Neither Brave Nor Intelligent, Much Less Fair / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila

Arrest of a member of the Ladies in White in Havana. (EFE)
Arrest of a member of the Ladies in White in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, Havana, 28 July 2016 — On numerous occasions I have had to listen to the stories of friends and colleagues who have been detained or have been interrogated by the State Security. “These people are unreal, they know everything. The day I went to see so-and-so, what I said to what’s-his-face, what time, and even that we had coffee and ate roast pork. They don’t miss a thing!”

I imagine that these people feel very impressed, because it is as if they were sitting with a fortuneteller who “divines” their past, present and can even predict their future. The difference is that the fortunetellers, or so they tell us, “have a gift,” while State Security has human and technical methods and a society completely organized to facilitate their work, such that their gifts are simply their ears and a crystal ball made of optical fiber.

How are they not going to know the exact locations of the moles on our bodies, if they can openly and brazenly invade all our privacy?

They don’t have to be super-gifted nor pass in some school to “discover” who we spend time with, what our plans are, what our means are, because in the vast majority of cases we don’t even hide these things. The reason? It is very simple, we are citizens who study in normal schools, lead normal lives, we are not trained and don’t even want to be in intelligence or counterintelligence, we speak naturally and openly about what we think and desire because we are not ashamed.

On the other side, we have something very different, military personnel, indoctrinated, with studies of all kinds, with specialized equipment, transportation, a made-to-measure judicial system, subordinated press and fearful people who offer them what they ask for to avoid becoming targets of their investigations.

Who could do a bad job with all this? The contrary would amaze me. That there would be something they don’t know.

However, to the extent that you interact with them, you realize that they have many gaps. For example, there is an important difference between what the bosses know and what they tell the field agents. There is the need for State Security to constantly convert the ordinary into the extraordinary. This is justified because each one of these agents has to constantly think they are “saving the country” and that “the people appreciate their heroism and bravery.” In the majority of cases, however, what they are doing is committing a common crime in the name of authority against natural persons unhappy with a bad government.

In this sense they are very exquisite in their internal language. There is nothing a seguroso – security agent – likes more than to be called a “combatant,” and it delights them even more when the designation “anonymous” is added, because this gives them the sensation of being a spy and makes them think they are smarter. Incidentally, before society they think they “run great risks…” OK, this is true in part, because on retirement the majority suffer back pain because they dedicated themselves to dragging people into patrol cars. Upon reflection, they should wear supportive belts to protect themselves in these dangerous maneuvers.

Surely, in times past and under other circumstances, there might have been some who did more serious things against real threats, I don’t deny it. But today. 99% of what these “combatants” “confront” are the natural rights of a people who want to peacefully change what does not work to move the country forward and above all to not continue to shipwreck it in every respect. “Confronting” this is neither brave, nor intelligent and much less just or admirable.

The work of those who have to protect the state in societies based on rights and fundamental freedoms is very different; in societies where the threats are of an extreme magnitude and it is not enough to demand an ID card so that people or companies “cooperate.”

Men and women who risk their lives and dedicate themselves to protecting their nations against the grave threats our civilization confronts will always be heroes and heroines worthy of every kind of recognition and the gratitude of their peoples. But if the terror they impose themselves in the service of a dictatorship tramples the lives of protestors to keep themselves in power at all costs, these combatants have made a mistake in the ethical and moral sense of their careers and their lives.

So they should not confuse their facile abuse with expertise or ability. Because this latter is an attribute of those who survive and express themselves, despite them.