The Preponderance of the Small / Lilianne Ruiz
Lilianne Ruiz, Translator: Unstated
Yesterday I decided to go to Neptune Street between Aramburu and
Hospital Streets to see about and receive impressions of the site where
from 7:35 in the morning on Friday until today, Tuesday, September 25,
the repressive organs have established themselves in front of the
headquarters of the Ladies in White.
At some point in the afternoon when it came time for me to decide
between leaving or staying home I made the second choice. I imagined
myself in the situation of a person who avoids plunging into very cold
or very hot water, and you just put one foot forward or imagine you can
but the body and soul hang back, avoiding the danger.
The news came by word of mouth: the street and house were under siege,
it was impossible to reach them. They had ordered the employees and
students from the University of Havana to go there to repudiate* them.
The Federated University Students (FEU) "extras" and a platform with
singers were making noise, while State Security agents were stationed at
the door to prevent the Ladies from leaving to go to Church. The extras
in Cuba have become somewhat macabre, I always perceive them in slow
motion, the government uses them to repudiate while the mob, brought in
for the occasion, beats the opponents.
No one imagines that immensely apathetic people who participate in an
act of repudiation, under orders sent from the top of the pyramid of
power in Cuba, have the least interest in either in changing their
destinies or in defending this government from the threat of a group of
women who protest in defense of the rights of all Cubans not to go to
jail for dissent or for denouncing the regime, and who fight for the
release of those who are now prisoners under conditions difficult to
imagine, and even to believe on hearing their testimonies.
I remember the legend of the martyrdom of St. John of Patmos at the
Latin Gate, and the poem. Surely as part of my quest to continue to
protect my shell.
Finally a feeling of frustration invades me. I can't write about
anything else. At night the number of Ladies in White imprisoned was
confirmed to be more than 60.
Meanwhile at my daughter's school they are preparing the children for
the Young Pioneers scarf. A picture of the Castro brothers on one of the
walls of the classroom and portraits of the five State Security agents
(the "Cuban Five") — colleagues of the abusers besieging the house of
the late Laura Pollán — appear in the childish imagination as heroes of
Those are not my values nor the values I want my daughter to learn. I
would be difficult with her five years to maintain two meanings for the
same symbols; because none of these people are completely real to the
child's perception, fairies are more real. It's me who's looking for the
morals and hope of all these childhood fables, where being brave and
telling the truth don't leave you completely alone against the forces of
*Translator's note: The nature of these "repudiation rallies" is clear
from the photos in this post. The regime often claims they are
"spontaneous uprisings of outraged neighbors" but in fact people are
routinely bussed in and the actions are planned in advance. In at least
one case, confronting the regime with knowledge of a planned
"spontaneous rally" and demanding its cancellation was successful, at
least in cancelling that particular action.
September 25 2012