Until When? / Luis Felipe Rojas

The mother waits in the hospital lobby. Outside, it is very cold- very unusual considering the accustomed high temperatures which whip through the Cuban East. The young man is barely 22 years old, he jumped in to separate two of his friends in a street brawl, and when the police arrived they began to hit them with sticks and kick them. He suffered the worst part. One of his friends went to get me because they had convinced him to give me all the details. The mother shut down all sorts of dialogues in order to protect him. It was pointless for me to explain his rights to him. My arguments that he should denounce the events were not worth anything. She would return home, ‘either way in this country nothing works…get out of here, don’t bother me anymore‘, she told me.

Just three days ago, I was publicly approached by an Honorary Official (OH) of State Security. His intention was to have me stay in my house. That way, he would save many hours which he would otherwise be chasing me. Since I responded to him by citing my citizen rights, he whipped out his blue-lettered ID tag to threaten- not me- but the passer-bys. Despite the heated discussion and his boasting that he would call a police vehicle, no one responded, no one moved. When I said- in a loud voice- that the streets belong to the people and not the revolutionaries, no one echoed the phrase. It’s true that I did not suffer a repudiation this time, but the people are just absorbed by their bags of food and I suppose they do not have time for these trifles, right?

Institutions such as the Fiscal Military, the three kinds of tribunals (municipal, provincial, and national) and, time and time again, the offices of Citizen Attention dodge the complaints against functionaries of the order and only in counted occasions- after violations are very evident- does the Counter Intelligence do something. These obsolete organisms have, in part, helped everyday people put on their own censors. Since no one defends their rights, then they mistrust everything, they fall into the generalized apathy and end up giving in to their very own henchmen. Only after seeing the gloomy face of the television presenter announcing, in yet another trick, some other dismissal, are people able to see that Cuban public institutions are also there to watch for some things, for the interests of some citizens and so that some rights be respected.

Translated by Raul G.

6 February 2011