By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — The quotation “Ideas cannot be killed” is very well-known in Cuba whereby a Batista army officer stopped his angry colleagues who wanted to kill Fidel when he was captured after the failed attempt to take the Moncada barracks. It was the most convincing argument used by that enlightened sergeant, Sarria.
Now, a year after the Comandante’s passing, remembering events like this one relating to him, revealing ethical behavior towards and respect for an adversary’s rights and virtues, is very timely. Because even though the good guy was a soldier in this case, Fidel’s life was saved and this then allowed history to write down this event in its records.
Batista represented the firm grip a dominant sector, both on and outside the island, had on Cuba, who only believed in democracy if their interests weren’t affected. Only if those who beat them shared a similar ideology. In the face of a democratic threat from alternative groups who were winning popular support, they turned to force.
Fidel triumphed by taking on these mistaken positions in politics. This was the revolution that our people supported. And that revolution had everything to do with that famous and visionary phrase from Sarria.
However, in wanting to fulfill a purpose that was considered altruistic, this revolution has mutated time and time again, forgetting its ethical foundations in the process. And at this point in time, it’s been a while since Sarria’s phrase is of use to them, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s annoying in fact.
Fidel’s own phrases took precedence: “the Revolution has the right to defend itself” or “Within the Revolution, everything; outside of the Revolution, nothing.” These are beautiful and profound quotes, but their meaning is dangerously open-ended.
Defending itself from whom?
If it was an external enemy, violence would be justified. If these are internal enemies, defense should be ethically limited to using words and reason; to the weight of justified arguments with adversaries; to convincing people with truth in their favor. Never with actions that can be compared to what Sarria’s uniformed colleagues wanted to do to Fidel.
The feeling I and my family had about the disgraceful events on November 10th, when I was arrested and imprisoned for 3 days and stripped of my belongings, was that I was being “taught a lesson”. The objective: to kill my neo-socialist ideas and to stop my critical pen from reproducing truths that are troublesome.
My crime is the same as Fidel’s back in the past: wanting a better Cuba. However, my fighting style is a lot nobler: instead of resorting to violence, I only turn to words.
The Cuban Revolution’s current direction is awfully deplorable, where its own people are seen as “the enemy”. It’s sad, it’s negative for the country, seeing how blind they are and how they don’t realize how much wrong they are doing! Not only is it a crime to execute a man for his ideas with guns, it is also a crime to imprison him for no good reason, scaring his family and trying to defame him in his community with lies.
They are defaming me saying I’m a mercenary and on the Empire’s payroll: with not a single piece of evidence! Luckily, only a very few naive people believe them.
However, this sincere patriot’s heart is comforted by the fact that there are so many people in solidarity with him, no matter what cunning ploys and harassment I suffer for my socialist and democratic ideas. Receiving words of support, refusing to charge me for transport fare for example, or coming up to me on the street without hardly knowing me to give me a boost. Not to mention the vital help some friends from abroad have given me in these critical times and the solidarity of so many people on the internet.
How wise that Sergeant Sarria was! Because, no matter how big the mistaken enemy appears, if the ideas you are putting forward and the things you do are really just and altruistic, nobody will be strong enough to be able to “kill them”.