Ibrahim Doblado: One Less Writer

The sad news has come to me that Ibrahim Doblado died. And after recalling our jokes, complicity and sympathy, I felt relief for him. Unfortunately for many years he was abandoned. For the government, of course, it will just be one less writer, which is the same thing as: one less enemy.

He was one of the last friends I had,and also one of the last that I lost. But earlier he had been very grateful for my friendship. Whenever he came to Havana he came to my house, there he printed his most recent texts, and also sent mail to his friends scattered around the world, who promised him some publication. He suffered from diseases of the nerves and other maladies that his ancient body resented.

Once I had the chance to visit his beloved island of Turiguanó where he lived, as I’d promised him, and I traveled over 400 miles to see him. When we saw each other he couldn’t believe it and just hugged me and laughed happily. I spent several hours in his apartment and toured the town. He had one constant paranoia: State Security searched his apartment. He left marks on the door to know when they entered, this he told me.

Then, when I opened the blog and started to be a public enemy of the regime, I dedicated a post to him, I wanted to defend him, to demand the attention he deserved. This was when the Cuban Book Institute, with the Taliban Iroel Sánchez at the helm, was giving out computers all over the island to supposed writers, mediocre and opportunistic, who only had one path to being called artists which was to play the game of the system, of course, pure mercenaries without works, who earned points for their “defenses” of the Revolution, and the functionaries provided them equipment and Internet access so they could come out against any criticism of the dictatorship.

Then I pointed out that they should give one of those computers to Ibrahim Doblado, a true artist, with acknowledged work, who had to beg the Custodian of the Youth Club at night to let him go to the computer room and digitize his texts.

Days later Ibrahim came to the house, as usual, very frightened, clearly afraid, and let me know that an Argentinian writer living in our country had shown him my printed post, and he said I was no longer his friend because I was looking for trouble with the authorities. That I was a counterrevolutionary and that he shouldn’t visit me any more to avoid complications. I guess he listened in silence, without being able to avoid the fear that they injected in all the artists of his generation.

Later we met on occasion, and he didn’t talk about, nor did I feel it lessened his affection for me. Later life changed and I had to abandon my house to flee from the arrests and acts of repudiation, I turned into a nomad, and Ibrahim and I lost touch. I didn’t even know he was living permanently in Havana. The news of his death reached me almost a month after it happened, through a friend whom supposed, from my silence, that I was unaware of the fact.

Now I read that the commissars of culture are planing a colloquium on his work and I don’t know what other tribute. Their hypocrisy of remaining silent before the suffering of Ibrahim and now link his name to the dictatorship. They think the dead can no longer harm the system. They did the same thing with the writer Guillermo Vidal, and others as well.

These days I should write the post about Virgilio Piñera, another great misunderstood writer that the regime was responsible for doing great harm to in life with a particular vengeance.

Now, Ibrahim, you are with your God and those writers who both admired and read you. Rest in peace, as you deserve, after suffering much misfortune in these — in spite of everything — beloved islands of yours.

August 15 2012

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