Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011, That Year So Remote / Yoani Sánchez

2011, That Year So Remote / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

In October Laura Pollan left us, in a dark hospital on a drizzly day, in
a year, 2011, that had been born already battered. In the early months,
the final prisoners of the Black Spring had been released and national
and international headlines gave most of the credit to the Catholic
Church and Spain's Foreign Minister, downplaying the struggle of the
Ladies in White, the pressure exerted from the street, Guillermo
Fariñas' hunger strike, and the wake of outrage left by the death of
Orlando Zapata Tamayo. April, the cruelest month, brought us the
Communist Party Congress focused only on economic issues, preferring the
word "adjustments" to "reforms," and consolidating the power of a blood
heir to the Cuban throne.

August, with its dog days and its scarcities, wasn't very different.
"Where are the changes?" many asked themselves. It wasn't until October
that they began to trickle out. We could buy a used car, but not freely
associate ourselves with a party nor express ourselves without
punishment. Then came the most daring of Raul's measures: it was
possible to buy or sell a home, although the most modest of them
necessitated the total wages of 45 years' work. Something was moving in
a society mummified for decades, but so slowly we despaired. In
mid-December we learned that more than 66,000 Cubans had obtained the
nationality of their grandparents, emigrants from the Asturias, the
Canary Islands, Galicia… people kept escaping. The despair is not
perceived in the streets as much as in the long lines at the consulates.

The area of land allowed to be given to farmers in usufruct grew, but
the price of food grew almost as much. The press spoke of advances, but
the reality showed stagnation. Private restaurants invaded every
neighborhood with their menus of spicy dishes and their anxiety about
whether they would be left to survive a while longer. The mute choir of
the National Assembly confirmed that for 2012 the country would need
much more money to import the foods that could well be produced on our
own soil. And the expected travel reform was kept from us again, for the
umpteenth time.

On Saint Sylvester night few homes displayed parties or music, at least
in Havana. But I felt relief that the year was ending. Of 2011, with its
advances overstated by propaganda and its setbacks silenced, once was

4 January 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment