The immense slight

By: Teresa Díaz Canals

“Anywhere on earth where we are

we are always at the same distance from the stars.”


What’s the matter, what’s always going on under the garden

that roses come relentlessly.

What’s always going on under that dark mirror

where nothing is hidden or dissolved.

What’s the matter, what’s always going on under the shade

roses perish and re-be re-eded.

Gastón Baquero

From the poem “What’s going on, what’s going on”



What’s the matter, what’s going on

I know an expert in the art of so-called bonsai. She is a girl who was systematically discovering how great there is within the small, the dynamism of the miniature. Today he belongs to a group that promotes this interesting specialty.

I’ve been writing this article in a few days. I sat on several occasions, looked at a blank sheet behind the screen and couldn’t capture a word, I felt a kind of endless yawn out of nowhere. However, social scientists – like poets – are primarily tasked with turning the world of gaze into the world of words.

I find it difficult to reflect the anguish caused in these pandemic months by an increase, visible due to the existence of networks, acts of repudiation, arrests, massive fines. I understood that fear doesn’t come from the outside, it’s being itself. It is difficult to express a certain sense of despondenty in the face of shock measures such as the installation of freely convertible currency (MLC) stores – when a large part of the Cuban population receives salaries in Cuban pesos – and the delivery of remittances sent in dollars by relatives living in the U.S., in a currency that does not allow you to purchase much-needed goods. In addition, it produces total strangeness to see the reduction of current Cuban life to a long queue guarded by policemen and read about certain incredible facts, such as the publication in a local newspaper of a call not to expose in the stained glass windows of candy stores, so that children do not suffer, because their parents cannot buy them.

The last femicide was the murder of two women at a bus stop in Santiago de Cuba, perpetrated by the couple of one of them. Years ago they gathered in an endless conversation, a group of gender specialists to figure out the best way to prevent these events and the houses of refuge, the law against gender-based violence, the trained police, did not just appear. On the other hand, also a long time ago, those elected to draft an animal welfare law that does not affect cockfighting also gather in a ministry, because in Cuba that business is “beneficial” for the country, said someone working on these official animal abuse matters.

What consequences will it have for the health of future generations to eat many foods with chemicals that accelerate their maturation and distort the exquisite taste they previously had? Did this town be consulted if they wanted to eat transgenic food? Bioethics specialists warned of the danger of the expansion of such crops, even the Passage to the Unknown Program discussed the issue. Until recently, the country boasted of stimulating agroecology, the work of farmers of this type of product was disseminated at the national level; the Marta estate, for example, was visited by distinguished foreigners as an intelligent intention to encourage the production of healthy food. Imposing a measure on us by force, just because a group of scientists came up with it as a solution to the food crisis is a great irresponsibility. Vision and not system: life always has a figure that is offered in a vision, in an intuition, not in a system of reasons; how good it would be to resort to the transparency of the traditional way of producing, to the wisdom of Taita, those simple peasants who, in short, are those who, every day, develop in truly hostile circumstances and difficult to decipher.

Outside it rains, rains in much of the country and saves the lives of thousands of families in the face of a tropical storm. It’s a fair principle, but I wonder if it’s fair not to be entitled to decent, strong, comfortable housing. Here are never the conditions to achieve this small aspiration, people expelled so from the realm of possibilities, where the intimate space loses all its clarities. The house is our corner of the world, our first universe. Meanwhile, some of the public servants who ask the underprivileged to wait forever live in luxurious mansions. José Mujica, former president of Uruguay, with his modest life, excelled in an interview for the documentary Human, which is not about making an apology of poverty with his example, but about making an apology for sobriety. You don’t even need to look abroad for a model of life. A Cuban, Rosario Sigarroa, a journalist who participated in the second war of independence, when the Republic was proclaimed, declared that she would not live on the merits she obtained in her intervention in the insurrectional struggle, but from her profession.

The word in the air: no keys and no veils

Greatness is in truth and truth in virtue.1 Only on the basis of virtues do respectable and noble peoples rise. With the physical and moral deterioration of the nation, the number one task, without building, is to build. “Building, making history”,2 María Zambrano wrote, that is, a double building, architectural and historical. And in this reparation of our society that eliminates the deep confrontation between Cuban “officialists” and “mercenaries” we must find the need that goes beyond any building as a sturdy shelter, of any kind of protection, is required above all and ultimately, of inner wealth. A loss of interior space has a paralyzing effect of subjecting to the immediate. It’s pure surrealism.

In this process of building dreams are traced and under those dreams hope always nests. And how to mature without dreaming? “In the dream there is no no-me. In the dreaming he does not lack function: everything is welcome”.3 Let us recover that charming language of plain and simple people that says, “This is of ampanga, that is his briefcase, today I have desire to make a custard, do you want a coffee?”

To find again the language of the fabulous you have to become in body and soul an admiring being, discard the hatred and acts of anger that for decades have marked us. What I’m saying is difficult, because feeling is complex, worse is indifference. I still believe in the martyred dream, so that the young woman who makes art with the bonsai does not decide to go away and trunk her vocation. With violence you will not be able to reborn the street conversation, the knowledge of experience, those little things that constitute the usual Cuban life. Respect for citizenship will be like reopening a window in the middle of summer in the early hours and allowing the entrance of a breeze that comes from our sea. Cuba is waiting. Ω





[1] José Martí: The Iron Chain. Drama by Agustín Cuenca, in Complete Works, Critical Edition, Havana, Centro de Estudios Martianos, 2010, t. III, 1875-1876, p. 196.

2 María Zambrano, A metaphor for hope: the ruins, in Islands, Madrid, Editorial Verbum, 2017, p. 126.

3 Gaston Bachelard: The Poetics of Dreaming, Mexico City, Economic Culture Fund, 1997, p. 253.

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