Public Bribery / Eliécer Ávila

Avila, father and son, speaking about the fine in a video. Click on screenshot to open video.

The State negotiated immunity in exchange for silence. The day my father was fined for hosting a foreigner in his house we could not sleep. Later in the morning we started talking trying to understand all that craziness, and one thing became clear to us both: everything here is based on political repression, otherwise the world might collapse.

We reached this conclusion after analyzing all the cases we knew of all kinds of criminals, who weren’t even touched, although their activities and businesses were public, basically people tied to some government activity, as there is not a single government entity or administrative branch that is not corrupt to the core.

A few days ago I talked with a man who spent four years in prison and could see how, even in those institutions, many are enriched at the expense of the prisoners, their families, fuel and food. And no one can put a stop to this drama.

On the other hand, we know dozens of cases, especially robberies and even murders, that have not been solved.

Lately, the style of the police is that if something is stolen from you, you investigate and, if you find the thief and you have all the evidence, you advise the police, because they do not have cars or resources to go out in the field on these tasks.

We got this report verbatim from several farmers in the village who’d had a cow or a team of oxen stolen. One of them was, until a few years ago, an auxiliary of the police itself.

In this context, when we see the media, men and resources wasted on surveillance, pursuit, harassment, reprimands and threats against people who never committed any crimes, it’s easy to see how sick this system is.

Seeing that having a political opinion is synonymous with facing trouble with the law, most of my friends who have a job in a bakery or a bodega, or have some little home-based business, arrange to see me without our meeting in public, and some have even asked me not to come by their work. “You know we all think alike, but at work there are the Communist Party snitches and they stick their noses in, and you already know.”

For me it’s incredibly sad to hear those things, first because I don’t know how a real man can accept these rules and this life, and even sadder, is to see how widespread bribery is throughout the whole country.

A Spanish friend told me years ago that during the Franco dictatorship, especially in the last stage, you could have any business or do anything you wanted in the economic sphere. What was not tolerated was to question his power and his government, because if you did then everything was going to go badly for you.

Today we are entering a similar stage in Cuba. However, I have the satisfaction of knowing other Cubans who, despite everything, will not accept a bribe, which is already public, and will continue to think of the common good, which is simply to construct another model of society where no one is obliged to remain silent to survive, in secret and without dignity.

From Diario de Cuba

12 July 2012