Non-Violence in Cuba: A Particular Case? (Pt. II) / Luis Felipe Rojas

The previous article of this series started a debate in which, ironically, I was not able to participate in. The reasons of the government – that Cuba is under attack, and the application of the United States embargo- bestow them the right to deny me internet access, or of selling it to me at an unpayable price.

The Cuban democrats have put their faith in their decision to “resist the oppression”, an idea which was also relevant for the Otpor Serbian youth movement and the South-African anti-segregationists.

For Gandhi, returning time and time again to the spot of arrests, in mass, wore out the British colonizing forces- he knew that, and for this reason he sometimes went with his followers to the police stations so that they could detain him.

In the Cuban case, there is an example of “resistance of oppression” which serves as a flag, a guiding light, if we speak of perseverance. They are the Ladies in White, the group of women which stood before the National Assembly to say: We are here! And we will not stop until each and every one of our prisoners are freed! Their persistence, their discipline, and their conviction that the path to follow is resistance has yielded them many positive results.

But there is more.

The arrests of human rights activists (a common practice by the State) are now accompanied by denouncements, of messages published on the internet, of calls to radio stations abroad and by a network which, in just a few minutes, spreads the news throughout the entire island.

Presenting oneself in a police station to inquire about the whereabouts of a detained dissident usually means that the authorities can deny any sort of information. Without the expressed indication of the political police, the National Revolutionary Police assumes the entire role in the repressive cycle, and it does not even inform. But, is it always like that?

When a small group of dissidents has been able to organize a network of solidarity in an efficient matter, the results have been a moral victory for fearless citizens.

The cases of Raudel Avila Losada in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba; or of the well known Sakharov Award recipient Guillermo Farinas in Santa Clara are enough to affirm that one can resist oppression and come out successful. On a number of occasions, one or the other has carried out a protest in front of different police stations demanding the immediate liberation of human rights activists. On other occasions, they have demanded the end of violations against citizens who are not aware of their worker’s rights, and recently, they were protagonists of successful protests which led them to a victory which they still celebrate today.

The power of nonviolence” is an excellent compilation which Orlando Gutierrez put together from the Study Center for a National Option (CEON). In it, he relates various cases and testimonies of organizations which were able to topple post-communist dictatorships and the reports also emphasize “some factors which cannot be lost from sight by the civic movement on the island”. The community and local characters, comments Gutierrez Boronat, will become stronger and successful. In the face of the tentacles of the repressive machinery, the Civic Resistance has forged actions which, focused on the necessities of the community, have proved to be headaches for the authorities.

Workplaces, churches and fraternal associations are under close surveillance and are penetrated by intelligence officials. In all the cases, the government’s fear stems from the possibility that a local initiative may articulate from the emancipation movement taking place on a national level.

Liberating the country from the national catastrophe is the task of many, it’s worth it to say the task of all.

Translated by Raul G.

11 March 2012