“Guardian angels”

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I see police everywhere. I don’t know if they are stuck on my retina or if in recent months there has been an alarming growth in their numbers. They come in Mercedes Benz trucks, stand three at a time on the corners and even show up with their German shepherds at various places in the city. While hundreds of round modern cameras watch us from above, those in uniform control us on the broken sidewalks at street level. They come out of nowhere and disappear when we need them most. Astute in detecting a sack of cement transported without papers, they rarely emerge at night in the slums where the number of crimes grows and grows.

There are also those in plain clothes, those “guardian angels” with a permanent presence in any line, cultural center, or human gathering. They are no longer as easy to spot because they’ve changed their rayon pullovers, checked shirts and military haircuts for costumes ranging from braids with colored beads to letting their underwear show above the waist of their pants. They sport cell phones, sunglasses, and leather sandals, but still seem out of place with the expression of someone who does not blend into the situation they inform about. They go to the Film Festival but have never seen a Fellini film, they are in the art galleries but are incapable of saying whether a painting is figurative or abstract. In short, they have been taught to camouflage themselves but they can’t erase their sneer of contempt toward the “petit bourgeoisie weakness” that is art and its manifestations.

What I fear the most, however, is not this group with the metal badges on their chests, or those under cover who write reports, but the coercive police inside all of us. The one who blows the whistle of fear to warn us of what we do not dare, and who shakes the shackles of indifference each time we add to our critiques or opinions. The one who has attended the Academy of Self-Censorship and is a skilled soldier in showing us the roads that bring no trouble. The one with a Penal Code with at most a couple short articles: No. 1 “Don’t look for problems,” and No. 2 “What you do won’t change anything.” If we wake up one day wanting to silence the pounding of that one’s boots inside our head, then we remember the bars, the courts, the chill of a provincial prison. He doesn’t need to take a cudgel to our ribs, because he knows how to pluck the strings of fear, and with the phrase, “Stay calm, it’s better to wait,” he executes the karate kicks that leave our body immobilized, aching in anticipation.

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66 thoughts on ““Guardian angels”

  1. Yo otra vez y esta para darle animos a Yoani, es una muchacha de a coj… cuidate mucho mi nina y ojala que el mundo te escuche y se haga algo, pero la verdadera solucion esta dentro de Cuba, se imaginan si se hace otra revolucion en Cuba pero para derrocar a la que esta vigente explotando al pueblo, contra un pueblo no hay ejercito que pueda porque es parte del propio pueblo.
    Fe y justicia para el pueblo cubano.
    Pepe el cojo.

  2. Hola a todos: Yo soy Pepe y tengo 50 anos, vivo en USA desde los 12 anos y siempre he visto las restinciones para viajar a Cuba como un negocio entre ambos paises. Esto es un forma mas de ganar dinero a costa del sufrimiento y el trabajo duro de otros. Al igual que el envio de dinero y paquetes a la isla. Pero la realidad hermanos mios es que no todos los que estamos al lado aca lo estamos porque eramos perseguidos en la isla por el regimen de los Castro ni porque estabamos en contra del regimen, en mi caso me importa poco si es Fidel, Raul y periquito perez el que gobierna en la isla, o si es socialismo, comunismo, capitalismo; porque no estoy ni a favor ni en contra de ningun modo de direccion de un pais. Lo que jode en verdad es que ambos paises se consideran los mas defensores de los derechos humanos de la faz de la tierra y con todas las mier… que hacen pues se hechan mas tierra encima en contra de los derechos humanos porque lo que hacen cada dia es poner las cosas mas malas para con las familias y los seres humanos, y no solo de Cuba sino de muchos otros paises del mundo que se juegan la vida para llegar hasta aqui. Lo que hace falta es un poco mas de dignidad y respeto a la vida y dejarse ya de comer de la que pica el pollo que en un final todos salimos del mismo lugar y para el mismo lugar vamos. Los cubanos que estamos en el exilio sufrimos mucho pero los que aun estan alla estan sufriendo mas, de eso no le quepa la menor duda. Pienso que todo aquel que aun conserve familiares o amigos alla y pueda ir y de alguna manera ayudarlos pues que lo haga. Aquel que piense que el dinero y las cosas que se lleben al final van a manos del gobiernos pues tiene la razon pero solo que ya iria una vez disfrutado por esa familia y por esos amigos que a veces son para uno mas que la propia familia, tengo amigos que dan la vida por mi y estoy seguro que muchos de mis familiares pues quizas hasta me quieran joder. Pero asi es la vida. Lo que si no veo bien claro es el hecho de que alla en la isla con tan buenos que dicen que son no ponen las cartas sobre la mesa, no lazan las leyes a la luz del mundo. Todo aquel que ha llegado a pisar suelo americano esta en contra del gobierno en Cuba y eso no es asi. Los presos politicos, aquellos que se han casado con extranjeros y luego han brincado para aca, aquellos que se jugaron la vida en camaras de tractor, en balsas inventadas, en botes de remos, en lachas rapidas, en cruceros y barcos fantamas; como sea, pues han venido en contra de no seguir aguantando mas maric… y poder respirar un poco porque aquello es agobiante. Se que esto es muy posible que lea algun miembro de la seguridad de estado cubano o quizas del consejo de estado y quisiera que reflexionaran un poco sobre que realmente esta pasando en la isla con los ciudadanos de la isla, no los companeros sino los seres humanos que tienen el derecho de vivir como tal, como seres humanos. He conocido casos de personas que han venido para aca y al cabo de los anos han sacado o renovado pasaporte, todo bien pago y todo muy legal porque al final esas cosas las aprueban alla en Cuba y cuando llegan al aeropuerto los envian para atras en el mismo avion que fueron y a otros los dejan entrar y cuando llegan al municipio en que viven pues uno de los miembros de la seguridad que atiende el municipio lo visita y le pegan un cuno en el pasaporte senalando que no puede entrar mas a la isla. Que es eso ??? Que derechos humanos, lazos de hermandad, respeto a la familia y todo lo demas es eso ??? Porque se bien claro que en Cuba de lo que mas se habla es de la familia, hasta en las escuelas uno de los factores principales para todo es la familia, y lo que estan haciendo es destruyendo la gran familia de cubanos, porque eso es lo que creo que somos, una gran familia y no importa donde estemos ni porque estemos asi, lo que importa es el gran sentimiento de unidad que hay en cada uno de nosotros. Dejemos de politicas y de cosas sucias que al final solo traera mas problemas y mas muertes. Cuantos cubanos han muerto intentando venir para este pais ??? MILES !!! ……. HASTA CUANDO ??? Permitan salir legalmente a todo aquel que lo desee, permitan entrar libremente a todo aquel que lo desee O cambien el regimen que tienen y demuestrenle al mundo eso que tanto hablan en las cumbres de Ginebra sobre los derechos humanos. Hay muchas otras mas que me gustaria hablar pero creo que ahora no es el tiempo pero ya habra un espacio para eso. Por lo pronto todo aquel que quiera comentar sobre lo que aqui esta escrito que lo haga, luego respondo lo que sea porque si una no tengo es miedo ni pelos en la lengua y la verdad siempre saldra a flote por la via que sea.
    Nota: Mi historia no es del todo cierta, no siempre se debe decir todo y ustedes saben muy bien el por que ….. porque podria traerme grandes problemas debido a todo lo que sucede en la isla. Cuidense y hechen pa’ lante.

  3. This is an extremely well-written article.

    Keep writing – I will try to get the message out in the States, which is now pre-occupied with the jobless recovery for the Big Rich and the paralyzing snow storms in the Rust Belt.

    BP

  4. I listened to the July 2, 2008 Obama speech from about the 15 minute mark onward. Obama talks about a number of initiatives in which Americans of all ages could serve their country. He starts out talking about setting up an Energy Corps where young people could do energy efficiency retrofits, he talks about enlisting veterans to support military families, he talks about strengthening the foreign service and the Peace Corps. What Obama is talking about is the importance of the US projecting soft power – not only military power – in order to achieve national security objectives. These may or may not be sound (or affordable) proposals. That’s debatable. But to suggest they represent a threat of the civil liberties of Americans is ridiculous.

  5. @#22
    Humberto:
    you are right, I was just trying to point out how one sided the idea is.
    Without judging actions, this regime & the venezuelan goverment consideres carrilles a criminal yet … this “advisor” is considered an “important” officer.
    The point is as well, some people forgets … there were many other carrilles, all considered criminals by this regime yet … in the name of the revolution countless atrocities have been comited, not just agains human rights, in the field of battle.
    The most flagrante: guevara’s invation of Bolivia, w/attempts to overthrow a legitimate goverment.
    All around we hear how that turd was “murdered” … he was executed …
    Nevertheless, thank you for your spot on comment!

  6. Statue,

    You’re absolutely right — but the line that so upset John Bibb does not appear in the prepared text versions of the speech which differ in other smaller ways from what he said when he delivered it. Obviously he was speaking “off the cuff” when he delivered the “infamous” line… in fact I listened to the entire video you posted to make sure I was hearing the same speech. But I took my excerpts from the printed text.

  7. Andy#59

    I’m not the type of person that engages in rumors spreading I consider myself a factual and fear person. I read the speech you attached on #59 and there is no mention whatsoever to the topic we were discussing “The Civilian National Security Forces”.
    So I did some digging and found a larger video of his speech in Colorado Springs. The YouTube speech is 26:44 minutes long and on 16:44 minutes, he says clearly “We can not continue to rely only on our Military in order to achieve The National Security objective that we have set, we got to have a Civilian National Security Force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded” So there you have it folks, for everyone to listen & read and made their own mind. Here is the video:

  8. John Two, John Bibb, Hank, Statue, Everyone — I find it particularly interesting — once again thinking of where this discussion is taking place — that in the comment section of a blog by a woman who lives every day of her life under a totalitarian “communist” dictatorship (I put “communist” in quotes because this dictatorship is not about an economic system, it is all about power and nothing else)… a blog by a woman who writes using metaphor as one of her mightiest weapons… that someone would try to take the metaphoric words of the American president so far out of context to imply that he is a communist and would-be dictator leading his country to hell. Thank you John for the text of the speech, I remember it well, now. It was one of Obama’s most powerful speeches. I think it is worth excerpting a fair amount of it here to illustrate just how much it is possible to distort people’s words when you take a single phrase, a metaphorical phrase, completely out of context.

    This entire speech is about people serving their country through NON-GOVERNMENTAL organizations… exactly what is outlawed in Cuba… about people taking responsibility for their country into their own hands.

    A New Era of Service, Senator Barack Obama
    University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, July 2, 2008

    … Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship that was meaningful; the direction I’d been seeking. Through service, I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America.

    There is a lesson to be learned from generations who have served – from soldiers and sailors; airmen and Marines; suffragists and freedom riders; teachers and doctors; cops and firefighters. It’s the lesson that in America, each of us is free to seek our own dreams, but we must also serve a common purpose, a higher purpose. When you choose to serve – whether it’s your nation, your community, or simply your neighbor – you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That is why this is a great nation. Because time and again, Americans have been willing to serve on stages both great and small; to draw on the same spirit that launched America’s improbable journey to meet the challenges of each defining moment in our history.

    One of those moments came on September 11, 2001. Whether you lived in Manhattan or thousands of miles away in Colorado, you felt the pain and loss of that day …That’s why Americans lined up to give blood. That’s why we held vigils and flew flags. That’s why we rallied behind our President. We were ready to step into the strong current of history, and to answer a new call for our country. But the call never came.

    Instead of a call to service, we were asked to go shopping…

    We have lost precious time. …The burden of service has fallen on to the backs of our military – and their families – who have endured tour after tour of duty bravely and brilliantly, even though they haven’t always gotten the care and support they have earned.

    I am running for President, right now, because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now. This moment is too important to sit on the sidelines. …And that is why I won’t just ask for your vote as a candidate – I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am President of the United States.

    …. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.

    There is no challenge greater than the defense of our nation and our values. The men and women of our military – from Fort Carson to Peterson Air Force base, from the Air Force Academy to the ROTC students here on campus – have signed up at a time when our troops face an ever-increasing load. Fighting a resurgent Taliban. Targeting al Qaeda. Persevering in the deserts and cities of Iraq. Training foreign militaries. Delivering humanitarian relief. In this young century, our military has answered when called, even as that call has come too often. Through their commitment, their capability, and their courage they have done us all proud.

    Just as we must value and encourage military service across our society, we must honor and expand other opportunities to serve. Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East LA, the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, and the Foreign Service officer in Indonesia. Americans have shown that they want to step up. But we’re not keeping pace with the demand of those who want to serve, or leveraging that commitment to meet national challenges. FDR not only enlisted Americans to create employment, he targeted that service to build our infrastructure and conserve our environment. JFK not only called on a new generation, he made their service a bridge to the developing world, and a bright light of American values in the darkest days of the Cold War.

    …People of all ages, stations, and skills will be asked to serve. Because when it comes to the challenges we face, the American people are not the problem – they are the answer.

    We’ll send more college graduates to teach and mentor our young people. We’ll call on Americans to join an Energy Corps to conduct renewable energy and environmental cleanup projects in their neighborhoods. We’ll enlist veterans to help other vets find jobs and support, and to be there for our military families. And we’ll also grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered, and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy.

    …Meanwhile, there are ideas across America – in our inner cities and small towns; from college graduates, to seniors getting ready to retire – that could benefit millions of Americans if they’re given the chance to grow.

    As President, I will launch a new Social Investment Fund Network. It’s time to get the grass roots, the foundations, the faith-based organizations, the private sector and the government at the table so that we can learn from our own success stories. We’ll invest in ideas that work; leverage private sector dollars to encourage innovation; and expand successful programs to scale. Take a program like the Harlem Children’s Zone, which helps thousands of kids in New York through after-school activities, mentoring, and family support. We need to make that model work in different cities across America. And just as we support small businesses, I’ll start a new Social Entrepreneur Agency to make sure that small non-profits have strong support from Washington.

    And that’s how it should be. That’s the bet our Founding Fathers were making all of those years ago – that our individual destinies could be tied together in the common destiny of democracy; that government depends not just on the consent of the governed, but on the service of citizens. That’s what history calls us to do. Because loving your country shouldn’t just mean watching fireworks on the 4th of July. Loving your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it. If you do, your life will be richer, and our country will be stronger.

    We need your service, right now, at this moment – our moment – in history. I’m not going to tell you what your role should be; that’s for you to discover. But I am going to ask you to play your part; ask you to stand up; ask you to put your foot firmly into the current of history. I am asking you to change history’s course. And if I have the fortune to be your President, decades from now – when the memory of this or that policy has faded, and when the words that we will speak in the next few years are long forgotten – I hope you remember this as a moment when your own story and the American story came together, and – in the words of Dr. King – the arc of history bent once more towards justice.

  9. John Two #45
    First of all I don’t want to be taken to the firing squad for the video you are about to see, I saw your comments and immediately searched for the information you requested from John Bibb and here is what I found in YouTube about the subject, you guys be the judge, I’m impartial. Here is the video.

  10. Oh-My-God –

    This is getting way out of hand. John Bibb, take a big step back and swallow a pill or something, get some counseling. Holy Moses – what planet do you come from? Yubano is right. You have lost all credibility. It is a sad thing to see.

    Andy and John Two, Thank you. Jeez.

  11. ***
    HI AGAIN JOHN TWO–#45. Google OBAMA NATIONAL POLICE FORCE. President Obama made the statement in Colorado Springs on July 2, 2008. There is a lot of information and Youtube video on this–some also show chilling Hitler Youth rally film to remind how Hitler and other totalitarian regimes brainwash children–and to unfairly “tar” President Obama. Communist Pioneers and Islamic Jihadi madrassahs use similar techniques–but smart people think for themselves.
    ***
    Like the old Mexican proverb says, “La boca cerrada no trampa moscas!”. (A closed mouth traps no flies!) And video recording is on 24/7/365. I bet he wishes he hadn’t made this statement.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  12. Who would have though that the hyperinflation would happen in Cuba?

    200 cuban pesos for a can of Mango pure. That is the full salary of a month of many people in Cuba!
    Who is responsible for this?

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=19016

    No one to blame but the regime.

    Why if many of this products are produce in Cuba why do they have to have such hight price?
    The worker are not pay high salaries they are paid salaries that range from 200 to 400 pesos. If this are the same workers producing this can of Mango. Then this is not exploitation this will be slavery!

  13. I was so sad when I visited to see how the Castro brothers exploit the Cuban people that I swear to myself not to visit again until Cuba was free. I could not stand to know the way they where asked to sacrifice and to see everything even worst than when I left.

    That is what happen when a government is not accountable and the people are not able to vote them out if they do not fulfill the promises they had made.
    Instead of everybody life improve everyone became really very poor. To the point that many will prostitute themselves in order to live.

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