Violent Arrests and Ridiculous Sentences for Daring to Challenge the Myth of a Happy Cuba

Hundreds of Cubans were detained during the July 11 demonstrations. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Alberto Reyes, Havana, August 9, 2021 — I’m saturated. I read over and over the endless testimonies of what has happened and continues to happen in Cuba since the 11J (July 11) protests and I’m breaking down inside: people willing to arbitrarily detain, beat, torture, attack another human being with dogs, with sticks, with anything that could harm them. Violent arrests, humiliations, beatings, fabricated crimes, ridiculous sentences, intimidations, threats, many threats . . . and something in me refuses to believe that  so much evil together is possible.

It’s true that this isn’t something that came out of nowhere. As the prophet Hosea said: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” And much later, Saint Augustine would say: “When one flees from God, everything flees from one.”

From the beginning of this so-called “Revolution,” God was seen as the enemy — God, Christ, the Gospel, the Church, the Christians. That “pernicious superstition,” that backward, retrograde, and bourgeois mentality, that “opium of the people,” the origin of injustice and hatred, had to be uprooted.

Well then, here is the result, here is the New Man, here is the promised paradise, with its new angels adorned with red and black berets, accompanied by their dogs, and, protected both physically and legally, walking in groups against vulnerable civilians.

This is what is built when God is banished from the heart of a people.

But I resist, I refuse to believe that the soul has been extinguished in all those people who today are repressing, humiliating, mistreating, abusing civilians who . . . I was going to say, who haven’t done anything wrong, but no. On second thought, it isn’t so.

In reality, all those people who have taken to the streets to demonstrate, to shout “freedom” and “homeland and life!” are guilty. They are deserving of the highest most cruel punishment, because they have dared to challenge the greatest of myths: the myth of a happy Cuba, the myth of a people proud of their communism, the myth of a society that considers itself by decree “the lighthouse of America,” the myth of a communism that works.

Yes, all those protesters deserve condemnation, because they have broken the showcase of Latin American communism, they have demolished the carefully constructed and cared-for image of a Cuba put forward as a social paradigm.

And we already know how the stage works: foreign leaders of all kinds and categories who from their secure capitalist situations defend tooth and nail a system in which they would never come to live; people who, in fear, shout “homeland or death!” while they receive remittances from the “enemy” country or silently await their chance to get out of this nightmare forever. Neighbors who surveil and inform as the best protection for themselves and their children while also dreaming, deep down, of a Cuba where neither they nor their children have to pretend. And a media system of press and television that lies — lies, looking you straight in your eyes — because the lie has become second nature. Yes, where we were going to build a paradise without God, we have built a swamp.

And among the demonstrators of one side or the other, those who attack, those who “carry out orders,” those who are beating, at times sadistically, their brothers.

This breaks me. But despite so much brutal and absurd violence, despite so many institutionalized lies, I want to believe that in all of them the voice of conscience has survived, that they ask themselves questions, that they realize that this is not the way, they are aware that what they are doing is wrong. I understand that they are afraid, I understand that they feel compromised, but I cannot accept so much gratuitous evil.

Maybe I’m just naive. I’ve never been a fan of John Lennon, but his words in “Imagine” keep coming to mind: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”

Because despite what is happening, we do not stop being a single people, who have been thrown into fighting by those who don’t care about their people, but only about power and impunity over their own people. We are one. And you, who today lend yourself to repress your equals, have a father, mother, brothers, children . . . because you, who today defend the “conquests of the Revolution,” have dreams that you know you will never be able to achieve within this “Revolution;” because you, who today detain and beat, know that a mere slip is enough to go from persecutor to persecuted, and that in a system like this you will never be safe, neither you, nor yours.

I want to believe that we still have time for forgiveness and reconciliation. I want to believe that we can all put ourselves on the right side of history. But each one needs to seek strength in the best of his soul, and decide, once and for all, to do what is right, because it is what is right.

Translated by Tomás A.


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