Tell the truth

By: Teresa Díaz Canals

Give me Lord a good forgetfulness

for the little injustices of each day

Give me that lie and clumsiness

They can’t cloud my smile

Give me a brave heart

Safe hand,

The tireless foot and Love …

Sweet Maria Loynaz


Socrates questioned what everyone thought obvious. What a philosophy of the Greek sage with his street walking to produce knowledge! An important aspect in the complex development of thought is to ask whether what is considered good really is. “To be a philosopher is to carry, always in force, an imperative of clarity.” Things often are, and at the same time, they are not. It is easy to locate a set of practices in ancient culture that involved telling the truth or exercising freedom of expression, this is known as parrhêsia. As Cesare Pavese wrote: “We all feel that we are living in a time when words must be given the solid and naked clarity that they had when man created them to serve him.”

Cuban life, suddenly, has changed in the sense that certain words that could not be pronounced – because they burned the mouth – have begun to be said. A few days ago I heard a recurring news item on this island. A Cuban doctor expressed her happiness for restoring the sight of many Venezuelans; a tremendous triumph for Cuban medicine and an example of solidarity with other peoples. While the journalists narrated the event, I thought with great pain of a person very close to me who has undergone cancer surgery and a year ago cannot receive treatment nor can they verify how her disease is progressing. The why is very simple: there are no reagents to test you. It is not a medicine that anyone can request from someone who lives abroad, despite the fact that an aspirin is difficult for us to reach.

An admirer of Cuba, Michael Moore, that filmmaker who once filmed a documentary about the Cuban health system, went to a pharmacy and asked how much an asthma device cost, they answered him that three pesos and twenty cents. He was astonished, in the US it is very expensive and here they practically give it away. What the famous artist does not know is that for those who suffer from this disease continuously and very severely, the air is distributed equally. They only sell you one, even if you consume three a month.

Moore happily published on the networks the awarding of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize to Darnella Frazier of Minneapolis, an 18-year-old American girl who is not a professional journalist, but with her mobile she filmed the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in May 2020. As a result of the filming of this heartbreaking event, an uprising of tens of millions of citizens began. Hundreds of other countries strongly condemned such horror, including ours. However, a Cuban journalism student was expelled from her university for pretending to speak her mind. She left for another Latin American country to finish her degree and when she wanted to return to see her family, she was permanently exiled. Another girl, Mary Karla Ares, filmed the act of protest by a group of young people to arrive at the house of artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, headquarters of the San Isidro Movement. She was imprisoned for that recording and now she awaits a trial. In his statement on the news of the Frazier Award, the director expressed that we are blessed by a generation of intelligent young people who are very aware of the broken world that we have given them. In Cuba, those nonconformists who wish to oppose collective lies and economic and political disorder are imprisoned. Hopefully the North American filmmaker can see in our country how “risk groups” and subjects in a “dangerous state” are monitored and punished. Deporting, expelling, banishing, sending outside the borders, preventing the passage to certain places, erasing the place of birth, confiscating assets and properties, are punitive tactics of obsolete times.

Those who run the country’s economy declare the success of the task that they called ordering. It is surprising how they praise a policy that has intensified to the maximum the way to access the smallest food or hygiene product. Now the stores where the products are not sold in foreign currency, will be converted into warehouses, that is, any commercialization to the population will be implemented through the ration book or ration card. Something that should have been overcome many years ago is going to expand, without eliminating the painful line or queue. The most terrible thing is that a part of society will see even with gratitude this miserable way of subsisting. This is considered fair, even if that kind of macabre justice does not include the leaders and their families.

Finally, to end this memorial of grievances, the current president of Angola a few days ago apologized to his people for a massacre committed by the Cuban army in his country. For decades the information that reached us about Cuba’s intervention in Angola was his liberation. The Cuban soldiers who were there, what are they then, martyrs, heroes, interveners.

I was listening to the statements of Cuban emigrants who were returned to Cuba, they narrate the hardships, relatives who mourn the loss of their loved ones. A tragedy. What journalists do not do is ask them the reason for the flight, the causes of these desperate measures. When some Cubans decide to live these difficult journeys, the Cuban State does not pay attention to the fact that any human being needs a people, even if only to leave it, because a people means not to be alone, to know that, in the people, in the plants, in that land where you were born one day there is something of yours, that even when you are not there, waiting for you.

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