Watertight Compartments

There are days for separation and others for confluence. Times when it seems that the strategy of confronting us is working, but also minutes in which we manage to leap over the narrow limits within which they want to enclose us. Last night was precisely one of those moments of probing, of identification and exchange. In Estado de SATS–”Creating a Space for the Confluence of Art and Thought in Cuba”–we find ourselves among people of very diverse tendencies, such as the members of Omni Zona Franca, the leader of the group Puños arriba (Fists Up), and the organizers of the Rotilla Festival, recently hijacked by official institutions. They spoke at a packed place, in the midst of the worst of the August heat, and with a great need to understand why censorship has been unleashed on them. I think that yesterday some brainy State Security guy must have lost his job. Because among the hugs, questions, swallows of tea, they exposed months and months of intrigues, professionally sowed, to discredit those actors of civil society.

The method is simple and nothing new. They call someone and tell him its not advisable to talk with someone else, to send him a simple text message, to respond to a greeting. To justify this distancing, they clarify that this hip hop musician, that blogger, or some music producer, works for the CIA, or has been trained by the Pentagon. They don’t have to believe it, it’s enough that the intimidation and fear seep in and few will approach those stigmatized. To sustain such rivalry it is essential to keep both parties away from each other, to not let them meet and discover — surprise! — that neither of them has tentacles, swastikas painted on their clothes, or a gun sticking out of their pockets.

So I enjoyed a hug from Luis Eligio, a resounding kiss from Raudel of the Eskuadrón patriota (Patriot Squadron), the warm greetings from the members of Matraka and Talento Cubano. I also listened to them as one listens to a well-known story: the long suffering of the demonization I have lived through in person. When the public was given the floor, I asked them if they realized they had been thrown into the same bag as the protestors and that anything could happen to them from now on. Someone said that since there were so many of us in that bag, the problem now was for those who had been left outside of it. I went home happy, at the proof of how ineffective the machinations of the political police are turning out to be, how difficult it it is to keep everyone compartmentalized.

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12 thoughts on “Watertight Compartments

  1. Damir said : “You wouldn’t be free this long under the “Patriot Act” just across the sea, up north. Probably not even alive, given the arbitrary powers the police and secret services in the usa have.

    See, there’s a reason why no one in the usa is openly talking about taking the government down. Those that do, have their faces well and safely covered, and their voices electronically distorted to avoid being recognised.

    Oh, and can someone explain to me how is this democracy: Australia is sending refugees who arrive on its’ shores to Malaysia for “processing”. Malaysia is notoriously known for beating the living hell out of prisoners and is NOT a signatory to OUNrefugee convention.”

    Damir! AGAIN AND AGAIN! SHIFTING FOCUS, SUBJECT!! WHAT REDUNDANCY! WHAT LACK OF CREATIVITY! YOUR HANDLERS NEED TO GO BACK TO FILM SCHOOL SO THEY CAN WRITE BETTER SCRIPTS!

  2. THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION : Guest Blog: Cuba’s Pro-Freedom ‘Resistance’ Movement Is Growing – Aramis L. Perez

    As attention focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, where protesters have taken to the streets to demand political change, some wonder whether Cuba will follow suit. A closer look at the island, where freedom fighters wage a nonviolent struggle against a regime desperate to conceal the effectiveness such methods have met during the “Arab Spring,” reveals good news: a big story that cuts through the bleak reality of 52 years of totalitarian rule and the media noise fueled by pro-regime talking points.

    The island’s growing pro-freedom Resistance, a movement of brave activists who defend Cubans’ basic liberties and fight for democracy, is making gains that are impossible to ignore. Their civic resistance actions, including increasingly bold demonstrations in highly visible public places, are garnering greater support from the man on the street. The Resistance has the courage to speak what is on the country’s mind.

    Testimony from longtime activists and new video footage making its way out of the island confirm that something new is happening: more and more, ordinary Cubans are overcoming the climate of fear created by systematic surveillance and repression, firing squad executions, political imprisonment and torture to support Resistance members who proclaim a pro-freedom message on Cuban streets. This is happening in a situation which finds Cubans at a disadvantage in comparison to conditions in some “Arab Spring” countries: Cuba is a single-party Communist state with centralized control over the economy and people’s livelihoods, the regime denies Internet access to all but a chosen elite, mobile phone penetration is very low, telephony is monitored, and all independent media is illegal.

    Case in point: a daring protest in Havana on Tuesday, August 23, 2011, first reported by the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of pro-democracy groups in Cuba and abroad, and video of which quickly made its way online thanks to independent Havana-based news agency Hablemos Press.

    Four women, members of the island-wide National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, as well as the Rosa Parks Women’s Movement for Civil Rights, ascended the granite steps of Havana’s historic Capitol Building. It is a majestic, neoclassical structure that housed the Congress of the Republic of Cuba before the totalitarian takeover in 1959.

    These valiant ladies, Sara Martha Fonseca Quevedo, Tania Maldonado Santos, Odalys Caridad Sanabria Rodríguez and Mercedes García Alvarez, wore black, a symbol of mourning for their country and those fallen in pursuit of freedom. They paused about one-third of the way up and unfurled a white banner bearing words of hope and courage: “Freedom, justice, and democracy… DOWN WITH THE DICTATORSHIP.”

    There, before crowds of Cubans and foreigners making their way through the broad space before the Capitol where tourists often pause for snapshots of bicycle taxis or old American cars, camcorders and mobile phone cameras captured the sight of four Cuban women publicly demonstrating for freedom.

    For at least half an hour they made their stand, borne above the crowds by stones that once buttressed Cuban democracy.

    “We all are the Resistance! The streets belong to the people! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” they chanted, as onlookers watched.

    Their actions brought to mind the words of former Czech President and anti-communist resistance fighter Vaclav Havel, who wrote that when a person breaks the rules of a Communist state and does not obey the regime’s demand in silent conformity, he chooses to “live in truth,” an essential step in opposing the crushing power of that system.

    As you can see in the accompanying video, after a time, a single man, assumed to be a plainclothes officer of the feared State Security force, attempted to drive the women from their chosen ground, but they clutched their banner and sat.

    Real Cuban voices, belonging to persons who chose to live in truth on that sun-drenched morning, shouted at the regime’s man. “Bully, Abuser! Let them go!” Facing a crowd that had suddenly lost its fear, the regime thug balked, and conferred with three additional plainclothes agents, returning after a time with uniformed male officers who manhandled and dragged the women away amid jeers and whistles of contempt for the oppressors from those witnessing the scene.

    The women were detained, beaten, and threatened, but vowed to continue their struggle for freedom. The regime, meanwhile, continues to lash out, using systematic violence to maintain its hold on power. It has of late increased its repression against women, including the well-known Ladies in White who march on Sundays after Mass for the release of all political prisoners.

    The protest at the Capitol and the people’s support for the activists, are proof that open support for the Cuban Resistance is growing among the people at large. Their strategy, nonviolent civic resistance, has proven effective against oppressive regimes. Their friends and allies abroad work actively to spread news of their struggle and provide support.

    The big story in 2011 Cuba is that freedom is on the march, and it is very good news.

    http://blog.heritage.org/2011/08/30/guest-blog-cubas-pro-freedom-resistance-movement-is-growing/

  3. @#4

    “…So go where sun shines not and do whatever you want there, but think again before posting delusions…”

    Why don’y u follow ur own sound advise …pal?

  4. Now this is ripe. From Damir:

    “In fact I am in direct contact with a couple of others on The Huff. Post payroll. SOme are quite nice and educated people and we have quite interesting and respectful discussions. They like to talk with foreigners and express their opinion. We do not agree on many points, but that is not a debilitating detail. What would the world look like if we all thought in exactly the same way?
    Through difference of opinions intelligent people learn and improve.”

    THE one on this forum who posts the most delusional and outrageous rants, hurls vile insults at everyone, insinuates that he is the only one with a brain, etc., etc.

    Thanks for the laugh. Really.

  5. And the fact is:

    NOT ONE of dissenter posters on the net, from Cuba, has been maltreated, arrested or in any other way denied their rights to free speech.

    In fact I am in direct contact with a couple of others on The Huff. Post payroll. SOme are quite nice and educated people and we have quite interesting and respectful discussions. They like to talk with foreigners and express their opinion. We do not agree on many points, but that is not a debilitating detail. What would the world look like if we all thought in exactly the same way?

    Through difference of opinions intelligent people learn and improve.

    Support brigade and the team “yoani” don’t. Their clinical hatred is consuming what little of ganglia they have.

  6. NOT ONE is not in BOLD. It is in CAPS!!!!!

    not to worry. I know that the support brigade has no brains and no capacity to grasp the difference.

    They demonstrate that incapacity on a daily basis.

  7. Damir: “NOT ONE has been maltreated, arrested, imprisoned in the past three years.
    NOT ONE.”

    Notice how Damir repeats the most absurd of his lies for emphasis, in BOLD no less. Is that a Goebbels technique?

  8. A dumb apple accused me of not reading the news and writing “rants”.

    “it sounds like someone’s critical thinking skills did not progress past the kindergarten stage if the fact that some bloggers have figured out a way to post on the internet, at great personal risk…”

    Who’s delusional here?

    As I said posting anti-government rants here 24/7 after 3 years still free, and undisturbed. How is that even remotely a proof of “great personal risk”…???

    Of course, only a wannabe cuban from the usa would be responsible for writing such a contradictory amd self-defeating statement.

    The huffington Post houses over 30 personal pages of Cubans dissenters. NOT ONE has been maltreated, arrested, imprisoned in the past three years.

    NOT ONE.

    So go where sun shines not and do whatever you want there, but think again before posting delusions.

    My pleasure is only to point out at those delusions.

    Naturally, I am not trying to make the team “yoani” and their support brigade understand the magnitude of their delusions. That is impossible since they are delusional.

    Just having a good laugh with all those millions of people who actually do NOT read this site (more than once). But when they do they wonder, just like I did when I first discovered it three years ago, what the hell are you on, people…???!!!

    Way too much bull shift is being shifted around here to be taken seriously.

  9. Damir wrote:

    “Sounds almost like there are no freedom of spech issues in Cuba if all these people can post anti-government stuff on the net and walk scott-free…”

    I’d say it sounds like someone’s critical thinking skills did not progress past the kindergarten stage if the fact that some bloggers have figured out a way to post on the internet, at great personal risk, equals “no freedom of speech issues” in Cuba. Don’t you read the news at all in between composing you delusional rants?

    Here’s an idea Damir, why don’t you get your own blog where you can rant away at all the governments that you obviously despise? It can be called, drumroll, “Some Kind of Pragmatic Capitalism.”

  10. More of the same: censorship and control abounds in Cuba.

    SO how come teh team “yoani” is still posting, still walking free and undisturbed, contrary to their own pointless and unverifiable claims?

    And 24/7 mind you. Just had a look at the tweets, and these keep coming every hour on average.

    When do they sleep?

    But I’d really love to hear how come they CAN and DO post undisturbed and are not arrested yet?

    Sounds almost like there are no freedom of spech issues in Cuba if all these people can post anti-government stuff on the net and walk scott-free…

    You wouldn’t be free this long under the “Patriot Act” just across the sea, up north. Probably not even alive, given the arbitrary powers the police and secret services in the usa have.

    See, there’s a reason why no one in the usa is openly talking about taking the government down. Those that do, have their faces well and safely covered, and their voices electronically distorted to avoid being recognised.

    Oh, and can someone explain to me how is this democracy: Australia is sending refugees who arrive on its’ shores to Malaysia for “processing”. Malaysia is notoriously known for beating the living hell out of prisoners and is NOT a signatory to OUNrefugee convention.

    Australia is blatantly violating its’ responsibility and no one is complaining about that, for example.

    It’s okay for ASussies to do that, no? After all they are the team “yoani’s” beloved “white gods” who are so cute while sipping coffee and smoking their cigars, making the team “yoani” weak in the knees.

    They can do anything they want. After all they have “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”, and that makes it all right to violate all and every human tight imaginable.

    Castros, on the other hand… The bastards who beat the hell out of cuban traitors and criminals cannot do the same.

    They are not really white gods.

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