28 06 2011


Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The future is so distant. Such a lie that we are going to live it. Such a panic. Such a coward. That. It’s better to inhabit it a bit in writing just now, when no one can see or hear us at the level of the Cuban dark morning hours. Better the sense than the experience. Better the rethoric than the repression. Both so real. So, such. Better to begin with a random date. The First of July of 2011 for example. Friday, just like every day you can think of in which I have dared to open my eyes and pronounce the words: “I am here and now, I am true, I am a hundred, death brothers us and betters us, never again will anything bad happen to us (again), come.”

There’s a thing that kills Cuba. It doesn’t kill the government or the people or any of those concrete words that are gobs of spit in the mouths of the demagogues by turn (or eternal). It kills Cuba, I said. There’s a thing that kills the Cuba that is the poetic expression of what we could never put a name to. That thing is us, postponing our biographies, refusing to protagonize, overdying to the alien time of another unknown, atrocious generation.

The nation no longer produces a nation. Any of us plays a role for some time, pretends to play the part of the prop. Then gets tired, with reason. They collimate him, without a reason. Then he adapts or leaves. Applause. It’s called growing up. Maturing. Being others. It is the Darwinian democracy of the self-preservation instinct. It is also the death of the very idea of a revolution, be it internal or public.

From so much preserving, we no longer preserve anything. Except the imported objects of our childhood, of that other exile that awaits us in a short while, no longer. On Fridays all that material emerges like a volcano of memories. Sad, cooled lava. A murmur in the uncivil heart. The first day of a month precipitates killing each other. And July could very well be the anonymous name of our last month. Who will talk about us after we so intensely resist talking about ourselves?

Unknown. Bedroom citizens. Humiliated before the previous History. Avoiding the siren of the political patrol or the touch of a security officer’s knuckles. Zigzagging. So handicapped, so precious, so contemporary. I would have liked to know the Cubans of my generation. But it was not possible. They do not exist. They did not hug me. Crazies. They did not soak in my sweat. I did not captivate them with my voice. They did not smell my smell, so repetitive. I did not see them around, in any post-habanera corner such as, for example, that of 23 and 12, right in the center of Vedado, Cuba, America. In half a century or half a millennium the only thing spontaneous has been the lack of spontaneity.

Today I found out that the waves of nonsense turn to burst against the mental wall of our malecón. I hear a hashtag that one cannot pronounce out loud, twitthab. I myself recycle it and spread it into the infinite and diffuse it into the infinitesimal. Who spoke? Where does it come from, that social rebelliousness of looking at each other face to face? Who is responsible before the cameras and microphones of the press or before the prejudicial interrogation? Which official will be the first to exert physical or labor violence? It was nice. Now, enough. It’s not necessary to stretch tedium like chewing gum until two Fridays after. Today is the last Friday. Time ran out. For a day we were free and lucid and loquacious and playful. Today the dark forces will begin with their effective work of disintegration; a Creole Chernobyl with as many victims as it is necessary, in a prophylactic domino effect that in Cuba we call “governance.”

It was already the first of July, in our visionary imagination. It was already Friday again, like today. We already saw each other with t-shirts and printed avatars, redefining the fossil map of our society without blue that flies. We already projected ourselves in public with the candor of buccaneers and with pizzas in our national currency. We already filmed our neorealism so expressive in a wave of tweets. We were already accused of being puppets or puppeteers. There are already names (that is, the harm is done). We were already unable to explain ourselves (because being able to explain oneself is the only mistake). We already kept our clothes on and did not dare to undress among perfect strangers, wild animals that frolic like pups and then escape so as to not fail. We didn’t even stop traffic. Yet again we made fools of ourselves as a world premiere.

I am sorry. I have the lead because of my absolute state of temper (read, my inconsolable state of desperation). There will be no #twitthab in Havana. The city doesn’t deserve so much either. This epitaph is a way of protecting a priori the victims of this marvelous maneuver that condemns me to not lose all hope. It wasn’t now. It isn’t now. It won’t be now. It’s ok; remain calm. We are so nervous. We are so close.  So there. But it is necessary to wait. A bit. One more bit. Pretend. We are almost out of breath. Almost. Remain alert about me. Any of these Fridays it will be I, myself, who will suddenly raise the alarm.

Translated by: Claudia D.

June 17 2011


25 06 2011

RACIZONES CIUDADANAS 7 MUY PRONTO…, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.

June 25 2011


25 06 2011

A PRADO Y NEPTUNO… IBA UNA CHIQUIT@…!!!, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.

Warner brothers (And sisters…!)

Make it a rainbow…!

June 25 2011


19 06 2011

POST-PREFACIO DE LA ISLA ERRANTE POR ARMANDO VALDES-ZAMORA, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.


Spanish post
June 18 2011


16 06 2011

TILL TWITTER DO US APART…, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.

Corner of 23 and 12 in El Vedado… July 1, 2011… 4 pm… Without posters or marches or non-violence or Geelys… Just you and your avatar on Twitter… Just your user nick and your password as a gesture of goodwill (THIS MESSAGE IS NOT RELATED TO THE CALL IN twitterencuentro.blogspot.com)

June 16 2011


2 06 2011

Henry Constantín (OLPL)

Human Damage in an  Environment of Punishment

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Talking with Henry Constantin, expelled for life from the country’s universities.

The worst of a prolonged war,
is not the hunger of the siege,
nor the exhaustion, nor the despair,
nor the dead left in the dust
of no man’s land.
The atrocious, the unbearable,
what kills the desire to live,
is that you know the color of the eyes,
the gestures, the intimate shirt
of who tomorrow may be the enemy.
Waldo Leyva

I had to do something petty so they wouldn’t kick me out of the University of Havana, where I studied for a degree in biochemistry while the classrooms and professors’ chairs of the country were bleeding their biggest names. Probably just remain silent. Like that shame two decades later that still stings your face like a slap, when you run across despicable acts like that the Ministry of Higher Education (MES) and the Superior Art Institute (ISA) imposed on Henry Constantin, a student expelled from the Audiovisual Communication program, from the Faculty of Audiovisual Media Arts (FAMCO). It would seem that Cuba never tires of repeating the same grotesque and perhaps convenient script.

I’ll never forget the stifling impression provoked by the graffiti, “To be young and not to be a revolutionary is a biological contradiction” (Salvador Allende) in the old charitable hospital in Luyano where my father had just died on August 13, 2000, on the almost prehistoric 74th birthday of Fidel Castro. My father was neither young nor revolutionary. And I felt that imported slogan like a sentence of civil or physical death that one day would touch me. In fact, it already touched me. To Henry Konstantin (b. Camagüey, 1984) it happened again just last week.

His visibility has cost him the record of being expelled by force from three Cuban universities. In 2006, midway through the third year of a degree in Journalism from the University of the Oriente (Santiago de Cuba),  they expelled him for technically not meeting the minimum attendance requirement. His research project on the poor acceptance of the official press at the village level was precisely a poor acceptance in an academic department. Rafael Fonseca, professor of Research Methodology, was charged with the task of disproving such daring theories from the cradle. Not without the concomitant complicity of professor Isel Fernández Campanioni, head of the Department of Journalism and Social Communication, who had approved fifteen “days off” for Henry Constantine for a family situation (including the birth of his son), and later those same “unexcused absences” were the key piece in the mini-act of repudiation with which he was tossed from the classroom.

It is here that they separated him from the Federation of University Students (FEU) and the Union of Young Communists (UJC). But the small importance of “absences” still left a glimmer of hope for rehabilitation: he lost a year on the street, but the offender could return to present evidence in order to re-enter higher education.

Henry Constantin persisted and in 2008 returned for his third year of a Bachelor of Journalism, this time at the “Marta Abreu” Central University of Las Villas. In his practicum at the end of the course he prepared a report on the repercussions of the figure of Hubert Matos on the press media of Camagüey in the early 60’s. The journalist Alexander Jiménez cut him off him with a counterproposal, better to focus on José Martí. Konstantin Henry understands the wink, but chooses for his topic the theme of journalistic censorship suffered in life and death by The Apostle.

On Radio Cadena Agramonte, his practicum tutor, Miozotis Fabelo Pinares, correspondent of Radio Rebelde, is in charge of disapproving the script of Henry Constantin, for a host of structural technicalities and thematic despotisms. In closing, she renders insult in a report where each protest of the student means another aggravating factor, which even implicated the  ideological representative at the provincial Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). A suspended internship is not counted, so the punishment is repeated, and he loses another year, wherever the university decides to place the student.

Henry Constantine decided to continue attending classes while his appeal was resolved at ministerial level (it would take months and he would not like to repeat another year if the case should turn out in his favor). They warned all the “cadres” and “factors” of the high study center. They considered him in resistance and even applied a disciplinary proceeding in absentia, which culminated with his body pushed outside the perimeter of the university, with threats of violence by the breath diluted by the alcoholic breath of the personnel who complied with the order.

The case fell into the hands of human rights activists and was denounced in the independent and foreign press. “It was politicized,” as it is customary to say in Cuba with a look of resignation. So MES decided to go for the most violent headline: Henry Constantine could never re-enter any university in the country. Then he decided to play dirty.

Change of scenery and in 2009, having ranked first in the national proficiency testing and in Spanish and History, he enrolled in the Communication Studies of the ISA. He omitted the truth, which is a vengeful way to lie. He simply declared his aborted stay at the University of the Oriente. In addition, he was already collaborating by then on the alternative magazine Coexistence (directed by Dagoberto Valdés) and managing a blog about travel on the rebellious portal Voces Cubanas.

Fate disposes. Returning from a couple of years of political nightmare, it was reiterated to Henry Constantin, this time with no legal right to file a claim, as they had caught him at fault when it was discovered that he had been expelled for life from higher education. After several intimate warnings (“I am sharpening a knife to put a little spin on it when I poke you,” he was warned cheerfully by one of his interviewers/interrogators from the FAMCO Disciplinary Committee), the ousting coincided minutely with Henry Constantín’s recent joining of the board of the magazine Coexistence and his preparation — with filmmaker’s credit — of the alternative audiovisual “Citizens’s Reasons,” with critical journalist Reinaldo Escobar in the role of moderator.

A last resort of hoping to stay at his dorm at ISA for the 48 hours he was given to remove himself, also did not work. Victor Gonzalez, dean of students, led a sort of joint operation, between the leaders of the FEU and guards on duty, the next day (Thursday, May 26, at almost midnight). With all his belongings gathered in nylon bags, Henry Constantine was forced to ride in a car that drove him to La Coubre Station, where for the first time in his entire career he was given a pass to buy a ticket home from the “waiting list.” Soon after, that same morning, they came down on the ISA students who publicly expressed their stupor as witnesses to the incident.

Caught in the “biological contradiction” of “being young” and not being “revolutionary,” Henry Constantín should commit suicide now, leaving a pathetic note to the rector of the ISA or perhaps the Minister of MES. As he still retains the will to survive a sick era of exclusions, exhausting one generation after another since the very beginning of modern times, Henry Constantin, suddenly homeless in the “capital of all Cubans,” sits down to talk with me with our backs to our city and faces to the black sea of another moonless midnight in this Havana so humiliating for its inhabitants.

“The least important are the political ideas,” he says, letting me scribble notes and interrupt to pry into the details of his biography narrated here,” nor even each student’s projection of what he thinks. What is really serious, throughout my university expulsions, and those of other guys I know, what has been the most sad, is the human damage in the environment of punishment. The friends who refuse to defend you, roommates who are silent, the lover who forgets everything they felt, the professors who let the “volunteers” in the classroom (as not one teacher did when they were after the medical students in 1871), who having shared the same classroom, the same food, the same parties, now you attack without warning.”

“The destruction of a student in Cuba, for his ideas, the damage precisely because of this sharp spiritual deformation takes over everyone around him, and that is rooted in fear. The message to my classmates of the national student body, more than making them think about what the political, economic or social system Cuba should have, is how in the end do they recover the annulled human condition, and their faith in others and in themselves.”

“This time, in the case of ISA, which has been the most independent of the state schools across Cuba, where I observed for two years, it is obvious that my expulsion was due to a higher necessity, and cyclical. Nor are the events of these days random and their victims have been, always, people with some relationship with the blogger Yoani Sanchez, the lay leader Dagoberto Valdez: examples are Pedro Pablo Oliva, Servando Blanco, Juan Carlos Fernández … On the earlier occasions it would all arranged to make it look like it was about events, without regard to my personal views, but the ISA had in its hands the excuse to kick me out, and they only did it now.”

“In addition, the audiovisuals of official television in the program “Cuba’s Reasons” presented copious warnings about the situation of intellectuals, bloggers and Cuban artists, and the ISA, the so-called University of the Arts, with its history of liberal thought, artistic irreverence, and a thunderous two-day hunger strike in October 2009 (where I collaborated on its documentation and dissemination), still seems a land lost to government control. It’s not by chance that the university was chosen by the Politburo of the Cuban Communist Party for the political-ideological process of closing down Cuban universities, conducted in early 2011. Henry Constantín expelled for the third time is just one more step in the adjustment of the broken mechanism of the Cuban state.”


May 31 2011


2 06 2011


Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

“You’re not going to enter Cuba ever again,” said the Cuban consul, sarcastically, to my friend. My ex-doctor friend who “stayed” in a democratic almost First World Latin American country.  They should, as an exception, banish her also from Cuba. From cruelty, shamelessness, criminality, tyranny, this that and the other, to terrorize our citizen leaving her to weather the rest of the world.

I have the name of that consul. And I will never forget it, my friend. At the first opportunity I will lodge a complaint with the appropriate international legal body. Not from cruelty nor from shamelessness nor from criminality nor from tyranny, nor from this that or the other thing, nor to terrorize our citizen left to weather the rest of the world. Simply for violating our own constitution (and dozens of international conventions on human rights).

My ex-doctor friend calls me on her  mobile from her recent exile, crying, and tells me it can’t be true, that she had heard of such cases but there had always been some political justification that she understood, though she didn’t entirely share it. This, Landy, this can’t be happening to me now, I’ve never been involved in anything. Could I give her ideas for what she can do to be able to return even just to visit her home, where her whole family is desperate. To console her a little bit while the card gets used up like when she called me in Havana from the countryside, in that extremely poor and happy era when we loved each other body and soul with more intensity than the love of country (that disciplinarian whore), until the day my so real doctor love suddenly left me, to quickly leave, crying like now into her cell phone, with paperwork to “visit” to finally “leave,” and to turn herself, without realizing it, into my virtual ex-doctor-friend. Tell me something nice, she asks. Don’t say anything, she asks, just listen for a minute and let yourself feel my breathing. And please, Landy, you know, now that you’re stuck in the craziness of the blogs, don’t write a single word, not even a syllable, because to say it out loud could be much worse: worse that the answer of this rabid dog anti-Cuban consult? I think. But ultimately I obey and don’t say anything to my love (for me always, you also know, it will still be a secret, my love).

What to do? Against what wall do we bang our so guilty heads humiliated by a despotic power that erases the history of its best children (me and you for example)? Why does the vast and corrupt Ministry of Exterior Relations make the Cuban people suffer so, with its legs open to the political police and at the will of ten or twenty men, no more? We are alive, remember? We are going to survive, remember?  Where do you want to take us with this string of hatred between brothers? Is it a civil war?

My love, my beloved of Facebook profile in the Gmail night, little girl who is already a woman of power against whose face they close the door of a bankrupt embassy (even in a democratic almost First World Latin American country), my little bad rocker herb of remote deserts and savannas of exquisite pronunciation in thus country, my anonymous flower of exile imposed on you by the benevolence of the Revolution (because they told you that you are not exiled, like the  Chileans or the Salvadorans in their time of communism in the making, no: because the told you, the bourgeois Hondurans and Guatemalans owners well paid by the CIA they shot in the neck and yet, for you, the impoverished Cuban proletarian state forgave you).

My love, I promise never to write anything on my blog about you. Or better, I promise that if I write, as was my custom when we could smell our skin at dawn, then we can only notice you and I (and the consul scoundrel, of course, which from now on will be all the scoundrel consuls in Cuba, because they can’t buy the truth like that little crap with which they cram their luxury apartments on our island-homeland they’ve left shipwrecked and orphaned).

My love, I touched you. I told you before your closed your eyes in such desperation and took off at a blind run. You won’t return. If you go it’s because you don’t think too much in the past (I’ll take care of that for you). Be another. Be free. Cuba is strictly a curse. Be pretty. Be young. Be communist, as they never even let you truly be here. Love in others all that love of the interprovincial trains that derailed us. Warm the open sky. But far from free socialism (of all the free socialisms). Do not grow, do not grow old. And wait for me in capitalism (in whatever capitalism of the heart). Wait for me forever, my love, because you know that the more Landy I try, I will never arrive.

We ran out of rope. We failed to escape the horror. We took as sarcasm what from a MINREX official was just plain honesty. The Cuban consul was right. We made a life mistake, you and I.

June 2 2011