Desperately Seeking Camila
This was not the Cuban remake of A Star is Born. This was the visit of the Chilean communist student leader Camila Vallejo to the Island at the beginning of April. She is “the world’s most glamorous revolutionary,” according to the New York Times.
- Is it worth-while to focus on the last images and letters coming from the inside of the last living utopia on Earth? Is Cuba by now a contemporary country or just another old-fashioned delusion in the middle of Nowhere-America? A Cold-War Northtalgia maybe? Can we expect a young Rewwwolution.cu within that Ancien Régime still known as The Revolution? I would like to provoke more questions than answers.
- Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.
Despite her power as a leader of the masses and a person who to opposes the establishment in Chile, Vallejo was a submissive phantom in Havana, never straying from the iron itinerary of her Cuban guides. Her speeches at various universities and on television were conducted behind closed doors for an intellectual elite and trusted government officials. Even some official journalists complained that spontaneous questions were not allowed during the debates.
On the social networks of the limited local Internet, activists, protesters, and other bloggers tried to communicate with this vice-president of the University of Chile’s Student Federation via her account @Camila_Vallejo. But this beautiful, 23-year-old proletarian, with the arrogance of a diva in the middle of a presidential campaign, discredited them in the style of the Cold War, both in interviews and in her blog, essentially saying that it is neither “necessary nor relevant” for the Latin American left wing to deal with the “mercenaries” of “imperialism.”
As a colophon, Vallejo and her cheerful smile were presented alongside the solemnness of the eighty-year-old Fidel Castro, who was so involved with the Chilean radicalism that ended with the coup d’état against President Salvador Allende (September 11, 1973). Those photographs, so approving of the authoritarian patriarch, are the “kiss of death” that belies the democratic thinking of this popular leader. (Even the spokesperson of the Chilean government called Vallejo’s statements of loyalty to Fidel “retrogressive.”)
Camila Vallejo, out of naïveté or ignorance, insisted on an idyllic idea of Utopia, while the Cuban political police made sure that no citizen of the Island could debate with her freely. Paradoxically, she seemed much closer and more credible protesting on the streets of Santiago de Chile than in our country. Now we will have to recognize her again in the headlines of the international press.
Translated by Jason Burrows.