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Monday, October 25, 2021

Opinion: Free Expression Is On The Decline, In Cuba And Elsewhere

“Six o’clock in the morning. How’s your head?”

So begins a poem written this month by the Cuban writer Katherine Bisquet. She continues:

“Is it cold in Berlin?


I go to bed this morning – I’m trying to change my habits – with a complaint,


There’s an animal in the front yard that eats the neighbor’s pigeons.


The beast eats everything it sees in its path,


How can I tell it not to eat what doesn’t belong to it?


Are there cypresses there?


Here the ceibas have lost their leaves


Almost everything is lost,


The day, the city, the patience, the memory.”

The imagery in the poem is arresting in all ways.

The poet, Katherine Bisquet, is under house arrest in Havana. Her partner, artist Hamlet Lavastida, is in Villa Marista, an infamous high-security prison. They are among at least 55 artists and writers that PEN America says are imprisoned, or under house arrest or surveillance since this summer’s mass protests against the Cuban government.

Artists living under tyrannies often invent artful ways to express themselves that don’t mention the state by name. [See The Ful Article]

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