by Dagoberto Valdes
In front of Karina’s backyard wall up by the Cuban government against Convivencia on December 15, 2009 I wondered myself what to do after the impact of the early days. I remembered that old saying of the Civic Center and Vitral: 15 minutes to complain and 45 to propose answers.
The avalanche of solidarity has been big. Through my mind pass the first wordless handshakes, pats on the shoulder in the middle of the street with a phrase that says much in Cuba: Dago is not easy, not easy. We begin to get the first calls of the diaspora, journalists who wish to witness first hand, the diplomats accredited in Havana, the neighbor who constantly ask me: but what are they thinking?
I go back to Karina’s backyard. I meditate in front of the wall that is getting filled with roosters, hearts, doves and hands. I put mine on the paint can and paint a sun while I pray for Cuba. Inside the sun shape my open hand and I promise myself not to raise it to the aggressor, not to react to the slanderer with the shadows of hatred, or to the walls with asphyxia.
But this is not just good intentions, something must be done to be worthy of this unearned honor: nothing less than a wall for Convivencia. A wall speaks for itself. What explanation can be given to this double block of zinc and brick with which they meet our noses? One must be blind or complicit: They built a wall in Pinar del Rio. Does anyone need more evidence?
As we always do faced with danger or joy, our group meets. We share the pain of the family, we divide among us the impotence of repression. And soon, Toledo proposed to do what for as long as two years, we have considered and postponed to give priority to the magazine Convivencia: The magazine is only bimonthly. Let’s each write a testimony and publish it with our pictures on the website We did it. We worked through the late night and during a whole intense morning. At 5pm our testimony was posted on the web.
The next day, another meditation, another push. Many people ask us how are we going to respond to this provocation. We all agree that faced with violence, walls and gags, there is only one peaceful and profound response: more peace, more space and voice. Not louder but more frequent voices. Not with offensive voices but with proposing voices. That’s it.
If they want to wall off Convivencia then I think it’s best to weave more coexistence into the space within the walls. Thus, from the crevices of the double wall of Pinar del Rio, emerges a new communal blog to the web. Behold the miracle: walls that give birth from their wombs to more information, more communication, more solidarity, and so this blog will be called INTRAMUROS, within the walls.
I thank those who ordered, implemented and built the two walls: they, also, are responsible for this blog. I thank the Convivencia team to which I belong, specialists in turning crisis into growth, walls into space and gags into voices. I will not be able to thank enough this training that has enable me to gain a foothold in the mystique of the proposals for Cuba and not in the regret and paralysis.
More coexistence, now within walls, is one of the fruits kneaded by the sledgehammer, the block and the steel that have raised a symbol that everyone in the world can understand.
Translated by Lourdes Gonzalez