Several Reasons to Support #Otro18* / Lilianne Ruiz

Lilianne Ruiz (standing, middle) and her husband, Manuel Cuesta Morua (standing, left) with others in Havana

Lilianne Ruiz, 8 September 2015 — I have already written this before in my blog. I want to live in my country and to know that my power as a citizen is intact, that with my vote I participate in the legal architecture that governs the small details of our lives. Never more than now.

Because now, for example, our children are learning artificial values in school, that are not their families’ values. Children in elementary school, teenagers and our young people, in the entire school system, are inculcated with the terror of a State that does not respect the values of our families. The values that can only be transmitted through the family are missing in this country.

Today I have to accept that my 8-year-old daughter cries before she goes to school, because she has lost the badge that should be hanging from a button on her blouse that says “José Martí Pioneers Organization.”

It is not about simple verses**, abounding with values that shape our beauty as human beings, and José Martí’s prologue to this book of verses that I discovered in my teens. It is not about Martí the journalist whom I would like to write as well as, nor the orator, the essayist, the passionate man who teaches about love. Nor about the the author of the diary whose missing pages are more substantial than the tokonoma. Nor even Martí as the warrior of Dos Rios.

Because for the cheap politicking of more than half a century of obscurantism and blackout on the island of Cuba, they have enslaved the texts, the name, and Martí himself in our atavistic imagination.

Until this morning I had not realized that my daughter was acquiring this terror of the State hypertrophied with socialism. Until now, she has cried before going to school telling me as an adult the address of the school passing through the classrooms and pointing to a list of children who don’t have the badge.

This act of pointing them out on a list becomes something very disturbing, including fear that their grades will be lowered for not wearing the distinction that is nothing more than membership in a political organization that harangues them at the morning assembly with anti-values that deform the strength of individual character.

I have the sacred right to choose my children’s education and with a Hegelian tranquility I am willing to defend that freedom. My energy is in #Otro18*. We Cubans are living day to day, in the sense of seeking food to sustain ourselves until tomorrow and so we lack courage, with half of this courage we could change the tragic sign of our existence and support the creation and implementation of a new electoral law looking ahead to 2018. The Castro regime will be just a nightmare that, little by little, we will awaken from, until it becomes a mockery in any discussion, making us laugh at ourselves and what we’ve been through.

We need — and I say it sincerely — we need like a glass of fresh water to change our lives in this country. To do it peacefully, to leave behind all the discourse of violence that leaves our psyches in terror of the totalitarian State that in Cuba is also a question of the family in power, which has become a real mafia that represents everything we want to leave behind.

With my vote, peacefully, I need to prove that I can change destiny, that there no longer exists the inevitability of an island of Cuba determined by the Castro regime. So that we can wake up every morning and look out the window and not see the same landscape as yesterday. Not swearing allegiance to, not worshiping at the cult of the past. Experiencing freedom and the power to choose.

For this we need #Otro18. To change the electoral system and the electoral law, and to believe in the values of plurality and the importance of every citizen exercising their political power so that we will never again be governed by a dictator.


Tania Bruguera (on the couch) and Lilianne with others in Havana.
Angel Santiesteban (right)

Translator’s notes:

*#Otro18 (Another 2018) is a campaign to change Cuba’s process governing elections with a new electoral law, for the 2018 elections. Raul Castro has stated that he will step down as president in that year, at which time, if he is still living, he will be 86.

**“Simple Versus” is the title of a poetry collection by José Martí, Cuba’s national hero widely admired among Cubans of all political persuasions.