Requiem for the 10th of December (International Day of Human Rights) / by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Raul Castro with his son  Alejandro and his grandson-bodyguard Raúl Guillermo. (MARTINOTICIAS)
Raul Castro with his son Alejandro and his grandson-bodyguard Raúl Guillermo. (MARTINOTICIAS)

The 10th of December is one of the saddest days. That day the political police – the only source of governance in our island – brings out all of its henchmen to suppress dissent. Many are dressed with their olive-green monkey-like Ministry of the Interior uniforms – most are in plain clothes. And you never really know which is worse, because street clothing in Cuba is inherently cruel. This is how the violence of our State Security disguises itself as a “counterrevolutionary rapid response” by the loyal and “uniformed people.” Plebeian and power are two words that become one in our own tropical brand of nationalistic despotism.

This mafia-like behavior is the real engine that drives the Revolution of the Castros; firing squads and faith in a better future; jail for non-conformists and ration-books for the faithful; repression of private life and exile for those who escape. This is how the Communist Party has hijacked our nation, whose sovereignty has been a myth since 1959, when the island fell into the hands of a group of populist militants. In this respect, it is important to note that neither a domestic rebellion nor the so-long-awaited Yankee invasion would ever be a violation of sovereignty when the very essence of the Castros’ rule has been to ignore the will of the Cuban people.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the continuing existence of the family’s octogenarian hegemonic brothers, the heirs of the family clan – the pentarchy of Alejandro, Mariela, Antonio, Raul Guillermo and Deborah – prepare themselves for a fake transition of power that ignores the more than 25,000 signatures of the Varela Project (an independent civic-democratic movement within Cuba) that clamors for democracy.

The success of this fake transition depends on the complicity of the democratic governments of the European Union and of certain opportunistic groups within American society, pressured by big-money interests, that wish to obtain their share of the spoils derived from a Cuban workforce with no rights, all while paying off and manipulating American media, where it is proclaimed that our country is a proletarian paradise where “fatherland” is pronounced as “gallows.” Never has the annexationist tradition in our island had such success as it does in the current context; Cuba’s present neither includes nor involves ordinary Cubans; our future is molded from Strasbourg, Brussels, Washington, Moscow, Beijing, and Caracas in a much worse manner than in 1898, because this time our government is being invited as the guest of honor.

Many leaders in Cuba’s civil society have been threatened, harassed, subjected to acts of repudiation, beaten, and even jailed without cause on the 10th of December. On this day, independent artists are impeded from working on their projects – in my case, for being a blogger independent from any official institutions, a police detachment at my doorstep prevented me from leaving without being arrested – or even receiving visits. All of this on the 10th of December… a day that happens to also be my birthday.

This 10th of December, the rapper Angel Yunier Remon aka “El Critico,” remains sentenced to five years for his independent and libertarian brand of music. The novelist Angel Santiesteban suffers a similar sentence since the beginning of last year. Various human rights activists are not allowed to travel freely within or without the island. Government-controlled mobs continue their aggressive harassment of dissidents, among many other abuses that include spying on the private lives of activists.

These are the exemplary results of “Raulpolitiks”, our very own brand of Putinism of a reactionary type that hurts no one buts its victims. We are alone, and Cubans abroad are unwilling to raise a single cent for the cause of liberty. In fact, our exile community donates billions of dollars each year simply so that we can be treated as worse than traitors by our own government.

When democracy one day reaches Cuba, either tomorrow or in another 56 years – it will arrive in spite of the international leftist movement– when the men and women of my country recover the life in liberty and truth that our dictatorship reduced to a mere ideological battleground for Socialism – when Castroism finally becomes a thing of the past and its perpetrators are finally condemned so that they never bring back Communism in our island (an occasion that will include not only the enshrinement of the separation of powers, but also the banning of anti-democratic parties) – still the 10th of December will be a sad day of remembrance for my countrymen.

This day, for generations and generations will continue to remind us of the impunity with which our State Security treated us; an army dressed in the color of silence that applauded and assassinated without consequences; that was willing to combat Ebola in Africa while it nurtured the virus of violence at home; that created false and imagined enemies for purposes of its creepy theatrics. This day shall be for us to never forget the hate that Castroism engendered for its fellow countrymen, and for us to never forget the historic humiliation we suffered under the watchful eye of our very own Big Brother; a day in which for us to open our hearts for the needed reconciliation will be even less easy.

These December 10ths hurt, more than the ever-faster approaching double funeral (of the Castro brothers) ever will. The 10th of December ignores all notions of oblivion. There is no victim who is not expecting to face his abuser if we are to live in truth one day. The fight of the Cuban people against Castroism is the fight of memory against memory.


Originally published in Spanish in Diario de Cuba

Translated by Roberto Alba-Bustamante