Damn. What do I do now? I had planned an interview with a lady from the Marianao neighborhood who does community service with needy children. Because of reasons beyond my control I had to postpone it.
It’s 8:00 in the morning of an unusual and cold month of January in 2010. I look at the wallet, 28 cuc’s left. I have to improvise for the failed interview. Already inside an “almendrón” (antique American car in use as a shared taxi), I decide to share with you the avatars and dreams of an Independent Cuban Journalist.
When, in October, 2009, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, in its digital version, asked me to write a debate blog titled 90 Miles in partnership with Max Lesnik, the idea seamed brilliant. Also, if I could, the Mister of Editing with his Madrid accent asked me, some stories. Great! Hands to work. But — there’s always a but — to write in Cuba is a task worthy of Tarzan.
I’ve seen Robert Redford’s film about Watergate seven times. Incarnates the famous Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward, and his celebrity source, Deep Throat. A majestic case of journalism. With avidity the stories get published in the magazines Time or Newsweek. Also reports in El Mundo or the Sunday edition of El País. They’re over the top. To be a journalist in the First World must be gratifying.
No bureaucrat can deny you public information. Nor dangling over your head is a horrific law that can condemn you to 20 years in jail. Also no one in the neighborhood where you live can mount a “repudiation act,” a verbal lynching, German fascist style, where the least they’ll scream at you is a verbal assault on the mother who gave you birth.
Never, in that First World where for breakfast there’s a variety of dishes and with frequency you can eat meat, will a candid intelligence agent pay you a visit to threaten you, that if you continue to write you could be processed. Must be good to be a journalist in the First World.
In the civilized, because in Colombia or Mexico, a paid thug of a drug cartel can spray you with bullets. Or in the Venezuela of the delirious Hugo Chavez where the Bolivarian, without contemplations can fill you with improprieties on his television program Aló Presidente.
I have the habit of reading the comments left me. I like to be criticized. More so when they are views with weight in them. If I adore something from the 21st Century is it’s feedback. I write what I think, be it in a chronicle or in an opinion piece. For the government, I’m a mercenary. A traitor to my people and the Socialist Revolution.
I don’t frighten. I take the work seriously. Believe me. And I’m a dreamer, who believes that deep down inside people are good. For this 2010 I’ve got my plans. I’d like for Raul Castro to give me the answers he denies blogger Yoani Sanchez. Also I’d like to interview Fidel Castro in his private clinic.
The encounters list continues. With Cuban athletes Kendry Morales and Dayron Robles. And afterward have them sign their autographs for me. I’d be happy if Usain Bolt, the man who came from another planet, the Swiss Roger Federer, the Argentine Lionel Messi or the Spaniard Pau Gasol, would grant me a few minutes. Of the politicians, apart from the Castros, with pleasure I’d talk for El Mundo or for my blog, Desde La Habana, with the prisoner of conscience Oscar Elias Biscet or with the exiled Cuban journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner. Of foreign statesmen, I’d pour off with Lula or a polemic interview with the Father Christmas of Caracas.
Well, why not? Also with the charismatic Barack Obama and the insipid Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who I’d ask to explain his government’s position with respect to Cuba. I would miss a fist-full of artists and my little right eye, Oprah Winfrey.
It’s good to dream. But I’ve arrived at the Parque Central Hotel. An Internet card for one hour costs 8 cuc, a ton of money. I tuck away well in my wallet the rest of the 20 cuc’s. For next time.
I’d give what I don’t have to try out extensive reports, controversial and balanced and with good pictures. And because someone from the said list granted me an interview. But that’s jerking off. Now I have to put my feet on the ground. And besides this chronicle, see what else I can write for El Mundo and my blog Desde La Habana. Afterwards I can continue dreaming.
Translated by: Mickey Garrote