By Irina Echarry
HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban government wants to project the idea of normality, to sell us the image that life in Cuba is all proceeding calmly. Everything circulating on social media that they didn’t pen, or that doesn’t please them, is a lie.
All criticisms of the system are part of an enemy plot to destabilize the revolutionary process, hence the one criticizing is a mercenary, traitor, or criminal. Any questioning is financed by the United States – as if Cubans had no criteria of their own nor any power of discernment.
The official line says that everything is fine, but reality betrays them. The pressure from the social networks, independent media and activists forced the Attorney General’s Office to make a public statement regarding the trials being held for those who protested on July 11th. In January 2022, they published a report with statistics on those detained due to the events of July 2021, even though a database initiated by civil society already existed, set up just days after the repression began.
The same pressures forced the government to include a report on the trials in their National Television News Program, since many have confirmed that these trials are a farce. It was a horrible news segment, where a few women – mothers and wives – begged pardon for what their family members had done, agreed they should pay for their mistakes, and assured they’d been spontaneously drawn into the excitement. “You must never attempt any actions against the revolution,” stated one mother. Who knows what they promised her, since her son is facing a possible sentence of over ten years in jail?
They’ve set up an entire media circus to disprove the independent media and the prisoners’ relatives, who day by day denounce the arbitrary acts being committed against their children – many of them teenagers who are being tried for the political crime of sedition.
For their part, the government is ignoring the hunger strikes some of the prisoners are holding in the jails, and insist that the trials are being conducted under strict legal norms. However, these trials are certainly not public, and the relatives or friends who cluster outside the courthouses with the hope of seeing their loved ones, of seeing justice done, are met with an entire repressive scenario.
The family members and friends that denounce these things are harassed, threatened, detained. What mother doesn’t fight for their children when she feels they’re in danger? How is it possible that they’re threatened for posting on social media?
The normality they want to sell is based on manipulation, half-truths, outright lies and violence.
Meanwhile, out on the streets, people wait in long lines under sun and cold for everything; or make their way through the illicit market offers, where prices have gone through the roof. Oblivious, the authorities with their prominent bellies and rosy cheeks plead for sacrifice, speak of future plans and better laws, when they themselves don’t even respect their own Constitution.
They’re making a mockery of the right to demonstrate, as the events of July 11 made clear. On that occasion, the President issued a call to combat and sent the military out to confront the public. After repressing the protests, they jailed hundreds of people, including minors: some for throwing rocks at the soldiers who were firing bullets. They didn’t even consider levying simple fines – they charged them with the crime of sedition, or attack on a public functionary, because what they’re punishing isn’t the rock thrown, it’s the demonstration and the audacity of going out to protest.
They may continue holding festivals, conferences, fairs or carnivals, but there are ever fewer people who believe in them. Life isn’t proceeding normally on a foundation of harassment, banishment or jail for those who question them. They continue widening the gap that separates them from the people, those they’re supposed to serve.