Reports from Cuba: Cuba: A line of dust, a grave for the living

Jorge Angel Perez writes from Havana via CubaNet:

Cuba: A Line of Dust, a Grave for the Living

Communist Cuba is a broken waste collector that can no longer easily hide the garbage or the dust.

“Everything in life comes to an end, except that line of dust that remains between the broom and the dustpan.” I read that phrase on a friend’s page, and at first, I thought it was funny, so much so that I almost burst out laughing, but later, that certainty crushed me and I remembered Kant with certain slyness, Kant, who was interested in “permanence”. And I started thinking of the permanence of dust a while later with a broom on my right hand, trying to hold it tight, and a dustpan on the left.

With every attempt to make the dust go into the dustpan, there were many dust remains left out of it and in front of it…, and then another attempt and again that line of dust persisted. The thing is that dust can be persistent and even impertinent, especially in Cuba. The dust that pesters us is persistent, much more than the persistent insomnia in Virgilio Piñera’s story. Our dust is everywhere, even in the wind.

Cuban dust, the dust of the last 60 years, is of an overwhelming persistence, so much so that it seems unending. We Cubans have a certain appearance of dust, of dust in the wind. The reason is that there is dust everywhere in this island, and it seems to have taken root, dusty roots. Here, dust refuses to go into the dustpan. Perhaps our dust is the most active of all the dusts there have ever been in the world, and the dirtiest one.

Cuba’s dust spreads like no other, and gets everything dusty until it becomes an enormous cloud of dust. Then it becomes mud, a mud that swallows us, that wants to turn us to dust, to mud, and maybe to ashes, in a more volatile state than mere dust. Today, Cuba is that little pile of dust that awaits to be swept into the dustpan, and which is more difficult to sweep into the dustpan every time because it’s much too much dust covering everything with reticence, with so much permanence.

Cuba’s dust is also a sign of death. Dust is what became of the four oil tankers in Matanzas that contained 38 million gallons of oil, and dust is what became of those firefighters that the government now is conveniently forgetting. Forgotten dust are now the victims of the Saratoga Hotel, and dust are the 7.7 square miles of forests lost to fires in Holguín.  Dust and ashes is what’s left of the two men who died a few days ago in the chimney of the “Antonio Guiteras” Thermoelectric Plant.

And wet dust, perhaps not dust at all, are the countless bodies that lie at the bottom of the ocean, those who never successfully bridged the distance between Cuba and Florida, who could not reconcile themselves with the dust, with the dust storm that is Cuba. Could it be that so much dust is a form of atonement for all our guilt, or better yet, for all our obedience?

Cuba is dust; it’s the dust of politicking, of politicking that grows so much it destroys the fields and the crops. Dust are the beings that once cared for these fields and crops, but not enamored dust. The reason is that our dust goes beyond that fine line that gathers up in front of the dustpan and refuses to be swept into the dustpan.

Our dust is the politicking, it’s Communism, it’s its politics, it’s that calamity that remains from Communist power, the one that accompanies death and desolation, and dust itself. Dust, and more dust, and more dust, but never enamored dust. Apparently, this sad island that has been reduced to dust has begun to refuse to be swept into the dustpan, refusing to remain outside those waste collectors that are evidence, also, of our disaster.

It could be that we ourselves are the dust, that we are a sample of the disaster, proof that Cuba no longer wants to live amidst the garbage, and we could become an avalanche that refuses to go into the dustpan. To the Communist bosses, we are nothing more than trash, but trash that is beginning to refuse to be swept into the dustpan and then into the waste collectors.

It seems that now we are more apt, more able to handle the broom and the dustpan. Now we are the ones who will not allow ourselves to be swept with a broom, we are the ones that will not go willingly into the dustpan to take the subsequent trip to the garbage dump, to that trash collector that Cuba resembles more and more every day, especially its government. Sadly, Cuba is that trash collector that sits on the street corners of our cities, the one that’s missing a side panel, that is missing the top, a wheel, two wheels, every wheel.

Communist Cuba is a broken waste collector that can no longer easily hide the garbage or the dust. Cuba is the trash that spills over when the collector’s capacity has been reached. No longer are there tricks with which to hide the trash that went overboard the trash collector. There is no way to hide the garbage that spilt over the dustpan and then the collector. There is no way to hide the garbage that spilt over the dustpan, and the collector, and the garbage truck, and the garbage dump, the many garbage handlers in the garbage dumps, handlers that survive there, and whom we ironically call divers.

Cuba is, also, he who flees the garbage, who leaves it and thus makes it more visible the nonconformists who prefer to be far away from the dustpan. Cuba is that dustpan managed by the Communist Party and the Government, it’s that dustpan which grows less efficient every day. Cuba was a somewhat efficient dustpan, where fear and indifference hid the dust until the dust refused to be swept into the dustpan without objection. The dust is an excess of political demands, the absence of liberties. And that happens frequently in the waste collectors.