The troubles of Lía

You can be 23 years old and see with the clarity of someone who has lived a great deal.  It’s possible to have a raggedy old laptop fossilized by the heat and to write a blog without breaking any keys in the effort.  She manages to say the hardest things—things the majority of people only mumble at home—publicly, brazenly, and even sensually.  The one managing this unusual feat is Lía Villares, living in Luyanó, playing the guitar and wanting to change things.

One day she combined the name of her city and the chronic loss of red blood cells and began her blog, Habanemia.  In her case, the absence of hemoglobin was caused by the scarcity of dreams for a generation that has been able to fantasize very little.  Lía was one of those who started school at the time when the Special Period was coming into our lives.  Children who don’t remember the ration book for manufactured products, with the unfavorable letter “E”, which my mother  guarded as if it were the most valuable thing in the house.  Those for whom it wasn’t common to drink milk with breakfast, who didn’t receive gifts on birthdays, and who listened, bewildered, to stories of former delicacies, related by the very old.

Lía’s large eyes speak of calm, and questions, thousands of questions at once.  In her blog she lets her hair down and is transformed.  She shouts, sings, shows the pan with oil, the only food obtainable in these days of scarcity.  Her angustiada fe de vida* [anguished faith of life] is shared with friends who gather at night in G Street, with books that distract from the ceiling falling in: “Me in my little house in Luyanó, falling to pieces like all of Havana, spending hours without the Internet and trying to sleep and to finish The Idiot.”

“It’s twenty times better to be a foreigner on this terrible Island than to be a Cuban who does things by the book” she tells us in one of her entries.  However, since Lía is not a “Cuban who does things by the book,” Habanemia has let her shake off this widespread maxim which she describes as, “inaction and silence. The collective inertia of a people lost in thought. ”

* From the poem “El ausente” [The Absent] by Eugenio Florit. Here is a music version by Ray Fernandez.


  1. I read this blog entry and the parts of her blog which I could decipher. I don’t yet understand what she is searching for, what she hopes to find. It is evident that she is a complex woman with extraordinary feelings. They however don’t manifest themselves in a coherent manner. Maybe I am too “conventional” to understand, please help!

  2. Hola from Canada. Lia is correct. It is indeed 20 times better to be a turista in Cuba. Or 25 times. Or 50. Turistas, of course, do not need a PRE or visa de salida to exit Cuba. Por turistas, Cuba es muy bueno. Por cubanos…

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