Relics and Souvenirs, and The Berlin Wall In Cuba

08/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Yoani Sanchez Publisher of 14ymedio, independent newspaper in Cuba

A Generation Y reader sent me a piece of the Berlin Wall. The fragment of concrete has come to me, a person also surrounded by certain limits, not less severe for being intangible. The stone painted with remnants of graffiti suggests to me an impossible collection of what has contributed to the separation of Cubans. According to a Latin American writer it would be a list of "the things, all the things" that have intensified the division and tension among those of us who inhabit this Island.

You could put in this particular collection of objects on a stretch of the wire fence that once surrounded the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP*); a shard from the nuclear missiles* placed on our land which brought all of us to the verge of disappearing; one of those pages where millions signed--without having the option of marking "no"--that socialism would be irrevocable*; and a sliver from one of the clubs that cracked heads on Havana's Malecon on August 5, 1994*. The display of samples would not be complete if I didn't add a shell from the eggs thrown during the Mariel Boat Lift and some millimeters of ink from the reports and denunciations that have abounded in recent years. There would not be a museum capable of also housing the beings and situations that have acted like a great barrier of brick and cement among us.

Each Cuban could create his own repertoire of the walls that still surround us. What seems more difficult is to draw up the list of what unites us, of the possible hammers and picks with which we tear down the walls that remain. For that reason the gift of this frequent commentator has made me happy because I have the impression that our barriers and divisions will also--one day--be pieces valued only by the collectors of bygone things.

Translator's Notes:
Please use your search engine to find more information on these events. Briefly:
Military Units to Aid Production were forced labor camps. Among those incarcerated there were homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Nuclear Missiles: Placed by the Soviet Union in Cuba in October 1962.
Socialism irrevocable petition: In 2002 the Cuban constitution was changed to make socialism "irrevocable", following the distribution of a petition which 8-9 million Cubans reportedly signed calling for the change. The petition was launched in response to the Varela Project, which reportedly collected 11,000 signatures asking for a referendum on individual rights such as free speech.
Malecon on August 5, 1994: A spontaneous riot along Havana's waterfront boulevard and seawall.

Yoani's blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English translation.