What would you do to truly be free? Would you inject yourself with HIV, knowing there was no treatment for AIDS, just to enjoy liberty? Ponder that… let that soak in… to be free, you must die of AIDS. That was the option presented to a whole generation of young Cubans in the 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union. In post Soviet Cuba, after the fall of European Communism, Cuba was on its own. Young Cubans had been catching some cultural elements of freedom from American radio waves from Florida and found the music and ideas refreshing. They called themselves Frikis – metal heads, punk rockers, what many young Americans took for granted. But, to ensure order, Cuba cracked down on them. In the suppression, these young Cubans found a need for freedom and while some tried to escape to America, some resigned to a place the Cuban government didn’t care about… the sanitariums. The only way to get there for young, healthy, idealistic Cubans was to be terminally sick. In comes self injecting HIV.

These young Cubans died either trying to sail makeshift rafts to Florida, or died from a horrible illness. And they died with honor about the freedoms of their choice. It’s their sense of choice that calls to me. As I look around this prison, we all have a choice to be free. We can have everything the young Cubans weren’t allowed to have, to include our opinions and sense of self. So, the challenge becomes, what to do with that freedom? Finding stories like that of Los Frikis really moves those of us who actively take part in changing our lives. We have all the freedom in the world right here, right now to be exactly what we want to be… we simply have to do it. Our prison are these gates and walls, not what’s in the mind. While some struggle to realize this, ask yourself, “What would you do for true freedom?”

by Rory Andes

Prison is what you make it…

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