Thank You, New York!

Bravo! Extraordinary, I would say. The welcome which New Yorkers gave to the Cuban artists Alicia Alonso and Silvio Rodriguez, almost simultaneously, once again proved that the relations between both nations could positively advance and that the conflict which exists today could be improved by history. I am not the least bit dumb and I am aware of the “back and forth” that has been spawned by a negative relationship between both countries, especially during the last 50 years. Those of us who are almost at that age ourselves do not have the fault. I am referring to both, those who are over there, as well as those that are here. Without a doubt the reestablishment of the relations between Cuba and its Northern neighbor is another subject which Cubans dream of and fight for.

I have the feeling that the statements made by Alicia Alonso in the state press reflect that the tribute paid to her in New York surpassed any that have been given to her here. Alicia, I admire you despite the fact that I’m a bit ignorant when it comes to ballet. I still highly value that dance which you carry with you and which distinguishes you as a famous figure within and beyond our frontiers. If you have, at any point, attacked what I believe in and vilified the cause which led me to prison, forget about it. I also respect and accept that, for it is a right which I would be foolish to rob from you. Thank you, Madam! I will always be proud of having your art spread throughout this island and throughout the stages of the world.

We have also been keeping up to date in regards to the tour of Silvio Rodriguez. I hope no one thinks that just because this troubadour identifies himself with the Cuban government I have disregarded him. I’m sure many would coincide with me in acknowledging his artistic value and his undeniable talent as a composer. The people from the city that never sleeps demonstrated to Silvio that, for them, culture and politics is a double edged sword. If it were used without honesty it could end up being used against any benign intentions. They applauded him, praised him, sang alongside him, and even respected the tune which he dedicated to the 5 jailed men in the US which he considers to be heroes.

Silvio, I can’t help but point out that, despite being a fan of your songs in which you sometimes say a lot or nothing at all, although I understand you and follow your musical career, on the 25th of January 2008 I was refused the chance of attending the concert which you offered, together with other artists, in the provincial prison of Canaletas in Ciego de Avila. You know why, Silvio? For being a political prisoner and a prisoner of conscience. The authorities of this place did not let me step out of my cell to listen to your music. I don’t want to keep that from you. I value your talent and admire your poetic creations. In fact, I am even aware that you said that the letter “r” must be removed from revolution. Do the passing years intend to convert you into someone who is inconsistent? Or perhaps a go-getter who did nothing in regards to where the current dragged him to.

As for the people of New York, thank you very much for your kindness with Alicia and Silvio. Today I can shed tears of joy, not of sorrow like I did during that fateful September 11th in which the twin towers were dismantled in a terrible terrorist attack in which hate, fanaticism, and wrong-doing curtailed the lives of many compatriots. From the most profound reaches of my heart: Thank you for your kindness with these two Cubans.

Pablo Pacheco Avila


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