Today, I remembered the televised debate between Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada (president of the National Assembly of Popular Power of the Cuban government) and the deceased leader of the Cuban-American National Foundation, Jorge Mas Canosa, which occured years ago. It was necessary for the Cuban people in the island to see this interchange of criticisms and to analyze it, but that was not the case. The hiearachy of Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada does not have the sufficient power to escape censorship.
Yesterday my colleague, Claudia Cadelo, read me the “strange dialogue” (so named by the state run Granma newspaper) between Silvio Rodriguez and Carlos Alberto Montaner. In my opinion, Silvio Rodriguez has been one of the most prominent singer-songwriters of the island during the past five decades. On the other hand, Carlos Alberto Montaner enjoys the support of the diaspora and of the dissident readers, in addition to some questionable representatives of the regime.
Both have the gift of impressive communication skills and an unquestionable level of intelect. Both these men share the interesting ability to attract followers and detractors from both shores, including the civlized Europe. Silvio often likes to be naive and likes to obey, without limits, the regime in Havana. However, I think much of the challenge to debate with Montaner has something to do with the release of his new album.
The confrontation between both these Cubans of different personalities enriches the reconciliation process of the futre of Cuba. She (Cuba) will need from all of her children to detach herself from a crisis that goes far beyond economic failure. Carlos Alberto Montaner, being the same attorney as always, stripped the soul of the poet. He applied a lecture about the cruel national reality to him. Such a reality was apparently oblivious to Silvio. Montaner subconsciously mentions the political prisoners but does not cite the prisoners of conscience, which is the most visible stain on the land of Jose Marti, occuring during a period where there is no space for dictatorships, even though unfortunately not all have disappeared.
I could not control my laughter upon hearing Silvio refer to his 2008 visit to various prisons, alongside other popular artists. I am convinced that Silvio does not recall that in each of his performances, the prisoners watching were those who were chosen. Meanwhile, the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience were deprived of such a luxury. I would not have felt just at a Silvio concert.
Carlos Alberto Montaner is outlawed in the island, yet many are familiar with his work. Those who risk their hides in order to be known are never left behind. What I gathered from the inteligent correspondence between the singer and the writer was an impressionable transparency and knowledge on behalf of Montaner, taking into account that he has not been physically present in the island for the last 50 years of revolution.
I congratulate Montaner for his answers for Silvio when the lattr mentioned the abominable terrorist act in Barbados where various innocent people died, most of who were Cuban. Silvio felt the sword of Damocles hanging above his head after he heard Silvio bring up the criminal act which occured in the tugboat known as the 13th of March, where various people lost their lives, amongst them children. Also, the mention of the shooting of the Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996 by Cuban combat planes which caused the deaths of four compatriots who lived in the United States.
I am of the type who trusts in dialogue and respect amongst one another. I applaud Silvio for pronouncing himself, with dignity, and exposing his personal criticism towards the shameful and humiliating attitude taken on by the fanatical mobs that were sponsored by those in power against defensless women who simply demand freedom for their captive loved ones who are found in prison for the way they think.
I hope Montaner stays true to his word in regards to the embargo held by the US towards the island, for it just serves as an excuse for all the evils of an inefficient system of slavery. I suggest that they both converge in thought with their colleagues and friends. From now on we can no longer refuse the protagonism of other Cubans, distant in ideas but worthy of this land. I would like to see a debate between Gloria Estefan and Miguel Barnet or between Willy Chirino and Fernandez Retamar. In sum, there a plenty of examples that exist but beyond all the different tendencies we should make it clear that we are all Cuban, compromised with Cuba and loyal to the ideology of Marti. It doesn’t matter that on occasions our points of view differ, as long as we always respect one anothers ideas.
Pablo Pacheco Avila, prisoner of conscience
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