We, The Others / Luis Felipe Rojas

Dissidents have taken these measures to protect their families from acts of repudiation and from State Security

It was Spring of 2005 when I read “The Others: Challenges of Reconciliation“, written by Juan Antonio Blanco. I remember having experimented with the sensation of having relocated myself once more. I felt that I was once again setting off my prow in regards to the hate and fears of the Cuba in which I live.

Seven years later, I am “the other one” in my neighborhood, in my local sugar-producing area, in this Eastern region.

I am looked upon as someone who wants to open the door to a Miami, who wants to take everything away from Cubans. To “them”, I am helping to hand the country over to the Americans (schools, homes, children’s day cares, etc). That is how the propaganda machine of the ideological department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba paints us — yesterday under the direction of the ousted Carlos Aldana and today under former colonel Rolando Alfonso Borges. Under the most complicit of silences, “they” have seen how they apply the Pre-Criminal Social Dangerousness Law, how they beat us, arbitrarily arrest us, surround our homes for several days and how we have to deal with rations of hate such as the “acts of repudiation”, public mockery, and absolute scorn for being “different”.

But “they” also suffer from the lack of information. They subject themselves to the abusive and humiliating migratory process known as the Exit Permit to be able to leave the country (or to be able to come in). They suffer hunger, lack of resources to live a “normal” life, and they have also lost hope. They have hit rock bottom just like “us”.

However, among “them” there are those who support us in silence. They print out copies of clandestine magazines for us, they lend us internet service, they bring us messages from the exterior and they risk their safety by keeping us in their homes…until they blow the whistle on them. “They” wait until tomorrow, “to see if this changes. It can’t be like this forever, brother…

The most common arguments are that among “us” there is no leader, or that we are under the wing of Washington (Miami) and not of Moscow, Peking, or Caracas. To “them” we are few, we do not have the support of the majority of the population, and our goals, in addition to being unfeasible, are annexationist, a sacrilegious voice in the centennial history of our coarse nationalism.

Without even noticing that we are like “them”, they accuse us of being less intelligent, and “we” are the ones that have ideological (or political) problems and we are the ones that are crazy.

One question comes up in my mind often: Who has suffered more from fear of repression — “them” or “us”? However, it is not the monosyllable for an answer what is most enriching, but instead: What did each and every one of us do after the first 10 seconds of terror?

My conclusion is that not even under magic spells would I prefer returning to be like “them”, to lower my head, to seal my lips, to remain silent, lower my hands, stop walking, and sell my future to “them”.

PS: Thanks to Particia, from Berlis, for her questions, tantrums and arguments about a week ago inspired me to write this post.

Translated by Raul G.