Everyone Bears Your Name, Fidel / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

12 07 2015

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 April 2015

We Cubans are going to miss Fidel a lot.

Fidel was a spontaneous, almost infantile, assassin with an irresistible charisma that eroticized even his bodyguards. Meanwhile, he could kill just out of a curiosity to see his victims’ last expression of panic or rage. Like someone who naively opens up a lizard from Birán* or the virginal vagina of an adulterous woman from Havana.

With Fidel deceased–in one of those fecal spectacles of running around between stretchers and Mercedes Benzes–today, we as a people have ended up alone with a one-eyed psychopath* and the pathetic pedophile, Eusebio Leal.

Fidel was always covered in mud. He got in and out of military jeeps and helicopters whose blades decapitated the rest of the leaders of the Revolution. He cut sugar cane with gusto. He drank water from wooden cups containing the saliva of peasants. He shot three-point baskets. And thirteen-point baskets. He expelled priests and sent gays to concentration camps. Or both.

He caught marlins like Hemingway and he was an ace at cross-breeding cattle. He smoked and smoked and dodged cancer cells. He planted everything and had a talent for reaping nothing; that cycle of sterile stubbornness toward the Cuban people was a symptom of closeness. Fidel was a loser that never lost, a Cuban from the ’hood.

Fidel was me. A guy that diverted hurricanes and brought AIDS to Cuba from the African bush, in the white blood cells of his little hetero, ebony-colored soldiers. He cloned interferon and solidified the amorphous formula of Spirulina. He deported half the country and put it to work for him in malls from Miami to Melbourne. And that’s not counting that he sent the first black man into orbit. Fidel, my friends, was fearless.

Now in 2015, Cuba is on its way to democracy. The government in Havana is saturated in rich white people who have made pacts with the rich whites of the Cuban-American ex-exile community. The commanders of the Revolution are being cremated on a regular basis and the holocaust archives have not only disappeared, they’ve been quickly rewritten. The future belongs entirely to that past that never made its debut.

The only thing we can hope for from the grim, one-eyed Alejandro Castro Espín** and his Zionist zetas is massacre, but those thousands of dead matter less than Eusebio Leal’s robes. The grand nineteenth-century gentleman, the despicable thief who made off with the property of Dulce María Loynaz, Lage’s pal and other so-called reformers who ended up in pajamas*** and powerless even to give interviews, the historian who was punished for being corrupt and for making an embassy joke about taking Old Havana to the “Granma Yacht mausoleum,” in short, the parish priest who shoves his pedigreed dollars up the asses of Lolitas… he judges the Cuban people in public–a people whose mass stampede abroad has been our only revenge against the tyrant–barely equal to a speck of dirt on his Lord Spengler rain coat.

As a result, the neo-marketization between Brickell’s*** totalitarian tycoons and the corporate mafia bosses of Siboney****, must imply recycling the best minds of my generation in the laundry room of a high security prison. Nothing that happens in Cuba is believable. The first democrats to reach democracy on the Island will simply be the fast food items that Fidelism currently teaches at its world summits.

As a Cuban, I miss Fidel a lot. I miss his cadavers, who are my last contemporaries. The maximum leader of the Third World calls us “lumpen,” “scum,” “worms.” Yet he never stopped covering himself in our excrement, the excrement of a prostituted nation during half a millenium of despotism without government and without God.

It also makes me sad that, in his death, Fidel is going to really miss us, his Cubans.

Translator’s notes:
*Birán is the place in eastern Cuba where the Castro brothers were born and raised.
**Refers to Raúl Castro’s son, Alejandro Castro Espín, who lost an eye during military training in Algeria and is currently a colonel in Cuba’s interior ministry.
*** In Cuba when someone in power is ousted (but not imprisoned) their “retirement” is colloquially referred to as “the pajama plan.”
****Brickell is a street in Miami where the superrich live, and Siboney is a neighborhood in Havana where the elites live and ordinary Cubans are not allowed.

Translated by: Kathy Fox

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

Without Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

12 01 2015

mi amor

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 and, therefore, unbelievably believable.

We never had any democrats. The Republic’s great milestones are nothing more than frauds, ruses of worldwide communism in order to gain time and corrupt the remains of the social fabric in our country.

Bullets, bills, the opportunist who lives off of the fool, anything is worth more in Cuba than ballots. We are compulsive demagogues, even if we’ve had saints and sages and virtue. But we were lacking fascism, that experience which Cuba might have joined in on if it hadn’t been aborted by the leftist Revolution of 1933. Then it was necessary to wait until 1959 to be able to consummate our congenital totalitarian defect: a fascism from the right with a popular narrative.

Now Fidel Castro has died. His remains have been cremated before being presented in public. And his ashes will be dispersed from the Rio Bravo to Patagonia, assuring along the way that they are not vandalized out of revenge or as a malicious amulet. Writing without Fidel in the world and knowing this is, for me, a defining, prophetic experience, something millions of Cubans no longer planned to live to tell.

January 28th or February 24th or April 17th: the liberating announcement that we Cubans will never again hear the soap opera-like voice of Fidel Castro has the regime of his illegitimate brother, Raul, terrified. Like all assassins, Castroism is a state of cowardice in the midst of his insulting impunity. Families readjust. They know blood is the way out. And they are making sure it will not be theirs that flows. In this sense, they have promoted a modest pacifism of opposition that will keep them in power.

They will probably never announce that the Commander in Chief is a cadaver. This insolent silence will probably be stretched out to the end of time by Island authorities as the only source of governance. North American newspapers are also updating their obituary notes from 10 and 15 years ago. But it will be the least read text in the world, the least current. Because we Cubans are ahead of the world in the craft of leaving Fidel Castro’s imprint behind, just as in the heart of each of us a decrepit dictator has evolved, amounting to millions of miniature fidelcastros no less lethal than the original.

When did the nation disappear? When did Cuba stop being Cuba? Or perhaps it never completely stopped being Cuba?

We only know that, while we are Cubans, we have to distance ourselves from Cubans to the maximum. We are a universe in expansion, we repulse one another. The proximity to ourselves brings out the worst in the populace. The island can’t be reforested. The desert of the soul made a desert of the landscape. I come from there: I can swear to you that today none of you will survive even half a day of “Havanity” [Havana reality]. And tomorrow will be much worse.

Getting lost is beautiful. The amnesic memory is beautiful. What we loved and what loved us emigrated with us. Let’s be worthy of that love that will not be repeated. Let’s be different in the lives of other nations. And, in some of the early hours of the universal moon, let’s allow that love or sorrow to assassinate us completely, hopefully before the state assassin on duty does so.

Cuba will never be free. Maybe Cubans still can be.

Translated by: Kathy Fox

5 January 2015