Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 20 August 2021 — I have always thought it is a lie that there are apolitical Cubans. When I hear a fellow countryman say, whether on the island, or in exile, that that politics are not their thing, and that when they send money back home and guarantee food on their family’s table in Cuba, they take for granted the universal order, I can’t avoid feeling I want to throw up. I always try to hide my feelings if I hear someone like that and try to avoid the topic in internet forums, because, if I am confronted with it, any words I come up with end up being borderline offensive.
Life has taught me not to be too ready to judge; up to now my experiences have persuaded me in a thousand ways — sometimes quite bloody ways — that, at the end of the day, every person has his reasons for behaving in one way or another, but, above all, I have have come to the wise conclusion that I am not God to judge anybody; but even so, I can’t control the nausea. Really, I do not believe that within such a polarised reality such as in Cuba, living under the most despotic absolutism, that you can vegetate so that it doesn’t matter to you that four senile old men and their group of satraps decide everything in your life.
I could believe that a Swedish or Dutch person, or someone in Switzerland can take no interest in politics, but if you are a Cuban and some handpicked government moronic idiots decide what you can or cannot eat — and as a result what you can shit — and whether today you will or won’t have any soap to clean the one thing, or toilet paper to clean the other, if you can or cannot sell avocados from your garden or bring four fish back to your house, what music may or may not be broadcast by your radio station, what book you may read, what opinions you may or may not express in your Facebook wall and whether or not you are permitted to enter or leave your own country; that is, when you live in in a country where absolutely everything that happens in your life is decided by four thieves who matter nothing to you, I seriously cannot understand how something like that cannot matter to you.
It would be more elegant if you silent Cubans would just recognise that you are afraid. There is nothing bad in being afraid: it’s the most basic and necessary emotion; with good reason the first one we learn in life, and although I will always excuse fear, I will never understand cowardice, because the first is an understandable vital reflex, but on the other hand the second needs to be assumed and understood as a philosophy of life which can end up destroying human dignity.
But it is completely shameful to recognise yourself as a coward! It follows that a Cuban who calls himself apolitical is in reality paying his tribute of fear to the dictator, while he shelters in his blanket of egotism, hiding from human misery within his comfort zone; converted into a non-person, giving up his self-respect and, with no dignity to defend, reduces the world to a plate of lentils, as if all that was needed to make life worthwhile was just to eat and to shit. In essence, there is no difference between such a vegetative existence and the scarcely organic routine of a pig or an insect.
I don’t know how they manage that, but there are plenty of them who do not even trouble themselves over the hundreds of young people who, since July 11th, are stuck, with cowardly convictions, in Cuban jails — after all, when all’s said and done, they aren’t your family! — and don’t care either about the imposition of a diktat like Decree 35, [a decree penalising “ethical and social harm, or incidents of aggression” in social networks], among other gems of dim-witted Castroism. No, I simply don’t believe it is possible to be so insensitive, everything in me refuses to accept that it is enough just to down a Coca Cola of oblivion in order to live like that; it would be like listening to an Afghan woman who was unaware of the return of the Taliban, and that the reimposition of fundamentalism was just like water off a duck’s back. No! That is not ethically or practically possible!
That’s why I bite my tongue in the face of these unfeeling nonentities, but on the other hand my soul revives when I hear young people like Yordenis Ugás [Cuban professional boxer] — a completely accomplished Cuban, an acclaimed sportsman, who entered world professional boxing history independently of the result of his next match with the star Pacquiao [Filipino professional boxer] — who does not forget his valiant people and who, at the peak of his career, devotes the fight of his life to the humble Cuban people fighting for their liberty. The outcome of his match this Saturday in Las Vegas hardly matters: Cuba has already chosen its champion and awarded the prize to his proud son — the belt of dignity! [Ugás won.]
Examples like this move me, I recover my faith in the human race and can only feel full of pride. It’s impossible to avoid the contrast with the clown Cesar La Cruz [Cuban amateur boxer], set up as the Castroism front-man during his final in Tokyo: a miserable tambourine who betrayed his people when he attempted to legitimise some assassins who only a few days before had massacred their own people, to the same opportunists who one day not far from now will be thrown away like kitchen rags when they are no longer useful, as happened before with hundreds of our champions who now are dying of hunger in Cuba, abandoned in their faded glory.
There are definitely no apolitical Cubans: there are only decent Cubans, ready to place their grain of sand and pay the fair price for it, just as there are cowards who prefer to keep quiet because they are afraid, and make out they don’t see the bottomless abyss into which the land where they were born is sinking. That’s all; there are no other pages to turn here. To the Cuban who reads this, you have to choose in which of these two groups you will live your life; in a barbarism like Castroism, there are no other options. If you are offended by what I am saying, I don’t care any more — those are the bad habits that come with age, or perhaps the hangover from July 11th, I don’t know; but, do you know what? … it doesn’t bother me too much either way!
Translated by GH