The Missed Parade / Yoani Sánchez

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The echos of the shouts reach my balcony, in a rhythm marked initially by feet accompanied by throats. It’s less than two weeks to the huge parade planned for for the Plaza of the Revolution and residents for miles around are worn out by all the preparations. Closed streets, police blocking traffic and squads making the avenues and sidewalks shudder, where there should be cars, people and baby strollers.

I climb to the roof to see the choreography of war in its entirety. Things will go badly if the Cuban Communist Party Congress starts with a procession of bayonets. If they really wanted to project an image of reforms, it would not be these olive-green uniforms on exhibit on Saturday, April 16. How much do we wish this day would be a peregrination of results, not of fear! That they would show a long line of what we could accomplish, not the overwhelming demonstration of a military might we don’t even have! Can you imagine? A parade along the Paseo and its environs where the dreams we dreamed of are sheltered, not the cold metal and threatening triggers of AK rifles?

This could be a procession of the things we miss, a festival of joy in which no one would be forced to participate. No principals recruiting schoolchildren to pass under the sun waving at the platform and the workers knowing that their absence would not result in a black mark in their personnel file. A true popular parade, not the wasting on one day of an entire month’s worth of the Nation’s resources. Better to let it sprout spontaneously, smiling people taking to the streets, rather than this sense of anguish that today’s syncopated cries provoke in us.