In Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, people are fleeing and anywhere seems better than where they are now, all risks worthwhile.
By Elthon Rivera Cruz (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Only those who have lived through the ravages of an extremist, authoritarian regime really know how far fear can push them. That fear of continuing under the same conditions, or having to live in ever worsening conditions.
What I’ve seen in the media regarding the crisis in Afghanistan has disturbed me deeply. While I’m not well informed on the topic, it’s enough to see the reaction of the Afghan population to understand what it means to them to see power fall into the hands of the Taliban.
One of the things that most impacted me are the videos and reports of the human stampede of those seeking a way to escape the country. In their urgency to flee as soon as possible, sanity was completely lost to hysteria and horror. This reached the point of actions that seem irrational to many, while to a number of Afghans it seemed the only option. I refer to those who thought it possible to escape on the wings and landing gear of the airplanes. I was horrified, watching those videos of people falling from the planes to solid ground Those things are the maximum example of what it means to feel a fear so deep that you’d rather die than go on.
I can’t describe exactly what I felt on watching other videos of people rushing the tarmac, but it wasn’t at all a good feeling. Afterwards, I began thinking about something closer to home – not the things that are happening in Afghanistan, but about Nicaragua. Circumstances here may not be the same, but there are similar patterns in terms of what fear can produce in the population. Under the current regime, Nicaraguans are leaving the country en masse, impelled by fear, worry and the immense uncertainty that living here, in their own country, their own land, generates.
Nicaraguans aren’t falling off of airplanes, but they’re falling off of trains while emigrating; they’re drowning in the rivers on the borders; they’re being kidnapped, tortured, exploited and murdered by the Mexican cartels while trying to reach the land of the American Dream.
People are leaving Nicaragua every day, even knowing that they could fall victim to all the things I mentioned above. But the fear of remaining in the country is greater than the fear of risking a journey that may end up one of no return.
Knowing that they could fall – or, rather, that they would fall – from the airplanes, the Afghans decided to risk flying out of the country. The same thing is occurring with the thousands of Nicas who leave daily, knowing that they could die, they could be killed in their attempt to get as far as possible from Nicaragua. For the majority of those who reach the destination and turn themselves in at the border, the results turn out to be not what they’d hoped for. They’re denied entrance and must then run yet more risks in a new attempt to find a way to enter; either that or return to the country they decided to flee.
This is happening in Afghanistan and also in Nicaragua, as in Cuba and Venezuela. People are fleeing, and anywhere seems better than where they are now – any risk seems worth it. In our land, the ravages have come on little by little, later gaining strength and becoming more evident through the perpetrators’ shamelessness. From prisoners to exiles, from confiscations to indoctrinations, from fanaticism to murders. An entire desperate people are experiencing a wave of terror so great that it doesn’t seem unthinkable that in a given moment our crisis could worsen enough to lead our own people to risk themselves like the Afghans have. Grabbing the wheels of an airplane, even knowing that the closest thing to freedom that they’ll find in the intent, is death.
We’re living through eras of terror in a convulsive world, a constant state of uncertainty and desperation. But it’s not only what we see reflected in Afghanistan, but what we’re living day by day in a country like Nicaragua. Being born in a region like Latin America is a misfortune. The recurring pattern is the cementing of power to torment those who have none, along with those who don’t even want it and seek only to live in peace.
They say that everyone is the master of their own fear, but – Is that really so? Are we the masters of our fears, or are the masters those who instill these anxieties? Personally, I feel that I’m not the master of my fear of living in Nicaragua, others have given me that fear. I didn’t seek it out. I didn’t ask for it, much less did I bring it on myself.
The Afghans who fell from the airplanes weren’t the masters of that fear, others forced them to feel that way. I think that we’re not the owners of our fears, but instead of our values, our desires, our convictions and even in the most difficult circumstances, the masters of our freedom. Even though at present our possibilities of living out our desires and our virtues have been restricted, we’re the owners of our individual power. That power can’t be killed, can’t be stolen, and can’t be silenced, unless we ourselves so decide.