HAVANA TIMES — After reading the post written by fellow Havana Times blogger Warhol P, “Cuba: How Low Can We Stoop”, something of a reflex response to the title came to mind: how low did we already stoop a long ago.
The indescribable incident experienced by Cuban actress Ana Luisa Rubio has quite a number of precedents on the island that have been more or less ignored and which only the victims, their relatives and friends carry with them in different, unconscious ways.
I don’t know the exact number of victims of the first admonitory “performances” staged by the government. With respect to the mobs that humiliated and attacked those who dared express their discontent in the 1980s, however, I can attest to the fact that “egg-throwing” was not always their limit. The wrath of the common man, deliberately awakened and spurred, is unimaginable.
When Fidel Castro delivered an address, clarifying that “our repudiation is moral”, he did so to calm the storm some.
I know a woman whose brother died during one of those “all-against-one” beatings, which can only be understood and explained as an act of vengeance. What had been the man’s crime? Wanting to leave the country.
Though anger may be one’s immediate reaction to this kind of barbarism, one ought to draw the line here, before degrading one’s very humanity by responding with violence. First of all, because, between one act of violence and the next, it becomes impossible to differentiate between right and wrong.
In order to unmask violence, one need only isolate it, turn one’s back on it. That is what sets humans and beasts apart, what exposes those guilty of violence completely.
In my opinion, the most questionable aspect of the incident involving the actress is the simply unjustifiable fact that a crime in which the victim was gravely injured, aggravated by the fact there were more than three perpetrators, should not be investigated, particularly when the injuries were reported in a timely fashion and the victim required medical attention.
What legal impediments could possibly have led to the shelving of this report? Even if one accepts the stale argument that those responsible are the victim’s neighbors, people who carried out a vendetta or the “spontaneous reprisal of the angered masses”, the aggressors are still criminals before the law.
If the government speaks in defense of the perpetrators instead of the victim, the law itself is debased.
Discrediting the victim is also such an old trick that I wonder how it still manages to work. It is a crude strategy aimed at steering people’s attention away from the facts.
Following the dismantling of the Criterio Alternativo (“Alternative Criteria”) project and enduring the rigors of mob justice, Cuban poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela, who had once been honored in Cuba with the Julian del Casal literary award, was discredited by the government, which questioned her level of schooling and dubbed her moral fiber as “dubious.”
Ultimately, the true angel of justice is time itself. I love how, sooner or later, it always sets things in their place.
Maria Elena left the country to blot out her past and continue writing and earning recognition for her work (such as the Emilia Bernal and Alfonso X El Sabio Historical Novel awards), while, in all likelihood, the mob who attacked her and their accomplices carried on with their unexceptional, anonymous lives, most likely enduring material poverty and (God willing) the pangs of remorse.
I am sorry to have to disagree with my fellow blogger regarding the fact that violence against women is being combatted in Cuba.
I say this not only because male chauvinism continues to be cultivated with the complicity of the media, but also because the perpetrators of this violence, which ranges from sexual harassment to physical aggression (aggression that isn’t aimed exclusively at women who express their political discontents), continue to enjoy impunity, protected by the law in astonishing ways.
Recently, a friend of mine took her former partner to court for beating her and threatening to kill her in front of their children. The outcome? A fine of 30 Cuban pesos and the almost-rude treatment of the jurist. As for the restraining order she requested: not on her life!
What we are seeing today is the degradation that was set in motion decades ago, spurred on (as is always the case) by individual and collective egotism and by the passing on of traditions from one generation to the next, a process in which the new generation displaces the old with new tragedies and scandals.
No process of degradation, however, can go on forever, and the following step, sooner or later, is invariably that of regeneration. Time, implacable time, will once again untie all knots, unmask all deception, do away with all confusion.
No manipulation or hypnotic suggestion, no matter how massive, stands a chance against the truth. If there are any doubts, one need only look back to the days of fascism, whose memory still shames the world.