(Note from blog editor: This video is of the demonstration that Yoani was prevented from attending.)
Near 23rd Street, just at the Avenida de los Presidentes roundabout, we saw a black car, made in China, pull up with three heavily built strangers. “Yoani, get in the car,” one told me while grabbing me forcefully by the wrist. The other two surrounded Claudia Cadelo, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and a friend who was accompanying us to the march against violence. The ironies of life, it was an evening filled with punches, shouts and obscenities on what should have passed as a day of peace and harmony. The same “aggressors” called for a patrol car which took my other two companions, Orlando and I were condemned to the car with yellow plates, the terrifying world of lawlessness and the impunity of Armageddon.
I refused to get into the bright Geely-made car and we demanded they show us identification or a warrant to take us. Of course they didn’t show us any papers to prove the legitimacy of our arrest. The curious crowded around and I shouted, “Help, these men want to kidnap us,” but they stopped those who wanted to intervene with a shout that revealed the whole ideological background of the operation, “Don’t mess with it, these are counterrevolutionaries.” In the face of our verbal resistance they made a phone call and said to someone who must have been the boss, “What do we do? They don’t want to get in the car.” I imagine the answer from the other side was unequivocal, because then came a flurry of punches and pushes, they got me with my head down and tried to push me into the car. I held onto the door… blows to my knuckles… I managed to take a paper one of them had in his pocket and put it in my mouth. Another flurry of punches so I would return the document to them.
Orlando was already inside, immobilized by a karate hold that kept his head pushed to the floor. One put his knee in my chest and the other, from the front seat, hit me in my kidneys and punched me in the head so I would open my mouth and spit out the paper. At one point I felt I would never leave that car. “This is as far as you’re going, Yoani,” “I’ve had enough of your antics,” said the one sitting beside the driver who was pulling my hair. In the back seat a rare spectacle was taking place: my legs were pointing up, my face reddened by the pressure and my aching body, on the other side Orlando brought down by a professional at beating people up. I just managed to grab, through his trousers, one’s testicles, in an act of desperation. I dug my nails in, thinking he was going to crush my chest until the last breath. “Kill me now,” I screamed, with the last inhalation I had left in me, and the one in front warned the younger one, “Let her breathe.”
I was listening to Orlando panting and the blows continued to rain down on us, I planned to open the door and throw myself out but there was no handle on the inside. We were at their mercy and hearing Orlando’s voice encouraged me. Later he told me it was the same for him hearing my choking words… they let him know, “Yoani is still alive.” We were left aching, lying in a street in Timba, a woman approached, “What has happened?”… “A kidnapping,” I managed to say. We cried in each others arms in the middle of the sidewalk, thinking about Teo, for God’s sake how am I going to explain all these bruises. How am I going to tell him that we live in a country where this can happen, how will I look at him and tell him that his mother, for writing a blog and putting her opinions in kilobytes, has been beaten up on a public street. How to describe the despotic faces of those who forced us into that car, their enjoyment that I could see as they beat us, their lifting my skirt as they dragged me half naked to the car.
I managed to see, however, the degree of fright of our assailants, the fear of the new, of what they cannot destroy because they don’t understand, the blustering terror of he who knows that his days are numbered.