Reports from Cuba: I am not afraid
Even though more than half a decade has transpired since that confession: “I know that I am afraid, very afraid,” that the great writer Virgilio Piñera — one of the greatest artists born in the archipelago — pronounced in the National Library, in the same place and at the same time that Fidel Castro prattled his “Words to Intellectuals,” I could never stop imagining the inner mockery that the young comandante must have hidden on hearing the sentence; and then, the abundant and grotesque laughter of the rest of the bearded men. . . and the times that they would have repeated “fucking fag,” without any of them imagining — unhappy souls — that the poet would outlive them in dignity and would come to form part of the history of the country as one of its great men, thanks to his literary legacy, while Fidel Castro and the rest of his unworthy “revolutionary” team just leave us an immense wake of blood and pain.
The bravest and most honest among those present at that meeting was Piñera, who with his declarations got ahead of what would fall over the country, in particular over the cultural sector. Thanks to those premonitory words, worthy of an enlightened one, today we know the cost of what has been ignored by the rest of the intellectuals.
Maybe — if in that moment they had united — then they would have been respected, so preventing all the suffering that Virgilio, Reinaldo Arenas and Heberto Padilla suffered so much; possibly also they would have avoided all that abusive theater that surrounded us during the fatal period of the 1970’s decade, when because of their critical, human work, because of their ideology and their sexuality, they were persecuted, marginalized, expelled from their jobs and study centers and brought to bleed their original sin of being artists.
Fidel Castro always knew that he had to watch them closely and keep them under his boot, given that in spite the fact that he was dealing with “the soft sector of society,” they were dangerous, harmful to his ideals about keeping himself in power.
Now, since my incarceration due to the opening of my blog “The Children Nobody Wanted,” I can attest, paraphrasing the brilliant Virgilio, that “I am not afraid, not at all,” and paraphrasing the dictator, “Within art, everything; against art, nothing.”
Lawton prison settlement. April 2014.
Translated by mlk.