Speaking of Cowards

It is unjust to speak of cowards, especially when to be brave can turn out to be excessively costly.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, August 16, 2019 — “Of cowards nothing has been written” is very unjust. In addition to inaccurate it is unjust, especially when to be brave can turn out to be excessively costly.

Many times in the commentaries of various texts that are published in the independent press there appear those whom they describe as “servile eunuchs, obedient scabs, accomplices of the dictatorship,” all those who do not dare to speak out publicly in face of the abuses and arbitrary actions of the Government. It’s necessary to point out that they are speaking about the majority, about millions of people, parents of families who every day have the obligation to bring home bread to their children.

One must exclude from that list the true believers, who have the foolishness, the stupidity, and why not, the nerve, to continue defending the current state of things in the country. It’s not worth venturing numbers on both sides of the scale to determine if those who don’t protest one way or another stand on the side of those who believe or in the group that pretends.

The magnitude of cowardice in Cuba is not a sign of the lack of humanity of its inhabitants, but rather an indication of the degree to which repression has reached.

It is detected in the workers of the state sector who work under difficult conditions without complaining; in those who accept the plunder of their salary in joint ventures, where the state employer is left with the majority of what the foreign investor pays for that scheme; in the thousands who leave to carry out international missions, sometimes at the risk of their lives, and meekly accept that the State will keep 70% of the value that is paid for their work.

Cowardice appears among the workers of the non-state sector who continue suffering the absence of a wholesale market, the pack of inspectors who hound them, the taxes that bleed them dry, the abuse of capped prices, the permanent dismissive insults of the official media sources that demonize them, the hypocritical stance of the officials who one day describe them as indispensable and another reduce them to a complementary part.

Cowardice is sensed in that false unanimity of members of parliament, in the massive marches on May 1, in the simulated fighting spirit of those who participate in a repudiation rally or in the silence of those who witness it. In those who inform on their friends or family members.

Cowardice shines in the journalist who doesn’t dare to stake his position on asking an official the uncomfortable question that everyone is waiting for, in the artist who withdraws a picture from his exhibition, the playwright or the filmmaker who deletes a scene, the writer who tears out a page from his original work to get it printed, the singer-songwriter who gets rid of his controversial songs so that his concert is allowed, the comedian who chokes on his best joke because he wants to continue hearing applause…

What causes the most pain is seeing how the brave crack.

Sometimes “showing them the instruments” is enough. Nobody can validate the certainty of the legend of Galileo murmuring “and yet it moves,” what is indeed historically confirmed is that Giordano Bruno burned at the inquisatorial stake for not renouncing his “heresies.”

But who is going to ask a university professor to dare to tell his students something that contradicts the dogma, or a last-year student to renounce the golden dream of his degree defending that classmate who is going to be expelled for not being a revolutionary?

It hurts a lot to see how the brave crack.

All of the aforementioned examples are common knowledge for anyone who lives in Cuba. They are not exaggerations; the cruelest tools aren’t even mentioned.

This Saturday, in front of the Ministry of Communications the most likely thing is that they suspend the protest, let us say the presence, of the young people who had gathered to show their dissatisfaction, let us say their opposition, with the elimination of the SNet network. Very few will go and those who try will not be allowed to get there.

Throughout this week a group of State Security officials trained in the sophisticated techniques of frightening decent people have been put in charge of dissuading leaders and threatening enthusiasts. They have resorted to everything.

Nobody should condemn these kids for cowardice, none of them has any reason to feel cowardly. The accusing finger should be pointed elsewhere.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.