Decrepit Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

5 06 2015

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 15 May 2015 — Cuba’s sun beats down on everything. Shrinking the eyes. Crushing the skin. Dehydrating us, making us seem older than we have always been.

And it’s not only Cuba’s sun. It is Miami’s sun, too. Which is indistinguishable with so much uncivil barbarity.

Below that continuous light without gaps, which flattens out forms and extinguishes colors, we Cubans have very little to do. That excessive luminosity is called Castroism, and it existed before and will exist after Castro.

There are no hues, there is no texture nor context. Nothing is subtle or mysterious. Everything is body and corpse. Cuba like a great Castroite caiman, from San Antonio to Maisí (that is to say, between Maceo and Martí: the violence that decapitates and the violence of the demagogue).

From that country without shadows is what we Cubans escape. From its history of eternal day, without nights in which to be oneself. With no space for pleasure, understood as freedom and not as animalism. That is why there is no possible return to an Island without imagination, where everything is factual yet fictitious, where our life passes us by in a kind of restless sleep yet it is impossible to dream.

Cuba has no State and has no God. In its midst, there does not yet exist the first Cuban man who will survive that oversaturated absence of light. (When one is born, they assassinate him in the plain light of day.) To speak of hope in Cuba is to spit upon the remnants of our intelligence, and even upon that instinct for self-preservation that disguises our cowardice as dignity.

He who respects his love will leave Cuba immediately. To love in Cuba is to betray love.

Go, Cubano. Go, Cubana. For you. For him, for her, for love.

Do not perpetuate with your pathos that Cuba that is only body and corpse with no heart.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

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Leave Me a Comment at the Entrance and We Will Win This Contest / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

28 03 2015

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





Music After The Death of Fidel

26 02 2015

A ROSE IN YOUR HAIR PERISHES Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

There 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 Ellison

12 January 2015





Alan GGross

24 01 2015

The Silence of Alan Gross

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

We 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.

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 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 Ellison

13 January 2015





Look at Me, Miami and, If You Value Your Death, Don’t Cry

18 01 2015

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 threats, his lack of solidarity with Cubans in exile and civil society on the Island, his backward religiosity of psalms and miracle-mongering, his complicit silence as to the assassinations committed by the Castro regime while he was supposedly in prison, his lawyer subsidized by Havana, his support of the lifting of an embargo that had not appeared to be his concern when he was contracted by USAID, his servile flattery of President Obama, his admiring loyalty to the sacrosanct balls of Raúl, his suspicious loss of dentition at the record pace of one tooth per year, his (and his wife’s) insipid leftist pose, in short, what a fossil, what fealty, what Submerged States of Fidelity…

Meanwhile, the triumphal return to the Island of the 5 deadly spies, with their muscles worthy of hand-to-hand combat, their vacant stares of those who know themselves to be puppets of a dismal power that can pulverize them at any time, with their exaggerated dentitions, surrounded by a people who for decades have not been even plebes, a perverse and impoverished populace, terrified in their fear that swings from meanness to mediocrity, jabbering with the neighbors in a language that we free Cubans do not know because it is a jargon of the stable, of the State.

My Fellow Cubans, let us not kid ourselves. The stupidity of our country can be reined-in by taking advantage of this umpteenth criminal juncture in our history. We will never live in liberty. The Earth is cursed against our volatile beauty. The race that inhabits the Island is infected and cannot be decontaminated. The lucid ones, the virtuous ones, escape without ever looking over their shoulders, or else they will pay the brave price of being martyrs killed in cold blood, like the holy souls Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá.

The stampede cannot be stopped now in Miami. It is too late for us to remain so close to evil. We must run away, further and further to the north of the world. Throughout generations upon generations, the Castroites have become millionaires in South Florida. Castroism is the factual and media-conscious law in the Cuban exile community. It is the majority. The Cuban-American sensibility in itself is an insular invention: with that nostalgia bent-over and submissive to a frigid Fidelism, with that vernacular that sounds taken out of Google Talk, with those gold trinkets of 19.59 carats and eyebrows groomed to delirium. Please.

The legislators of Florida count for nothing. What does rule is the corrupting power of the mafias that Fidel has institutionalized in Miami, from the church to the academy, from the marinas to the slaughterhouses, from the swamp to the cane field, from the airport to its horrendous museums and mausoleums, with their fairs and their colleges and their constant kitsch, from the restaurants to the Revolution itself.

Miami has made its best effort, but today Miami is millions of Alan Grosses and Five Heroes. Forget all that about them being spies, My Brothers and Sisters. Miami is the pure heroism of unpunished horror. The Battle of Florida was lost. Not even Castro won. Miami won, which reproduced and grounded a kind of Castroism little by little during decadent decades. Take a look in the malls, My Poor People–take those little checkered shirts that are sold in bulk off their hangers. You’ll see the labels of Cuban State Security, My Poor Love. The tackiness and the vulgarity. It’s the dirty trick somewhere between magic and secretiveness. As in Cuba, there is not even one word said by Cubans that isn’t false. Castroism is that: the outer shell of Cubanness, its disposability, its hahaha.

My Fellow Cubans, it is time to recognize that not only do we not want changes in our nation, but that we abundantly want to never again have a nation. The experience of having been subjects of the Kingdom of Death is irreparable. Now we will all die very alone, somnolent in a peevish rhetoric that debases us. We deserve to remain dead for the rest of our lifeless biographies.

Nobody is sadder than we. Nobody is more “We” than I.

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

18 December 2014





Macho Che / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

12 01 2015

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 other names whose etymology is tirelessly, anxiously, apocryphally Anglo.

For a native of civilized America—meaning, uncultured—her name, her names, is, are no more than hieroglyphics without an etymology, all just sounds twisted up in Barbie’s chin and the proper palate of the Irish girl named: Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidh or Hilde or all of them in one.

In any case, she’s always wearing that inert object over her head, which on camera rivaled a wet beret like his, like Che’s, in 1964. And since Ernesto Guevara is missing his emblematic beret during an interview translated by an interpreter—she literally interpreted, as in performed, his role—we can assume that Che had just placed his beret on her, like a bonnet on her hair, a colonel’s crown, the aura of a magical capture in order to allure her with his New Man smile, his big Cantinflas*-style mustache, the comically tender answers of a magnanimous conquistador. Such is the complicit tenderness of assassins and suicide victims.

Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde, sometimes looks like a pioneer. If Che laughs, she is happy and confuses that laughter with her own. The professional journalist that hired her is suddenly a nuisance in this scene of seduction.  That’s why the introverted Irishman is, in fact, treated like an idiot by Che and the girl: both answer his professional questions with mutual, intimate irony; they elude high politics and exchange practically pornographic codes on the fringes of power.

The UN, for example, is much less important here than Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde. The girl addresses Che with feminine adjectives: she plays with tongue twisters perhaps to provoke him in his manliness. She pretends that she doesn’t know how to pronounce properly, that she will need to be punished in private for having behaved so badly in public.  And who better to castigate her than a castigator. And who better to violate her golden vagina than an executioner dressed in olive green.

It’s obvious that the end of this interview will be an irresistible, ridiculous, anti-biographical and extra-diegetic scene like all fornication between strangers, where Ernesto Guevara (the lighthouse of America back then), wielding his phallus of dubious hygiene in the warm air of the furnace; and in his English (which is better than he lets on), he invites Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde to do the splits in a hotel room paid for by some Cuban administration in Revolution.

It’s also obvious that Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde will go and she will open her pelvis and, without removing her clothes, sit atop the hero of horror. She’s not even 20 years old. She is—was—a virgin, although during her nights of childish terrorism she dreamed about being a guerrilla fighter, a decade before this phase of guerrillas and electric guitars. Now she prefers to dance to the Beatles, in spite of herself.  And that music inspires this adventure of bleeding to the point of concern between her first world thighs; and, of course, that female smell of iron is the only thing that actually excites the star commander with asthma: the blood inspires and saves this executioner, who in turn will be executed almost as young as he was in that 1964 interview in an Ireland that is unrecognizable and irreconcilable from an Irish woman’s crotch.

There’s a word she’s trying to say, but it trips on her tongue. The “twist and shout” rich girl shakes while straddling and scratches her vocal chords between her paycheck and her illusion of freedom slogans. Then Che corrects her. It’s one of those words that, from being repeated so many times, have not one but infinite etymologies: and one absolute, totalitarian meaning. The interviewer says, “government.” The interpreter stutters: “govermiento.” The interviewed censures: “gobierno.”

It’s a kind of tournament trio of word-zap, of war-zap. And the video is cut off immediately after.

Today there is no other visible trace of this interview anywhere on the Internet. It’s possible that it was never published in any newspaper or on T.V. It’s even possible that the whole thing is a montage from before or after the digital age. There was no dialogue, but rather delirium: desire that always tidies up. There is also no historical evidence that Ernesto Guevara ever loved another human being the same way—and one can tell from his homicidal, homagno** eyes on camera (more than in bed)—that he loved his Beatles maniac interpreter.

So this unmarred image must have been the only one presentable not long after that, in Che’s interview with God.

Translator’s notes:

*Cantinflas (1911-1993) was a comedic film actor (writer and producer) from Mexico who usually sported a unique mustache.

 **Homagno, a neologism, is the name of a poem and a “character” representing “man’s greatness” (homo/man + magno/magnitude) in this and at least two other poems by José Martí.

 Translated by: Kathy Fox and Alicia Barraqué Ellison





MONEY MONEY MONEY / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and Clive Rudd

27 12 2014

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 Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and governments in solidarity with the democratic cause in Cuba, is not a new phenomenon nor is it exclusive to the free world.

The Cuban government has known how to utilize the attacks on the funding for democracy. This has been at the expense of committing historic malapropisms that defy any comparison with the fundraising done by José Martí and his Cuban Revolutionary Party, or even by Fidel Castro in his insatiable quest for dollars in Mexico, Costa Rica and Venezuela (which was then not to fund anti-government propaganda but to buy weapons and train armies and, in short, impose violence for life on our society).

The new form of expression of this demonizing campaign (which essentially plagiarizes the methods employed by the Havana government) is led by the AP and The New York Times (NYT). There are many other “useful idiots” but their voices don’t resonate as much. Since the time of the Sierra Maestra* and the bad reporting by Herbert Matthews, Castroism has been a series of blows to maudlin effect on North American public (shameless**) opinion.

It is obvious that the message of these hegemonic media cannot be so clumsy as that of the Havana dictatorship, being that they convey between the lines a subliminal message to the Good Capitalist of the North: “The donation of funds by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other organizations to support democracy in Cuba, far from achieving the desired objectives, is counterproductive and useless.”

This message is more than well-known. It is the same argument employed with impunity to lobby for the lifting of the embargo: “The embargo doesn’t work and therefore should be lifted immediately and unconditionally.”

All right, then. In the name of the Cuban and North American peoples, thank you. However, the problem lies in that to defend this argument of inefficiency, there need to be firm proofs, not opinions. Also, the most solid proofs are achieved by comparing the initial objectives of a program with its final results. Here is where things get tough because, for a serious news medium to say that a program was “amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful,” there must be access to documents that have gone cold and are now obsolete (which the AP has been able to gain) but there also must be investigative reporting done that includes access to all or the major parties involved in the matter, including the Cuban people.

As has been known from responses of certain parties included in the AP’s last crusade, all indications are that there have been lies or results have been fabricated to rate these USAID programs as “profoundly unsuccessful.”

According to his interview in the El Nuevo Herald newspaper, Aldo Rodríguez, leader of the musical group Los Aldeanos, did not receive one cent from USAID, he did not compose his songs at the request of this agency, nor did he receive a laptop from subversive foreign elements — three assertions made in an “objective” piece by AP.

These campaigns of the AP, in symbiosis with the Cuban government, to demonize fundraising in support of pro-human rights projects on the Island, have media reach precisely because the national public is a captive audience under the monopoly of the State, and also because it is not common for us Cubans to do public fundraisers, as occurs in any democratic country of the world.

In countries where there are free elections and institutions, fundraising rules and regulations have been created and there are even specialists trained in the technique of quickly and effectively raising monies for political campaigns and the propagation of ideas. This is a subject yet to be included in the curriculum for Cuban democrats and any other social actor who will not want to submit himself to a despotic governmental dictum.

It would be most useful for our civil society, inside and outside Cuba, if we would create a sort of manual for raising funds legally and efficiently to support the alternative projects on the Island. Thus, we Cubans would be the ones to judge which citizen initiatives have been successful and which ones not so much, as we learn from their results to improve those methods of collecting, distributing and utilizing funds for democracy in Cuba. The ends justify the means.

Cuba’s solvency was always handicapped by Castroism. Only a poverty-stricken people is vulnerable to enslavement. At the beginning, it was accomplished through ideological class hatred. Currently, in Castroism’s latter days, it is done through paranoia about a foreign conspiracy (even though Havana has received funding from the United Nations as well as from Qaddafi’s criminal regime).

Therefore, People, perhaps it is time for us to behave less as secret victims and more as modern members of a global economy, transparent in its accounts and convinced of the legitimacy of its anti-totalitarian mission, beyond the laws of Castroism and the media campaigns that prop it up.

Enmeshed in the Raul regime make-believe reforms, we Cubans should not lose our focus to a Fidel who is as much fossil as fatal. Despite the pathetic AP and the NYT, our radical redemption still goes by this watchword: “Within the dictatorship, nothing; against the dictatorship, everything.”***

***This last line is a riff on Fidel’s famous/infamous statement, “Within the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing,” from his so-called “Speech to the Intellectuals” delivered in June 1961.

 Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

26 December 2014