Living in fear

It isnt just the blackouts. It isnt just the lack of basic necessities. It isnt just about being second class citizens in their own country. It is also, and perhaps worst of all, about living in fear of the government.

From Cubanet via Net For Cuba International:

FROM CUBA
July 19, 2005

Vignettes
Rafael Ferro Sala, Abdala Press

PINAR DEL R?O, Cuba – May (www.cubanet.org) – A meeting. The group was
assembled in the doorway of the house. They had been summoned there
because it was considered the safest place. Then one of them realized they
were being watched.

A man was standing on the corner. He was located next to a
white-colored car. The sun was fully reflected in the car’s front windows. One of the group said:

“We must go inside the house now. I think this is going to be filled
with police and people from State Security in a few minutes.”

The meeting had been agreed to in absolute secrecy, but it was a shared
secret. A shared secret has all those risks; it stops being a secret.

They slowly entered the house. The man entered the vehicle and spoke by
radio. Now there was no doubt, soon the whole place would be filled
with cars and the detentions would begin.

After the door to the house was closed, the air was filled with
uncertainty and fears. It was a meeting day, and a routine day began for the
group of Cuban dissidents.

Police raid

The man and the woman walked slowly on the sidewalk. He carried a black
bag. Then the girl touched his arm to signal him. Near the end of the
street something was happening.

“They’re searching the people,” she said.

For a moment he thought of going back. He realized that could be worse.
They were already halfway down the block. He squeezed the bag hard and
told the woman to keep going. They would run the risk of passing in
front of the place where they were searching people. Things would get
really ugly if they searched these two.

She squeezed his hand hard to feel herself protected. She walked
together with him amidst fear and confidence. A policeman searched a
cardboard box that an old man carried. The uniformed man asked the elderly man for identification papers. They heard when the policeman said to the
old man: “You have to come with me, you’re not authorized to sell these
products in the street.”

The elderly man had a slight tremble in his lips. When the man and
woman passed by the policeman, he looked at them. He didn’t say anything,
and continued with his business with the old man. The look was enough to
make them feel searched, too.

When they arrived home, he turned the bag over to her. Then he breathed
in relief and, kissing her, said to her:

“If they’d found our papers, they’d take them away. Now we’d be
prisoners.”

She answered him:

“I felt sorry for the old man.”

He moved his head, annoyed, and began to look over the papers. They
were documents of the party to which they belonged. They had been in the
ranks of the oppostion inside Cuba for years, but they never got used to
the police raids.

In the park

There in the park the days all seemed the same. It was almost a boring
routine. The same corner, the same policeman looking at everyone and
once in a while searching those who passed by the place.

The two men arrived and sat down on the bench nearest the street. It
was a good place to observe the comings and goings of the people. One of
them took out a newspaper and read the headlines. The other lit a
cigarette.

The man with the cigarette looked at the corner and saw that the
policeman was coming towards them. He casually touched the man with the
newspaper. The man who was reading closed the paper and waited. The
policeman arrived and, without greeting them, said to them in an ironic tone of
voice:

“What? Are you thinking about having a counterrevolutionary meeting in
the park? How many did you invite?”

Neither of the men responded. Then the man in uniform let loose the
threat:

“If you don’t leave here in two minutes I’ll arrest you and take you
away.”

The man smoking threw away the cigarette and said to him:

“What reasons are there for arresting us?”

“There are reasons aplenty and you know it. You’re from the human
rights group and are counterrevolutionaries. You don’t work, either. I’ve
already told you: two minutes to leave from here.”

He looked at them with hatred and went away. The men got up from the
bench and walked in the opposite direction from which the policeman had
walked. The man with the newspaper told his friend:

“He told us we’re from the human rights group. He doesn’t know what
he’s talking about.”

“One day he’ll know,” his friend said to him, and lit another
cigarette.

Up above, the sun kept tracking another routine day, similar perhaps to
the rest of the days to come.

Conversation

It seemd to him as if the people were speaking with fear. That morning
wasn’t going to be any different from the others. They were already
speaking in fear. To convince himself, he approached the group. It was a
heterogeneous tumult, made up of men, women, elderly and some children.
The store was still closed. There were just a few minutes to go before
it opened. He arrived without being seen. A woman dressed in red was
speaking with the others in a low voice:

“They told me they searched everyone at the train station yesterday. Is
it true?”

Another woman answered:

“It’s true. I was there. The police have been searching everywhere for
more than four days. You almost can’t walked down the street.”

“What are they looking for?” asked an old man who had an unlit
cigarette in his hand.

“Man, they themselves don’t even know. They search for the sake of
searching and they arrest anyone. What matters to them is having us in
check, like in chess,” a quiet voice of a boy dressed in a secondary school
uniform said.

Everyone talked in a low voice. The words came out, but contained by
fear. He realized once again that he wasn’t mistaken: fear continued
among the people. One could realize it from the tone of the voices.
Speaking in a low voice is uncommon among Cubans. Are we becoming accustomed to fear?

4 thoughts on “Living in fear”

  1. Have you seen newly arrived Cubans talking sottovoce and looking sideways as they talk? Or talking in code? I have, and let me tell you, that tells you a lot of the Orwellian nature of the the tiranny, cagastro has mixed Animal Farm and 1984 in ways that Orwell could have never dream of imagining!

  2. CB is right, I have seen Cubans remain fearful here in Miami for months and even years! They talk and look around as if castro’s agents are always spying on them!

  3. We should be doing everything we can to support these brave dissident groups who risk everything for freedom.

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