Due Obedience / Reinaldo Escobar
Reinaldo Escobar, Translator: Unstated
On the afternoon of August 13*, at the corner of Obispo and Habana
Street, the young Marcelino Abreu took the initiative to shout slogans
and toss anti-government leaflets. In the brief minutes his
demonstration lasted — until the police arrived — not a single passerby
was outraged, not one stepped into Fidel Castro's street** to stop a
citizen from shouting "Down with the Tyranny!"
The concept of "due obedience" has been maintained as an argument by
military personnel who have been involved in punishable acts. "Just
following orders," said the Operation Condor pilot when he was tried for
having thrown opponents of some military dictatorship into the sea. The
same argument was made by the interrogator who lent his hand to the
torture session, or the head of the firing squad who limited himself to
screaming "fire" and giving the humanitarian coup de grace. "Just
following orders" repeats the soldier who shot into the demonstration,
whose survivors ended up being his empowered accusers after the
overthrow of the regime.
Another case is when the bosses claim they know nothing of the acts of
their subordinates. There, where "everyone knows what to do" without
having to be given precise orders. There, where those responsible of
enforcing the law equally for all are not seen, precisely, to force
anyone to harm another, at the very most they say, "safeguard the right
of people to defend the street as a space for revolutionaries."
Then there are the bosses who will say they were innocent, that those
below them felt they had the prerogative to insult and beat people, to
paint the facade of a house with tar and to enter the house to break
everything and that they couldn't do anything to stop them. Due
obedience to the most elementary norms of civilized behavior on the part
of the mob, of the horde, will be the argument tomorrow from the
repressors of today.
Seeing is believing.
* August 13 is Fidel Castro's birthday
** "This street belongs to Fidel" is a common slogan shouted by the mobs
gathered by State Security to harass dissidents and independent voices.
23 August 2010