Chronicle of a May 20: ‘They’re Gone Now, We Are With You’

The police operations of this May 20 included the area of ​​the Havana coastline and the surroundings of the houses of activists and independent journalists. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, 21 May 2023 — It was 6:30 am yesterday, Saturday, when I was checking international news on my mobile and, suddenly, an error message began to appear every time I tried to open a web page. At first I thought it was the normal fluctuations in internet connectivity to which the telecommunications monopoly Etecsa has accustomed us, but when my husband Reinaldo told me that the same thing was happening to him, we concluded: “green and thorny… repression for May 20,” the anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Cuba.

Shortly afterwards a supportive neighbor called us. “They have an operative down here.” Calls of this type followed one another throughout the day, some even dared to come to our apartment to describe where the two women and the man from State Security were sitting at the entrance to this ugly concrete block and where the vehicles with the other agents were waiting in case, circumventing the first barricade, we managed to set foot on the sidewalk of our house.

In each case, both among those who called us by phone to warn us and among those who came personally to show us their solidarity, there was the occasional phrase of this type: “it seems incredible that in a country where there is no fuel, not even for ambulances, they use it for this,” “but what happens to these people that they are so nervous,” or “they have more fear than desire to live.” In short, the repressive siege reinforced the balance of negative opinion against State Security in our neighborhood and strengthened our ties with the community.

In that time locked up and without access to the great world web, Rei and I read, cooked, tended the garden, made love, chatted through the landline with numerous friends, undertook some long-overdue household chores, played with our dogs and our cat. In short, while the pathetic agents suffered the torrid climate of May sitting on an uncomfortable wall and surrounded by the ridicule of the neighborhood, we continue living, creating and writing.

The internet service was only returned to us at dawn this Sunday. The encirclement of agents withdrew late in the night when the troops had consumed their corresponding snacks, lunches and very scarce meals in the school canteens and in the hospital wards. A while ago dawn broke and we received a call again: “They’re gone now, we are with you,” a neighbor said in one breath.

Note: Today is the ninth anniversary of the founding of the newspaper 14ymedio. We will also spend its next birthday in Havana, and the next and the next… and the next… I am mentioning it, so that the agents of the political police can prepare for the May sun and the hard wall of our building.


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