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Yoani Sanchez

Yoani Sanchez

Posted: October 23, 2009 01:21 PM

Mail Boxes Plus Ballot Boxes: Add State Inertia and It Equals Nothing

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Mail boxes look like ballot boxes; they have a slot to insert the paper and its contents, it could be a letter or a ballot, which receive similar respect on this island. Despite the limitations on correspondence, it turns out that it is easier to get one to its destination than it is to influence the course of the country with our vote. Hence, one of the most popular sports for my fellow countrymen is that of writing their complaints to the higher authorities, addressed precisely to those most responsible for our problems.

A woman writes a long lament about the sewer ditch that flows into the nearby school yard; the pizza seller denounces in writing the inspector who demands a percentage of revenues in exchange for not shutting down his kiosk; one patient needing surgery deposited his letter recounting the year he had been waiting to get into the operating room. The complaints are so numerous that in many ministries there is a department with several employees for the receipt of the letters. A true flood of sheets that repeat -- over and over -- the familiar heading, "By this means I turn to you..."

As a part of this, in time, the digital letter appeared, circulating through the intranet to several institutions. The intellectual debate of 2007 began in a similar way, and now we see the nonconformist opinions of various cultural personalities showing up. Parading across my screen have been the letter of the actor Armando Tomey, along with another from the literary critic Desiderio Navarro and a very good one from Luis Alberto Garcia, who played the role of Nicanor in the short films of Eduardo del Llano. This Chartism has become a substitute for the referendum needed to express our call for change.

Our epistolary tendency has similarities with the movement in nineteenth-century England which managed to get more than a million signatures to present the People's Charter to the House of Commons. The Chartists then managed to press for the introduction of certain reforms, but I have the impression that our notes are worthless, mock ballots, ink that dissolves before the inertia of the State.

 
 

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