I Can No Longer Stay Silent

Bruzón is presently living in Missouri in the United States and is a member of the chess team at the University of Webster.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Lázaro Bruzón, Missouri, 21 November 21 — The final blow was my conversation with someone very special in my life. Now I need a catharsis, first to clear my mind and then to be able to sleep well and release a weight from my shoulders that I’ve been carrying around for some time.

I’m also doing it in case it helps someone who can identify with my words. I would like to share some ideas. Putting everything in print won’t be easy, but I’ll try. I’m participating less and less in social networks because it costs a lot to give an opinion and ends up being extremely stressful. Even as I do it, I wonder if I’m contributing something useful or just satisfying my ego.

Sometimes I think that Cuba is not a country but rather a planet, and we Cubans are an alien species. Why is everything that happens with Cuba and Cubans so out of the ordinary? Why are things that should be simple and are so in every part of the world become totally chaotic when it comes to Cuba? In my opinion, all Cubans in one form or another are very much affected. When I analyze society and how we behave on social networks, I see many feelings of frustration, hatred, impotence, aggression, and above all else, fear: We have a lot of fear.

Sometimes we don’t “Like” a post for fear of repercussions. It’s unhealthy.

For a long time I didn’t pay attention to politics. There are many reasons, and each person has to follow his own path and that’s what I did. Today, without thinking I’m more patriotic than anyone else, I want to add my two cents to the subject of Cuba and give my opinion, with respect but above all with sincerity and transparency.

For this reason, ever since I came to the United States, I searched for all the information I could find on Cuba, trying to understand certain things about my country. I had some general knowledge about certain subjects but only that. Being the obsessive person that I am, I invested hundreds of hours, enough to reach certain conclusions that today make me critical of the system and the laws of my country.

Once you learn about freedom, respect for different opinions, and being able to express yourself without being questioned, nothing can ever be the same. There is no worse prison than having to censor your ideas for fear of reprisals by the simple act of giving an opinion. That is what happens in Cuba to those who think differently.

Before, when I heard the words opposition, dissident, they were immediately accompanied by adjectives like mercenaries, enemies, criminals, and all that propaganda they have told us for such a long time. Today I know there are many good people, people who struggle for civil rights and are mistreated, imprisoned, fired from their jobs, and their lives made impossible by the simple act of not agreeing with the system in Cuba. (Moreover, for those who argue there are many in the opposition making money from the struggle in Cuba, that does not take away from the strength or the truth of their message.)

Today I condemn all that on principle, and I don’t accept it. I can’t say the Cuban Government protects a majority while it crushes a minority, reducing it to zero: This is criminal. All the social victories that we have always displayed with pride are overshadowed totally by these persecutions.

For how long will the Cuban Government continue to put ideology over the objective reality of the Cuban nation? Perhaps they can’t see what is happening. The general discontent, the number of Cubans who leave and those who want to emigrate to anywhere else. Is it too complicated for them to see that a country that prioritizes ideology and propaganda in every sphere cannot progress? How much do they spend on ceremonies and massive marches?

In a country like ours facing so many economic problems, is that what we need the most? When are we all going to ask ourselves honestly if this is the country we really want or if it can be made better, if we can aspire to something better?

What are the hopes and dreams of Cubans? It’s unsettling to see how much we conform, especially those who are the most affected. The ordinary Cuban, who each day manages to survive on his salary, has to wake up and realize that other possibilities exist. He must not keep thinking that the ”blockade” is to blame like they’ve been telling us. You don’t have to resort to violence to demand your rights and oppose injustice, but it’s difficult to recognize that we’ve been wrong, that we’ve been deceived.

I could also keep quiet by convenience. Most of us turn a blind eye knowing what is going on around us, and we act only when they tread on our toes, but I can no longer do that. I’m one more who thinks things can be better for all Cubans.

Our nation needs more justice, that we all be treated equally before the law, which includes all Cubans, that we live in peace in spite of ideological differences and political disagreements, so that dissenting is not a crime, so that Cubans aren’t prohibited entry to their country without a good reason or prevented from leaving because they think differently. So that Cubans can live honestly from their salaries; that the Constitution of my country not be a servant of the Communist Party, and that those who don’t identify with this system not be marginalized. That isn’t correct.

I want to clarify that this is a positive message, one of love, and my personal opinion. These are my thoughts, and no one else is behind this statement. I know the weight of my words and assume all responsibility for my acts.

Once again I repeat that I’ll always be grateful for everything positive my country has given me, but I can’t be quiet about what I feel forever. What I say or do is based on respect and in search of tolerance. If someone wants to distance themselves from me, I have no problem. There have been already been many, and I understand. Whoever really knows me knows that I prefer to disappoint people by being honest and consistent rather than hiding things so I don’t hurt certain people—above all those I hold dear who don’t share my ideas. I prefer to take off my mask once and for all.

Editor’s note: This text was published on Facebook by the author, who gave us permission to reproduce it in 14ymedio

At only 18 years old, Lázaro Bruzón, originally from Las Tunas, was world junior chess champion. He became a Grand Master in 1999, and shortly thereafter  obtained the highest title in the International Chess Federation. In September 2018, at age 36, he was expelled from the national chess preselection for refusing to return to Cuba. At present he lives in Missouri in the United States and is part of the chess team at the University of Webster.

Translated by Regina Anavy and Alberto de la Cruz


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