Yunior's 15 Questions
Castroism cannot endure without a daily dose of demotivation. The press, radio and television form part of this system, but also apathy, cowardice and misery, which go hand-in-hand with totalitarian systems. Hence, what in democracies are everyday events, like questioning, calling a spade a spade, and social or political irony is big news when they happen in our country.
Roberto Carcassés managed to associate marijuana with the five Cuban spies linked to the murder ordered by Fidel Castro of the “Brothers to the Rescue pilots.” The spies were sentenced to long prison sentences in the United States, and the whole country saw that video. The artist called for freedom for the five spies, and for "María,” the popular way of referring to marijuana. Roberto Carcassés is an extraordinary musician and the impact of the dissemination of his audacious video was multiplied by the fact that it was seen on television, since the act was public, and precisely one for the exaltation of the five spies, who for the Castro were "five heroes", although there already was one in Cuba.
I could not stop thinking about that feat event after listening to a digital audio file that reached me thanks to Wilfredo Vallín, the director of the Cuban Law Association, entitled "Yunior García Asamblea AHS." That's all the information given on a person asking a series of questions which, he himself says, do not require answers. The rest can be deduced from the audio.
Yunior Garcia works in the theater, belongs to the Asociación Hermanos Saíz (AHS/Brother Saíz Association), the mass organization for young artists, and the Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC/National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists). Because I happen to know Yunior García personally, I also know that he is an actor, playwright and theater director. In his remarks the artist praises the AHS's system of scholarships and awards for its effectiveness and capacity for artistic mobilization. He wishes there were such policies at the UNEAC.
The event was attended by the First Secretary of the PCC in Holguín, Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar. Immediately after his introduction, Yunior García announced that he would be posing 15 questions he believed were relevant at a meeting like that one, which should also be to talk about Cuba, the "country we live in and dream about."
Yunior García's first question was: "Why don't we hold a Round Table to analyze the rights we have achieved under Raúl?" The artist cited the buying and selling of homes, cars, cell phones, the elimination of the "departure permits" to travel abroad, the right to "surf the Internet" and stay at a hotel. Rights that, he says, "we didn't have with Fidel."
This was followed by: "Why is the journalist Cristina Escobar prettier and younger than Randy Alonso, but with the same ugly rhetoric? Why does the Pope have to issue bulls, while Cubans have to throw balls? Why do some leaders neglect the budget to protect culture, while others neglect culture to protect the budget? Why it is said that Iríbar is running for First Secretary of Varadero? "
At this point in his questions, Yunior García paused to speak directly to the First Secretary of the PCC. He assured him that he would not interrupt his questions if Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar were not present, seizing the opportunity provided by his presence to speak to him directly.
The artist probed the first secretary of the PCC about his distancing from cultural events in the capital and his absence from activities related to Pope Francis's visit months ago. Yunior García told Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar that there was a widespread rumor in Holguín that "when the situation with dengue and cholera were at their worst, you were in Varadero."
Immediately after that Yunior Garcia continued: "Why do the police in the United States kill African Americans, while those in Havana shoot people in the back? Why do we criticize the anti-immigrant law in Arizona if we "Palestinians" need a residence permit or temporary residence to work in Havana? Why do we criticize a hegemonic world when in Cuba we live under the hegemony of a single party? If we're going to legalize piracy, why don't we legalize corruption and force the corrupt in our cultural institutions (we all know who they are) to pay taxes on what they steal? Why is the word cojones (bollocks) dirty, but not "censorship," "corruption" and "double standard?" Why, when we thought that censorship had disappeared from Cuban theatre, does there appear the case of Juan Carlos Cremata? Why don't we conduct a survey to find out how many Holguín residents know the name of the president of the Provincial Assembly of the People's Power? Why does the GDP go up every year, but the budget for Culture goes down? Why are those who want to revolutionize things branded as "counterrevolutionaries?" And why were some friends afraid of me reading these questions?"
From the crowd one then hears a "Bravo!" and a round of applause, recognizing Yunior García’s personal bravery, and also his brilliant exposition of the essential problems facing Cuba.
Yunior García's Fifteen Questions will remain etched in my memory for how they served to cunningly denounce the institutional deficiency entailed by the one-party system and the violence implicit in an anti-immigrant law that prevents countrymen who do not live in Havana from walking down the street there, as for nearly two decades they have been seized and deported. All these are outrages that our journalists fail to mention, colleagues dishing out the party line, like Randy Alonso and Cristina Escobar, according to the artist.
Institutional corruption; economic growth at the expense of brutal cutbacks to social security, cultural policies and other social programs; the cover-up of the terrible magnitude of the epidemics ravaging our country; the negligence of those who should be public servants, supposedly our politicians; the impunity of our military; the rise of fear in our society, so brilliantly condemned in his last question ... all this was unmasked by Yunior García, an actor who gave a remarkable performance.
As for me, I simply suggest to this country's authorities that they make Yunior García a deputy at the National Assembly of the People's Power. In the past it has not been difficult to move and replace deputies, some even being held responsible for their supposed voters' welfare. I even think that the artist could be a member of the Political Bureau, or president. Why not? It is generally agreed that if Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz can do it, anyone can. And, with his questions, it is evident that Yunior García is not just anyone.