More Red Than Cross / Yoani Sánchez

During the last week, the official media have greatly emphasized the origin and workings of the Red Cross in Cuba. Around May 8th, the founding date of this humanitarian body, they published several reports about its helping character and neutrality. Prime time news has featured interviews with those who have acted with self-sacrifice to save victims of accidents and conflicts. Undoubtedly, there are stories of personal altruism and philanthropy that have saved a life or prevented injuries. But the reason for these tributes and chronicles is not just to commemorate and recognize the committee founded by Henri Dunant in 1863. National TV is also trying to clean up the lamentable image left by one of those Cuban volunteers during Benedict XVI’s Mass in Santiago de Cuba.

At this point, there are few people on this Island who haven’t seen the video where a man — wearing a Red Cross emblem — hits and beats with a stretcher Andrés Carrión, who had shouted an anti-system slogan. The scene elicits such revulsion, shows so much baseness, that even government supporters express their rejection of such practices. They are moved by the disproportion of power between someone who can’t defend himself, and another who slaps him and attacks him with first aid equipment. The incident led the International Committee of the Red Cross to request an explanation, and even to an unpublished note of apology from its Cuban counterpart. But it hasn’t been enough. What has become clear are not only the wrath of a paramilitary agent disguised as an aid worker, and the ideological rancor that is fomented at every pass with no consideration for the consequences. What has been revealed, also, is that the authorities of our country lack ethical limits when it comes to suppressing a different opinion. If, to camouflage their shock troops, they have to dress them like sports teams, “spontaneous students,” or a medical group, they will do so. They don’t hesitate to take in hand international emblems and even to use the prestige of foreign NGOs for political ends. This has to be known, enough with naivete.

Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t stand a chance: the wolf of intolerance can disguise itself as grandma, the mother who gave her the cakes, or even the woodsman himself who comes to her rescue.

11 May 2012