For You, On March 9 / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

10 03 2014

Washington, DC reminds me of the William Soler Children’s Hospital which, in my early childhood, was on the outskirts of Havana, until I got older and the city annexed it.

The buildings here, in places, have the same curved mystery of clinical solitude. They are made of glass instead of windows. One can look inside each room at the patients of the great little American capital. From the street, I would say that in every home here there is an oxygen tank over-illuminated to the point of sterility, like in the William Soler Hospital in Havana

The buses remind of the English Leylands from the seventies in Cuba. The Metro reminds me of the trains that back in the eighties were called “specials.” The girls in Washington are insanely beautiful. A certain Casablanca power irradiates every corner, especially now that winter is already dying and there are still enough green leaves and doors where we can find casual shelter for our hearts.

The world of the United States continues to be like an O’Henry story.

Forgive me. The truth is that it’s four in the morning and I assume it will be another sleepless night. We Cubans have provoked a massacre in Venezuela and the worst part in this sister nation is yet to come. Moreover, I am not in Cuba and so there are weeks when Havana always makes me cry at this hour.

The sky is red in DC, like that of my city illuminated by the threat of rain and the exhaust from the Nico Lopez refinery in Regla. A blazing chimney hijacked from Shell or Esso or Texaco more than half a century back: from owners who have already died at supposedly more proletariat hands, but today they, also, are dead. The refinery, like me, we have been left very alone, listing in a corner of the bay, two ghosts of insomniac smoke, inertial.

I don’t want to stay in this country. Here I’ll never watch a movie in context. Here I will never be able to stand on a corner and understand my position without turning on the GPS. Here Castro’s political police could murder me, like so many Cubans before and Venezuelans today, but at least they can’t harass or arrest me, if I’m  entirely missing the body is me. I’m tired of not being Orlando Luis. It’s even hard to write well, don’t you notice?

It’s twice as hard to be me here. The prize is that, when with you I write in Cuban, I’m back in my free Cuba mind, the same in which I was exiled these last five years, when I opened my blog in 2008 and the former Minister of Culture Abel Prieto immediately announced that I could never again publish on the Island.

Many planes fly in Washington, D.C. This is something new in Havana. Since I’ve been in the United States my asthma is cured, but every night I need air a little more. I’ve lived precisely in the air, borrowed, as in hospital rooms where there are no oxygen tanks nor memories. I know my lungs are going to close up entirely, the words, the nightmares of being back among my loved ones on the Island, the patience of never going back to see my house, of not saying goodbye because I left for just three weeks, then for three months, and then for three years. And now I understand it will be for three lives.

I know I’m surrounded by the damned circumstances of Cubans everywhere. “Damned” in the sense of “mischievous,” which was the word where we were kids and the first of our parents hadn’t died. Nor the first of us.

But I will be strong and light like a ray of sun. I will never leave you alone, it is a promise of a lost country. If I didn’t leave you alone being a prisoner there in Cuba, much less will I abandon you being free here and now. Just wait a little until this vertigo passes, this dizziness. Forgive me again, suddenly I really want to vomit.

The night is deep. The Spanish readings have something of a talisman. Every book now turns out to be a sacred object, like in childhood. A bible of truth. I believe I am more free. Expect anything from me. I love you.

9 March 2014




3 responses

11 03 2014
Manuel Ballagas

Pero si te acompaña esa de la foto yo no me quejaría.

16 03 2014
omar fundora

Yoani recent blog on women NGO in Cuba….(blocked at her site….)

Although not a community-based organization in the strictest sense, the power of the FMC lies in its effectiveness in mobilizing women and creating solidarity. It has achieved success in motivating change in Cuban society precisely because it embodies some important principles of community organizing. Several characteristics of the FMC and its relationship to both its members and the central government confer its ability as a mobilizing body:

1)Responsive leadership and decentralized organization: The FMC’s success depended hugely on the flexibility and responsiveness of both leaders within the organization and those in the central government. The FMC began as a government sanctioned organization to mobilize women workers, but gradually shifted away from Castro’s control as FMC leaders became more independent and educated; this occurred because both parties were willing to compromise. Internally, the FMC’s pyramidal structure also helped it maintain an open ear to its membership at multiple levels, so that women retained control of the efforts of the organization.

2)Strong leadership and leadership training within the community: Since the formation of the FMC, Vilma Espin, as the FMC’s first and only president, has remained a powerful figure both within the organization as well as in its dealings with the Castro regime. In addition, the FMC not only relies on decisions made by top leadership, but its organizational structure also allows for active participation and training of leaders at all levels.

3)Commitment to goals that sustain the organization and its membership: Most of the causes that the FMC took up, such as women’s rights to higher education, paid maternity leave, childcare provisions, and free abortions and birth control both served the women themselves and allowed them to have more time to participate in the FMC. Thus, by serving the personal interests of its members, the FMC also ensured its own sustainable success.

4)Smart political positioning: The FMC’s unique position as a semi-governmental organization and Vilma Espin’s close friendship with Fidel Castro helped it gain political leverage. At the same time, its strong ties to its members also ensure that it is well-supported and oriented towards their interest.

13 07 2014
chas tANNER

Orlando Luis, I am happy to make your acquaintance from the Pgh Post-Gszette. I have been to your country a # of X’s. I recall visiting a shoe store in Habana and seeing only a single pair of shoes on the shelf. Sad!! My impression is that Cuba needs every thing!
As U know there is sympathy for the Cuban nation among the pgh community and its newspaper. Pgh is a sister city to Matanzia. My friend Jose’ R. Breuil “Pepe” assisted me to get around Havana in his Lada, 20 yrs ago. I would like to see him again. I recall Felix Wilson visited Pgh during the ’90’s from D.C. I escorted the 1st Secretary in Pgh. It is difficult for USA’s to visit to your country. I would like to visit again and see my friends. I would even consider sponsoring a group tour. The local newspaper, the Butler Eagle, may choose to use our remarks for the paper. In todays Eagle a recent jounalism student from PSU contributed a story of his travels to the island nation. I would be happy to hear from U. chas tanner butler, pa 724-283-5251

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