“Citizen Zero,” Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 20 July 2021 — Throughout last week a hornet’s nest buzzed in my temples and I didn’t have a minute’s rest from ruminating on so much news and thinking about my long-suffering Cuba. I was moved to the core by that flood of people that swept away in a few hours more than six decades of indoctrination and terror until, for three days, in more than fifty cities, the most perfidious and best structured dictatorship in this hemisphere was pushed back. This was already an indisputable victory for my people, and, whether it admits it or not, the most devastating political defeat for the dictatorship in more than six decades.
That day my people carried out their vindication before History. Just as past generations had their Yara and their Baire, their Baraguá and their Palo Seco; just as they dethroned a tyrant in the 30s, and later rose up in the mountains or resisted with stoic heroism in the cities during the Revolution of 1959, before being betrayed by the Castros. This July 11, our people recovered for our homeland its lost dignity. Each of these milestones in history was the pride of their respective generation, as from now on that memorable day in July will be our pride.
There is no reason for disappointment here, worthy patriot, because on that jubilant day the great winner was, without a doubt, the Cuban people! It does not matter what Castroism claims to have seen. What millions of Cubans starred in and the world saw that glorious DAY OF NATIONAL DIGNITY – let’s call it by name now – was a dictatorship on the defensive against a rebellious people who responded without fear of the henchmen, pushing back a repressive machinery, well-tuned and honed for more than half a century with the same public treasure that it had stolen from them. During those days we saw for the first time terror on the face of the stunned regime, which could not
Today’s scenario, a week after the uprising, was totally predictable. It is not to be expected that a regime founded on six decades of social indoctrination and systematic terror will be struck down at the first blow. Was this the dream of millions of Cubans? Of course! But in real life, with such a consolidated totalitarianism, which Castroism typifies, it never happens that way. There are plenty of examples to prove it, and ours is not exactly the exception.
But there was no cry of defeat on July 11, but rather the opposite. In reality, Cuban, you were defeated every time that you kept complicitly silent in the face of some clear injustice; every time you apathetically raised your hand in some absurd assembly to approve decisions made by others that harmed you as a worker or as a common citizen; every time you waved little flags in a parade ordered by those who disrespect you so much, and you dug your own grave by thus strengthening this merciless despotism that today pounces vengefully, like a hungry beast, on your brothers.
In reality, Cuban, you were defeated when you went abroad on humiliating work missions, under oppressive contracts, knowing that they would enslave you miserably and rob you until they were satisfied, succumbing to the pretext of poverty that today finally launched us into the streets. You were defeated when you did not defend your honorable neighbor from the “acts of repudiation” of the communist mobs, or when you militated without conviction in the antics that the ruling party calls “civil society” only to display it to the world as a cynical insignia. In sum, you have suffered thousands of daily defeats over long decades every time you paid some tribute to that paralyzing fear that turned you into the shame of yourself, into a shadow without dignity, at the mercy of the powerful and the thieves.
But that changed forever on July 11, brave Cuban, because the true weapon of Castroism was never its rifles, or its tanks, or its riot troops, or its wasps of whatever color they paint them: its main weapon was always that fear rooted in your brain like a cancer. That and no other has always been the definitive weapon of Castroism!
The same one that this people, becoming millions, snatched from them when the time of the Homeland arrived, and of which it will be deprived forever. From now on, without your fear, the dictatorship is doomed to be extinguished. But though the beast may be stunned, it is definitely not dead. That is why the two phrases are the order of the day: PASSIVE RESISTANCE – do not cooperate at all with your oppressors; and ACTIVE SOLIDARITY – organize and relentlessly support the liberation of all brothers imprisoned during the raising of that DAY OF NATIONAL DIGNITY.
Let us not allow this huge tide of people to dissipate into a bland emotional clamor, for very little is achieved with useless catharsis. This war could be cruel; it is destined to be difficult and to have many battles; it may be long; it must be fought on all fronts and it can never be conceived as a short-term sprint, but rather as a commendable long-distance race, a demanding marathon, where our people will have to use all their forces, and the Civic Resistance will be called to be the most decisive key.
But regardless of what happens from now on, we have one certainty left: as of this July 11, nothing else will be the same, because now we will be freer, since freedom — like its antithesis, slavery — is an intangible state of mind more than a visible external condition. The freedom that you just tasted is a state of grace that lives in you, Cuban who hears me, and depends more on the nobility of your heart than on the thickness of your chains.
Translated by Tomás A.