The boy stands to the side of the entrance, on his left is his girlfriend who has accompanied him to say goodbye. He carries a bag over his right shoulder and looks around as if startled. On the floor a dark suitcase where he’s packed maybe a few clothes.
Today I arrived at a very different airport from those many times in which tears of pain and impotence were like stones behind my eyes. Also my passengers had been other who didn’t flee, or retreat in fear and resignation of living in fragments terrorized by communism. Today the rivers of tears sometimes seen in the past, have decreased and undefined goodbyes sleep in the past. Many hands will be raised in goodbye but it will no longer be the solemn gesture of a possible eternal separation.
I return to the past for a minute. My daughter’s back lost on the other side of the dictatorship’s dingy hallway, having abandoned her medical studies so as not to get caught in the shackles of tyrannical government. Someone who loved her had paid ten thousand dollars to a network of human-traffickers, well-structured by corrupt state officials, perhaps all honorable members of the Cuban Communist Party. It was a payment for the exercise of one of the Human Rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration.
This afternoon I arrived there with some exceptional friends to say goodbye to Eliecer Avila, the young man who, with the ingenuity of the peasant who believes in integrity and respect for the human person, some years back publicly asked Ricardo Alarcon, president of the National Assembly, for a simple explanation of why Cubans cannot exercise Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the one regarding arbitrary detention — and the mediocre satrap with one of the most ironic stupidities by a representative of the Communist government, under whose direction a nation has been torn apart, its people enslaved and the country crushed: If we give permission for everyone who wants to travel travels, the airspace would be so congested: power not only corrupts it also leads to imbecility.
Those words, so offensive to the intelligence and contrary to the human condition of freedom, rights and justice for all, was the trigger. From that moment, the boy was selected for social exclusion. The boot of the tyrant was placed on top of him to squash him like a repugnant insect, but the boy under the boot turned into stone. It is the blindness of power, confuses butterflies for lions, humility for weakness, hatred for love, forgiveness for submission, and bread and wine for the Lord’s Supper, excrement and sewage for their own waste.
I approach him and give him a hug as if his veins run with my own blood and more. Later I ask him to answer two questions.
How do you feel to be traveling today and having been, I think, one of the first people to directly demand from a government official the right of all Cubans to travel?
Eliecer: Well, first I’m thrilled and second satisfied that in some way my desire to have a country in which, in order to change a law to better the country, no one has to do anything violent, disrespect anyone or start a war; it is simply enough to clearly express the opinions of the people and the leaders act in response to this. So I think this step, however small, can be very important in all of our lives.
Do you think that this form of peaceful demand is right for everyone, most beneficial for everyone?
Eliecer: For me it’s the only way to ensure a future of peace and harmony. I think that opening new wounds doesn’t close old wounds. Therefore, I believe that at least for me, respect and dialogue will be my only attitude.
Thank you and I wish you success, I tell him.
No longer the naive peasant (and I say this as the greatest praise), who asked Alarcon with kindness, respect and decency for the right corresponding to the human condition, not from the pressure of the independent press, giving to know the reality of the day-to-day life, the strength of the opposition under the prison regime, the exclusion, exile, discrimination and open repression in criminal acts of barbarism, we would never acquire this right. It’s good that we don’t incite to violence, but the government has never been willing to transparent and respectful dialog with people who think differently, and until this is achieved, what is left in Cuba will continue to live in bondage and uncertainty.
When he was nearly inside the NBC cameras approached. Some curious people approached and asked who this character was, but the people don’t know anything beyond what the hypocrites, demagogues and perfidious dictatorial programs say in official discourse.
This has been one of the largest and most efficient achievements of the Revolutionary press, hiding the truth and hiding the sons of the nation that make it honorable behind the word mercenaries. Its essence was the betrayal of decency and ethics.
I hear a taxi driver who works for Cubataxi for hard currency ask another, “Why don’t they take a picture of me?” And the other one answers, “You want to lose your job?”
Once inside the terminal a young woman approaches Yoani and says to her, “You’re Yoani, right? I’m from Spain and I read your blog.” The painful irony of love. What is freedom. Most travelers are Cubans, none has come to greet any messenger of freedom. The people you love the most, for whom you demand their rights, some ignore you and the majority don’t know you. Your people for whom you have risked everything and for whom you write, and they don’t know who you are.
The dictatorship has been charged with murdering information. But we have the consolation of Christ crucified by those he came to save. The young man who went to Europe today with the right of return, shows his ticket, delivers his suitcase, raises his right hand and is lost behind a door.
We turned around and left the airport, I looked up at the sky looking for airplane congestion blocking the view, but all I see is the afternoon light dispelling the darkness of the foolish minds of tyrants who rule the people by force of power and not through waving the flag of freedom.
This time I entered the airport happy and left happier, I had fulfilled a promise I made to myself when I watched my daughter leave with tears in my eyes. Today I melted but with passion and love, not for feeling shame on my conscience for having betrayed my people.
4 February 2013