by Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez
The burial of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia began on foot from the funeral home to Camacho Street where the Santa Clara cemetery is located, and there his remains were laid to rest. The sun was strong and the heat was intense but those men and women- relatives, friends, or partners in struggle- decided to be witnesses for the rest of the city of the pain they felt for the loss. While they walked slowly and silently, I was watching from behind the funerary march, asking myself “Who will go forth and bring words of support, of hope, words which heal and can only come from Jesus in his most ample condition which can save these suffering people who are in their majority mistreated, imprisoned, beaten, discriminated, vilified, and even betrayed on innumerable occasions?” A faint chill ran through my body. I usually feel this when I see that God has placed me in a situation from which I try to escape. God wishes that instead of burying them as this society does, that we wake them the bread of life and that we love and accompany them amid all their demands that all their shattered rights be respected. I also discovered something that unites me with them, and that is that I also feel like I am part of the Kingdom of Heaven, and yet at the same time I am also a citizen of this land, of this Cuba which is just as much mine as it is theirs, and the rights they are fighting for are my rights as well.
I was greatly moved by the final trajectory when the men carried the coffin on their shoulders, led by the Cuban flag- that symbol which represents all the inhabitants of this land. The rest of the attendees lifted floral offerings to the sky. Throughout the entire march through the city many people were standing at their doors to watch. Others stopped on the sidewalk, and this happened all the way to the cemetery. There was no fervor and no remorse on the faces of those who saw the funerary march pass by them. All the faces were of respect, for their silence implied it. I want to believe that those faces are the real Cuban people who are respectful before the pain of others, incapable of judging their brothers just because they have different ideas, incapable of beating others just because they think politically different, and incapable of hurting, injuring, or mistreating their compatriots.
The final words at the cemetery were spoken by the Sajarov Award recipient, Guillermo Farinas. The pain was evident in his face and in his words: “We cannot do anything at this point to legally accuse those who are the culprits of this death”. I understood at that moment that these people are also denied this right to justice. Those who are responsible refused to carry out a fair and transparent trial, yet the dissidents displayed a great amount of determination upon not remaining silent before the death and all the injustice. This made them examples of dignity and human value in my eyes. One of Farinas’ final words resonated in my heart and I became one with them: “God bless Cuba”. I said, “Amen!” because that is my desire as well, that the God of justice bless our nation.
The Student, as Soto was nicknamed, is no longer among us. However, his body has not been buried, it is a seed that has been planted in arable land that will grow. He is an example for all courageous Cubans. I hope that the events which caused his death are brought to light completely. There are other men and women who continue risking their lives to all sorts of dangers in their attempt to achieve freedom for Cuba. Jesus also died for them, and God also wants to achieve salvation for them. Who will go reach them? Who will heal their innumerable wounds? Who will wet their thirsty lips with the water of eternal life? I know that it is a difficult and dangerous calling, and I know it is a goal which many would like to avoid, but God wants to hear a positive response to this calling: I will go.
Translated by Raul G.
17 May 2011