Cuba: Reason vs. Barbarism
Cuba: Reason vs. Barbarism
de Jorge Olivera Castillo Sindical Press
Mari, 6 april 2010, 15:12
The Cuban government has shown its true face to the world. However, what
could be plainly seen was not an expression of goodness or sound
judgment – what explanation could there be for a crowd attacking with
impunity three or four dozen women dressed in white?
I wonder what category of barbarism could be assigned to such crowds
consisting of people blinded by hate and other dispositions springing
from the darker side of the soul.
These days, the dictatorship has put its machinery of terror into full
operation. By exercising acts of meanness and abuse it is striving to
put an end to the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) movement. The
expressions of the government’s anger range from smear campaigns and
gross misrepresentations of the truth to indiscriminate use of brute force.
Verbal harassment in form of unutterable obscenities and shameful
allusions is no longer enough: crowds of people assembled with the aim
to intimidate and offend have recently started to punch, push and kick.
Thus they act without a slightest trace of humanity, resembling wild
beasts in the full of their wild instincts. They scream, pounce and
jump, enjoying the opportunity to abuse their victims. There’s no room
for sensitivity during these “acts of repudiation”, which could be also
seen as a rehearsal for lynching.
On Wednesday March 17, such cruelty materialized at the exit of the
Church of Santa Barbara in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.
A peaceful march of about 40 women members of the Ladies in White
citizen organization was severely attacked by Interior Ministry troops
and vigilante groups.
All the women were beaten and dragged into a bus. Several were in need
of medical attention, including Laura Pollan and Reina Luisa Tamayo,
mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, prisoner of conscience who recently
died in a prolonged hunger strike. She participated in the march in
protest against the inhuman treatment that her son had regularly
suffered from the hands of his jailers.
In a series of 7 marches taking place between March 15 and 21 in
commemoration of the 7 years of imprisonment of members of the famous
Group of 75, the Ladies in White have endured such degree of
victimization by perpetrators protected by a high level of impunity as
well as by creatures fully prepared to use all their wickedness, that we
are compelled to think about a bloody outcome.
On Thursday 18, on their way back to the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in
the municipality of Old Havana, the Ladies in White were once and again
harassed by a mob composed of about 300 people.
This time, the crowd shouting pro-government slogans only jeered at them
and jostled them.
Nevertheless, the demands of freedom of the approximately 50 women
marching in two parallel rows down the middle of the street could be
heard in spite of the thunderous clamour of the mob.
The Ladies in White insist that they will not cease their efforts; that
they will continue to demand the unconditional release of their relatives.
Fighting for their cause, they are not afraid to die or go to jail.
Against such determination – a proof of their moral height – their
executioners and their assistants are as small as Lilliputians.
Their honesty shines between the shadows of the regime that has lost
both the sense of decency and the map of virtue.
They are not daunted by infinite abuse. They go straight ahead in
silence, holding high their gladioli. I could see them on that Thursday,
March 18, amid the crowd of crooks.
Despite death threats, obscenities and all the shamelessness displayed
by the large crowd that surrounded them there was no trace of fear in
Once again I realized that their courage is genuine, it’s not blotted or
Their convictions are like steps on the staircase leading to the door of
About the author: Cuban poet and journalist Jorge Olivera was sentenced
to 18 years in prison for giving the true information about the real
Cuba. He was arrested together with other 28 independent journalists
during the so called Cuban Black Spring in 2003, when there was a
crackdown on the Cuban opposition. He was sentenced in 24 hours without
the possibility to talk to his defender. In December 2004 he was
released on medical parole – he almost lost his sight and his health
conditions were rapidly worsening. Now, Jorge Olivera Castillo is a head
of unofficial PEN Club Cuba.