14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 11 November 2021 — Monica’s daughter studies piano and will not go to school on Monday. Raudel has planned to miss work and his sister plans to hang a sheet from the balcony, while Maykol and his grandmother already have their white clothes ready to go out on the streets. Everyone is preparing, in one way or another, for the Civic March on November 15, a call to action which no one on this island us unaware of.
The Cuban streets, so overwhelmed with daily complaints, have begun to speak in a different way since July 11th, when crowds ran through them shouting for freedom. It is as if after that day the script of the conversation that had featured in lines, markets and bus stops, for decades, could not be revived. The poor quality of the bread, the heat, what happened on the soap opera, all took a back seat.
Nobody is surprised when someone mentions the call to march, everyone seems aware of it. The public discussions do not even recognize the false dichotomy that the national media tries to present, between those who call to take to the streets to demand respect for human rights and those who still feel identified with the official discourse. The dilemma is something else: how to protest, what is the best way to join #15NCuba.
The official arguments about a conspiracy orchestrated from outside the borders hardly penetrate the spontaneous street conversations and, when they appear, they are met with ridicule
From the most daring gesture to the most timid. From those who feel that they no longer have anything to lose and will put their bodies in the avenues, to the retired lady who will not be able to leave her prostrate mother alone but who will hang the only two white pillowcases she has left on the clothesline. From the father who has warned his children that they will not go to school that day to avoid being used as shock troops, to the young girl who will bang on a pot from the roof of her house at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Never before has an independent call to action so penetrated the national soul. The reason is not only in the feeling of suffocation that this failed economic political model has spread among Cubans, but in the campaign carried out by the television and newspapers controlled by the Communist Party to kill the reputations of the main promotors of #15NCuba. The demonizing of them has made them all the more attractive.
Even among those who fear that day the most, because they have a son in the Military Service who will be used to repress the protesters, or they cannot miss their workday, even if people get on the bus to put a stick in their hands, the feeling is one of finality. They know that the system is in its death throes and that now it is only possible to stand on the side of those who will help the birth of the new creature that the Nation needs, or that of those who will make the regime’s frayed heart beat artificially.
The official arguments about a conspiracy orchestrated from outside the borders hardly penetrate the spontaneous street conversations and, when they appear, they are met with ridicule, fake smiles and an avalanche of responses that leave the promoter of these justifications at a clear disadvantage before the majority. The discourse of victimhood is already exhausted; people no longer believe in these bizarre plots.
The civic march has served part of its purposes by forcing the Cuban authorities to show their own face
Fears and doubts about the future dominate every family table, but conviction springs from that collection of apprehensions that has caused Cubans to lose sleep. It is now or never. Castroism is wounded, threatened on all sides, and the gash is fatal. The Civic March has fulfilled part of its purposes by forcing the Cuban authorities to show their own face, a face that many of us already knew for having suffered directly from the repression, but which they skillfully masked with the rouge of social justice, sovereignty and equality for all.
They also use that layer of cosmetics to make us believe that they can do anything, that they have every millimeter of Cuban soil under control, that they will viciously chase the retired woman with the white pillowcases on her balcony, the young woman who bangs on a pot on the roof of her home, and the father who will not allow his children to go to school to prevent their being used in Rapid Response Brigades. They want us to believe that they have time left for all that.
In November 1989, the Germans brought down the Berlin Wall. The Soviet bear was not amused by this boldness, but it had many other concerns. That same month, a general strike paralyzed Prague and accelerated the fall of the communist regime, thus breaking another link in the chain that, controlled from the Kremlin, tried to keep the socialist bloc united by force.
Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucíon is no fiercer than the Soviet Union, which even had nuclear weapons; nor does Cuban State Security work more efficiently than the German Stasi, imbued with a discipline and tenacity little seen on this island. If both grotesque creatures no longer exist, why believe that Castroism will be eternal. Will its tombstone also display November as a month of farewell? It depends on us.
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