Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fair of Censored Books

I have a dream to awake in my Havana any given day after Castro’s fall, and walk along Paseo del Prado Avenue surrounded by the huge Fair of Censored Books during the dark days of Cuba’s tyranny.Fair of Censored Books in Cuba

I have a dream to see Lezama and Virgilio seated there, signing with their ironic smiles the books Cuban authorities refused to publish when they were still alive. Stands and stands of books with unknown names, piled up with despicable stigmas of the old official media and authors blamed for being Cuba’s enemies, CIA agents and mercenaries recruited by US government will be wandering between thousands of curious Cubans, hunger of their lost literature in their darker hours of Castro.

Zoe Valdes, Levi Marrero, the classic Lino Novas and Gaston Baquero will be talking with the generation of writers who left Cuba during the lifeboats of Mariel in 1980: Roberto Valero, Carlos Victoria, Miguel Correa, Reinaldo Garcia ramos and Juan Abreu.

A bit farther I could find Heberto Padilla offering his bestseller book “Out of the Game” and remembering how many headaches Cuban inquisition gave him because those clever words on the pages of his winning book of poems: Tell the truth, tell, at least the truth.

Just at the end of Prado, in front of Malecon, feeling the saltines and the humid fresh air of Havana seashore, Reynaldo Arenas will be story telling with florid and expressive gestures his books, the days of misery that Castro’s henchmen gave to him just for his choice of sexuality and literature. And probably he will be remembering how much money Cuban authorities stole from Virgilio and Lezama when they were dead. The bitterly truth: Tyrannies condemn dissident intellectuals in life, bury them in misery and scorn to after death steal their name, their will and their memory selling their books to rewrite their personal history.

Maybe in between, we could find the author of “Three sad tigers”, Guillermo Cabrera Infantes, remembering old Havana with Lidia Cabrera, Raul Rivero and Norberto Fuentes. And probably Rivero will be retelling his darkest days in Castro’s prisons. There is nothing more tragic than a poet imprisoned for reason of opinion: the logical conclusion could be and it is that poetry had been imprisoned for its beauty.

There is no beauty in a tyranny, and there is no literature in a tyranny, because the ugliness of its roots, and because literature is dissent. Ideology is not culture even when some tyrants try to rewrite whimsically their history.

Probably for the first time in a long time, and under the pristine foliage of the trees along Prado, we could meet the expressive speech of Carlos Alberto Montaner retelling how many times Cuban newspapers, websites and estate agents blamed him as CIA agents, mercenary and counter-revolutionary. Around him, Jesus Diaz, Rafael Rojas and Severo Arduy will be discussing the last book of Belkis Cuza Male and welcoming their old friend Armando Rivas.

Quiet and seated in one of the bench, Orestes Lorenzo will be watching how many great Cuban writers has been surrounding him and asking how was his trip through the blues waters of the Florida Straits on his little plane when he left Cuba. He is not an intellectual man, he is just a man who wrote his vivid memories, but it is a privilege to be surrounded by some of the greatest Cuban writers of all times and feel for one minute part of them, in a small way.

At the very beginning of our imaginary Fair of Censored Books, a big public board will go as follow:

“Havana, November 16th 1999, Declaration of the Ibero-American Summit of Havana: The Heads of State and Government of Latin American and Spain will advocate for the free circulation of books in the Latin American Community”

Under the quote the name of Fidel Castro will appear removed by some unknown hand.

It is a shame that a country guilty for too many violations against the freedom of some of our biggest names in literature, art and poetry, the culprit of all those violations and abuse appear in such board. It is a piece of trash in the annals of our political history.

I have a dream of a Fair of Castro’s Censored Books in an uncensored Cuba without Castro.

Our guest will be George Orwell with his portrait of Cuba’s 1984. But you could find there Carlos Rangel, Vaclav Havel against who the regime send the most poisonous words and stigmas, the irreverent Octavio Paz who gained Castro’s hatred with his book “The labyrinth of Solicitude” and Albert Camus. They will be taking about how tyrannies even hate old classics like John Milton, seated alone in a bench looking with amaze how people is wandering around asking for his books.

Castro cut off annoyed books from Cubans hands, but they traveled through them in silence, hand to hand, in the way every single portion of freedom travels in every tyranny.

Cornered in from of the endings lion statues, you will see Alexandr Solschenizyn, cynically smiling to everyone, with the smile of those who knows very well tyrants like Castro because he portrayed them with remarkable precision.

I have a dream of a Fair full of Freedom, with no more authors condemned, no more books imprisoned and no more censorship against the beauty of the literature. Because there is no bad or good literature: there is only literature… in a free country with democracy.


Marianeli said...

I also dream of the day when Cubans will be able to read anything they please to. I dream of that day when the Cuban people stopped being treated like little children.