Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Wailing Wall

Cubans are called the Jews of the Caribbean by people who don't like us that much, plainly hate us, and overall envy us.
One would ask, what's to envy of a people who is displaced, who suffer in its own homeland of the most unspeakable evil of tyranny, exploitation, apartheid, and repression. What they hate is the resilience of the Cuban people and the success and drive of Cubans abroad.
Today, a friend of mine told me that Havana is the New Jerusalem -and he's from Jerusalem.
I said that the whole Cuban soul is the temple that was destroyed, but that each one of us have a stone of that temple as a very precious relic.
He asked me where was the Wailing Wall in Havana, and I responded it was the seawall of the Malecon, where all Cubans love and are loved back, cry of joy and sadness, pray for the ones who left and never reached the other side or for the ones who are on the way over the seas, or for their own possible seafaring trip, and that is the place from where they look over the seas towards hope and future, giving their back to Havana and Cuba.
I remember walking from el Vedado to Old Havana, and seeing people leaving flowers and notes.
One day, I saw a young woman throwing a message in a bottle to the seas, and I asked her what it was. It was a love letter to the boyfriend who left and died in the Straits of Death. She wasn't crying, she had cried enough in her life she said, she was taking the seas herself, and she told me that in that letter she asked him to wait for her if she died or to guide her to freedom if she lived.
That's the life I lived in Cuba....
A life of joy, and sadness, and the Malecon seawall was always present in every aspect of it. I would sit on the wall and look at the city, and pray for the end of tyranny, and wait for the night to fall to see the ruins of Havana taking a new life during the short period of time where an explosion of color paints everything in pinks, purples, reds and oranges. I would sit facing the sea, asking God for the strength needed to undertake the trip, to give me the resolve to leave people behind that I knew I would never see again, which was something that shredded me inside. That's why I believe that everybody should be able to return -to do damage to the tyranny and to be able to look into the eyes of their elders, or at least to pray by their tombs. I was denied of that by the regime, and I don't think that any of us need the double denial that we have now hovering over our heads.
Havana was the city of the long walks, and the city of the long bycicle rides. It was also the city of car cruising, which would invariable happen on Malecon. One day, the Maleconazo happened. The people of Havana could not keep in suffering in silence anylonger. And they rose, and like the Jews of yesteryear they were crushed but they were not defeated.
One day the Malecon will be a wall of reflexion, where one will touch the sea bitten stones and mutter: nunca mas!