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    With this guest column I would like to introduce a new blogger from
    Havana, Laritza Diversent. Laritza is an attorney. She graduated from
    the University of Havana in 2007, and the same year also took up the
    profession of independent journalist. Her Blog, The Laws of Laritza, is
    now being translated into English, so I am happy to be able to show you
    her work.

    A Sad Story
    by Laritza Diversent

    I recently struck up a conversation with a stranger on the P-6 bus, one
    of the articulated bus lines that runs in the Cuban capitol. As if in
    competition, we started to tell grotesque anecdotes, looking for the
    most exaggerated things that had happened to us. My partner won.

    "Even saying goodbye to the dead is hard in Cuba," he told me. And he
    told me that six months ago his little niece had died. A small
    one-year-old born with a congenital heart defect, who could not
    withstand the complicated surgery.

    A sad event that this man told naturally and tenderly, describing to me
    the short life of his little niece. And I discovered the pain that can
    hide in an apparently pleasant conversation, undertaken to kill the time
    while waiting for the bus and along the journey. Between us there were
    no introductions. He didn't give me his name, nor I mine to him. But I
    knew that he lived in Cotorro, a municipality on the outskirts of Havana.

    The baby was laid out in the city mortuary. At the nearest florist he
    wanted to order a wreath to say goodbye to the little angel, from
    himself and his cousins. The employee, without any sensitivity, asked
    him who had died. He didn't understand, thinking she wanted to know more
    about who she had been and described the little girl. He imagined, that
    for a baby of one, they would make a beautiful floral arrangement.

    How wrong he was! The insensitive woman looked at a list of the dead to
    see which families had ordered wreaths. Because two wreaths and no more
    are authorized for every death, and the baby had already received the
    two to which she was entitled.

    Caught between astonishment and indignation, I asked if this had really
    happened. He told me yes. But the story did not end there.

    He protested and the assistant just replied, "This is what is directed."
    After much pleading, the woman told him that if no one else died before
    four in the morning, he could order a wreath. In gratitude, he gave her
    some money which she happily accepted.

    I thought that was the end of the sad story. Almost at his stop me,
    already at the door, the stranger told me, "But that's not the only
    thing that happened." They placed the baby in a coffin half a meter
    longer than her size. The indignation of the mother was such that she
    loudly called for an independent journalist to report the lack of respect.

    He got off so fast I didn't have time to tell him that I am an
    independent journalist. During the rest of the trip I didn't talk to
    anyone else.

    I was meditating. And I realized the importance of the work we do. It
    gave me satisfaction to hear, from the mouth of a stranger, that when
    there is helplessness and outrage they think of us, the independent
    journalists, as a valid alternative way to protest.

    But I also wondered: How far does the rationing system go in this
    country? Outside Cuba, few can imagine how, in the midst of so many
    problems, we manage to survive each day. And the agony that we go
    through from the time we get up until the time we go to bed. A truly
    terrible ordeal.

    On behalf of the pain and impotence of a family that has gone through
    the difficult experience of losing a child, I wanted to tell this story.
    I dedicate to her this beautiful floral arrangement.

    Even Saying Goodbye to the Dead Is Hard In Cuba (12 December 2009)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/even-saying-goodbye-to-th_b_389952.html

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