The peoples, just like men have souls, a spiritual dimension. The culture world is the greatest expression of the nations’ souls.
All materialisms have tried to reduce this dimension to objectiveness and technical nature. The results of the peoples’ subjectivity suppression by decree have been the impoverishment and decadence not only decimating their spirituality but also their human and economic development.
In Cuba, this reductionism is visible. If spirituality is not cultivated, nothing lasts. Virtue disappears and values get upset. Materialism is a phenomenon of tiredness and old age of the human soul. That is why it is so sad when we find young people who have allowed their freedom of spirit to be seized: their ideals exile, their illusions abort and it’s very sad to see their despair.
But the human spirit is indomitable. That is why no mechanism can mummify or kidnap the initiative of the ones who decide to express themselves, in different ways, their spirituality.
Those expressions, like all expressions of the human spirit, like all that exists in the world, are diverse. This diversity in philosophies, believes, opinions, methods and acting is the natural and normal way of the human life and all kinds of life.
It’s an unnatural act to try to turn this natural plurality into uniformity. If this happens, the richness of diversity is lost and the peoples get impoverished.
The political systems which try to control and standardize the spiritual expressions of peoples have gone beyond the red line of their own viability and survival. The repression to the political opponents is a violation of the rights of those opponents and it impoverishes the political life of the Country. The repression to the economic initiatives of the citizens is another violation of their rights and it impoverishes the progress of the families and the development of the Country. The repression to social sectors because of their difference in skin, social position, sexual or religious preferences is another way of discriminatory violation of their rights and lowers the richness of plurality.
In Cuba have existed for more than half a century all of those ways of repression. Some times they have been more bloody and other times more subtle. This way of seeing life and the world according to an exclusive Manichaeism has been essential to the power for maintaining its hegemony. Such Manichaeism works like this: the one who doesn’t think or act the way I do is an enemy, a “worm” (1), or a non person.
During the last year the expressions of the natural diversity of Cubans, women and men, have visibly increased. This plurality has been seen mainly in the culture world. This world has always been very varied. And during the last 50 years this world has been treated more with subtle censorship and exclusions than with more direct methods.
However, the increase of alternative socio cultural expressions in the last years in Cuba has reached a citizenship category and has become a public expression genuinely participatory. This reality had a turning point when one student from the University of Computer Sciences, Eliezer Avila, established a dialogue with the President of the Cuban Parliament Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada. This doesn’t mean that everything started at that moment, but in our opinion, something started to grow from that landmark on. At the same time the community of bloggers, women and men, grew and diversified. The performance of Tania Bruguera happened during the last Havana Biennial together with other diverse artistic manifestations. In the Higher Institute of Arts in Havana there was a performance which lasted three days. It happened at the campus of the University and it started with an explicit protest for hunger and it ended the way these things end right at this moment. The “Pánfilo” phenomenon with all its shades and saving his person and his privacy has been another social phenomenon to be studied.
The Non Violence demonstration along the 23rd Street in Vedado, Havana, on the 6th of November, let us see very young people demonstrating along the main street in Cuba. That very day, Yoani Sánchez and Orlando Luis Pardo were kidnapped and dragged by persons in civilian clothes, to other neighbourhoods in the city. In December, the protagonists were the members of the cultural and spiritual project Omni-Zona Franca from Alamar neighbourhood. They held their superb Festival “Endless Poetry”. They were repressed and expelled from the House of Culture of that neighbourhood from the East of the Capital.
In Pinar del Río and in other provinces of Cuba, from the West to the East, there were socio cultural activities around the 10th of December, the Human Rights Day. In the western part of the country we saw, in the middle of the Park of Independence in Pinar del Río City, the artist Yamilia Pérez Estrella performing an artistic intervention which she entitled “Without Permit”. A great number of agents and officials besieged the performance; it was held, however. One month later, Yamilia tried to hold her second performance “Without Permit II: A step to the Change”, together with two friends, one of them, Maikel Iglesias, was kidnapped and taken to his house in another civilian car. He couldn’t go out from his house. Yamilia and Sergio Abel went out for their public participation and an enormous repudiation act accompanied them all the time. On The Teacher’s Day, another young man released a communiqué during a ceremony in a Senior High School in the country in Pinar del Río. In this communiqué he asked for a total reform of the Cuban education system and a partial reform of the Constitution of the Republic.
Thus, the culture and education worlds express themselves, more and more, in a pacific, critical, punctual and persevering way. Instead of greater spaces for debate; instead of opening the existent spaces for the diversity of opinion and action, the answer has been the increase of the violent repression, direct, without masks or subtleties as it used to be. The repudiation acts like it happened in the 60’s or the 80’s not only harm the victims but they degrade the ones who perform such acts. It is necessary to save both parties from this civic depravity: the ones who endure it without feeling violence or hatred or revenge and the ones who perform it with no reserve, mercy or ethics at all.
Cuba, our nation which is all of us, is the one that suffers, it impoverishes itself, it covers itself with mud, when these repudiation acts occur. Nothing is more anti Cuban and nothing hurts more the national sovereignty and identity than seeing some Cubans against other Cubans because they think and act differently. Nothing is closer to the ordeal of the vileness. The ones who order them, the ones who implement them, the ones who volunteer to shout, beat and kidnap; the ones who observe that without denouncing it and the ones who try to “save themselves” from the contamination of the causes and the consequences, all of us are responsible for putting Cuba in the greatest of its dangers: the danger of not being itself anymore; the danger to lose its essence of love and peace, fraternity and reconciliation.
The ones who blockade the culture world, the ones who silence the arts, the ones who spoil the beauty and switch off the light of the letters and the truth of the dreams of freedom, justice and Love in Cuba, are trespassing a very dangerous red line: they not only repress the creativity of artists and the honesty of the intellectuals, or the sincerity of the communicators but they also repress the nation’s soul.
The ones that repress the soul of one people in order to try to stop the flow of the human spirit, though unsuccessfully, inflict the greatest anthropological damage on the citizens; they seriously hurt the spiritual stability of the nation and lead the nation to the irreparable violence which nobody wants. We can’t play with it. We cannot hold the superiors responsible for something that is a strictly personal responsibility. Each one of us must weigh up the seriousness, the depravity of violence and the sowing of hatred and revenge that are being carried out when some people vociferate suggested old fashioned slogans which wound the dignity of the persons such slogans are aimed at.
That world is upside down. And someday things will sort themselves out. And the artists will be able to create and express themselves in free public spaces, respectful and participatory. And the bloggers will be able to write and launch to the world their binnacles with no gags or blocking to Internet. And the musicians and composers will be able to say with their free notes and sovereign letters, what their souls want for the welfare of all. And the writers and artisans will be able to give free rein to letters and forms as free as responsible. And the educators and students, and education directors and advisors will not be afraid of the students when they express themselves or when they get together on their own and they won’t be watched by the guardians under the appearance of teachers. And each citizen, woman or man, will be able to make a contribution, participate in public spaces, in cultural environments without the horrible nightmare of being considered a “worm” or a mercenary.
That world will come, nobody doubts it; not even the ones who unconsciously repeat the same all things they are suggested to blurt out to the serene faces of the Ladies in White, dissidents, opponents, artists, musicians and poets.
And by then, Cuba will stand up and will close the door to the gag. And the threatening arm of the brother against the brother will lower. And the insult among lifetime neighbours will disappear, and also the fear of our telephones and squares. And the divided families will get together.
And then, the day of revenge, or hatred or malice will not come. Cuba, each Cuban, woman or man will close tightly the door to violence and repudiation. And we all will open the wide, plural and fraternal door of the National Home, using the beauty of the arts and letters, the truth of the ethical and civic education and the kindness of the pacific living together. The National Home is and will be forever, this Cuba which is still navigating in hope.
God wants it.
Let everyone use his reason and heart.
Pinar del Río, February 25th 2010-03-22
153rd anniversary of Father Félix Varela’s death.
Founder of our nationality.
(1) “worm” is a word used by the Cuban government to call a person who is supposed to think against the official viewpoints.