left zero space beyond duty and discipline, not even for delusion —not to mention disappointment— we were just amateurs in an asphyxiating atmosphere, where the State monopoly occupied every channel of information, creativity, criticism, distribution and legitimation. For Cuban intellectuals, these are the real Five Heroes of our time: the impossibility to break free and the urge to find a way out.We arrived late to Cuban literature, to Cuban history, to Cuban socialism, to the Cuban Revolution. We arrived late to acquainting Fidel with Truth, to holding him accountable. Not to be the audience of his monologues any longer, but his surviving witnesses that through fiction will force him to dialogue. We stole a piece of his despotic pie to imagine by ourselves another Island in our image and likeness: the barbarity of books versus the orality of horror. We pretended to be fake foreigners in a hyper-realistic minefield, tantalizing the tiger’s teeth with our insulting innocence.To narrate an obsolescent Fidel was an obscene obsession for our generation of zeros. After decadent decades of imposing the term “worms” in the official speech against the Cuban people, as authors we approached the delicate and dangerous beauty of “the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a machine-gun and Fidel.” Fetus or fossil, feast or funeral, among other fundamentalist F’s, we just typed. We tried, we were tried. Then, we were trapped. Then, trialed.We developed an interest in bodies, in hidden desires under the hopeless green uniforms, in love and lust despite the Cuban faraway military interventions renamed as “worker’s internationalism.” We despised the rule of law understood as the rule of loyalty. From dynamization to dynamite. From the reasonable to the treasonable. From tradition to the untranslatable. From vocabulary to a kind of unkind vocubalary. From literature to limiterature. We were prone to pay the price and then, of course, to prevail in silence.Mute and mutants as only zeros know how.Generations, of course, do not exist. The 11 outlaws included in CUBA IN SPLINTERS (an anthology of O/R Books, New York 2014, translated by Hillary Gulley), behave like professionals of provocation, textrrorists between apathy and aphasia, focusing on the black holes of literature, history, socialism, revolution, fidel —the Five Heroes of our writing— digging into the uncomfortable and the unpleasant, cannibalizing our cultural cannon, perverting all political perceptions not to épater le bourgeois but épater le proletaire.Quod scripsi, is crisis.The communicating vessels between these short-stories are not bridges, but short-circuits: tensions among fictions must produce friction and fractions of fertile sense and nonsense, a bit of idiocy after so much ideology, from the Berlin Wall to the Bloody Jaws of the Florida Strait, from Fidel’s bodyguards to sex for sale at a tetric train station; snob Buddhism and stunt zombies; smoke of cannabis cubensis so our mind can emigrate north beyond the Castrophobic line of the horizon; Habaniroshima, mon amour: remake and collage, cut-up and remix, plagiarism taken to the paroxysm, the newrrative of the portrait of a family that never was but still is.Zerotomy. Metastazero. Soulcialist sickstem.Today the new markets expect the New Man to quit being a soldier and become a salesman. Bring down the wall, open up the wallet. But what was good for Americans since the 18th century is still not good enough for Cubans in the 21st century: second class citizens, having waited so long, democracy now, like heaven, can wait —a racism conceived by US academicians in their search of their lost Latin American left.An extreme experience might be exhausting, but the humblest Cuban now has a weird wisdom that top public figures in the US lack, for we have seen things that you American people wouldn’t believe. Not like tears in the rain, but like tears in the ruins. So, let it read. Let it rip our clowntry in as many unsuspected splinters as feasible. Nuclear fission, nuisance fiction. Cubansummatum est.Please purchase the paper or digital edition of the anthology here [2].Original in English by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo6 March 2015[1] [2] Continue reading
Translated by Hombre de Paz 10 February 2015 Continue reading
[1] Orlando, 2nd from right, and his mother María, far right, with two friends.We started university. It was Havana 1991.One afternoon we went to sit in the stands at the university stadium. We had no desire to remain in the classroom.At times we knew biochemistry as science-fiction, in a Biology Department where there wasn’t even distilled water.Professors and students deserted en masse, when they could get any kind of little scholarship to study abroad. Those of us left behind, they expelled us as soon as we dared to voice an opinion. The climate was one of immeasurable cruelty. I was never sadder than when I was a Cuban student, poor and happy and with the permanent look of our indolence before so much pain. For me Castroism is this. A wasteland where healthcare and education are free, but human life is not given.That afternoon we passed through the Calixto Garcia Hospital. When we passed the emergency room a gentleman approached me. Not the group, but he came straight to me. He was wearing a suit and tie in the summer of that Cuba in the midst of the Special Period. He grabbed me by both arms and said,“How old are you?”My friends reacted somewhat violently. Including my girlfriend of the time. Girlfriends are always girlfriends of the time.They separated him from me.But I had seen something in that sudden scene. I went to where the group had pushed the gentleman. I grabbed him by his arms.“I’m 19,” and even gave him some more details, “I’ll be 20 in December.”The he hugged me. Strong, deep, feeling. He smelled too strong, deep, feeling. And broke into tears on my shoulder. On my collar, my neck, on my hair which had started to look long at the beginning of the decade and the end of the millennium.“I knew it, your same age,” he said with a voice cracked with tears. “And it almost killed me inside. I just left him dead on the same stretcher in which we brought him yesterday. Go and ask his forgiveness for me. I don’t want my son to know that his father had to see him like this.”And he released me as abruptly as he had come.And started walking toward the Philology Department, an oasis of Ficus or laurels or whatever they call those trees that preceded and will survive the Revolution.I can barely remember wow the exact works of that dialog. But this final phrase was syllable by syllable, this:I don’t want my son to know that his father had to see him like this.Nor do I.I don’t want Cuba to know that we had to see her like this. Horrible, hateful, hypocritical, hollow.I left. We left.That afternoon we didn’t go to the university stadium.That afternoon the friends and girlfriends of that time, in that band of barbaric biochemists, we each went to our own homes to never return to our country.For some if took us almost a quarter of a century, as in my case. Others didn’t even graduate from the university, to simplify the paperwork and the harsh bribes. Most ended up “betraying” the country as soon as the country “located” them in a high technology center of the Council of State, from where they could travel to a meeting in Europe or the USA.We disbanded as a group. As fellow travelers of our biographies and our hearts.I and my girlfriend (in that order) went to the nearest Route 23 bus stop, in a deserted park at 25th and N. I gave her a big kiss on the lips. I loved her so much. But it was, of course, a kiss of farewell.I decided to return to the hospital. I went for the dead son of the gentleman in suit and tie, who recognized me as his I-don’t-know-what in the midst of a tragedy as personal as it is collective. I always return for the death of my loved ones.In the emergency room, with the filth of the police and the beggars, with its students caught between ignorance and incivility, there was no longer any dead son on any stretcher. For other reasons, I never again saw my girlfriend of that time. Nor our Cuba of that time.Today the climate remains one of immeasurable cruelty. The sadness didn’t let us save ourselves from totalitarianism. We are, each one of us, the Castro regime itself. And especially now, when hope is a poor and happy whore, paid by the exiled dance of millions, those who erased death by death the memory of our indolence faced with so much pain.12 February 2015[1] Continue reading
[1]CENSORSHIP WITHOUT CENSORINGOrlando Luis Pardo Lazo2003 was a deadly year for Cuba. In March, the government declared an open war on the citizens. In less than a few hours, the Police arrested over a hundred peaceful dissidents and independent journalists from all across the island. Although the international press nicknamed the most notable of the arrested men and women as the “Group of 75”, there were many others who had been repressed months before (and also after) the event that has come to be known as the “Black Spring”.Jorge Alberto Aguiar Diaz was 36 at that time and was selling books in the Centro Habana district. He had an honourable amount of books and as a post-Deleuzian idealist, he offered free literary workshops, which he called “labs”, or “clinics of writing”. He was known as JAAD (the acronym of his name) and had a large, enthusiastic fan club, to which I also belonged. We were his audience and we sometimes seemed to look at him as a kind of a generational guru. And he was one, in fact: it was as if he were a cross-breed of Charles Bukowski and Roberto Arlt, embodying the angry desires of the former with the neurotic touch of the latter.[2]I was his favourite pupil (or perhaps, the bad one). In fact, JAAD’s words gave us freedom within the increasingly prison-like, funereal atmosphere of Havana. JAAD wrote opinion columns for the dissident newspaper agency known as Decoro. That’s why his home was frequently visited by the State Security. There were always two of them, those secret little agents in plain clothes, coming on a single Suzuki motorcycle. One of such visitors was the brother of a poetess exiled in the USA, who has recently become an academician. JAAD recognized him but preferred not to say anything (and I prefer to do the same now, for the very same reason).At another battlefront, Iroel Sanchez, president of the Cuban Book Institute, was sitting on his Taliban throne. In 2001, JAAD won a short story award in the “Premio de Pinos Nuevos” literary contest with his book entitled “Adios a las almas” (Farewell to Souls). A part of the award was the publication of the book by the “Letras Cubanas” publishing house and indeed, the book came to be published in 2002. Apparently, the censorship in Cuba was gradually becoming skilled in the art of circumventing scandals, averting collateral damage and avoiding making more martyrs.Yet, JAAD began to be subject to hidden pressures and blackmailing, both from the Ministry of the Interior (Political Police sponsored by the Castro clan) and from the Ministry of Culture (literary sergeants paid by Abel Prieto and Miguel Barnet). After all, “Adios a las almas” was introduced at the International Book Fair of Havana and it seemed that it started circulating. The book immediately became a best-seller, which was both unexpected and suspicious, considering the fact that there had been no official promotion campaign. In just a few weeks, the thousand copies that had been published disappeared from the shelves of Havana book stores and nobody heard about the book’s sales volumes any more. Ahem...JAAD’s friends congratulated the author on his success, but he didn’t celebrate. He had an intuition, which later proved prophetic. The thing is, State Security always carries out its operations in the realm of the invisible. It never shows its face. That’s the sinister essence of any left-wing dictatorship. Also, JAAD couldn’t forget how much he was pressed to stop publishing his critical pieces as a member of the Decoro group on the CubaNet website.In 2004, after more than a few warnings and threats, he got a permission to travel to Spain on account of his being married to a Spanish woman. Before that he had been warned that he could be put to prison with the members of the Group of 75 on a charge of enemy propaganda. He had also been told that something unpleasant could happen to his closest family, including his daughter. The government wanted to get rid of his presence in Cuba and in the end, they succeeded.Several hours before he was to board the plane, he got an anonymous phone call: “Come immediately to this address. Bring money. It’s in your interest.”JAAD, book and adventure trafficker, couldn’t resist the temptation ant went there. I’m his witness.When he got to the address, he found a book distribution warehouse of a company belonging to the State book empire run by Iroel Sanchez. The man who was waiting for him was an old acquaintance of his from the Centro Havana district. He told JAAD: “You’d better sit down or you’ll fall back.” (Actually, that’s just my bad, self-censored transcription of what he really said, which was: “’ll shit yourself with shock.”)They entered the warehouse and in one of its large naves there were several metal containers, one of them padlocked. The boy took out a bunch of keys, chose one as if at random and opened the padlock. What JAAD saw inside was a kind of aleph – as if the whole, unique universe were condensed in a few square meters of the most populated neighbourhood of Havana.Actually, the belly of the padlocked container was filled with an intact edition of the book “Adios a las almas”. The books were not only intact, they hadn’t even been released to the public. In fact, the storybook was published only formally, to fool the public and it was withdrawn from circulation. That was the reason why the government spread rumours that “Adios a las almas” had become a best-seller and soon sold out.The boy had strict orders to sort the books out with “damaged books” and turn them to pulp for recycling. What a perverse kind of palimpsest, what a crooked demonstration of tropical despotism of an obsolete regime, which despises any form of free Cuban culture. The boy had been postponing his destructive task on the books for quite some time, but it was not for sympathy with the author. His hesitation had purely financial motives. I bet the boy had surely traded even with his soul, selling it to Death.Now, this boy, this employee of Iroel Sanchez, asked JAAD for a dollar for each copy of the book he wanted to save. A difficult dilemma for a writer, indeed. How many books of his own could he save and how many can he bear to see crushed, without being able to do anything?JAAD had saved a few euros for his journey – the currency was quite new in the island at that time, you wouldn’t see it very often. So he bought almost half a thousand copies and paid the boy about 300 euros in total. He put the books in a box and carried them away to his flat on the second floor at the corner of San Miguel and Escobar streets.He hardly managed to find a taxi and get to the airport on time. In Madrid airport, his recent wife was awaiting him (they aren’t married any more). JAAD had left half of the copies of his only book (it still is), the worst-seller entitled “Adios a las almas”, in Havana. It seems that JAAD has always been between two waters, as if he were a Christ of totalitarian scams. Caught between carnal passion and passion for literature.On the one hand there was the mendacious State ready to do something wicked, spending Cuban people’s money on a futile endeavour of printing and recycling “questionable” books, without even bothering to present them to readers. On the other hand there was the pleasure as a substitute of death and life in the truth: escaping from fossilized Fidel and pretending to be an intellectual, far away from the raw material he was made of – Havana.Almost nobody in the world knows how the Cuban State recycles published books without even releasing them. I’d like to warn all famous Cuban writers not to be so confident about the sales of their books in the island. Leonardo Padura and Pedro Juan Gutierrez, for instance, may also have been censored without censoring.A decadent decade later, JAAD is still living in Spain, displaced and abandoned by the State and by God, suffering 1959 misfortunes without complaining. The storybook “Adios a las almas” is a rare and valuable thing that almost nobody has had the luck to get hold of. Hopefully we, Cuban readers both inside and outside Cuba, will bear in mind to save this author before it is too late. One euro per book will do.14 February 2015[1] [2] Continue reading

El Centro Cultural Cubano de Nueva York abre su programación de este año con la presentación de la antología de narrativa Cuba in Splinters. Eleven Stories from the New Cuba, publicada en inglés por O/R Books.

En el acto participan Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, editor del libro y autor, la escritora Lizabel Mónica y la traductora Hillary Gulley. El evento se llevará a cabo en inglés.

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[youtube] Fifty-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions have failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people because they were not designed to bring freedom to the Cuban people, but to penalize a regime that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty by violent and anti-democratic procedures (reestablishment of death penalty, radical hatred speech, citizen apartheid), by the illegalization of civil society and all forms of property (both private and public, including the press), and by tyrannizing every institutional power into a despotic State, plus the militarization of the nation to the point of demanding a nuclear attack against the United States from Cuban territory.The 50-plus years to come of US diplomatic relations and capitalist engagement with Cuba can neither guarantee the advance of fundamental freedoms in my country, nor our liberation from the successive Castro generations, because a market economy is not a redemptive formula and it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for tyrannical control of all basic rights. And this is a wicked word that President Obama, Pope Francis and General Castro have secretly agreed to postpone: the rights of the Cuban people.As the pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times until he was extrajudicially executed in Cuba on July 22nd 2012: Why not the recognition of all our rights now? What is good for Americans since the 18th century is still not good enough for Cubans in the 21st century?Is this about US interference, as in the hegemonic past times when the capitol of DC was the capital of the continent? Or this is only about insulting the intellectual capacity of my people, wise enough to escape in a pedestrian’s plebiscite in search for a real “normalization” of their lives far from an abnormal socialism?Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism has been more than proud to Castrify democratic countries (Venezuela is the most tragic example today), as the recently liberated 5 Cuban spies in US have declared when ordered as National Heroes back on the Island: we are ready to commit our crimes again if we are ordered to do so. Sic semper tyrannis.Why not the effective solidarity and the pressure of the international community, so that the legal claims that have already mobilized tens of thousands of Cubans be respected by our non-elected authorities? Why not take advantage of these US-Cuba negotiations to seat in the same table the historical gerontocracy with the alternative civil leaders, after we have risked so much to conquer freedom of speech and to raise awareness on human rights violations and the anthropological damage in Cuba?In moral terms, the unpopularity of US policies given the popularity of the Cuban Revolution worldwide should be less important than the unpopularity of the retrograde regime within the Island, if a true transition is to take place in Cuba today. Unless, of course, advancing American interests in the Western Hemisphere now means advancing American interests in Western Union.Did Cuba win?Cuba cannot win because perpetuation in power is always a failure and the best approach to endure a fossil past, despite the faith in the future expressed by Nancy Pelosi, as the US executive branch enforces resolution after resolution, involving exclusively those congressmen and NGOs and think-tanks and press magnates and corporations’ tycoons that hurry to shake Raul Castro’s hand without asking him a single uncomfortable question, thus legitimizing he who abolished the Cuban Congress and Cuban Chamber of Commerce and Cuban think-tanks and Cuban NGOs, as well as the exercise of free press. By the way, convenient Cuban dissidents are also called into play, not for the rule of law, but for the rule of loyalty.The rationale seems to be that, as it is impossible to hold the Cuban government accountable, the appeasement of the dictatorship into a dictatorcracy is now the lesser evil, mentioning “Cuban civil society” only for political correctness in presidential speeches, while in fact excluding us from the new status quo.I am not sure about “what everybody needs to know about Cuba” (as in Julia Sweig’s book) but I am certain of what nobody dares to know about Cuba. Milan Kundera, maybe the best of Cuban novelists who is a Czech who writes in French and lives in Switzerland (a perfect mixture for freedom), knew that “the old dead make way for the young dead” for “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”.Therefore, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against independency. And decency. The Cuban policy of the US is the ironic victory of The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts.That’s why for the first time in the history of our hemiplegic hemisphere it’s paradoxically in a Communist country where the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes. In fact, you are more than welcome to try to fool our terminal tyrant with US dollars. But having dwelt in the entrails of said terminal tyranny during never-ending decades, my only remaining resistance is a sour skepticism to soothe our soul.(Original in English) Continue reading
[1]A ROSE IN YOUR HAIR PERISHES [2]Orlando Luis Pardo LazoThere aren’t enough of the stupid-ass songs. Because those same songs, the ones we joked stupid-assedly about in our rage-filled adolescence, are now the only thing left that allows us to know what we were, what we are, what we will be.With those songs, we can forget about everything and everybody. It seems like we have it all if we have them, these jingles from our bad memory. And then we don’t feel that malady we carry that weighs us down, that ruins this life we have and can’t live.  Much less do confront destiny, that deviation that destabilizes us from despotism to despotism, and from corpse to corpse, without their ever sparking in our breast that semi-magical, semi-mendacious flame of love, always so hesitant.A rose in your hair would be redundant. Not stars in the sky nor medals hanging from the neck would give off more light than that which illumines the nights on our long trek — which in the wind seems the accent of a musical voice sounding at the least movement of our body as we walk. This is the danger of rheumatic rhymes. They entwine themselves ridiculously around our heart until one day we realize that our blood pump is no more than that: a mortal wound that we endeavor to heal until now all we know is what we were not, what we are not, and what we will not be.Today the YouTube dawn of the United States is tenuous, tender and so troubled that it knocks us down.  In that word millions and millions of us Cubans will perish here. Into a countryless grave we will enter without peace a number much greater than the statistics of the Island and of Exile, because each one will die multiple times the death of his memories, but without ever coming across Eternity.Archaeology in the United States is also a digital discovery. We click on sound tunnels that hardly fit into the interactivity of an internet navigator. They and we are hollow echoes, echoes of bones. We reproduce those miracles of bits and their intact state of preservation is incredible after having been abandoned so long after the stampede. In our escape we have spinelessly left behind the music, fossilized notes confiscated by the dictator’s delirious marshalls and his hymns at the level of history (the level history).However, it was not the Tyrant of Pentagrams, but rather ourselves, the ones without history, who sacrificed the sonorous band of our biographies under the resentful boot of the Revolution. This is why God, who supposedly was mysterious music for the sicknesses of the soul, such as love, took revenge on us by inflicting an atrocious amnesia, with an emotional arrhythmia that makes us cry like stupid-asses at the first chords of decrepit songs from our other life.The United States, for Cubans, are the silent states of the spirit of that other nation, so stuffed with bad verses, dreadful versifiers, decadent melodies, as is right for a real life that has made us more implausible with each new performance of those fossilized clips recorded in another Cuba just a few decades ago.Exile is this: the betrayal of the eardrum. Totalitarianism never dreamed of converting us to socialism, but rather to deafness. He who does not hear gives his consent by not speaking. And the more we desire it amidst the decency of any country lost in common, the less we hear ourselves now among Cubans.Oh, Love, a rose in your hair doesn’t even know what it looks like.Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison12 January 2015[1] [2] Continue reading

Brown University presenta dos días de lecturas y charlas sobre literatura cubana contemporánea bajo el título de Cuba in Splinters. Literature, Music, Social and Cultural Analysis.

El evento abre este 4 de febrero, a las 4:00 pm, con "New Cuban Writing", donde leerán los escritores Osdany Morales, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo y Lizabel Mónica, con traducción de Hillary Gulley.

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[1]The Silence of Alan GrossOrlando Luis Pardo LazoWe live not in the civilization of media, but of the mediocre. And from there directly we inhabit the miserable.Cubans desperately need witnesses to our tragedy. In the absence of politicians on the Island, we pin our hopes on any alternative voice: bloggers, musicians, graffiti artists, performers, etc.Just recently a supposed North American hostage has been released. Alan Gross completed his role in the democratic-totalitarian theater of legitimization of the Castro dictatorship. He is now free, but he remains stuck in the labyrinth of his lawyers and the six-figure compensation with which they have invited him to recuperate and remain reticent. In the United States, he will not for one moment stop being a true hostage.Cubans therefore ask why Alan Gross does not speak to us. Does he not feel shame for his irresponsibility towards our nation? He has not asked for forgiveness–that is, if he were to consider himself guilty. Nor has he accused his olive-green tormentors who, according to him, drove him to the point of suicide and stole five of the possibly fewer years of life he will now enjoy in liberty.Alan Gross was another of our sterile hopes for drawing attention to the criminal cruelty that hangs over every Cuban. But he has come out–along with his unhinged gaze–determined not to expend even one drop of saliva on the Revolution. He is the “sixth hero”* of this complicit comedy of trade and trickery. And he has no problem with the G-2 [2].Thus is perpetuated the impunity of the 56-year-old regime imposed upon Cuba by a gerontocracy and by millions of North Americans–and soon, by the “millions” of the North Americans. Except for the Cubans–including the agents of influence and the spies–socialism is loved in America. This is consummate statistics. And the month of muteness of Alan Gross is one of its most sensational symptoms.Why does he keep silent, and what is he silencing, our USAID contractor in Havana? How was his trial behind closed doors? Was he tortured physically and verbally?   What are the repressive buildings like inside, where he was disappeared even from his biography? With whom would Alan Gross speak in Cuba, and what did he know of the world during his time on the scaffold in unreal time? While in Cuba was he threatened with death or the death of his family if he did not cooperate? And, now, in the United States, what is the retaining wall that keeps him betraying us, while saving the very regime that destroyed him?The meat grinder will not cease even when the Castro regime falls. There is no justice that can withstand such violence and vileness which were inculcated in us, between paternalism and panic. The world will never be as scared of the Castros as we are, their executors who in turn will be executed. Among the people there are too many Alan Grosses.*Translator’s Note: The five Cuban spies [3] who were serving prison terms in the US and were released in December, 2014, are labeled in Cuban government propaganda as “The Five Heroes.”Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison13 January 2015[1] [2] [3] Continue reading
Tempting the Cuban Transition Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo FOLLOW THIS EVENT ONLINE HERE and HERE Since December 17th, when President Obama and General Raul Castro performed their simultaneous speeches, many Americans insist on congratulating me. I wonder why no Cuban has congratulated … Continue reading Continue reading
Alan Gross, like every North American who comes in contact with the Castro regime and defends it even from within a captivity of little lies — attacking his own government with million-dollar demands — is a bad man. Gross’s little suicide … Continue reading Continue reading
*STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS PLEASE.* *Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo* 1 April 2013 Recurring dreams, dreams in the electrical night of the third rail when the moon is a cutout on New York’s clouds of smoke. Cloud-tunnels of Elizabeth … Continue reading Continue reading
Total, infinite pity and shame! The teacher Odali has written Maceo (Antonio Maceo, hero of the Cuban War of Independence) with an “s” on my primary school blackboard, and I started crying. I couldn’t help it. That’s what happened. She … Continue reading Continue reading
Che’s Beatle Girlfriend Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo No doubt her name was Una. Or Agatha. Or Lil. Or Ide. O Brighid. Or Sinead. Or Nora. Or Tilde. Or perhaps Alaidh or Hilde. Any one of those Irish names reminiscent of … Continue reading Continue reading
When did we disappear while a nation? When did Cuba stop being one? Or perhaps it never fully was one? Nations are human inventions, impulses of our historical imagination. Cuba was the story that we told ourselves. A chronic story … Continue reading Continue reading
Please send this text to: and add your signature to mine if you wish. Thank you! Friday 9 January 2015 Your Excellency Mr. Christian Leffler, Managing Director for the Americas of the European External Action Service After the meetings … Continue reading Continue reading
Note: OLPL appears in this video speaking in English Continue reading
THE COPY-PASTE OF REVOLUTIOPHRENIA Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo Before Facebook, I met Eliécer Jiménez only once, in an alternative cultural debate in Camagüey, three years ago. He was somewhat shy, but resolute in his urge to be creative in cinematographic … Continue reading Continue reading
Last Christmas with Fidel Castro -Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo December is a sad month, precious, blue-lit and dreamily silent. I was born in this month. And in this month, in a year not so distant as it now appears, I … Continue reading Continue reading
How to Raise Funds: A Manual for Cuban Democrats   Clive Rudd, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo The successive “investigations” (or filtrations of intelligence) of the Associated Press (AP) and other media, that try to demonize the material support of Non … Continue reading Continue reading
The American President, Barack Obama, decided on behalf of Cubans. His holiness the Pope decided on behalf of Cubans. The Army General Raul Castro decided on behalf of the Cubans. Everyone, except the Cubans , decided on behalf of Cubans. … Continue reading Continue reading
The underwater rocks of the Cuban island platform are also gusanos (worms), as if in tribute to the 135,000 free Cubans who were saved from the Castros via the stampede through Mariel Harbor: Friends of the Castro regime, with all … Continue reading Continue reading
10 December 2014 Continue reading
Click here for link to Diario de Cuba Requiem for the 10th of December When democracy comes to Cuba tomorrow in 56 years — it will come in spite of the international left — when the men and women of … Continue reading Continue reading
See below for translation OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA from Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo December 19, 2014, The Washington Post Rosa María Payá Acevedo is a member of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement. Mr. Barack Obama President of the … Continue reading Continue reading
Cuban democracy has taken so long that now it seems we Cubans can wait for a little longer. President Obama, with his historical Cuban speech, is indeed recognizing the future rights of a leftist dictatorship that in turn never recognized … Continue reading Continue reading
The 10th of December is one of the saddest days. That day the political police – only source of governance in our island – brings out all of its henchmen to suppress dissent. Many are dressed with their olive-green monkey-like … Continue reading Continue reading
Translator’s Note: On Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo participated in a panel discussion at Florida International University, in Miami. The program announcement is here. Since the time of the Iron Curtain and Soviet socialism, the word, “solidarity,” has … Continue reading Continue reading
Friends of the world, I just talked with the graffiti artist El Sexto — Danilo Maldonado Machado — from Havana, Cuba. State Security agents are like bloodhounds after him, all over the city, on motorbikes and in cars. They are … Continue reading Continue reading