Laura is gone, Laura is no more / Yoani Sánchez

In the same days when Laura Pollán lay dying in intensive care, Cuban television rebroadcast a dogmatic serial where they insulted the leader of the Ladies in White. Among the most notable signs of the Cuban government’s pettiness is its failure to respect a political adversary, even when she is dying. A system that so wallows in the funeral rituals of its own, shows no consideration when the time comes to deal with the deaths of others. This lack of compassion compelled them to deploy a crude police operation outside Calixto Garcia Hospital last night, shuffling her body from ambulance to ambulance so that we wouldn’t know to which morgue they were taking her. And, finally, they did not release even a short death notice in the national press. If honor honors, in this case denigration denigrates. They have lost a final chance to appear, at least, to have pity.

How do they feel now, all those women brought to scream insults in front of the door of 963 Neptune Street? What are they thinking right now, the members of the shock troops who shoved and beat Laura on September 24? Is there any remorse among the State Security officials who directed so many repudiation rallies against that peaceful lady in her sixties. Which of them will at least have the humility to mumble a condolence, to offer sympathy. Sadly, to all these questions the answer is still an infinite ideological rancor that doesn’t know how to pay tribute to an opponent. Laura has gone — has left us — and they lost the opportunity to repair so many atrocities. They believed that by hanging degrading epithets on her, preventing her from leaving her house, accusing her of being a traitor, “stateless,” they would prevent people from approaching her, from liking her. But in the dark hours of the morning, a funeral filled with friends and acquaintances rejected the effect of their demonization.

Laura is gone and now all the acts of hatred against her resonate even more grotesquely. Laura is gone and we are left with a country slowly waking up from a very old totalitarianism that doesn’t even know how to say “I’m sorry.” Laura is gone, to the sadness of her family, her Ladies in White and of every gladiolus that has grown and will ever grow over the length and breadth of this island. Laura is gone, Laura is no more, and there is not a single olive green uniform that looks clean in the face of the white radiance of her garments.

October 15, 2011