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 their faces.
Once again I realized that their courage is genuine, it's not blotted or scratched.
Their convictions are like steps on the staircase leading to the door of success.
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.