I was just a girl when I saw a watermelon smashed into the face of that old man, who when hit, fell backwards and onto the ground. From the man’s head ran reddish drops of the fruit’s juice.
But who could make a little girl surrounded by a hysterical and aggressive crowd of adults believe that it wasn’t blood?
As it turned out, it was the family of a young woman who worked with my mother, and who up until that moment had been “loved” by all (though I don’t know how one can stop being loved with such ease). That was my first encounter with a “repudiation rally.”
In the 1980s, and many people didn’t want to continue living in the country, and that’s why they had to be punished. This was done by throwing eggs at them, screaming insults and obscenities at them, calling them worms (I don’t have anything thing against those invertebrates, but for many they’re a symbol of the very lowliest), and —if necessary— hitting them.
One day when leaving elementary school they took us to a building to scream bloody murder at some residents on the third floor. I didn’t understand why all of us classmates of Enriquito were trying to offend him and his family. Even a teacher screamed —right next to my ear— in veritable spasms: “Get outta here scum, get outta here!” All that went on and on.
I grew up with those bitter memories of acts of rejecting people who weren’t content and wanted to change their way of life.
Several generations of Cubans never witnessed acts of repression in full public view. Recently seeing people on television violently “repudiating provocations” frightens me, regardless of towards whom it’s directed at. To again view acts of explicit violence committed by human beings arouses much sadness in me.
In those rallies people were struck without them having time to think about how to respond to the blows. Fists were raised as threats of attack; hysterical chants of archaic slogans were heard that took us backwards as if in a time machine.
Instead of all this, what we need is to walk forward together.
Why the violence? Won’t we ever learn the art of dialogue? It is necessary to go into in the study of the human mind to figure out why we respond with violence when we feel cornered.
When we’re afraid of losing what we’ve obtained (be it a tangible asset, a little or a lot of power, or success in general) we respond violently against those who we think are trying to snatch away what we have.
This is especially true when a “peon” doesn’t agree with what a manager says; the boss then releases all his venom to silence them.
New technologies have facilitated the coverage of collective debasement. The images of the repudiation rallies against the Ladies in White travel the world, revealing a people full of hate.
We’re teaching our children that degradation is justified. We’re instilling fear in the inflamed masses. In short, we’re contributing to the bitterness remembered by my generation.