14ymedio, Henry Constantín, Camagüey | October 19, 2018 — President Díaz-Canel is in Camagüey. People know this not because there is more joy on the streets, nor because there are spontaneous crowds of people out to greet him, and certainly not because we see him walking about freely, approaching people to listen to their concerns.
No, none of that. People know Díaz-Canel is here because the one thing at which the country excels, repression, is everwhere to be seen.
Hundreds of young uniformed and plain-clothes police officers — unnecessary in a town that is supposedly happy with its government — have been patrolling Camagüey’s major intersections for days. They hand out citations and are on the lookout for anything that hints of black market activity or could be interpreted an expression of discontent.
What a shame. If only one of the thousand or so officers scattered around the city had been at the corner where a young woman was murdered on the night of October 10, she would be alive today.
If at least one of them had been at the foot of the bronze statue in front the Teatro Principal — one of the city’s few beautiful statues — the night it was stolen, she would be there still, on her pedestal.
If at least one of the officers had been guarding the doors of the various government and Communist Party dining rooms, through which more beef passes than their officials provide, there would be less need to fill the streets with police officers to prevent someone from telling Díaz-Canel the three or four truths he does not want to, or which they will not let him, hear.
Meanwhile, back in their offices, these officials hurriedly memorize the few optimistic details from reports they have at hand so they can recite them to their handsome new boss. While all this is going on, companies and institutions are being hastily spruced up to look pristine and beautiful for the visitor before corruption, inefficiency and the daily bureaucratic grind inundate them again.
The official press, meanwhile, stands ready once again to recycle statistics and photos, which it will later publish as accepted facts without the slightest comparison, analysis or modesty.
We will see Díaz-Canel on television, smiling while surrounded by other smiling people, chosen to be there, telling him lies they know are lies. And he will be shown the “successes of the Revolution,” which presumably are not the dilapidated and dirty bathrooms of the University of Camagüey, nor the hundreds of dirt roads and broken asphalt streets that make up our cities and towns, nor the thousands of Cubans who are ready and willing to leave the country by any means possible.
He will not say “I am with you” to the self-employed, the true economic engines of this country, who dress, feed, entertain and transport it, and who, as a thank-you, are about to be slapped with a package of destructive restrictions.
He will not see impoverished elderly men and women hawking lemons or plastic bags on the streets, or collecting cans and bottles to supplement what are the lowest pensions on the planet. Nor will he see the police ejecting, inspecting or arresting them during his visit for not having a vendor’s license.
Díaz-Canel will continue tweeting for free, not from an internet connection for which he has to pay one convertible peso per hour, like most Cubans must do. Nor will he share in the meager elementary school lunch served to the happy children of Camagüey and the rest of Cuba.
He will not have to wait in the sun for a bus home at a stop crammed with people, or be placed on the waiting list at the provincial bus terminal. Nor will his infirmities be treated by a medical student — nearly the only medical personel who have not been exported — after spending an endless period of time in the waiting room of the provincial hospital. He will not have to illegally buy cement to maintain his house or beef to maintain his family’s health.
At night — after a day of visits, tedious statements, useless statistics and copious lies — the president will go to bed. He might then wonder when he will be able to go walking through Cuba’s streets, ones which he chooses, without so many police protecting him, monitoring him; or when he might be able to live without so many lies surrounding him. But that, comrade Diaz-Canel — assuming you do not steel yourself with courage and do something different — will never happen to you.
Text originally published on Facebook and reproduced here with the permission of Henry Constantin.
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