I had a friend who had a very short fuse. Alcibiades was a man with a bad temper and his family and the neighborhood learned the lesson that no one should contradict him. As a result, among other consequences, he was always the last to hear bad news and in his entire adult life he lacked a thermometer to measure the effects of his own actions. Obviously he died of a heart attack.
I remembered Alcibiades when people from civil society were arrested, having gone to the police station out of concern for their friends. An agent of State Security, whose name I couldn’t learn, warned me with authoritarian gestures that “they” were not going to tolerate any provocation. I’ve thought a lot about that warning.
We could wear ourselves out clarifying that this is not a provocation but very sensitive people and we end up concluding that the only way of not provoking them is to follow the old advice of the poet Heberto Padilla in his Instructions to Enter a New Society:
One step forward, and
two or three back:
but always applauding.
Every day more Cuban citizens refuse to follow these instructions. A sense of self-esteem is growing among us and turning us into individuals, far from a domineering “us.” This inevitably leads us to disobedience. “They” whom I can’t name as “the authorities” so as not to irritate the other sensitive people, sooner or later will have to face the reality that they are on the brink of ungovernability, because anger is not usually gradual nor does it build slowly but surely. The anger that originates in seeing our most elemental rights trampled jumps directly from meekness to rebellion.
As I am an optimist and an enemy of violence, I think we have to time to seek an understanding. To whom does it fall to take the next step? I think it’s precisely up to “them,” initiating a process of political reforms that need to start with the decriminalization of political dissent, the dissolution of the mechanisms of repression against those who think differently, and a clear message to all of society where it is proclaimed, once and for all, that a legitimate rule of law will be established in the Nation.
12 November 2012