I am a little delusional. Until a minute before the Maria Moors Cabot prize ceremony – held yesterday – I thought the Cuban government would change its decision and let me leave. So I saved the recording I made at the Immigration Office on Monday, October 12. Today, seeing that I am in the same place, I have decided to publish it, thinking especially of all those who are going through the same experience.
Emotion – having so much to say – did make me speak at a velocity difficult to subtitle, but I feel the relief of having said directly to those military uniforms everything I think about them and their absurd restrictions.
Forgive the problems with the video, but it is a completely amateur recording, like everything in this blog.
English Transcript of Video
[Informational text] The office with all the requirements for travel. Bureau of Immigration and Foreigners for the municipality of Plaza, at 17th Street, between J and K, Vedado.
Yoani: Who is last in line for information?
Yoani: Well, I need to know if you have lifted the ban on my traveling that has been in effect for a year.
[Informational text] From here the recording is audio only.
Clerk: You still cannot travel.
Yoani: Still? And when will you lift this prohibition.? Do you have an idea? I need to know.
Yoani: Well, not allowing me to get on a plane is a prohibition.
Clerk: You are still not authorized to travel.
Yoani: And for what reason?
Clerk: I do not know the reason.
Yoani: I have no pending legal case, I’m not being prosecuted before a court. Pay attention to this citizen. I’ve already come many times. You know me here. What I want to know is if this prohibition is unending. If I will one day be able to leave the country. If I continue trying. What do I have to do?
You know this is a violation of my constitutional rights. You people are violating my rights as a citizen, the ability to travel, to leave and enter my country. It is very serious. That a military institution denies a fundamental right of a civilian citizen, it is like the right to an education, to food, the right to travel.
Clerk: At this time you cannot travel.
Yoani: Yes, I have heard it already, I repeat. But what I want is to have the person who made the decision give me the answer to my face.
Clerk: I am giving it to you.
Yoani: No you are not giving me the answer, you are repeating to me the same thing it says in those papers. Why can’t Yoani Sanchez leave the country? Why are you so afraid of my being outside of Cuba?
Clerk: At this time you cannot travel.
Yoani: Why don’t you want me to put one foot on a plane? What are you afraid of? What can this 110 pound person do? Create a tsunami? Why then won’t you let me leave the country?
Clerk: I already told you…
Yoani: You are being ridiculous. But no, I don’t want to repeat. You are making a travesty of life. This institution, that you represent, this permission to leave, some day this is going to end. My grandchildren are not going to live under these conditions. When I tell them the story of how the institutions of my country violated my rights, my right to travel, they’re not going to believe me. What will you tell your children? That you dedicated yourself to violating the rights of Cubans? Is that what you’ll say? Because really, I feel sorry for you for what you are going to have to tell your children in the future.
Me, no. I’ve never violated the rights of anyone. I only want to exercise my right. And act like a free person. Why can’t I? Why? Why do you routinely deny me permission? Who is the person who makes the decision? Why don’t they stop being a coward and show their face? And say to me, “Yoani Sanchez, you are not traveling for one, two, three…” But no.
No, you are saying to me, “No.” You are not giving me an explanation, the why. I am not being prosecuted in court. I have no pending cases, I’ve never been a soldier. I don’t have State secrets. I’m not even a doctor, and you have prohibited medical personal from leaving for five years. They need to be freed. I am none of that. I am a person dedicated to letters. Why can’t I leave. Ah… I do know why I can’t leave, but I am waiting for you people to tell me. Because you have an ideological filter. This country is a huge prison, with an ideological boundary. And the citizens here are judged by political colors. Here there are first citizens, and second, and in the fifth category… I don’t know what category I’m in but I must be in the basement, no? Why? Because of an ideological filter.
But one day this will end. Because this Nation has nothing to do with ideology, or with a party. This nation existed before you and it will exist after you. And then you are going to have to give an accounting of all the violations you visited upon Cubans. In truth, I’m very sorry but the future does not belong to you. The future is ours. I am 34-years-old, I am going to live it, I am going to live it. I am going to be very happy when I can travel freely. And all you are doing is tightening the rubber band. When I can step foot outside this country, the consequences will be much greater because you made it happen. Every day more people read my blog, because you also have made that happen. More people are amazed and greet me in the street, because you have caused that. With your prohibitions and your authoritarianism and your police watching everything. The only thing you’ve done is to make what I do more attractive. So then, if I have to thank anyone I have to thank the organs of State Security, the Ministry of the Interior, and Immigration who have contributed to the phenomenon of my blog growing bigger and bigger. Really, thanks very much!