A Form of Entertainment

Havana was pandemonium during the 49th National Baseball Championship Series.  The finals pitted the Industriales, Blue, the team from Havana with the lion mascot, against Villa Clara, Orange. In the streets there were congas, placards, slogans, and a great commotion when the Industriales won the championship. As they say in the streets, the lion drank the Orange juice.

In those days baseball was the only topic of conversation. The workplaces were paralyzed, and strong arguments broke out on the buses. Since the vast majority of the police are from Eastern Cuba and are not entirely congenial with the citizens of Havana, they quietly endured all the shouting, and in a few areas of Central Havana where people went so far as to actually strike police cars, the police did nothing in response.  But nobody was overly preoccupied with the lack of rice and salt, or the pound of sugar removed from the basic food rations without any consultation with the Cuban people, or the other products that now can’t be found in the foreign exchange stores, baseball was all that mattered.  The government is always looking for ways to mislead people about the hard reality.

I looked around me and upon seeing so many young people and adults in that crowded conga, I  thought about how good it would be if they went out into the streets to protest for the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the unjust beating of the Ladies in White, the immediate and unconditional liberation of all the political prisoners. The authorities could do nothing against such a mass of people, and in the end we would be able to break the chains of those who oppress us, but that was a Utopian dream.  Some for fear, and others for convenience, prefer to neglect reality and their daily needs, and some take refuge in their faith, and others in rum.  But in the end they decide to keep quiet, which is, without doubt, the vocation of sheep.

Translated by ricote

Published in: on April 5, 2010 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Preparing the Next Scene

Last night I left my house to visit a friend, and on the way, I observed cars in the streets, and faces that called for some attention,  because in addition to being unknown, they showed themselves to be very indiscreet and restless.

On my return, I took a different route by other streets to see if I could learn what was going on. Nearing Placensia Street, I noticed a group of people who were there. From afar, they seemed to be a gathering, I thought about the elections, but my curiosity wanted to know more and I approached them.

On the walls were posters, uncommon in the streets for their quality, with photos of Che Guevara, Raul, Fidel. I thought that they had printed the album for a special occasion.

I see the television cameras and all of the ‘players’, as they are called. They are no more than neighbors from the vicinity obliged by their behavior so they do not have a choice, retirees from the Ministry of the Interior (MINIT). At last I was able to see and recognize a group that on several occasions during my husband’s unjust jailing, had perpetrated acts of repudiation against me, which had so affected my daughters.

Walking by that street corner, which was almost always deserted, the microphones screeched with interference. It was as if my body on its own emitted all of the energy caused by my feelings at seeing such a horrific lie, such a hypocritical scene. We all know in the end that these scenes are mere lies and montages for those they wish to deceive.

Translated by: Amante de una Cuba Libre, Lover a Free Cuba, and by Ricote

The Fear of the Truth

The truth always prevails and even more so in the face of those who try to obscure the lives of valiant men such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

I spent several days attentively following the National News Broadcast on television, because I was certain they had to say something, lies, as usual, but surely they could not  keep quiet considering the tremendous impact the death of this young fighter had caused around the world.  By various means, numerous Cubans already  had some knowledge that the manipulative Government commentary left a lot unsaid. The government has no respect for a mother’s pain.  And furthermore, they lie, for instance stating that, “He wanted a refrigerator and a telephone in his cell.” That was not true!  He was only asking to be treated with the same rights given to  Fidel Castro when he was imprisoned for assaulting the Moncada Barracks in his fight against the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Anyone who, like me, can understand Zapata, will know that his thoughts, his conviction to fight for the freedom of all political prisoners, for true equality, for fairness and the basic rights that are violated, is what distinguished this young man with dark skin, with only a bible for a pillow, wearing a brilliant smile despite the lack of food that was supporting his demands.

Later, when he was already jailed, I supported his mother, Reina Tamayo Danger, with the spreading of some news, some aid that I could give her and the affection and recognition as a woman and a brave mother.

During the imprisonment of my husband Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria, I was able to greet him in Taco-Taco prison, and on each visit we shared our food with him, so that he would not eat the food of the penitentiary regime, the same attitude of my husband.

The indomitable posture of this man is now collected in the history of this nation. Choosing justice caused him to receive many blows. Zapata did not walk inside the prison. The military had to throw him on a cart so he  could go for his visits, all dressed in white as a sign of his protest, and in order that he would have as little contact as possible with other prisoners, all the activities of the jail were paralyzed. But the cries of acclamation heard through the bars could not be delayed, they appeared majestically with the greatest of his attributes, his Cubanness and his love of justice.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, today you are free from all bonds, now your physical body, full of wounds and scars from the beatings it took, is resting in peace and you are moving into the Eternal Sunrise together with your indelible clamour for the  Freedom of your comrades in the political prison, and for the Cuban people.

And the sole truth is that they always lie.

Translated by Ricote

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 5:41 am  Leave a Comment