Friday, August 14, 2009

What will they do with the flags?

At night a few red flashes lit up a bit of the Malecón, just where the guards’ whistles warned that no one could sit. The United States Interest Section had a lighted news ticker, which few managed to read, to transmit news items, articles about the Declaration of Human Rights, and political messages. A forest of flags in front of it prevented anyone of human height from seeing the scrolling letters slide past. With their constant beat, the enormous fabric flags “contributed” a noise to the neighborhood that made it difficult to sleep in the nearest buildings.

Although the official version says that the 138 flagpoles are there to remember the victims of terrorism, we all know that they accomplish the mission of covering, almost entirely, the statements appearing in the windows of the Interest Section. The screen on one side, and the flags on the other, were the visible symbol of the confrontation between the two governments, whose evolution is still very difficult to predict. To vary the repetitive path of the conflict, some days ago the Americans deactivated the luminous notice board that projected over the street. A little before, the Cuban side had also removed the billboards, with their mocking and insulting tone, that had been located on the sidewalk in front.

The question many of us have is what will happen now with the beating pieces of fabric if there are no phrases for them to cover up. The enormous costs of replacing the material damaged by the wind and maintaining the masts, strongly attacked by the saltwater, makes no sense if there are no words on the other side. Removing the banners will be gesture that will come about a little later, but in the end it will happen. Some day I will walk along the coastal avenue of my city and nothing will interrupt the union of the two blues made by the sea and sky.

If they have already disconnected the digital ticker with its messages, then it’s time, also, to lower the flags intended to hide it.