Cuba: A People on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

With the inexhaustible fuel of indignation, Amelia Calzadilla offered a detailed tour of the hardships that families face every day to put food on the table. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 10 June 2022 — One day you explode. The reason may be a power outage, the poor quality of the bread or the excesses of a police officer. The seriousness or insignificance of what happened doesn’t matter, because you carry layer upon layer of discontent settled inside you and in a second you can no longer contain it. They it explodes everywhere. Amelia Calzadilla, a Cuban mother of three, knows what she feels at that moment when the years of swallowing her anger are over.

A resident of Havana with a bachelor’s degree in English, this week Calzadilla stood in front of a camera and launched a diatribe of a little over eight minutes against Cuban officials, ministers and leaders. With the inexhaustible fuel of indignation, she offered a detailed tour of the hardships that families face every day to put food on the table, put shoes on their children’s feet, or pay the electricity bill. And she did it with a sincerity and desperation that is already prompting a barrage of messages supporting her words.

Calzadilla’s message begins addressed to the Minister of Energy and Mines, whom she demands must act as a servant of the citizenry and not as an accomplice in the abusive rise in the price of electricity, which has made it practically impossible for those who do not have gas service to cook food. But as she advances in her catharsis, other names appear: the president not elected at the polls, Miguel Díaz-Canel; the repeating automaton of the same that we have as foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez; the first lady, Lis Cuesta, who cannot be called that but enjoys the luxuries of a queen; and the official journalist Cristina Escobar. This woman of Havana makes demands of everyone, as she announces that this Facebook broadcast could be the last one she does, aware of the repression that is sweeping the entire country.

Calzadilla’s children haven’t been able to enjoy a new toy or eat a treat for years. Monetary apartheid has deprived them of that, as it divides Cubans between those who have foreign currency and can access a greater quantity of basic products and those who must settle for the spoils that are accessed with the Cuban peso. This mother and her family were left, in that absurd social separation implemented by the regime itself, on the side of the most disadvantaged. They are those who cannot buy in unpopular stores that take payment only in freely convertible currency, who will never be able to afford a new mobile phone, or buy a ticket to Managua to escape the Island. They are the most disadvantaged under a system that claims to represent the humble.

The social tension that reached its climax in the protests of July 11 has not disappeared, despite the violence unleashed against those protesters and the subsequent exemplary trials that sought to send a message of terror to the rest of the population. The anger only crouched down, but continued to grow, and sprouts in the swearing at a man in uniform by those who have been lining up to buy chicken for hours; in the shouts of “Freedom!” in a concert; in a drawing on a T-shirt; in a hashtag on Twitter; and in a mother who clearly says what so many of us feel: “We can’t take it anymore.”

The tension in the street is perceived everywhere. If there were an instrument to measure that irritation, we Cubans would have broken the limits of the “angry meter” a long time ago. We have been fed up for a long time with this group of incompetents and liars who have turned our country into a miserable place from which our children want to escape at all costs. We are tired of their looting of our resources, of the false unfulfilled promises, of the ridiculous diplomatic role that they have forced us to represent at the international level, of their fat necks and their thin memories.

Everywhere you hear: “Go now!” Because the anger of people like Amelia Calzadilla is reaching a point where fear will no longer work to stop it.


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