In recent days I have read several letters about the presence on television of people hitherto unknown to me, like [Luís] Pavón [Tamayo], [Jorge] Serguera, and [Armando] Quesada. I was born in 1977 and in the version of history which I received, there was not so much as a mention of these people. I came very late to that dark period of parametración, and the word UMAP just sounded to me like yet another acronym from the endless repertory of abbreviations. Nobody took it upon himself to send us so much as a warning about institutional intolerance, and my generation coincided with a state of affairs scarcely different from the one experienced in the 70s; this was true for my generation and all those that followed. Not Pavón any more; not Quesada any more: perhaps they had other names and worked more in the shadows, or simply there was no longer any need to go on communicating the hard line dictates through the mouths of second rung intermediaries because intolerance had become Party policy, Fidel’s policy.
It has always bothered me that many of those twenty-somethings who came down from the Sierra Maestra in a hail of gunfire with their long hair, necklaces, dark glasses and heavy beards, shouting about equality, freedom, and tolerance, should have become professional agents of repression. I have to ask myself how this change happened. Didn’t anyone notice? Wasn’t this an unforgivable betrayal of all the trust and support that they’d been given? Weren’t they traitors, and therefore enemies of the Revolution? Or wasn’t it the same Revolution anymore? No. No it wasn’t.
When I saw Manuel Zayas’s documentary Seres Extravagantes [Extravagant Beings] and Fidel’s speech where he openly declares the persecution of everything that was not in keeping with his parameters of a “normal person,” or a revolutionary, I asked myself how this was possible. The posture was never corrected, those lives turned to dust by stupidity were never rehabilitated, nothing happened, no-one asked for forgiveness. And parametración carried on occurring among us, with other names, with different faces, with different excuses, the culture of exclusion was perpetuated and accepted. How many things are we allowed if we happen to have an ID from UNEAC, MINCULT, ICAIC or UPEC, and how many privileges are denied to the rest of Cuba’s population? The institutional system stamps approval or discredits at will, with no possibility of appeal, which suits it and it perpetuates this posture of telling one person ‘You: yes, okay’, and somebody else ‘But not you’.
Seeing the indignation which led them to protest in writing against that injustice, I exhort them to speak out against this other injustice, more recent and current, but this time to do so with actions. I invite them to renounce their status as respected artists and intellectuals, as writers and as associate researchers: I invite them to hand back their memberships and to renounce all of those exclusive and selective institutions which still wreak havoc in our culture, and which deny spontaneity and which choose the most politically correct as the standard bearer for our culture identity and I exhort them instead to make it clear, once and for all, that these rights belong not exclusively to revolutionaries but to human beings.
Ismael de Diego
Havana, January 26, 2007
Translated by RSP