Irina Echarry

Several generations of Cubans had never witnessed acts of repression in full public view. Photo: Caridad

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.


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

4 thoughts on “Cuba’s Repudiation Rallies

  • Well, sam, both Spain and the US have opened trade relations with China a long time ago and, as far as I know, the ‘hammer’ hits way harder over there…

  • It is strange how Cuba seems to want to maintain a sort of collectivized censorship. It reminds me of the vitriol and abuse thrown by the Tea Party folks here in the states but in reverse, encouraged by the state. I imagine it is a feeling of insecurity on the part of the government, a feeling of insecurity which clearly encourages absurd behavior.

    I doubt the government understands how this stuff is seen abroad. However, the “benefits” of this behavior is greater than the price Cuba pays, both in terms of international credibility and credibility in the eyes of their people. How can Spain and America push for open trade relations when the government is still inciting collectivized violence against political minorities?

  • Great article, straight from the source. Please Irina, keep bringing us flashes of your clear vision.

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