‘Call the Dictatorship by its Name’, Ask Cubans Living in Spain

Repression of the political police of protesters during the protests of July 11, 2021 in Havana. (Marcos Evora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Jorge Ferrer, Ginés Górriz and others, Barcelona, 29 July 2021 — We have witnessed a popular uprising in Cuba like no other that has been known in the last 60 years. The inertia and fear generated by decades of that sinister cocktail that is made by mixing enthusiasm with repression — the exact symbolic reverse of a free Cuba — was blown up on July 11 under the push of a generation of young Cubans who have abandoned the aspiration to emigrate, but they refuse to be part of a system that now only gives them the spurious illusion of Cuba’s exceptionality.

They are Cubans who want to live in a more prosperous and more just country, and who, spurred by the hunger for bread and freedom, together with concern for the health management of the pandemic, are raising a rebellion these days that places the Cuban youth in the same range of desires manifested by young people all over the world.

Cuba, for some years, and resoundingly now, is no longer an exception. Quite the contrary, young Cubans are part of a world and a generation that claim a preponderant role in the construction of a society of equality and rights. It is not for pleasure that the demand for political and economic freedoms made by Cubans has been accompanied in recent years by urgent demands regarding race, gender or animal rights.

The testimonies of the passion and despair of those young people that we have seen marching through the streets and cities of Cuba are eloquent. On Sunday, July 11, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets in many locations, which included Santiago de Cuba and Havana. They did it without more coordination than that dictated by the echo that resonated on their mobile phones, on social networks. It was beautiful until the beatings began, because the images of the repression we have witnessed are no less eloquent.

Men and women dragged, beaten and detained by government troops and paramilitary forces that have been used for decades to repress, frighten and silence Cubans. Kidnappings, house raids, detainees who are still missing, at least one dead…

In a televised address to the country in the mid-afternoon of that day, Miguel Díaz-Canel, who today serves as president of Cuba, called for violence, unequivocally, for civil confrontation between Cubans: “The order to combat is given: the revolutionaries take to the streets,” he said. It was the natural extension of a motto he inherited from the Castro brothers. That “the street belongs to the revolutionaries” as the perpetrators of the “repudiation rallies” have chanted for decades,

His words meant that the physical integrity and even the lives of the protesters were threatened from the highest authority of the State. But those words meant even more: the divorce between the political hierarchy in Cuba and the people is already an incontrovertible fact. Just a few hours later, the police began shooting at people.

In the midst of this exciting and terrible situation, those of us who signed this letter, mostly Spanish citizens born in Cuba, are witnessing with amazement and indignation the refusal of the Government of Spain to adopt a clear and firm position in favor of the protesters and against the authoritarian regime in Havana.

The refusal, hurtful and pathetic, to recognize that a dictatorship prevails in Cuba that deprives citizens of basic human rights, the verbal pirouettes of leaders of the main left-wing parties in Spain who hold the highest positions in the Government (Pedro Sánchez , Nadia Calviño, Yolanda Díaz, Isabel Rodríguez …) to avoid a clear and resounding denunciation of a despicable regime, does not seem consistent with politicians and parties that, with so much passion, claim to defend the expansion of citizens’ rights.

They are immersed in the denunciation of the dictatorship that Spain suffered for decades, and ultimately they present themselves as parties of progress. Don’t Cubans deserve to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as the rest of the citizens of Latin America? What’s more, do the tens of thousands of Cubans who have nationalized ourselves inSpain and have made this country of freedom ours, do we deserve such contempt on the part of the government?

Nothing can, nothing should prevent the political leaders of the Government of Spain and the left-wing parties that govern today from denouncing the Cuban dictatorship. Neither the opposition to the North American embargo that weighs on the island, nor the short-term calculation that seeks to protect Spanish investments in Cuba — taking advantage of the immorality of claiming economic advantages by taking advantage of the same embargo that they denounce — are useful. These are two equally slave excuses of a landscape before the one that Cuba and Cubans now inhabit. Cuba no longer lives in the territory of the debates of the past. Taking to the streets to ask for freedom, Cubans have leaped ahead a century and drag us, and also Spanish politicians from the right and the left, with them.

That the Cuban economy is a disaster, that its military and civil elites — if anyone can call them that — are corrupt, that in the last decade the reforms in favor of opening up to the private economy, the so-called self-employed, have been squandered. These are truths available to even the laziest of today’s Cuba cheerleaders.

At this point, we Cubans do not ask for compassion. After decades of loneliness, of so many years watching the governments of the world, and those of Spain as well, look the other way and respond to the policy with both bravado and victimizing of the Havana regime with concessions and the sterile exercise of “fellow travelers,” a colonial transcript of appeasement, many of us no longer even ask for solidarity.

But respect yes. Respect for the truth. Respect for the young people who these days take Cuba out of the night of history to put it suddenly in the landscape of protest and the global demand for rights and freedoms. Respect for those who face a regime armed to the teeth with the mere strength of their bodies and the voices with which they shout. And they shout, aware of the nature and size of the monster they face: “Down with the dictatorship!”

Together with Jorge Ferrer and Ginés Górriz the following signatories add their names:

Cesar Mora

Abilio Estevez

Rolando Sánchez Mejías

Antonio Jose Ponte

Juan Abreu

Heidi Hassan

Carlos Quintela

Ladislao Aguado

Leandro Feal

Pio Serrano

Eduardo López-Collazo

Pablo Diaz Espí

Patricia perez

Marco Castillo

Dean Luis Reyes


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the newspaper El Mundo.

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