A People Tamed by a Prolonged Repression

Police siege this Sunday in front of the headquarters of the Ladies in White in Lawton, Havana. (Twitter / Berta Soler)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 December 2018 — Every December 10, International Human Rights Day, demands an annual review of the situation in Cuba. It is a day to audit, take stock and see where the inhabitants of this island are with regards to recovering their spaces and civic capacities.

The obligatory question on this date is whether the respect for these rights has improved, worsened or remains in a situation of stagnation. It is of particular interest to measure certain indicators since the engineer Miguel Diaz-Canel was named president, the first president in almost 60 years who does not carry the surname Castro.

Any quantitative analysis based on statistics could yield a slight positive result. The death penalty continues to not be applied and the number of political prisoners has been reduced, while arbitrary arrests, beatings or repudiation rallies remain, but have not suffered an alarming upturn, such as the Black Spring of 2003 or in the days after the death of activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo in 2010.

Some international observers conclude that the application of repressive methods of less intensity is an index of improvement. They are the same ones that point out that, although many activists are prevented from leaving the country, opposition meetings are prohibited, arbitrary arrests continue and independent journalists have their work tools confiscated, there are no disappeared or human beings found with traces of torture thrown in the ditches.

This is, perhaps, the most distorted reasoning possible on the subject of Human Rights in Cuba and one that has allowed various international actors to complacently evaluate the situation of the country in this regard. It is the same perverse logic that leads us to congratulate Saudi Arabia because its authorities allow women to drive cars and congratulate the North Korean regime because it authorizes men to cut their hair in new styles.

The tamer no longer lashes the lion in front of the public to force him to jump through the hoop, because the terror has been inoculated into the beast in a long and meticulous process of successive punishments.

At least two generations of Cubans have been born hearing in school and in the media that it is right for there to be only one political party, accepting without question that there is an institution called State Security that acts outside the law, and that it is normal to live with the whistleblowers who write reports and with the intolerant who have the ability to close the path to a good job or a university career.

The vast majority of citizens, at least as of December 2018, see in the official media sponsored by the Communist Party the only source for finding out what is happening in the world and the country.

The idea of organizing a political party, a professional guild, a student association, an independent union or a club of friends is something that has been left out of the healthy intentions that a “normal Cuban” can have.

The criminalization for decades of these and any other options common in any democracy has instilled in the population the prejudice that these are practices alien to our traditions that can only respond to the evil interests of US imperialism that seeks, by these means, to seize our national riches and subjugate our people.

The situation of human rights has not improved in Cuba, it does not even remain stable. It has worsened and is getting worse every day as the harmful effects of prolonged repression accumulate.

There is even the risk that the almighty tamer called The State dares to leave open some door of the cage to show to the world his prowess of having tamed an entire people. How many will dare to cross that threshold?


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