30 09 2010


30 09 2010



29 09 2010

Havana Impressions of a Yuma Adrift

Leo Felipe Campos

To JJ and Adin

MUSIC is intermittent and also intemperate when the sun sets, almost always in the nine days I have been walking all over Havana.

Across its entire waterfront, its 17th, 21st and 23rd; its G and its J; if O and its streets with noble names and people hanging over the railings of their balconies. San Lázaro, Infanta, bicycles and taxis at hand.

Its center and its old side, more wrinkled and touristy. Its Marianao in two double buses, buses with an accordion belly and a lot of people, talking, its typical Central Park with Jose Mari again in the center; the splendor lost in dreams diluted by hunger, injustice and time.

Havana has the brightness of rust and the salty smile. You can smoke anywhere and everyone looks for the shade.

When you pass a couple of foreigners, who are multiplying like flies, the eyes of the Cubans seem to sail back and forth, constantly, and then I think they have all been mariners, or will be someday.

It is the city with its gaze lost on the horizon and its head set in its memories, it moves and moves well, with so many lives, and dances slowly until silence comes and it settles.

It’s not like this in Havana, like a question, but not a desperation, an outburst, a prank that wets its customs in the transparency of white rum, while living its forgetfulness with the rumor of the waves in the background.

If Havana has no money it is because it has taken the hard way, the dignity of its heroes and the resistance of its rocks and enormous arms, ancient and sinewy, embracing the possibility of a striking contradiction: Sad happiness.
For example, the city yields to the Milanese of pork between two widowed slices of bread, and fish wrapped in a slice of ham and another of cheese, but long ago it forgot beef, who knows if it is out of fear of losing milk, because in Cuba, I am told, one of the achievements is that every child up to age seven is assured a serving of milk.

Havana talks of what was and what could be, but rarely of what is, its laughter is eloquent escapism, its composure remarkable. It comes with resignation and stoicism to a common place reserved by the tourists, the re-vindication of the authentic as a weapon in the form of a postcard: A cool-night of red-European restaurants with photographic flashes in the black man’s house, a kind man, on the point of devouring in one sitting what the majority of its citizens have dreamed for some decades, rather than years, is measured in faith. It must be said that in this place the owners of the house eat standing.

In the champion boxing match that in the world’s imagination never ends, Havana assumes the place of David without stones, palm open and unthreatening to tell the foreigner: here we need just a little of what you have plenty to spare, but we, let no one doubt it, we will win.

I have seen thousands of people here, although I know few. All I spoke with for more than two or three continuous hours, or four or five days time, have the tattooed virtue, are respectful and charming, very intelligent. The street fills with people and they don’t seem to notice it, walking there, resolving their days as best they can.

Havana, safer than the other capitals I’ve known on the rest of the continent, is a kaleidoscope of confronted faces, a necessary burst of impossible responses. The heat is staggering, a past that never goes away, the loneliness that gives fame, and the ruins, the debris. It is a tastefully sung lament. A beautiful dress pierced by the light that overwhelms the seams.

I still haven’t had time to see its bare chest, leaving its clothes on the floor, and I still haven’t looked, but I have been watching closely, as closely as I could, and now I think I am sure of one thing: I would have preferred to find it naked.


29 09 2010

now the revolution is zen


(A streak of light in the sky)


a bird flies over a flower that
floats in the river of life flowing toward
the darkness that explodes
does the glow show you
infinity, the greatest golden
worlds, utopian, or blind you
and make you wander in ignorance
of believing in the truth?
the master cane-sword
in the air
“now Zen is revolution
and people in lotus position
back straight
eyes fixed on the floor
with the hours passing up to a
fifty level that parts legs
of the pain …
some don’t support
can’t think and take to the
sea without ideas devoured are
at bottom a tense hand
a cyanotic finger twitching
anonymous disappeared
where is the list of their names?
they are victims:
a block on one side and
a block within which no
can name
the block inside is
a shadow
the block outside is
a zen block
name it and you’ll be left
with no penitent friends
those who fly above
the river applaud the block
and the admired don’t see that
the flower is no longer lotus
is no longer
already sinks
so one loses sight
when the teacher staff in hand:
“now the revolution is zen!”
and all its shipwrecked
on a zen island
in silence
“this position illuminates is”
I think
and the stick falls on my shoulders
I think
and it splits in two over my head
“now the revolution is zen”
“now the revolution is zen”
I crawl powerless
I fly
I fall
I fly
I crawl in the air
I touch the sun
I fall!
scrape the tanks
suck in the corners
sleep on rubble!
I can not say
can not find a sun
spend hours detained
where do I drop this heavy
burden that is drowning me
why do not I let go?
“what’s wrong with my body
in the air of the scheme
in the air of the fear
in the air of the control
in the air of the fatalism
in the air of the sheep
in the air of forever and death
or death or death or death
or death or death or death
or always or always or always
the darkness
in our eyes!?”

29 09 2010



29 09 2010

Click Image for Link to Magazine


28 09 2010

The image of the forest, the identity of the tree

Reinaldo Escobar

LITTLE has been revealed of the controversial life of Juan Bautista Spotorno, a commander of the Spanish militia and led an insurrection and became acting president of the Republic in Arms. He issued a famous decree that bears his name, that provided that any person bearing a proposal for peace without independence would be shot. Three years later he joined the committee that negotiated the peace with the Spanish and that led to the Pact of Zanjón. He ended up being an autonomist.

I can imagine that in the ranks of the Liberation Army there must have been numerous people like Spotorno, about whom it is difficult to be sure they were wrong when they thought they were right, or that they were right at times when they thought they were wrong. Men full of contradictions, passions, virtues, personal defects and that ingredient that makes a human being normal and mortal. However, the veil of glory that covers all the mambises with the same dignity, because the heroes, the martyrs, are the what keeps the story alive in the memory of a people. They stained with their blood the timeless colors of the flags, and with their war cries and screams of pain they filled the high notes of the national anthem.

Every era has its paladins. The struggle against Machado had Julio Antonio Mello, later expelled for indiscipline from the party he himself had founded, but finally sheltered in his last words, “I die for the Revolution.” The fights against Batista had José Antonio Echevarría, a fervent Catholic who had never accepted the imposition of communist atheism but who could not be exiled from the revolutionary pantheon because he died riddled with bullets with a pistol in his hand.

I once heard a decorated veteran of the Bay of Pigs say he had witnessed that not all the dead had fallen in combat at the front and I heard the same from a veteran from Angola, where almost more were killed by accidents, murders and executions, than in combat actions. But the glory, even if not eternal, is generous and it is enough to have died in the right place at the right time to be blessed by it. The living are the ones who then have problems.

Most of the senior offices of the Liberation Army who survived the war ended up, with few exceptions, disillusioned or corrupted by the Republic. This scenario is repeated over and over. I often wonder what we wold be saying now about Camilo Cienfuegos if he had kept repeating, for fifty years, his, “You’re doing well, Fidel.” The tourists would not be buying shirts with photos of Che Guevara if he were still heading up some ministry which I suspect still wouldn’t work. The epithet that encompasses a host of heroes almost always makes each one a great figure, but the fault is not theirs but that of the propagandists of one kind or another, who strive to come up with angelic characterizations, almost always far from human miseries, the appetites, vices and bad habits that make us unworthy of and aura.

Right now, overdue government sanity is about to dismantle the episode of the 75 imprisoned during the Black Spring of 2003. Before too long they will cease to be “the defenders of civil rights, victims of the cruel repression of the dictatorship,” to be, to become again, themselves.

The time is coming when we will discover among them one who doesn’t know which letter gets the accent in the word política, or others who never want to hear the name of Cuba again, and no doubt there will be one who wants to divorce his Lady in White, the same one who Sunday after Sunday, over seven long years, was at Santa Rita church praying and shouting for his freedom. Some will say some stupid thing in their first interview, or sign the first thing put in front of them to get ahead.

There will be something of everything, because everything is there. But I want one thing known: for me, who is not perfect either, you will continue to the “The 75,” that group that never went anywhere together and among whom there are probably not three of you who can agree on two points. Whatever happens with the trees, the forest will be in my heart.


(no title)

25 09 2010

Will we let the dark outside extinguish the light within?
Freedom is the only way.
Openness, tolerance, democracy.
Freedom is an inner state from the inside out and this we are realizing now.
Peace and Love.

More Square Meters of Freedom

25 09 2010

Presentations today during the performance ONE SQUARE METER OF FREEDOM in the Park at 21st and H, El Vedado, Havana.


25 09 2010

Presentations today during the performance ONE SQUARE METER OF FREEDOM in the Park at 21st and H, El Vedado, Havana.