It's two in the afternoon at the Department of Immigration and Aliens
(DIE) on 17th Street between J and K. Dozens of people are waiting for
permission to leave the country, that authorization to travel that has
been given the name "white card," although it might better be called
"the safe conduct," "the freedom card," or "the get out of prison
order." The walls are peeling and a notice to "be careful, danger of
collapse" is posted next to a huge mansion in Vedado. Several women —
who have forgotten how to smile and be pleasant — wear their military
uniforms and warn the public that they must wait in an orderly fashion.
Now and then they shout a name and the person called returns some
minutes later with a jubilant face or a strained pout.
Finally they call me to tell me of the eighth denial of permission to
travel in barely three years. Specialists in stripping us of what we
could live, experiment, and know beyond our borders, the officials of
the DIE tell me that I am not authorized to travel "for the time being."
With this brief "no" — delivered almost with delight — I lose the
opportunity to be at the 60th anniversary of the International Press
Institute, and at the presentation of the Internet for the Nobel Peace
Prize in New York. A stamp on my file and I was obliged to speak by
telephone in the activities of Torino European Youth Capital, and to
communicate with the publisher Brûlé to launch Cuba Libre in Montreal
without my presence. The absurd immigration has inserted itself between
my eyes and the full shelves of the Frankfurt Book Fair, between my
hands and the compilation of my texts which will see the light at the
Nonfiction Literature Festival in Poland. I will not go to the Ferrara
Journalism Fair nor to the presentation of the documentary in Jequié,
Brazil, much less be able to participate in the Congress of Women
Leading the Millennium based in Valencia, nor in Cuneo, during the City
Writers event. My voice will not be hear at LASA, which sent me an
official invitation, and I will have to enjoy from a distance the
appearance of my book Management and Development of Contents With WordPress.
All this and more they have taken. However, they have left me — as if
it were a punishment — along with the basic raw material from which my
writings come, in contact with that reality which would not forgive me
were I absent.