After the storm, may also come the storm, the hurricane, the tornado. A few days ago we thought the punishment would be concentrated between Monday and Wednesday of last week, that it would last only as long as Benedict XVI was on Cuban soil. We lived those intense days between prayers and screams, with full plazas and packed dungeons. Our mobile phones, instead of bringing us communications, were turned into little boxes of silence, useless gadgets. Only when the Pope’s plane took off, did they begin the releases from the cells and reconnect some of the mobile phones that had been “out of service.” It seemed that by Saturday or Sunday the exhaustion of the forces of repression would give us a break.
However, every authoritarian father knows that after the punishment, the child chooses total submission or greater disobedience. In some parts of Eastern Cuba there have been street protests against the arrests of activists and this has triggered a subsequent wave of the police deciding to “teach them a lesson.” Yesterday a group of officials and agents from State Security raided the home of the opponent Jose Daniel Ferrer and took him, his wife and other colleagues. The also took possession of any object they considered destabilizing: books, magazine, photos, computers. None of the witnesses recall having been shown a search-and-seizure warrant, much less any document with the reasons for the arrests.
The despotic patriarch knows when he should clench his fist, when kneeling on rice, whips across the back, and shutting in the dark are no longer working. He is confident that the increasing severity of the corrective will make the nonconforming offspring see reason, but in reality it just makes his rebellion grow. Even those who have never dared to oppose the government, feel that these punishments — ever more frequent — generate sympathy for the attacked, not the attacker. Witnessing the repression thus accelerates the process of complicity among citizens against totalitarianism. Every beating they give to one, can awaken another who is pretending to sleep peacefully at his side. Together, they have the chance to find a window to escape the confinement or, instead, to come closer to the moment when they will throw Dad out of the house.
3 April 2012