Why is it That We Cubans Don’t Protest? / Laritza Diversent

I felt envious as I followed the events in Egypt. The Egyptian people poured out onto the streets and demonstrated to their leaders who truly should be in control.

How I wish the citizens of my country would wake up to this reality! However, I feel that it’ll be a long time before something similar happens in Cuba.

Why don’t we Cubans do the same? What is stopping us from going to the streets and saying “Enough, this is the road we’re gonna take?” Why didn’t we protest when they raised the retirement age, cut social programs and continue massive layoffs to recoup the costs of government payrolls?

I ask myself: Why don’t the workers go on strike due to low wages, or the increase in the cost of food, gas and energy? Any one of these would be cause for social outrage anywhere else on the planet. Not in Cuba; here the workers come out in support of the revolution with banners.

It almost seems as if we don’t belong to this world.

“We shall work more, with less” is the slogan used by the bosses who call us lazy and spoiled. The same bosses, or their children, who cruise the city in new cars, wasting gas charged to the state budget, while the starving working class squeezes into or hangs from the doors of public transit in an attempt to avoid arriving late to work and to unemployment due to “non-suitability.”

Why don’t we insist on justice, instead of making small-talk of those in government who enrich themselves with impunity at our expense, or those whose errors and negligence caused the deaths of dozens of mentally handicapped individuals from hunger and exposure back in January of 2010?

Why do we stay quiet when the bosses point out our short-comings, condescend to us and demand we sacrifice more, when they should congratulate us for working without resources and practically without pay?

Too many questions for a single answer; an answer which lies somewhere between guilt and fear.

Who doesn’t know the omnipotent and omnipresent? Who feels the breeze and doesn’t breathe it in, knowing that an inadequate breath constitutes a violation of the law? Who doesn’t know that breathing is a matter of survival? Who voluntarily seeks death by asphyxiation or strangulation?

Who doesn’t steal? Who doesn’t violate the law? Who ignores punishment that sets examples? Who doesn’t know of accusations of being a secret operative, and of what a neighbor wouldn’t do to save their own skin? Who is willing to defend their fellow citizen above their own personal well-being?

“The Silence of the Lambs,” should be the name of the movie that Cubans star in every day.

Apart from making me envious, the determination of the Egyptian people made me, not only question the reality of my country, but understand it as well. An island, where escape is less dangerous than protest. A place where one is guilty by obligation and has the duty to hide it. And, where fear begets resignation and one is paralyzed by conformity.

Translated by Miguel Camacho Jr.