Barrio Adentro, Corazón Afuera by Yoani Sanchez

September 1, 2010

I thought it would be fitting to repost here Yoani Sanchez’ post entitled “Barrio Adentro, Corazon Afuera” or loosely translated “Inside the Barrio, with the heart outside) for those that may have missed it, it circulated widely in Spanish.

Barrio Adentro, Corazon Afuera by Yoani Sanchez

“You must turn in your passport!” So they told him on arriving in Caracas, to prevent him from making it to the border and deserting. In the same airport they read him the rules: “You cannot say that you are Cuban, you can’t walk down the street in your medical clothes, and it’s best to avoid interacting with Venezuelans.” Days later he understood that his mission was a political one, because more than curing some heart problem or lung infection, he was supposed to examine consciences, probe voting intentions.

In Venezuela he also came across the corruption of some of those leading the Barrio Adentro Project.  The “shrewd ones” here become the “scoundrels” there, grabbing power, influence, money, and even pressuring the female doctors and nurses who travel alone to become their concubines. They placed him together with six colleagues in a cramped room and warned them that if they were to die — victims of all the violence out there — they would be listed as deserters. But it didn’t depress him. At the end of the day he was only 28 and this was his first time escaping from parental protection, the extreme apathy of his neighborhood, and the shortages in the hospital where he worked.

A month after arriving, they gave him an identity card, telling him that with it he could vote in the upcoming elections. At a quick meeting someone spoke about the hard blow it would be to Cuba to lose such an important ally in Latin America. “You are soldiers of the fatherland,” they shouted at them, and as such, “you must guarantee that the red tide prevails at the polls.”

The days when he thought he would save lives or relieve suffering are long gone. He just wants to go home, return to the protection of his family, tell his friends the truth, but for now he can’t. Beforehand, he must stand in line at the polls, show his support for the Venezuelan Socialist Party, hit the screen with his thumb as a sign of agreement. He counts the days until the last Sunday in September, thinking that after that he can go home.

25 Responses to “Barrio Adentro, Corazón Afuera by Yoani Sanchez”

  1. torres Says:

    Gringo, if we can agree that the original speaker did not mean anything algal, then it is clear that without Yoani pointing at it, readers would not reasonably interpret anything algal. She pointed to nothing algal anywhere in her writing. If she was thinking algal thoughts, she kept them to herself. All your rationalization is akin to mind reading, or simple projection.

    Without Yoani explicitly stating that she did not have algal thoughts, you *could* assume that she did (even then, she could be lying). But from the definitions of Red Tide in the dictionary, you could just as easily be claiming that she was thinking about menstrual cycles.

    Like I said before, but you are being stubborn not to accept: *chances are* Marea Roja was just a poetic way of describing the propagation of communism. If you want to go with the unlikely and unsupported interpretations, that speaks more about you than about Yoani’s text.

  2. Gringo Says:

    ptotype should be prototype

  3. Gringo Says:

    2) You’re wrong, Yoani is quoting someone else, so, no, she is not the ultimate authority.

    As Yoani Sanchez wrote the article, she is the ultimate authority on whether or not she considered the “marea roja” reference to have a double meaning or not. While the lackey who is quoted about “red tide” prevailing at the polls almost certainly intended no reference whatsoever to the algal bloom – on that we are agreed- that doesn’t necessarily mean that Yoani had the same one-dimensional perspective. Moreover, Yoani Sanchez is not exactly the ptotype for the Fidelista lackey.

    While a speaker may consider his words to have but one meaning, a listener will not necessarily agree. Here is a simple case. I might be glad that a certain city has a good baseball team. To show that, I might say, “I am an athletics supporter: go Red Sox.” Others might infer from that a meaning I did not intend: a jockstrap.

    A dictator who says “The people support me” because of a cheering crowd is most likely completely convinced of that. The people support me. Period. When an observer hears that , the observer may detect a different meaning, such as “The people support me at the rally because 1) they would be fired if they didn’t come and cheer; 2) if they didn’t come and cheer, they and/or their family members might disappear; 3) they come and cheer because they are the beneficiaries of regime largesse…etc.”

    Fidel may talk about “freedom of speech,” and be entirely sincere about it. Yet to most observers, the hidden meaning of Fidel’s talking about freedom of speech is that freedom of speech in Cuba means that Fidel may talk at will, but no one else.

    Double meanings when the speaker intended no such double meaning is something that is all around us, especially in authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

    I repeat: it is up to Yoani, not to us.

  4. torres Says:


    1) I’ll repeat, too: “Chances are…”

    2) You’re wrong, Yoani is quoting someone else, so, no, she is not the ultimate authority.

  5. Gringo Says:

    torres: I repeat what I previously said.
    The ultimate authority on this is neither you nor I, but Yoani herself.

  6. torres Says:

    Gringo, as an English teacher taught me, it’s not a matter of whether an interpretation is plausible, it’s a matter of whether it is likely. To determine that, you must read the complete context.

    If the algal interpretation does not have any other references pointing to that interpretation in the rest of the text then you can’t support it over the chavista interpretation since that one does have supporting references.

    The quote in Yoani’s text is from the “commuist” side. Chances are, that person would not have used a negative connotation or double meaning intentionally.

  7. island canuck Says:

    Not only did it happen but Chavez then said that no one could tell him what to do & that he would continue campaigning.

  8. Robert Says:

    And what about what happened Friday? Tibicey at the CNE says Diaz is out of line to point out government is breaking election laws as usual and as they always have. And then Chavez says on TV that Diaz could go to jail? When’s that post coming? Is this rumor or did this really happen?

  9. Gringo Says:

    metodex :
    I do stand corrected in stating that “This [marea roja] was definitely not written from the viewpoint of a Chavista.” You pointed out that inside Venezuela, “marea roja” tends to refer to politics, a.k.a. Chavista propaganda, something I didn’t realize. There are 67,000 Google hits on “marea roja” Venezuela, with the political implications popping up early and often. Ditto “maquinaria roja.” “Marea roja” is a subset of “Rojo rojito,” and all that. Contrary to what I had written, a Chavista could definitely have written “marea roja” et al in support of El Supremo. As I am not subject to cadenas, I am not an authority on all the terms used in Chavista propaganda, and now I am better informed, with the advantage of not having had to learn it the hard way- by being subjected to it.

    Outside of Venezuela, “marea roja” tends to refer to the algal bloom: two of the first 3 Google hits.

    Did Yoani Sanchez intend for “marea roja” to refer only to the way it is used in Chavismo, or did she also intend a double meaning of the algal bloom? While double meanings are common in writings originating in totalitarian societies such as Cuba, they are not universal. The ultimate authority on this is neither you nor I, but Yoani herself.

  10. metodex Says:

    theres no double meaning.Theyre talking about the wave of people,the masses that move.They also call it the “maquinaria roja” or roughly (im no translator) the red machinery.come on stop it with the red tide dude 🙂

  11. Gringo Says:

    sid: There was definite reference to tide: “marea.” There is a bit of implicit double meaning or play on words there. While “marea” is tide, “mareo” (“mareado”= seasickness, among other meanings) means sickness. Not so much double meaning as emphasis. This was definitely not written from the viewpoint of a Chavista.

  12. firepigette Says:

    I like this phrase that Miguel wrote:

    “incredible end to a truly horrific tale of the misery of politicians and how they place their personal ambition above all, even in the face of human tragedy.”

    This is the first corruption.Politicians have to lie and/or tell half- truths in order to win popularity and votes.Once they corrupt themselves in this way, the slippery slope begins.

    People have to rise above voting for promises and jumping on the bandwagons of popularity contests and learn how to determine the worth of something in a new way.

  13. sid Says:

    to gringo: yoanni wrote: “marea roja se imponga”, however i do not speak spanish, it is “red will be spread”, and no implications on red tide are necessary.

  14. metodex Says:

    i thought you’d have something to say about the CNE talking about integrity and Chavez’s cadena and the accusations and stuff. Now i see you don’t 🙂
    Im still waiting for your next post anyways,i love reading and writing comments,though they get deleted sometimes :O

  15. Miguel Octavio Says:

    I tried, but is anything really new or different?

  16. metodex Says:

    im waiting for your post on what happened today.

  17. deananash Says:

    No mick, there are NO LIMITS. That’s what happens when someone gets (or, more correctly, is handed) ABSOLUTE POWER. You know, ABSOLUTE CORRUPTION.

    island canuck is right, these are the types of issues that Chavez should be attacked on.

    megaescualidus is also right – and repeats my long-standing argument. Chavez, like his idol Castro, will NEVER voluntarily relinquish power – PERIOD.

  18. mick Says:

    Let me get this straight, Chavez has imported 29000 Cuban health specialists (indentured servants), and is now forcing them to vote for his crooked and incompetent cronies as regular citizens. Is there no limit to the passiveness of this society.

  19. megaescualidus Says:

    For those who support Chavez and still doubt he, among other things, is the supreme “vende patria” (meaning traitor to the motherland), this is one more proof of it. For those who still believe that Chavez’s motivation is ideological, this should be proof that he’s really an opportunist, with the only motivation of staying in power at all cost. Venezuela is being ripped apart, and most of us are standing watching it being destroyed. For those who think Chavez will stand down on defeat after his re-election (in 2012) giving voting cards to foreigners (not that this hasn’t been done before, but the novelty this time is granting voting “rights” to Cubans) this should be a warning that he won’t. He will never conceed defeat, and it is not in his plans to be defeated.

  20. Gringo Says:

    “You are soldiers of the fatherland,” they shouted at them, and as such, “you must guarantee that the red tide prevails at the polls.”

    Given the biological implications of red tide- a harmful algal bloom [HAB]- this was an interesting phrasing to use. Many people would agree with the analogy, but not many Chavistas would.

    The well-known “Florida red tide” that occurs in the Gulf of Mexico is a HAB caused by Karenia brevis, another dinoflagellate which produces brevetoxin, the neurotoxin responsible for neurotoxic shellfish poisoning

  21. RWG Says:

    I wonder if these Cubans are brave enough to vote for the opposition? Castro and Chavez are national heroes only in their own minds. Most Cubans will be happy when the Castros and Chavez are gone.

  22. island canuck Says:

    They are modern slaves. There is no denying it or sugar coating it. They have no free will, can’t travel, can’t speak out, etc., etc. They are here against their will.

    This is another aspect of Chavismo that I think the opposition should make more public. Talk about these slaves in public. I’ve never heard any oppo politician talk about this.

  23. moctavio Says:

    It’s the story of a Cuban medical Doctor sent to Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro project.

  24. metodex Says:

    i dont understand,whose story is this? I highly doubt this is fiction anyways.

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