Where’s Pepito?

That impertinent coarse boy, the protagonist of our jokes, to whom it’s the same thing to be rebellious as to be wicked, is too quiet these days. Pepito has been the “pinch of pepper” that has made us laugh until we cry; we have put in his mouth what we don’t dare say, and through him we have mocked our institutions, our politicians and our difficulties.

Pepito, our eternal rogue child, has been to the moon, to hell, to the Vatican and has, on several occasions, crossed the straits of Florida. From his guilt-innocence he has suggested irreverent solutions and on more than one occasion he has been more lucid than the analysts and the academics. In the Special Period* he was sarcastic and pessimistic, but for the last couple of years he had become strangely boring.

It’s been months since we’ve heard his jokes and a strange sobriety has began to settle over our lives. Some speculate that Pepito has emigrated or died; that he lost his sense of humor or that he has been arrested for his jokes. Perhaps he was only turned off, shut down because of too much repetition of his taunts. I fear that we have become too serious, worried, bored and that we will end up choking on the obligation to be formal, sensible, prudent and, in the end, to not be Pepito.

*Translator’s note: A very difficult time in Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of its financial support.

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