14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, November 15, 2019 — A little after noon on November 15, right on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, a young man, who identified himself (verbally) as a Counterintelligence agent, told me that he had orders not to let me leave my house.
I explained to him that he would be committing a crime called compulsion, classified in the Penal Code in Article 286 stipulating that “whoever by other means, impedes another from doing what the law does not prohibit or from exercising his rights, is sanctioned with prison for three months to a year or a fine of one to three hundred in fees.”
But it was useless.
I’ll leave the anecdotal details of the affront for another time, what I don’t want to overlook is how counterproductive it is that the highest authorities in the country officially celebrate the 500th anniversary of the moment of Cuba’s colonization by Spain and continue refusing to commemorate, as is proper, the date of May 20 which ended Spanish dominion over the island.
They allowed the King of Spain to lay flowers for his dead in Santiago de Cuba, fallen after the attack of the American Admiral Sampson (allied with Cuban independence fighters) during the crucial sinking of the fleet of Admiral Cervera on July 3, 1898. But they don’t allow this descendent of Cuban independence fighters to leave his house, they don’t intend on spoiling the party for those nostalgic for the colony.
My paternal grandfather, the Cuban independence guerrilla soldier Alcibíades Escobar, whose machete my family guards as an heirloom, wouldn’t have forgiven me for celebrating this success of the Spanish, nor would he understand why I can’t put out a flag on my balcony on Independence Day.
Today, at the stroke of midnight, Miguel Díaz-Canel will probably go around the symbolic ceiba tree that marks the site of the founding the city. At his side will be Mr. Eusebio Leal, who once confessed to me that he was a monarchist and that his king was Fidel Castro. I have witnesses. “Spain mustn’t lose Cuba for the second time,” warned the Spanish media a year ago.
I feel sorry for this young man who could be my grandson, who was given the order to not let me leave my house on this day. He was friendly and for that reason I explained to him that he shouldn’t worry too much about violating the aforementioned Article 286 of the Penal Code, because he and the others accompanying him in the operation could cover themselves with the argument of “due obedience.” Ah! But he didn’t like that I told him that he was obedient. Hopes remain.
Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera
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