14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 23 July 2021 — Last night I was thinking over and over again that when morning dawned I would have to go to the doctor’s office to receive the third dose of the Abdala candidate vaccine. It would not be a problem for anyone to walk a hundred meters and receive an injection, but for the past 13 days I have had a State Security officer guarding the entrance of my house and preventing me from leaving.
This morning, at 9:40, I tried to leave my house but, when I reached the ground floor of the building, the policeman got up from his chair and repeated, mechanically: “You can’t go out.”
“Today I have to receive my third dose of Abdala so I must and will go out,” I replied. But the agent does not understand explanations. It was like trying to convince a wall. “If you have to go to the office, wait for me to call the patrol right now to take you,” he said.
“There’s no way I’m getting into a police car as if I were a criminal,” I replied. “Then I will go with you,” he answered.
The doctor’s is one block away, I opened the door of the building and went out. The man walked beside me, commented on the weather, and at fifty meters he told me that we had “different ideals.” I didn’t
At 9:45 a.m. I arrived at the doctor’s office, a small room with several chairs and, in the same entrance, a table where a young second-year medical student had the task of taking the blood pressure and temperature of all those who arrive, before registering the name on a spreadsheet.
I asked who was the end of the line, a man answered me and I sat down. The young student told me that it was also necessary to wait at least ten minutes for the person to recover from the exertion of the walk. As I sat down, the officer approached the girl and said something in her ear, she got up and looked for the doctor. The upshot of that conversation was that I was told to walk past the dozen or so people who were waiting.
Annoyed, almost ashamed of having to skip the line, mostly elderly, I went to the doctor who asked for my identity card and vaccination card. After a few brief questions, he jabbed my shoulder with a syringe while I was still dumbfounded and annoyed. Then I was left to wait in another room for an hour to monitor any adverse reactions.
But State Security has its own protocols that do not obey medical or scientific logic. A few minutes after being there, the policeman burst into the room and said: “No, let’s go to your house now.”
The doctor ended up giving in to his pressure, gave me back the documents and again I walked the short distance that separated me from my house, with that impertinent shadow to one side.
Before entering the elevator, the police officer had the nerve to try to make amends for the violation of my privacy and the disrespect he had committed toward the health regulations: “Sorry for the bad time I put you through,” he said, while I was just thinking about my two daughters, trusting that their mother had only gone to “get a jab” and that I would return as soon as possible.
No sooner had I entered my apartment and without being able to process all that, they knocked on my door. On the other side were the State Security officer, the nurse, and the young medical student who had received me at the vaccination center. They asked me if it was possible to “monitor” my physical situation at home. The two women came in.
The nurse left and the first minutes with the young woman were very uncomfortable. She was looking at her cell phone and I was looking at mine. I offered her coffee but she declined, she says she doesn’t like it and she brought her thermos with water. We don’t talk much, we barely exchange a few words, cordial, routine. At 10:45 am the nurse came to pick her up and they left.
The State Security officer is still on the ground floor of the building, and I don’t know how many more days he will stay. Outside at the corner there is a patrol car ready in case I break out in an attack of rebellion and try to leave, despite the warnings. This is the context that surrounds me since July 11 when thousands of Cubans took to the streets to ask for just what I need now: Freedom.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.