Where the Dictatorship Nests / Lilianne Ruiz

A crowd gathered by State Security for an “act of repudiation” mills around during a pause in their chants and screams of insults.

When in Cuba we say “the system” we are referring to a circumstance which, even though we recognize it as abnormal, arbitrary and unnatural — the condition of being on an Island and being subjected to a “political-ideological education” experiment, as well as the terror — can be, for many, unbearable.

There are many families of university professionals who retire to their home life. They manage — God only knows how — to maintain a standard of living that they find acceptable and good. They don’t recognize the abnormal situation other than when they think they should earn more money and have more comforts, increasingly retired and amoral. Because in Cuba it seems that the native character lacks some essential, something they had in Tunisia, thanks to solidarity with the tragedy of another people came out and protested and demanded real change. Change of government and of political orientation, a change toward democracy.

We all have our limits. The limits of fear and the instinct of preservation.

What is more disheartening is to see some who can contrast the “system,” leaving frequently for abroad, or having more information, and all they care about is earning more money and maintaining their comfortable lifestyle. They’re indifferent to the rest of the issue.

A friend of K, who lives a few blocks from the house where Laura Pollan lived, has a son she doesn’t allow outside — naturally — during the acts of repudiation against the Ladies in White. She’s doing the right thing because the people who gather to scream under direction can reach dangerous extremes, but the important thing is that she also, from an instinct of preservation, stays behind the door, recognizing what’s wrong when she says to K, “I have to see what they do to the Ladies in White,” and this scandalizes her although later she bites her tongue.

The workers of the repressive organs take as a given the current government and that things won’t change in Cuba. Such that the government counts on the complicity of everyone, including — as much as I hate it — my own complicity!

Within the Cuban jails, throughout these 53 years, there have been acts of sadism — physical and psychological torture — executions by the regime’s gunmen, State Security agents, workers in the Ministry of the Interior; all of them “good revolutionaries.” Of the same school as the “heroes” of those melodramas in the style of “The Silence That Had to Be,” those with which “the people” have identified.

One of the things that characterizes opponents in a totalitarian system is the need to act as visibly as possible. So the purpose of these tortures doesn’t seem to have been to find out hidden things. The sense of torture in Cuba is to demoralize the opponents of the regime, make them doubt their sense of strength and force them to withdraw.

The ways in which they exercise cruelty against another human being, legitimated by a government that persecutes the political opposition, can’t comfort us in its differences: what happened in Chile under the Pinochet regime, which the Cuban people were so sensitive to, never should have happened, and what happened and is happening in Cuba under the current regime — to which they have given the name revolution, and that confuses many — should not be happening.

There are many witnesses. Those whom they’ve taken prisoner and the resisters in prison who describe it as a martyrdom of every single day, to destroy you as a person, demoralize you, a living death, violate all your rights with frightening arbitrariness, as well as extreme situations which I’ve heard from Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco who continues fighting; from Ányer Antonio Blanco Rodríguez, so young and yet so old like the Iron Marti; the doctor Oscar Elias Biscet who despite all he suffered in prison for defending the human rights of this people, violated every day in its 30 articles, gave me a lesson in forgiveness and Christian love to its ultimate consequences that destroyed my sleep.

The dilemma of every Cuban could be to obey, making ourselves immoral, or to resist, recovering something more than our voice. The State represses because it doesn’t look kindly on the resisters, the dissidents, in a “world” (system) of great ideas that claim to have been constructed “by and for the good of humanity and the disadvantaged.” It would be a good title for a book of testimonies: How ‘the good’ have executed and inflicted pain.

Armando Valladares told in his eyewitness book of political imprisonment in Cuba, which he called “Against All Hope,” that after being beaten and seeing how some of his companions were bayoneted to death, he came to find that they had poured buckets of excrement and urine on them.

The world was scandalized by the revelations of torture from the Abu Graib prison, but the world has had the testimony of Valladares for years and there hasn’t been sufficient international denunciation to liberate Cuba.

Do they believe that these guys who govern Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria, wouldn’t give society something in exchange, while to stay in power they commit crimes against humanity?

The native citizen, or of any place in the world, that lets their conscience be bribed with a school or a free hospital is no more worthy than those who sell their silence for a sum of money.

The excuse that the prison is closed and the bosses pretend to be decent people and they say it’s a lie that Cuba violated human rights, is another way of bribing the conscience with being too lazy to find the truth.

This morning (assuming I can post this soon) we learned that on the eve of the first anniversary of the “Patriotic Union of Cuba” (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer’s house is being assaulted by the political police. Jose Daniel Ferrer is the leader of this organization that undertakes peaceful protests, in the streets of Santiago de Cuba, against the government and for the Release of the political prisoners. As the telephone company is state-owned, the  telephone lines of UNPACU members have been disabled. So there is no communication.

I am not satisfied with sitting here, writing the same thing one more time that almost the whole world already knows and when I finish this oration I’m going to season the beans, I being no less indolent that those people who hear news about repression in Ciba and don’t do anything and “season the beans” as if nothing was happening.

We Cubans need to become moral subjects, whose consciences hurt when we see any kind of abuse and who set aside fear of death or believing in God, it hurts us when it happens to others as if it were happening to us. It is in our “Cuban” egotism — resident on the Island or in exile — where the dictatorship nests.

Are the zombies within the walls worse than the mere spectator zombies who live all over the world and know a closer approximation of what it is to live in Freedom?

August 28 2012