It Is Not Because Fidel Says It, It Is Because I Believe It / Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa

Cuban President Raul Castro speaking in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, December 3, 2016. © Carlos Barria / Reuters

Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa, 21 December 2016 — December 3rd was the ceremony in Santiago de Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro and the procession of his ashes across the entire Cuban archipelago. I sat down to observe the ceremony, although I knew it would be repeated many times, but I preferred to be an eyewitness rather than “hear about it” in the hallway. At the end, Fidel Castro stood up. His speech is important, of course, be is the president of the nation. And not because the majority elected him, in fact, I don’t know who elected him, no one ever explained it, but he is.

His speech was more of the same, and the figure of his brother was exalted one more time, to the height of a god. May God have mercy on Cuba, for He sees the wickedness of the idolatry of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him. continue reading

He spoke about how, in circumstances of extreme difficulty, Fidel always said, “Yes we can.” Yes, we can attack the Moncada Barracks, yes we can make a revolution i Cuba, arrive on the coast in a yacht, resist the enemy and even do away with him in less than 72 hours; resist hunger, rain, cold. Yes we can organize an army in the Sierra Maestra and open a new guerrilla front, withstand the blackouts, the limitations of public transport, preserve health and education in the midst of crises and blockades, in short, so many things. A visionary man.

Today he no longer exists. It is the end of one era, giving way to another, where we see our hopes reborn. It is for this that I feel very excited and inspired because like him I believe that “Yes we can.” But I go in the opposite directions from everything he believed and that he could do and not do in Cuba. He imposed his opinions, his crazy ideas. I am even-tempered, sensible, logical. I am a mother, woman and Cuban. I think about my children, my family, my country.

I believe that Yes we can have internet in Cuba, cheap and uncensored. Why in internet a human right in other countries but not for us, is it perhaps that we are not human. What are they hiding from us that is on the internet?

Yes we can have free elections, where every Cuba can, with dignity and conscientiously choose their president. Yes we can dream of a younger leadership in tune with our reality, that although it did not participate in the in attack on the Moncada Barracks in the 1950s, arrive later that decade on the yacht Granma, or fight in the mountains, is not therefore less qualified to take on the challenge.

Yes we can aspire to have different political parties for one to belong to and identify with. Yes it is possible for an army and a police officer without surnames, that responds not to the interests of the elite but rather of the people.

Yes we can aspire to a government that pays attention, and creates a space for dialog with those who think differently. Yes we can aspire to an objective and committed journalism, but not with an ideology, but simply with the truth, so that the press doesn’t silence those who shout in the street.

Yes we can respect those who think differently and not call them worms or scum, those who want to “change everything that needs to be changed,” as Raul Castro himself is so fond of repeating.

If, for capturing these ideas in this article, they disappear me, then what is said about Camilo Cienfuegos is true. If after doing so, I die in a car accident, then what is said about Oswaldo Payá is true. If they put me in a car and drive me far away and release me in some other province without any money, or bruised in a gutter or threatened, then I am fighting for the right side, because Fidel fought against these things in the Batista dictatorship. The national president of the Federation of University Students said in her speech that Fidel was a friend who defended just causes.

I am defending a just cause, freedom and democracy, therefore I am not on the opposite site, I am not a terrorist nor a counterrevolutionary. I am a 41-year-old woman, married for 18 years, the mother of three children, Christian since I was 19, pastor of a church for 9 years. A licensed English Teacher and licensed in Sacred Theology.

I am a woman who years for changes and who has not lost faith or hope, because I believe “That Yes We Can.”

I’m Telling You I’m Here / Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa

Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa, 4 December 2016 — Nine days of national mourning have been decreed for the death of Fidel Castro. Fidel has died, but it seems like he is still alive. However, we who are alive, it seems we are dead.

There are many ways one can be dead and not only physically or spiritually because of sin, as God says in his Word. From the moment we whisper to express what we believe or because we don’t want any trouble, denouncing the injustices that are committed daily in Cuba, we can talk about the death of the conscience.

Today I took my younger son to Gerardo Domenech School, located in Jovellanos, Matanzas, Cuba, and I found that they didn’t ring the bell, because they haven’t had any electricity since yesterday. I approached one of the teachers and asked how they could hold class in classrooms without light. Maybe they don’t know that the low light is affecting our children’s vision and this will affect them for life because they are in the midst of their development. continue reading

I asked, then, “Why hasn’t the fault been fixed?” She explained to to me that it’s not a fault, but that the school has a determined amount of kilowatts assigned to it for each month and when that is used up then there isn’t any more. She told me about the efforts to save electricity, and that includes they themselves turning off the lights, but it still isn’t enough and doesn’t last and that from now until December 5th there won’t be any more kilowatts assigned.

Other mothers present in the group complained and then I asked them, “Will we continue bringing our children to school so they can be educated and authorized to slowly lose their vision?” They looked at me as if I were an extraterrestrial, and seeing the boldness with which I spoke and with that expression that shows the death of the consciousness, they said: “Nothing can be done, you’re going to make problems for yourself.”

Then the teacher approached me to ask why I hadn’t entered my son in the Mathematics Olympiad. “Teacher,” I said, making use of the Holy Spirit for self-control, “I don’t know how to do these problems,” and she said, “why don’t you ask the other children?”

I answered, “Because the Olympiads, so far, have been optional, not obligatory, because I don’t have any interest in solving them, because I won’t get anything from it, nor will anyone else, because I have more complicated problems than the Olympiads to solve every day and they are these:

“What am I going to feed my children, how can I stretch my income, when I have to get a transurethral resection (RTU) for my dad who has spent two months with probes but his urethra is obstructed, and we already went to the National Hospital, the Naval Hospital, Oncology and they couldn’t do it, because the equipment for the procedure is broken.

“From Oncology they sent to the Almejeiras Brothers Hospital, and without going into the details, they saw us, and for more than 15 days we have been waiting for the miraculous phone call that says: Come to the hospital.

“How can I guarantee that my children can study in a university and that they can become what they want, and not have some career determined by someone else? How do I resolve the problems in some of the stores where they change the prices of the products, or they don’t label them and you have to ask the clerks one by one, as happened to me in the Varadero Airport?

“How do I know what I’m buying in the state stores are industry made products and not handmade as has happened?

“How can you tell our children during school hours to have us come to sign a pledge* to give continuity to the Revolutionary Concept expressed by Fidel, involving my children in political matters without consulting their parents?”

“Sure, they know it, but we don’t, they want us to keep Fidel alive and they are trying to keep us dead, with a conscience callous to the reality of our country. And I am saying this to you, that I am here.”

Note: In the Naval Hospital they only see military and their families. My father is seen as a combatant who already lost his hands in a detonator explosion, during maneuvers by the Territorial Troop Militias (MTT), preparing for ’the war in a time of peace’ in the year 1996.

*Translator’s note: Since Fidel Castro’s death, the government has set up gathering points all over the country where Cubans are asked to come and sign a loyalty oath to his Revolution.