Watertight Compartments / Yoani Sánchez

There are days for separation and others for confluence. Times when it seems that the strategy of confronting us is working, but also minutes in which we manage to leap over the narrow limits within which they want to enclose us. Last night was precisely one of those moments of probing, of identification and exchange. In Estado de SATS–”Creating a Space for the Confluence of Art and Thought in Cuba”–we find ourselves among people of very diverse tendencies, such as the members of Omni Zona Franca, the leader of the group Puños arriba (Fists Up), and the organizers of the Rotilla Festival, recently hijacked by official institutions. They spoke at a packed place, in the midst of the worst of the August heat, and with a great need to understand why censorship has been unleashed on them. I think that yesterday some brainy State Security guy must have lost his job. Because among the hugs, questions, swallows of tea, they exposed months and months of intrigues, professionally sowed, to discredit those actors of civil society.

The method is simple and nothing new. They call someone and tell him its not advisable to talk with someone else, to send him a simple text message, to respond to a greeting. To justify this distancing, they clarify that this hip hop musician, that blogger, or some music producer, works for the CIA, or has been trained by the Pentagon. They don’t have to believe it, it’s enough that the intimidation and fear seep in and few will approach those stigmatized. To sustain such rivalry it is essential to keep both parties away from each other, to not let them meet and discover — surprise! — that neither of them has tentacles, swastikas painted on their clothes, or a gun sticking out of their pockets.

So I enjoyed a hug from Luis Eligio, a resounding kiss from Raudel of the Eskuadrón patriota (Patriot Squadron), the warm greetings from the members of Matraka and Talento Cubano. I also listened to them as one listens to a well-known story: the long suffering of the demonization I have lived through in person. When the public was given the floor, I asked them if they realized they had been thrown into the same bag as the protestors and that anything could happen to them from now on. Someone said that since there were so many of us in that bag, the problem now was for those who had been left outside of it. I went home happy, at the proof of how ineffective the machinations of the political police are turning out to be, how difficult it it is to keep everyone compartmentalized.