Panchito- Facing the Wall (Final)


Image: Latitudes of Insanity by Manuel Menassa.

Francisco Feijoo (Panchito), who resides in 87th Marti Avenue in Jobabo, Las Tunas, was one of those vivacious young men whose intellectual rate was higher than the norm. His classmates from the University of Havana would bow to him, move to the side to let him pass, and would even remove their hats when he passed, some jokingly and others in all seriousness. Sincerely, this was because Panchito was at the top of his class and had the ability to make all the professor’s words sound doubtful because he would even put them in a difficult spot.

One day, sitting in the terrace of his own Alma Mater, he dared to make a comment amongst those who were there debating: “We live in flat out slavery”. The next day he was detained and taken to Villa Marista (a prison in Havana notorious amongst political prisoners). An instructor, and captain of State Security, named Richard took on the task of interrogating him. The loneliness of the prison cell, the interrogations, and the screams produced the intended objective for the young man. After a few days of consuming foods contaminated with drugs for the mentally sick, his physical state decayed and his brain was destabilized.

He was then taken to Mazorra, a hospital for the mad, and between electroshocks and new drugs he collapsed. I digress: all those characters from all the read works, that were once part of their cultural heritage, were now becoming reality before their eyes. With great vehemence, he testified to visiting the moon during the previous night. Montesquieu was his personal friend or he had shared a cell with the author of The Prince or The Leviathan.

There was nothing else to be done. Panchito was not Francisco, he was only a human rag; he could say as much as he would like about Hamlet or Quixote, but even if he told the truth who would pay attention to him? Even if he spoke the truth, who would follow him? No one, absolutely no one, pays attention to what a crazy person has to say.

Today he fluctuates through the streets of Jobabo dressed in white, asking everyone he comes across if they are reading the works that he has read or is reading. Many look at him and laugh, but only a few know that he too stood before the execution wall.

Felix Navarro, prisoner of conscience. Text dictated by phone from the provincial prison of Canaleta, Ciego de Avila.

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