Thursday, August 28, 2008

About Gorki and "Our Best Years"

From Black Sheep of Exile:

The boys from "Porno Para Ricardo" sent me this letter for immediate publication. [Charlie Bravo]

Our Best Years
By Ismael de Diego

The first time I saw Gorki was in prison during the shooting of Havana Blues. It was in a big cafeteria, with several cement tables that were built into the floor. At one end were family members pressed against the entrance door, their eyes fixed upon another door, made of steel, at the other end of the dining hall. The only voices heard were those of the guards instructing us not to enter until the signal was given. There we remained for a while until the inmates began to file through the steel door. They were searched one by one and stood about 40 meters from us, so I had time to try to guess which of them was Gorki. When he came through the door I did not recognize him at first. I saw only a familiar face, the empathy one feels for a potential friend, the stamped blue shirt and disillusioned expression. It was only when we sat down and I could see him up close that I recognized him. He didn't resemble the euphoric and provocative image that he projected in his concerts. He looked tired. "This is like a theatre," he said, "you get on stage to sing and represent a certain character, but when you get off everybody still expects you to stay forever in character." He felt like shit and the feeling was contagious. I knew he didn't belong to that place and the visit left me with a sensation of injustice that permeated my body. I realized that anyone could land there by just making himself too much of a nuissance and I asked myself just how weak and sickly this government must be to feel threatened in any way by a musical group.

On learning the charges against him, the falsified evidence used to convict him, and the harsh and completely unjustifiable sentence handed down in his case, I was reminded of what I had been told about the UMAP concentration camps and the idiotic medieval witch hunts of the 1970s, which so profoundly affected generations of Cubans. Generations that today are convinced those persecutions are a thing of the past simply because they are not the ones targetted anymore. I always thought that it was the people, not the sysem, not Pavón, not Quesada, not even Fidel, that were to blame for that tragedy, the people that allowed it to happen, that approved of it, that were silent when they could have spoken out against it because they were afraid, or for whatever other reason. I asked myself just how abusive a government can become whose people never protests its abuses and, in accepting them, helps to prolong them. And I pondered just how alone and vulnerable a man is when no one wants to get involved however just the cause. This is now happening to our generation, which has always been kept prisoner on this island and never permitted its own voice. In order to be authentic and generate a real identity, culture must be spontaneous and born of the impetus to express oneself. An imposed culture, a morally or politically correct culture, used as a statistic with which to impress or win political points, is a deranged evasion of the creative instinct that inevitably leads to an indifference to culture itself. It is not for aught that our culture becomes less ours and more American, Puerto Rican, European or whatever else happens to be in vogue at the moment. In all Cuba there is not a single stage, not a single microphone where any idea can be expressed that has not been previously reviewed and approved, all the theatres, movie houses, dives, hovels and arbors belong to the government and it restricts their use through arbitrary laws that serve as an infallible filter for all dissent. If you don't belong to their official organizations you are barred from all these venues. I do not know what revolutionary principle can justify such an absence of freedom.

The artists and intellectuals who believe that they reflect our reality in a critical form and are granted access to the means of communications can only retain it by becoming spokesmen for the system. Their opinions, then, no longer reflect in the least the shortages, misery and incredible lack of freedom which are the staples of our daily lives. Those who refuse to modify, sweeten or transform their discourse in order to become a part of the system and earn the right to perform somewhere and earn a living doing what they want to do, are condemned to anonymity, persecution and indifference. It would appear that honesty and commitment to one's own truth have no place in country, asleep and apathetic, which has decided that to look the other way is the most intelligent and correct thing to do. What a "cultured people" such attitudes have created! If anyone thinks that there are no reasons to incarcerate Gorki, he is wrong: the reasons are obvious. For a long time now deception has been nothing more than a crude and transparent manipulation in Cuba. If anyone thinks that telling more lies is not a clumsy solution which reveals the government's pathetic political incompetence when confronted with dissenting opinions, they are mistaken: we are all aware of its lack of commitment to the truth. Not to oppose these kinds of abuses makes us accomplices to that intolerance. This is something that should concern us all because we all have a stake in liberty. The liberty to be ourselves without being judged or conditions imposed upon us cannot be enjoyed unless it is first won. I don't like to resort to quotations, but Benjamin Franklin said it better than I could:

"Those who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security."

History is there to tell us how the leaders of the Revolution dealt with our parents' generation. It remains to be seen what their relation will be to ours and how much longer we will allow them to steal our best years with silence as our henchman. Meanwhile, Gorki sits in a cell at "La Quinta" waiting for them to invent some reason for him to rot in the jail where I first met him, waiting for them to stop him from ever singing again.


Charlie Bravo said...

Thanks Manuel, with Gorki being railroaded again to jail publishing this letter is a fitting homage.

Vana said...

Wow, if you don't tow the line, if you are not a puppet of the state, prison is where you belong, the message comes loud and clear yet the world is deaf, the nerve to have signed the document on human rights when none exsist in Cuba.

Julio Rey said...

Any word on the sentence?

Anonymous said...

Sorry off topic but important, please continue with the Gorki case

Feast at bubulu with the selection of PAlin

but this bubalu commenter exposed them right away

Cigar Mike: Obviously you didn't read the NYT Magazine's eight-page breakdown last Sunday of Obama's economic plan.

As for Palin, it's a surprise, actually. How's the Christian base gonna feel about this very gay-friendly, pot-smoking woman who named two kids after TV witches? But it smells of desperation. Romney would have been a better choice.

National Review Online's Ramesh Ponnoru gets it:

Both the pros and the cons are pretty obvious. I’m going to focus on the cons, mostly because conservatives right now seem to be paying them less attention.

The pros: She’s a pro-life conservative reformer from outside Washington, and a woman. The pick signals a boldness and willingness to mix things up that the McCain campaign, like Republicans generally, need.

The cons: Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue. As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama.

Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins. And it’s not just foreign policy. Palin has no experience dealing with national domestic issues, either. (On the other hand, as Kate O’Beirne just told me, we know that Palin will be ready for that 3 a.m. phone call: She’ll already be up with her baby.)

Tokenism. Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?

Posted by thinwhiteduke at August 29, 2008 01:54 PM

(I"m getting my HTML all screwed up. All these bullet points are Ponnuru's, not mine.)

Posted by thinwhiteduke at August 29, 2008 01:55 PM

Vana said...


Upon further reading this letter from Ismael de Diego it struck me that he blames the people and not the tyranny, what are your views on this? he clearly points the finger at the peoples fear.

Fantomas said...

audio del padre de gorki directo habana

Angel Garzón said...

Wow, Ismael Diego has spoken volumes about the tyranny and our people's suffering, powerful statements indeed. I'm going to print and frame his piece in my office.

Charlie, having had one of my uncles been "judged" by a "juicio popular" (which I did not witness) for "failing to increase production" at the Central where he was the lead engineer, despite having been granted "every revolutionary means necessary" to achieve the 10 million tons of sugar goal in 1970, and having personally been compelled to "voluntarily" be a member of the "popular youth from the neighborhood witnesses" who "voluntarily had to" stand at attention for a whopping 15 minutes, while my next door neighbor who lived on the North side of our duplex was judged by a "popular judge" at an impromptu "juicio popular" where the "judge" sat at a table (a decrepit carpenter shop table that was "volunteered" by the carpenter neighbor) I can attest to the fact that any and all trials in Casstro's Cuba are a farce, the one I witnessed in 1967 had no jury, no lawyer, no testimonial witnesses and NO JUSTICE.

My uncle got lucky and because of family connections from the pre-1959 days, he was sentenced to "serve" at a Central in Las Villas I think, where his engineering degree meant nothing, he had to cut cane from dawn to dusk for three zafra seasons, eventually he was able to "retire" due to his failing health, had he been healthier, they would have worked him to death.

My neighbor was condemned to the Concentration Work Camp known as "El Espejo" which was in the hinterlands of la manigüa and was reachable only via helicopter or by foot, the inmates had to get off trucks about 8 to 9 kilometers from it and march to it via machetazos clearing the manigüa, the man never made it just as many others had before and after him, his family was told seven months after his demise that he had been buried at the camp, eventually they ¨permutaron" and we never heard from them again, for all we know they may have been executed by the communists, a miliciano and his family promptly moved next door to us, eventually the too left Cuba via the Freedom Flights.

The tyranny will never change, I hope for the sake of Gorki and his family, fellow band members and all of their friends that a modicum of justice is demanded by the international community, have faith, I can tell you that his plight has been delivered to influential people in the GOP, Gorki WILL NOT be abandoned or forgotten, this I have been assured, I can say no more.

Fantomas said...

Así es la última canción de 'Porno para Ricardo'

La detención de líder de la banda Gorki Águila interrumpe la grabación del nuevo disco, que mantiene el tono combativo y disidente con el régimen de los hermanos Castro

La detención del líder de 'Porno para Ricardo' Gorki Águila ha interrumpido la grabación del nuevo disco de la banda. El grupo quiso dar tres primicias y adelantar parte de la letra de tres singles del nuevo trabajo. Una de ellas dedicada a Raúl Castro, hermano de Fidel y nuevo número uno del régimen. Como no podía ser de otra forma, el tono de su estrofa no pierde combatividad contra el régimen castrista.

Así es la letra de la canción dedicada a Raúl Castro:

Al fin el general se hizo / Al fin el general está en primer lugar / Esto no fue casual, no fue por accidente / Al fin el general, se hizo presidente
A su hermano se le cae la barba y los dientes / dicen que tiene cancer, dicen que ya ni siente...
Raúl, Raúl tira los tanques
Raul Raúl para que el pueblo se levante
Raúl es un farsante a ti no hay quien te aguante
Él es un mentiroso / Él es un busca pleitos / el no sabe dar discursos a él le dieron ese puesto
La gente se pregunta que es lo que va a pasar / pero con Raúl al frente, la mierda sigue igual.

Publicado por JAY MARTINEZ en 12:05 PM 0 comentarios
Etiquetas: NOTICIAS

Fantomas said...

can tell you that his plight has been delivered to influential people in the GOP

Mc Cain will do nothing for Gorki

Dream on

Vana said...


Sad story about your uncle, he had to cut sugarcane for three seasons because a madman wanted to reach an impossible 10 million zafra, the blame had to go somewhere, as always is the people who suffer.

Fantomas said...

imagenes del concierto

los protagonistas , cerdos de la granja

Anonymous said...

Gorki is MY friend and you can't play with him. I want to be famous by association.

He is a patriot, he is my friend, I must also be a patriot although I am very comfortable 1,000 miles away.

Fantomas said...

Hay que ser tremendo comemierda y tremendo ignorante babalusiano para decir eso