This Friday was complicated from the start, I won’t deny it. In the morning, we were missing Claudio, a photography professor at the Blogger Academy, because an agent – who barely deigned to show him a card with the initials DES (Department of State Security) – arrested him. We had a little party at our house after the classes to celebrate the first anniversary of Voces Cubanas, which in its brief life now has 26 sites. I remember that in the middle of the hugs and smiles, someone told me to be careful. “In the system as it is today, there is no way to protect yourself from attacks from the State,” I told him, with the intent to scare away my own fear.
Around six in the evening we were on our way to a family gathering. My sister was celebrating her 36th birthday; my father heard her first cry early in the morning on the day set aside to celebrate railroad workers. Even Teo, with his adolescent reluctance to participate in “old people’s” activities, agreed to come with us. We were expecting the usual birthday party, with photos, candles to blow out, and “Happy birthday to you, Yunia, may you enjoy many more.” But, the many eyes that were lurking had another plan for us. On Boyeros Avenue, a few yards from the Ministry of the Interior and Raul Castro’s office, three cars stopped the miserable Russian Lada we had taken at a corner.
“Don’t even think about going to 23rd Street Yoani, because the Union of Young Communists is having an event,” shouted some men who got out of the Chinese-made Geely, which reminded me of a sharp pain in my lumbar zone. I lived through something similar already last November and today I would not allow them to put me head first into another car, with my son. A huge man got out of the vehicle and started to repeat his threats, “What is your name?” was Reinaldo’s question which the man never bothered to respond to. From Teo’s lanky body rose the ironic phrase, “He doesn’t say his name because he is a coward.” Worse still, Teo, worse still, he doesn’t say his name because he is not recognized as an individual, but rather simply as a voice for others much higher up. A professional camera was filming our every move, waiting for an aggressive pose, a vulgar phrase, an excess of anger. The injection of terror was brief, the birthday found us bitter.
How can we emerge unscathed from all this? How can a citizen protect himself from a State that has the police, the courts, the rapid response brigades, the mass media, the capacity to defame and lie, the power to socially lynch him and turn him into someone defeated and apologetic? What were they thinking would happen on 23rd Street today that would make them arrest several bloggers?
I feel a terror that almost doesn’t let me type, but I want to tell those who today threatened me and my family, that when one reaches a certain level of panic, higher doses don’t make any difference. I will not stop writing, or Twittering; I have no plans to close my blog, nor abandon the practice of thinking with my own mind and – above all – I am not going to stop believing that they are much more frightened than I am.