My Cable and I. Fiber Optics in My Town? / Somos+
Posted on November 27, 2015
SOMOS+, Frank Rojas Torres, 24 November 2015 — It was October 15, 2015,
and a success that should be transcendental for all my compatriots turns
out to be nothing more than a false alarm, one more of so many
expectations that remains only that. Another promise to be fulfilled in
the long-term, only because “the steps taken should be well thought-out
in order to not commit errors.”
It’s true that weeks before the news spread by word of mouth, growing or
shrinking according to what one brought to it or took from it, showing
this writer that we all believed it would be a reality weeks later.
The so-much announced, glorified, dreamed-of and awaited fiber optic
cable called ALBA-1 finally made its brilliant entrance onto the terrain
of my little country town, opening a passage between the solid rocks
that make up its subsoil, pushing us a little more while we try to
shorten the tremendous gap, which on this subject as on almost all,
separates us from a large part of the outside world.
And yes, here I was so proud telling people about the immense amount of
information that can run through its veins. I became majestic making a
show of what it could do and having it rubbed it in my face that in the
matters of information and informatization we are, as a good Cuban says,
“more backward than the ampalla” (i.e. extremely backward) or light
years from even the century in which we live.
I can’t deny that I was inundated with emotion, feeling the privilege of
remembering that I’m human.
From Venezuela swam the cable, which would connect us with
civilization, with our fellow men, leaving behind the primitive life of
ignorant cave-dwellers. Now it seemed I finally would belong to the
modern era. I already felt better located in time and space. It made me
think about the idea of having nearby the key of traveling “to the
infinite and beyond.”
In front of me, the brigade of workers and machinery from the army —
something already suspicious, hmmm — charged with creating the
conditions pertinent to the good functioning of the new technology, were
hard at work opening a trench where the aforementioned cable would
extend to the terminals, while the curious — like me — little by little
were gathering around the work area, asking questions and exchanging
opinions about something that also was novel for them, seeing who could
pick out the next stone that they would fling away.
Well, it’s not that I like gossip, but I couldn’t avoid being pushed by
curiosity to see up close how they were connecting the cable to the
terminals. Who would be the object of the test? Because everything
that’s done here is submitted to a meticulous test before using it for
more people, to avoid a “false” step. Because of this we function so
“well.” Because of this our country is in the “vanguard” of
“everything.” We can’t give ourselves the luxury of committing “errors.”
We can’t give the “enemy” even the least opportunity to criticize us.
Well, who is our enemy now? Caramba, we have to fabricate another now
that the Americans suddenly became our friends. Well, now someone will
have to appear who wants to “blockade” us and put us on some black list.
Well, as I was saying, an irresistible force pushed me onto Street 3, to
follow “Mr. Cable” as in his time Theseus did, following Ariadne’s
thread that was leading him to the exit of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
While I walk I wonder about who has been chosen for such an experiment.
Finally I turn the corner and follow my cable, if indeed it’s mine. At
this height and with all the joy that seizes me, I already feel it’s
mine, a part of me and my family. Okay, it’s not a guy or a girl, nor
will it be in the bakery or the grocery store. It’s logical that it
should be in the library. Nor is Frank here.* I miss him, but I follow
my cable. Where will it take me?
I almost run into a gentleman on a bicycle while I walk down the street,
already connected with my friends, investigating things, looking for
information, rediscovering my country and its rich history, especially
the one not told, exploring a new world and perhaps finding a new girl
to conquer in cyberspace.
I come to another corner and look up to calculate how many more were
left before I saw where my cable would be placed, and I finally see its
destination. No, it can’t be! This has to be a joke in very poor taste!
I almost fall on my ass when, before my thunderstruck eyes, my cable, my
friend the cable, like a fish in water, is being hooked up at the PNR
(National Revolutionary Police) headquarters.
What was it doing there? It recently had come to my humble little town,
and now they were surely warning the cable that it wouldn’t be like we
thought, no sir, without first having to pass through this place before
entering the life of all of us, because here all is done with “order.”
This would be its Customshouse, where surely they would remove from it
many things it was bringing to me and my people. I suppose they left the
cable very clear about what it could or could not say, and what it could
or could not let us see.
I felt newly brutalized and regressed again in time, moving away more
and more from my friends and from the enormous universe that minutes
before told me it was waiting for me. I was on the point of screaming
from so much rage and frustration. I can’t deny that I almost cried.
Soon came to mind the image of a large filter through which would pass
the information traffic that would travel in all possible ways through
my cable. At once I realized it was an illusion to believe that
everything would be so easy beneath this Regime of “total”
totalitarianism. My naivety betrayed me at thinking during my detective
run that this innovation would come to me just like that. Automatically
I began to link together the latest stories about the building where the
PNR is located, subjected for a couple of months to changes in its
structure and some other remodeling.
Of course, conditions must be created in order to better adapt oneself
to the new area of work. I had to change many things so that I felt
comfortable with their listening in when I spoke with the “worms**,” my
brothers in struggle.
Today is November 7, 2015, and for me it was going to be a big date in
my little rural town. It ended up adding to that long list of things
that today move me to continue looking for a different Cuba. I continue
dreaming, awake, about something that arrived but continued on, like the
waiter that passes in front of you with a succulent plate, leaving
behind the smell of what you would like to eat but can’t because your
money doesn’t stretch far enough to allow yourself that luxury.
Today November 7, 2015, and it’s almost a month since the arrival in the
land of Limonar of the fiber optic cable. My buddy, my brother, I remain
with the desire to touch you and a strange, bitter taste that reminds me
where I am. I still see in the streets the open wounds made by those
machines of doubtful origin, now infested with garbage and dirty water
as unequivocal marks of a system that only leaves us that: open wounds
full of filth.
Today I want to laugh at myself for being so stupid and for having
converted this real-life story into one of those scenes from the fairy
tale, “Little Red Riding Hood.” In the distribution of roles, the PNR is
the wolf that waits for me in bed after swallowing my grandmother – my
cable. I am the tender and innocent Little Red Riding Hood, who arrives
at her grandmother’s house and sees her in bed with the face of a wolf:
“Yo! Little Red Riding Hood.” “But grandmother, what big ears you have!”
PNR, the wolf: “Ah, the better to hear you with my dear!”
*Reference to a movie about a band leader.
** “Gusanos” — worms — is one of Fidel Castro’s epithets for people who
leave Cuba for the U.S.
Translated by Regina Anavy
Source: My Cable and I. Fiber Optics in My Town? / Somos+ | Translating