The Old Act of Repudiation

Perhaps you don’t know — because not everything is related in a blog — but the first act of repudiation that I saw in my life was when I was only five. The commotion in the tenement caught the attention of the two girls we then were, my sister and I. We peered over the railings of the narrow corridor to look down to the floor below. People were screaming and raising their fists around a neighbor’s door. As young as we were, we had no idea what was going on. What’s more, now when I recall what happened I have barely the memory of the cold railing under my fingers and a brief flash of those who were shouting. Years later I could put together that kaleidoscope of childish evocations and I knew I had been a witness to the violence unleashed against those who wanted to emigrate from the port of Mariel.

Well, since then I have experienced several acts of repudiation up close. Whether as a victim, observer, or journalist… never — I should clarify — as a victimizer. I remember a particularly violent one that I experienced with the Ladies in White, where the hordes of intolerance spat on us, pushed us and even pulled our hair. But last night was unprecedented for me. The picketing of the extremists who blocked the showing of Dado Galvao’s film in Feria de Santana was something more than the sum of unconditional supporters of the Cuban government. They all had, for example, the same document — printed in color — with a pack of lies about me, as Manichean as they were easy to refute in a simple conversation. They repeated an identical and hackneyed script, without the least intention of listening to any reply I could give them. They shouted, interrupted, and at one point became violent, and occasionally launched a chorus of slogans that even in Cuba are no longer said.

However, with the help of Senator Eduardo Suplicy, and the calm in the face of adversity that characterizes me, we managed to start talking. In short: they only knew how to yell and repeat the same phrases, like programmed automatons. So the meeting was very interesting! Their neck veins swelled, I cracked a smile. They attacked me personally, I brought the discussion back to Cuba which will always be more important than this humble servant. They wanted to lynch me, I talked. They were responding to orders, I am a free soul. At the end of the night I had the same feelings as after a battle against the demons of the same extremism that fueled those acts of repudiation in 1980 in Cuba. The difference is that this time I understood the mechanism that foments these attitudes, I could see the long arm that controls them from the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana.


160 thoughts on “The Old Act of Repudiation

  1. I’m so sorry for it in my country Yoani,I hope that you forgive this stupid people that don’t know read or don’t have idea whats means dictatorship.I’d love to know CUBA,but it’s really hard at moment go in a country to see everything that I never I’ll agree.

  2. Dear Yoani, nothing is more democratic in Brazil than corruption, than dishonesty. These are found in all social classes, ethnics groups, religions, political parties, from north to south of the country.Corruption is endemic. It’s part of everyday life in Brazil.The idea is to use public money for private gain, either through private enterprise or through any public role. It’s all about earning without working. It’s all about having money. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, nobody cares. There is no hope for Brazil.

  3. @Joana Neusa da Silva
    @Eduardo Alves da Costa

    As I stated before, Brazilians seem to have forgotten the many years of dictatorship we had. In truth apparently in this country it’s all about who is in power. Sadly, democracy didn’t seem to be the real objective of many of the opposition to the fascist dictatorship that ruled Brazil for many years. It lasted (the numbers I’m giving are not exact!) since early 40’s and went as far as the 80’s. Did Brazil learn anything from it? Can’t Brazilian appreciate the hard conquered freedom?

    I’ve read a journalist’s blog pointing out what was really alarming about this Yoani’s visit to Brazil. I consider myself a well informed person, but I failed to realize this on my own. Yoani came LEGALLY to my country. When Brazil accepted her coming, there was a document ALLOWING her visit, meaning that the country would be responsible for her well being during the time of her visit. I don’t know why she chose my country for her visit – and I’m happy she did – BUT there was a SECRET meeting where a CUBAN DIPLOMAT conspired so Yoani is watched in a country where she is LEGALLY welcome. Come on, people, that breaks the law. If you don’t want something like this to happen, it’s simple, don’t give the permission. Just don’t deny Yoani her legal right in our land.

    There are other alarming factors, as the Cuban money that came for Lula’s campaign that was found hidden in liquor boxes and many other things.

    @Eduardo: I totally agree with you on what concerns Lula. He ashamed us and he proved to be as corrupt as his Government. When he claimed he ‘knew nothing’ about what was going on in his Goverment, that, for me, revealed INCOMPETENCE or GUILT. I voted for the latter. Had to be. I am scared of this fascism showing its face again to my country and I really hope I’m wrong.

    And let’s get real… When a Government claims that eating bananas and going to the beach is not acceptable and proves that whoever does it in Cuba is aligned with the USA, well, my fellows, it just shows how bad a situation is. I never thought that eating bananas was glamorous or wrong.

  4. Dear Yoani,

    I want to apologize for all the stupidity you´ve experienced in Brazil. You may have get a hint that our brazilian “democracy” is not as safe as we want to belive. I am one brasilian among thousands that are fans of your courage, that share the same thirst for democracy and freedom. Keep brave, keep following your heart and head up! You´re a very special person, sent to this Earth to load a dificult task, but the seeds you have planted will germinate in the near future! And it will be sunny!


    429,223 Followers (+ 705 yesterday, + 1,738 on average)


    HAVANA (AP) — Miguel Diaz-Canel has five years to get started and a lot of work to do.

    The man tapped as Cuban President Raul Castro’s chief lieutenant and likely successor must quietly fend off any challenges from within the Communist-run island’s secretive citadel of power.

    He must gain legitimacy with young, and even middle-aged, Cubans who have never known a leader not named Castro. And he must deal with an exiled diaspora and American officials who were already making clear on Monday they will not be mollified by a new, younger face.

    “There’s going to be a huge charisma deficit,” said Ann Louise Bardach, author of “Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington.” ”You go from Fidel to Raul who at least had some of the shine of the Castro mantle, somebody who fought in the revolution.”

    She said Cuba faces “massive” problems including a large public debt, dependence on Venezuela, an aging population, decades of brain drain and one of the world’s slowest Internet connections.

    Whether Diaz-Canel is the man to fix all that is very much open to debate. Will Cubans accept another leader who was hand-picked from above and whose ascension — if it happens — will not come through multiparty democratic elections?

    And will those passed over for the top job fall in line? If Fidel and Raul Castro are still alive, will the 52-year-old electrical engineer and former minister of higher education be able to set his own course?

    Behind the scenes, Raul has led an anti-corruption campaign and replaced many of Fidel’s confidantes with loyal military officials who earned his trust during his four plus decades as the nation’s armed forces chief.

    Observers say it is those men, who have been put in charge of important state-owned enterprises like the phone company, the enormous holding company Cimex and virtually the entire tourism industry, who Diaz-Canel must persuade to follow him.

    “I’m sure he’s shown himself to be acceptable to the military already, otherwise this would never have happened,” said Paul Webster Hare, the British ambassador to Cuba from 2001 to 2004 and now a lecturer in international relations at Boston University. “He has to be acceptable to them.”



    YOUTUBE: “Hermanos al Rescate” Documental inédito de Madres y Mujeres Anti-Represión por Cuba – “Brothers to the Rescue” documentary of the shootdown of the two cesna in international waters. Spanish with English with sub-title. Includes audio from Cuban mig fighters and the control tower in Cuba.


    WALL STREET JOURNAL: A Visit Angers Brazil’s Pro-Cubans – Protests Greet Havana Dissident, Highlighting Latin America’s Still-Strong Love Affair With Castro – By JOHN LYONS and JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA

    SÃO PAULO, Brazil—After winning permission to leave Cuba, dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez chose Latin America’s biggest democracy, Brazil, to start a monthslong global tour. Unexpectedly, pro-Cuba protesters have disrupted her appearances since she arrived in Brazil on Monday, prompting police to assign guards to protect her.
    In São Paulo late Thursday, some 200 members of a socialist youth group, many wearing fake red noses, burst into an event at a bookstore, forcing organizers to cancel it. One protester held up a sign: “Cuba, the only country with a cancer vaccine.”

    For many Brazilians, the headline-making attacks are a national embarrassment. In one dramatic scene in Bahia this week, the 71-year-old Brazilian Sen. Eduardo Suplicy put himself between an angry mob and Ms. Sánchez to protect her. “Have the courage to listen!” he shouted. They didn’t, and the event was canceled for safety reasons.

    The protests expose a little understood aspect of Latin America’s democracies. Five decades after Fidel Castro led Cuba’s revolution, much of the world has written off his regime amid allegations of human-rights abuses. Yet in Latin America, vehement supporters of the Castros can be found everywhere from government palaces to university campuses.

    “Many in Latin America’s left continue to think that most of what goes on in Cuba is fantastic, and what is not fantastic is the fault of the U.S. embargo,” said Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister, referring to the U.S. strategy to economically isolate Cuba’s Communist government. Mr. Castañeda, once supported Castro and now rejects him.

    A poor region long governed by elites, Latin America saw an explosion of leftist protest movements and armed insurgencies challenge the status quo from Mexico to Argentina and Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, left-leaning presidents govern much of the region along a spectrum of models, from the market-oriented social democracy of Brazil to the socialism of Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela.

    A waif-thin 37-year-old writer, Ms. Sánchez seems an unlikely candidate to attract jeering mobs. But in 2007, she started publishing vignettes about the daily privations of life in Castro’s Cuba in a blog called Generation Y. Reporting from someone who actually lives in Cuba has become a poignant challenge to the view of Castro supporters elsewhere that the island is a revolutionary paradise.

    Today, her writing is translated by volunteers into more than a dozen languages, and she is arguably the most widely read chronicler of the Castro regime.

    “Why are we talking so much about Cuba and Yoani Sánchez? Because this woman is living proof of the Castros’ unfulfilled promise of liberty, a promise that seduced and involved, from the start, some of the greatest intellects of our continent,” wrote O Estado de S. Paulo columnist Eugênio Bucci on Thursday.

    In Brazil, Ms. Sánchez is responding to the attacks by noting that people back in Havana don’t have the right to such protests. “I am a self-taught democrat. I believe in the plurality of ideas. But when it comes to verbal or physical violence, that’s no longer plurality, that’s fanaticism,” she says.She sees Latin America’s attachment to the “illusion” of Cuba this way: “There are young people attracted to the idea of revolution. And there are not so young people who can’t accept that the ideas they believed in are defunct, or for whom it is too late in life to say ‘I was wrong.’ ”

    Support for Castro may seem surprising in a region where countries like Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay shed dictatorshipsof their own and embraced democracy in the 1980s. The same countries today key are reservoirs of support for what is the world’s longest-serving dictator. When two Cuban boxers tried to defect in Brazil in 2007, Brazil scooped them up and sent them back to Cuba.

    Explanations for why vary. For one, many Latin American leaders today came of age opposing their own countries’ right-wing dictatorships. They drew inspiration from the Castro revolution and some even spent time in Cuba. As a young woman, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was jailed and tortured by Brazil’s dictatorship for her participation in a Marxist guerrilla group.

    Indeed, even in Brazil’s increasingly market-oriented economy, you don’t have to look far to find a professed Marxist. Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, the man responsible for soccer’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil, is a leader of the Communist Party of Brazil.

    Meanwhile, at Latin America’s universities nostalgia remains high for decades past when the campuses were outposts of leftist opposition against authoritarian governments. At Mexico’s largest university, Unam, the economics department auditorium is named for Ho Chi Minh and emblazoned with murals of revolutionaries such as Cuba’s Che Guevara.

    And in a region where leaders of various political stripes have quietly resented U.S. might, Mr. Castro gets a free pass as the man who thumbed his nose at Uncle Sam and got away with it.

    To be sure, many observers such as the Cuban writer Carlos Montaner suspect that the Castro government is behind the protests. The notion that Cuba was seeking to smear Ms. Sánchez gained weight after the Rousseff administration said a senior official had received a dossier from the Cuban Embassy smearing Ms. Sánchez. Brazil says it destroyed the document.

    Efforts to reach the Cuban Embassy in Brasilia for comment were unsuccessful.

    “There’s an old relationship of ideological solidarity and gratitude for the help the Cuban government gave these people in the past,” Mr. Montaner says.

    Some view Ms. Sánchez’s ability to continue writing, and now travel, as evidence that Cuba is changing. Leaving Cuba is still not a universal right for Cubans; She was allowed to leave Cuba this year as part of Raúl Castro’s move to ease travel restrictions.

    Giving Cuba a free pass may carry more of a cost for countries like Brazil seeking a role in global affairs. Human-rights activists slammed Brazil in 2010 after then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva compared Cuba’s hunger-striking political prisoners to common criminals.

    Brazil’s support for Castro could backfire if Cuba becomes a democracy some day. “There’s been a lack of toughness or frankness [from Brazil] when it comes to talking about human rights on the island. I would recommend a more energetic position, because the people don’t forget,” Ms. Sánchez said.

  9. Mensaje desde Brasil
    Fragmentos de un mensaje de un viejo exiliado cubano en Brasil sobre la visita de Yoani a ese país:

    Ha sido un fenómeno arrasador en favor de nuestra causa, con una popularidad sin precedentes, todo causado por una “paragüería” de los representantes de Cuba en Brasil. Resulta que dos semanas antes de Yoani llegar a Brasil, el embajador cubano convocó en la embajada un reunión secreta de muchos militantes del PT y otros destacados extremistas de otros partidos de la izquierda brasileña y los convidó para organizar una conspiración contra Yoani Sánchez durante su visita. Distribuyó un “libelo” contra Yoani de 235 páginas, narrando improperios y supuestas tendencias capitalistas de la bloguera, que es tratada como agente de la CIA. (…) Varios militantes convidados no concordaron con la canallada organizada contra la bloguera y aparentemente entregaron el documento base de la campaña contra ella a una revista semanal de altísima circulación, la revista VEJA. Compré la revista y me quedé congelado, porque el embajador informó incluso que ya tenían agentes cubanos para seguirle los pasos a Yoani y sus seguidores en todo el recorrido. (…)
    Al salir del área de vuelos internacionales, las turbas desplegaron los carteles y con gritos de insultos la recibieron. (…) En una sala VIP, hizo tres entrevistas y en todos los casos, hubo preguntas sobre el embargo, la cárcel de Guantánamo y los 5 [espías]. Ella siempre respondió lo mismo: que quería el levantamiento del embargo “porque no había funcionado y porque era una excusa para la ineficiencia” (…) sobre la base de Guantánamo dijo que era un problema para los activistas de EUA y no de activistas cubanos, como lo era ella; sobre los 5 espías explicó en detalles que no eran 5 “miembros del Ministerio del Interior” sino 14 miembros del MININT conformando una red de espionaje, de los cuales 9 colaboraron con la fiscalía de EUA denunciando sus compañeros de la Red Avispa por lo que era más que evidente que eran culpables. Después de estas primeras 3 entrevistas, con 3 periodistas diferentes, en todas las comparecencias de Yoani en los primeros dos días, tuvo que contestar las mismas preguntas, casi siempre de manera similar. (…)
    En el congreso le hicieron también esas preguntas, que las contestó de manera similar, pero cuando habló de los espías, y dijo que no eran 5 sino 14 y explicó en detalles porque ella estaba convencida que eran espías, agregó, en tono evidentemente de ironía (para mí, como yo lo interpreté) que “debería soltarlos para que Cuba no gastara tanto dinero con esa propaganda internacional”. Esa es la realidad. Hoy jueves, en otra comparecencia ante los periodistas, le preguntaron sobre la noticia procedente de Miami que ella había “pedido la libertad de los 5” cosa que no es real. Ella dijo lo mismo que en el Congreso y dijo que “como una ironía” había dicho que deberían soltarlos para no gastar dinero en un país quebrado. (…)
    Yoani Sánchez se convirtió en una especie de heroína para el pueblo de Brasil, porque había muchos periodistas cubriendo su visita y las imágenes de los extremistas queriendo fusilar a una mujer tan frágil, le llevó del día para la noche al estrellato, (…) tal es el grado de admiración con ella en la calle. Al día siguiente del intento de linchamiento fue a una feria del mercado popular (…) y aquello fue apoteósico [por parte] de gentes del mercado que la identificaban y corrían a abrazarla y retratarse con ella, a darle fuerzas, a pedirle disculpas por el mal rato con las turbas, todos diciendo que esos eran pagados y que no representaban al pueblo brasileño, cosa que ha venido repitiéndose en Brasilia y Sao Pablo. (…) Simplemente no puede salir en público, porque hasta los policías quieren retratarse con ella. De manera que al embajador cubano le salió el tiro por la culata con su conspiración.
    Después les cuento del Parlamento brasileño y el empuja empuja para retratarse con Yoani de parte de los propios parlamentarios, Diputados Federales (representantes) y Senadores de la República, de manera que para la causa cubana, en Brasil se acabó el mito de la “revolución cubana”: ahora es Yoani el fenómeno político actual.(…) Lo que los cubanos no hemos podido conseguir ante la opinión pública brasileña respecto a nuestro drama, nos lo propició la paragüería del embajador por un lado y el talante y gracia de Yoani, de la que todos se preguntan “esta es la mujer que está poniendo en crisis a Fidel, con toda su grandeza?”
    Posted by Enrisco at 23:48 6 comentarios: Links to this post

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