Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our neighbour's eyes

Havana 003

When I was living in Cuba I had a neighbour, Miguelito, who was the well-known eyes’ government, the person that always was watching every single move of every people around.

A retired army official, my neighbour belonged to that generation who automatically claimed Castro's assertions about everything, no matter what. He was a member of the CDR’s headquarters in my block – you know, that watchdog organization responsible for any denunciation settled by Castro in the 60’s. He was a member of the Rapid Response Brigades, well-known for their attack to Cuba's dissidents. He was the night-and-day vigilante sort of who always was pointing out any neighbour’s deviation from the official standard of life and opinion.

Miguelito, also, belonged to one more hidden and less whispered organization than ever anybody had talked: the Contra Intelligence Brigade belonged to Castro’ security forces or G2 as all Cubans known very well. He was already an old guy and probably he only participated at those times as one more in Castro’s hordes but nothing else, but still he felt proud for being part of.

In the other hand, his daughter was everything he didn’t want to have as a daughter: she never worked to the government, never belonged to any official organization, never expressed any sympathy about Castro and was married with a man who all his life has been on the edge of the illegal. In fact, she broke in Miguelito’s house with his husband against his father’s will and he couldn’t get the support of his beloved government agencies to kick her out of his house, even when he tried any single trick on his hands. It looked like his faith was to praise the great leader but never get any support from his royalty premises. There is a phrase who prays: If you lie down with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas.

Miguelito was the well-known informer of the neighbourhood: he was the trusted confident with the state security when some visitor with a foreigner car’s plate was parking in the street visiting some neighbour; he was who over daily basis was giving people’s behaviour when police was investigating our surroundings; he was the one who called DTI’s agents to denounce prostitutes (in Cuba we call them “jineteras”); he was who give good or bad references to people who was applying for jobs in governmental sensible places like the army or tourism workplaces, or those who were being processed as a member-to-be of the Communist Youth or Party. He was the neighbourhood’s eyes catching every single twinkle in the complicated web of our daily life.

As result of that, Miguelito was welcomed every day with a “hello” or a good Samaritan gesture in our block, but when his figure vanished from those who greeted him minutes earlier the comment was always the same: that one is the neighbourhood’ stoolie.

In 2008, Miguelito suffered a heart attack when he was walking up his stairs to his apartment in a very high second floor. For more than one hour he tried to crawl up those fatal steps and died two steps closer to his door. He was buried in a rainy day with no funeral, no Cuban flag over his casket, no ceremony held in the cemetery, not even a single flower on his grave. He died alone, he was buried alone.

I guess he buried many years ago the few friends he had. The officials, the agencies to whom he gave such valuables reports probably found another “miguelito” in our street. There is no memories for simple pawns in a totalitarian regime: there is always someone available.