The streets of Centro Habana are overrun with policemen and paramilitaries disguised as civilians. I can easily identify them: the experience of years living under the harassment of surveillance leaves in the harassed the sad ability to discover the hyenas, no matter how hard they try to blend into the urban landscape.
Political police officers swarm on their Suzuki motorcycles which, far from concealing their presence, make them known instead. They want to be seen, they show haughty faces, an arrogant attitude and a great desire to be feared. I am not afraid of them. They are the ones who should feel afraid.
Under the summer heat, common people circulate through portals, line up at stores and fill the buses like any other day. But below the surface, nothing is normal anymore. You do not feel the usual vibe, the ease, the eternal street chatter among Cubans, whether they know each other or not. There is a feeling of anxiety in this silence, or better, in this strange non-dialogue, so alien to us. I am struck by so much silence in people who are usually outgoing, loquacious and chatty.
It is a deceptive silence because, in poor neighborhoods like this one, with decades of accumulated shortages and frustrations, is just where popular revolts are forged
It is a deceptive silence because, in poor neighborhoods like this one, with decades of accumulated shortages and frustrations, is just where popular revolts are forged, which broke out on Sunday, July 11th and continue to take place, despite all the disproportionate repressive deployment, riot troops included.
Patrols circulate along Avenida Carlos III with their sirens at full throttle, followed by caravans of repudiators that the Government sends to beat and repress the rebels. They carry sticks tied to their wrists to lash out at the unarmed protesters.
It’s a sad spectacle, to see these Cubans, also poor and deprived of rights, so willing to crush their brothers with hatred and violence just to defend the privileges of the members of the power class, the ones that oppress and humiliate everyone equally. Nothing will save them tomorrow from such shame.
Since Sunday I feel that we are inhabiting a different city, a different country. The scab of fear has cracked and fear has been transferred to power, its henchmen and scribes.
Now the puppet on duty, the jockey of continuity, has committed the unforgivable crime of inciting violence, confronting the Cubans on two sides and, what is worse, has stained his hands with blood.
It is a pity that, with all this, the so-called president has ruined the opportunity to dialogue with the people, who have so generously offered him many civil society voices to seek a way out of the crisis and have him lead the essential process of change. One could not imagine greater ineptness.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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