One Year After July 11: The Necessary Reminiscence / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 11 July 2022 — There are days in life that are never forgotten. Bright days, like when you are given a son, or as gloomy as the one that takes a loved one away from you; whether fateful or sublime these days will always be, like treasured jewels until the end of that steep road called life: blessed or fatal they will never be lived with indifference because after them, we will never be the same.

In the end, we all have had one of these days that marked us with impregnated fire under the skin as an indelible soul tattoo. One of those days was, for millions of Cubans, the past July 11th [shortened to “11J” by Cubans] a date that I cannot evoke in words without my chest knotting up and hundreds of reasons choking me. That Sunday the miracle took place and the dictatorship trembled in front of the cry of a jaded people.

That unstifled cry is still latent in millions of throats, although its echoes resonate as well from the depths of the jungle and from the volcanoes root that in Central America today are witness of the most dramatic exodus in Cuban history, the definitive condemnatory plebiscite that so many times were denied – 140,000 Cubans crossing the border since “11J” and more than 3,000 intercepted at sea should be an irrefutable proof.

Today the dictatorship fears the Cuban people more than ever. The proof is in the stubbornness with which they still opt for repression as the only alternative, although to honor the truth it must be recognized that they cannot offer anything else other than the hundreds of brutal convictions that since 11J raised our political prisoners to more than a thousand, with teenagers serving sentences that exceed their age – all under the worst cruelty aimed to punish families and neutralizing us all for terror – as well as the intensification of a Penal Code that has placed Castroism among the top of the most repressive of the world; an arrogance that has extrapolated the bad habits of the regime to the virtual media where the dictatorship dogs believe they have the egregious right to question you, outrage your dignity, and defame you exactly as they do on this side of their Matrix; also their cowardly beatings, their soldiers undercover in civilian clothes and their media assassins; in short, a year later we still have before us the same thousand-headed hydra thirsty for the same blood.

A day like today, I cannot write without feeling like a real coward in front of the testimonies of courage and integrity of that mother who does not allow herself to be blackmailed, who does not keep quiet even when she knows her son is in the arena with the beasts; of so many that from the bottom of a jail are today the most refined pride of the country. In the face of these stories, we cannot do anything other than leave our skin and take all the risks so that their voice is heard, so that the executioners cannot bury them alive, so that in the end it is worth so much pain and mourning.

I don’t want these lines turned into a sterile lament. Our long-suffering Cuba does not need cowards or mourners in this difficult hour, and it would be useless to implore mercy before the vile who despise us. What the country demands of us, a year after that sacred day, is that we keep the flame alive and that that burning cry of war never go out of our common throat.