Reports from Cuba: The day the Cuban regime ran alone . . . and did not win

Yoani Sanchez writes in 14yMedio from Havana via Translating Cuba:

The Day the Cuban Regime Ran Alone… And Did Not Win

On November 14, the authorities placed a bus completely blocking the street Yunior García lives on, when he wanted to go out for a walk in white with a rose.

They say that the horse ran alone on the track and reached the finish line first. Locked in their stables and bound with strong chains were the possible adversaries of that contest. The victor could not contain so much arrogance in his body and he celebrated as if his legs — and not his tricks — had carried him. They say it was the 15th of November, a day when the public was prohibited from witnessing the race.

In an interview with the Russian network RT, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez declared last Monday’s call for a Civic March a failure. “The face-to-face reality, the real, true, physical reality in Cuba indicates that nothing happened in the country,” the minister boasted. To drive it home, he told the complacent journalist: “You have been able to move freely, you know perfectly what happened, you experienced it together with the Cubans and you also know what did not happen.”

To avoid the scenes of people in the streets dressed in white or with a flower in hand, officialdom deployed the largest control operation– meter by meter – in the memory of many in this country. The bitter surprise of the spontaneity of the July 11 protests led to a preparation so that the avenues would no longer be a river of people shouting ‘Libertad‘ and demanding the resignation of Miguel Díaz-Canel. To achieve this, this time they tied up the entire island.

Police operations, a deployment of State Security agents in civilian clothes, acts of repudiation, threatening messages and the selective cutting off of telephone lines. They made use of all the cowardly tactics and abuses of power in the authoritarians’ manual, and also added to it from their own harvest of Castroism, experts in lying and in the preparation of stage sets. As they themselves tried for years to create the props of a medical power, which the pandemic shattered, for ‘15N’ the set design of “peace and tranquility” was proposed.

But the result was closer to the script of a funeral: deserted streets, murmured conversations in the lines outside stores , which until two days before were pure tumult, trembling hands that could not manage to remove a cellphone from a pocket before the intimidating gaze of the police, and tearful mothers who pleaded with their children not to leave the house that Monday. A white sheet hanging from a clothesline could paralyze the neighbor next door with fear, even the flower sellers hid, or only offered yellow sunflowers and very red roses. Terror starred in the day.

And then the regime believed itself powerful, shook its mane, flaunted the strength of its haunches and showed its teeth. Now, it wants to make national and international public opinion believe that it really earned the gold medal for its abilities and for the support its people gave it, but in the Plaza of the Revolution they know that everything is a lie: that if they had not carried out the the largest and most expensive repressive operation of the last quarter century on this island, Cubans would once again have shown their weariness with the current system.

Nor will the regime be able to prevent the neighing of the locked up horses from being heard. Without respecting the rules of the political game, eliminating your competitors or preventing them from showing their abilities as dissidents, you are only invalidating the court, the referees and the medals. It is forcing an entire people to find another way to get on the podium.