14ymedio, Havana, 20 March 2022 — Regardless of the more than a thousand political prisoners, the surveillance of any place where a riot could take place – the latest one, the Embassy of Panama – the harassment of any discordant voice, the discrediting of activists and opponents in the official media, small corners of freedom of expression are proliferating more and more in Cuba.
They do not shout in the streets, as in the unexpected demonstrations of July 11th, silenced with repression, threats and trials with disproportionate sentences; nor do they confront the authorities directly. But an insinuation on a bus, in a taxi or in the chicken line is enough for Cubans to launch their opinions, in many cases against the government, without any type of censorship.
The next scene took place in a barbershop in a Havana neighborhood. The names are pseudonyms, but the conversation happened, word for word. It is a sign that ordinary Cubans not only feed on information outside the state press and television, on social networks and independent media, but that they are no longer silent.
Roberto: Do you remember when Marrero said that the repair and construction of hotels were for the good of our people? Later, they recorded a telephone call that his sister was on, they posted it on social networks, detailing everything she had for sale: aluminum marquetry, windows and several other things in MLC (freely convertible currency).
The other day he was reading that he reduced the tobacco quota for all tobacco growers, and I asked myself, what does Murillo know about tobacco? Just smoking it and nothing else
Yuri: And there it is, nothing happened to him. Look at Murillo, they took him out of a volcano and put him in Tabacuba. He will become a millionaire now. The other day I was reading that he reduced the tobacco quota for all tobacco growers, and I wonder, what does Murillo know about tobacco? Just smoking it and nothing else.
Ernesto: We have what we deserve, neither more nor less. We are like this because it is what we want. Look at Ukraine, they are fighting with a power and the whole town is out on the streets, the ordinary people fighting, mixed in with the tanks so as not to let them pass, and they send us a bunch of wormy policemen who are but a quarter of a man and we go silent. We are very damaged as citizens.
José: It is that our ideological politics of so many years has paralyzed us. Since you are a child at school, they are indoctrinating you to be like Che. Fidel was a genius of evil: what of the CDR, the surveillance, the snitching among neighbors… All of this has penetrated very deeply into the Cuban subconscious.
Alexander: The Ukrainians have already tasted freedom. Cubans do not know what that is. Here, the only Cubans who know a little about freedom are those who came out on July 11th and let off steam.
Damien: The Ukrainians are anti-Russian because the Soviets did a lot of damage to them. Too much oppression time, that’s why they don’t want to have anything to do with Russia. The same thing is going to happen here, too much accumulated resentment and hatred. When this system fails you will see how much anti-communism, reckoning and revenge we will manifest.
Fidel was a genius for evil: what of the CDR, the surveillance, the ‘snitching’ among neighbors
José: Speaking among ourselves, who understand each other, don’t you think that these guys here shit their pants on July 11th? Everyone saw that. They were left not knowing what to do, but then the hand-picked one [Díaz-Canel] said that they had to hit the people with all they got and gave the combat order.
Yuri: The problem is that we behaved well, despite all the lies that are told on television. The protests were too peaceful. If they had been violent, as they say, there would no longer be a dictatorship in Cuba. I was there, I saw it with my own eyes: people shouted “freedom,” “down with communism”. The violent ones were the ones [police/security forces] who hit the people with crushing blows.
José: They never saw it coming, never. It was all of Cuba, a chain reaction, city by city, town by town, started to rise. Oh, and without organization, it was something spontaneous.
Yuri: I say that it will happen again. When the people get tough, they are not going to be able to stop them, when a whole people squares off there is nothing they can do, they cannot put everyone in prison, nor do they have the space.
José: They were born again, that day they were born again.
The problem is that we behaved well, despite all the lies that are told on television
Roberto: Did you see people in a town in the interior on December 31st, how they shouted “Díaz-Canel singao” [motherfucker] at a party, a ton of people shouting loudly, listening to and singing Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life]?
José: And in the Las Tunas game, in the stadium, they insulted the Police, to their faces: “cocksuckers Police, cocksuckers Police.” I saw it on Facebook.
Yuri: I keep saying that if everyone stands up, they’ll have to go. They are at a disadvantage. Even the Communist Party is a minority in this country. They have no chance against a million people in the streets, sitting on the ground, doing that is all that there is to do. Nothing else.
Alexander: If they could put everyone in prison, all of us who went to the protests would be in prison. Yomil would have been in prison, since he was there too. They charged those who stood out the most, those in whom they saw leadership potential, those who shouted the most and went into the fire.
Damián: They say that young people don’t want the PCC [Cuban Communist Party] card, I saw it on 14ymedio. Nobody is for that, who is going to want to get entangled to eat fire while the Party bosses are becoming millionaires. They are a gang of thieves and hypocrites.
Take advantage, because what we’re doing, now in April will be a crime, in the new Penal Code
Roberto: The problem is that we have not become aware that we are the ones in charge here, and not them. The day we realize that, they will be finished. When the people want, the people want, and when the people don’t want, the people don’t want. What happens is that we Cubans don’t know about that, the people of Ukraine know that, they took a dictator out, on the streets, camping in the streets.
Gilberto: Take advantage, because what we’re doing, now in April will be a crime, in the new Penal Code. If a repressor sits here and gets all over your face, you go there.
Roberto: Well, I want to see that, compadre, they will have to build many prisons for that.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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