Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

February 26, 1999, Cuba Free Press.

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMENTATOR: "IT'S SOMETHING LIKE SADNESS AND FRIGHT" By Ariel Tapia, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Carlitos (diminutive form of, and nickname for, "Carlos", a common Spanish first name for males) is the classic Cuban of the "barrio" (in this context "residential neighborhood", in particular poor, middle class or blue-collar).

Extroverted, nonchalant, irreverent and with a great sense of gentlemanliness (or chivalry), Carlitos always has a story to tell at the tip of his tongue, as well as an analysis to offer about any controversial subject that might be circulating all over the streets. Although profound to a certain degree but with an abundance of sharp "criollo" (Latin American term meaning "native", has the same origin as the French term "créole") humor, he gave me answers to a few questions related to the current socio-political situation in this country.

Q (Question): What do you think about the famous law for the "Protection of the National Independence and the Economy of Cuba" also known as "Titanic?"

A (Carlitos' Answer): "Well, brother, first of all I must tell you: You better take care of yourself. You go 'piano' (cautiosly) 'cause getting stuck 30 years in jail ain't no piece of ham. I'm a scholar of Cuban politics of the last few years but the truth is that law left me speechless. It caught me off base. "You-know-who" (Fidel Castro, form of speech used in Cuba so as not to mention the name of the Cuban dictator) is not too skillful at solving problems like those about food and blackouts. But to keep his 'kini-kini' (status, power, situation, packaging) he does find the way in no time. Do you realize now the trick hidden in those famous talks about how we must fight against crime and what it was all about? That's plain for all to see. It seems like a lot of campaigning against thieves and stuff but the true objectives, 'asere' (Cuban slang appellative, means 'buddy' or 'pal'), were you the independent journalists and the dissidents. Forty years have passed and we can still be totally fooled. As for all that about defending our independence from annexation and annexationists, I ain't got too many comments.

"I would only invite you to meditate about how much importance grapefruit from the Isle of Pines or the four or five stalks of sugar cane that we have planted could be for the United States."

Q: Do you really believe that they will strictly enforce it, as they have said?

A: "It is really very difficult to make a forecast, brother. Because as no one even imagined they were gonna throw this hot potato at us, how can it be possible that we could anticipate that this or that is gonna happen? Look, I'm sure that everything here is done with a lot of thinking. The appearance of madness is only a make-up. 'Cause that's precisely the 'number' (original 'letra', equivalent to American slang term 'number') these people do for their convenience. Yes, yes, the people think they're crazy so they fear them. By playing that kind of game they have kept the world in check and they've been getting by with it for quite a while. Going by give-and-take, up and down.

"You'll see that they might get a good offer and 'chirrín chirrán' (expression used popularly to indicate the end of a story) and it all goes back to normal. Everything here is 'dialectics' (a common term in Communist rhetoric meaning 'learning from experience and/or adapting to changing circumstances). But in the meantime, partner, being careful is a must. I'm telling you: if we live through this, we will then be fooling them."

Q: Doesn't it now seem that they are set to go to the end...

A: "Don't believe all you see, boy. Although you guys are a bother, it is worse to lose political and economical support, as little as that might be. Cuba is not one of those Arab countries that have suicidal laws and live with their backs turned to the rest of the world. Well, some people would like it to be like that. But the problem is that most of those countries are rotten in petroleum and Cuba is not. The 'shaking' that goes on here is different. This little island has to go by the international rhythm or otherwise it's gonna meet the darkness. And that's out of the question. To 'This One' (another term used in Cuba in order not to mention the name of the tyrant) it is not a good deal, everything moving against the flow. If so, his 'picao' (Cuban slang for 'situation', 'panorama', 'reality', 'ambiance') would get real bad, as it did in 1994."

Q: Then, what are you suggesting? What do you think is going to happen?

A: "That's an easy one. They are gonna start negotiating this with any personality that lands in here: From Fraga (a foreign political eader, from Gallicia, Spain) or with the King and Queen of Spain or with the Pope or even with the Holy Ghost if He comes down from up there. We must also take into account those four people now in jail. Because five years, which is what they've asked for, ain't the same as 30 ( a more common sentence for political prisoners). It's almost like parking an airplane at the door of the prison. They are also part of this game. It is possible that somebody well known is sent to jail so as to break down the structure of a certain group or agency (that has run out of favor) and send a signal to its other members.

"And then, later, what always happens, happens again. They propose to the guy, who, by now, is not into playing the hero, logically, that he leaves the country. And that way, as days come and go, they earn themselves some 10 more years..."

Q: In general, what do you think will happen?

A: "I'm sorry to tell you that for us, the down and out, the setting is gonna remain just the same. We're in a vicious circle and we don't know how to get out. People want but can't get. And sometimes people can but don't want to. We've spent too much time waiting for a miracle but nothing happens. The only solution is, as you know, the personal one. To leave for 'la Yuma' (Cuban slang term meaning 'the USA') or for Spain or the Virgin Islands, and to find out about Cuba by watching TV, sitting on a couch with a cold beer in your hand. It is sad, my 'ambia' (another Cuban slang term for 'buddy' or 'pal'), but the philosophy here is 'save yourself if you can' ('sálvese quien pueda' in the original).

"These people don't want to yield even a piece of bone. I don't know. But I get a weird feeling. It's something like sadness and fright every time I hear that slogan 'Socialism or Death.'"

Ariel Tapia, Cuba Free Press.


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