Stalking the Stalkers / Rebeca Monzo #Cuba
Rebeca Monzo, Translator: Unstated
Since the arrests which grew out of a tragic event—the premature deaths
of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero—it has increased. Especially the
stalking near the house of Antonio Rodiles, headquarters of State of
SATS.* This time they were not content to hinder access to the
residence. They also arrested people who, affirming their rights as
citizens,insisted on being allowed to go there. After being prohibited
by authorities from continuing on, two of the more impetuous young men
decided to go along the shoreline. Rodiles' house sits by the sea and
only a big chain link fence, rusted by time, separates it from the ocean.
Some people were already inside, either because they arrived before the
operation had begun, or because they passed unnoticed through the police
cordon. They were suddenly startled by the sight of these two
men—completely dressed but soaked—who climbed over the fence, trying to
enter the premises. At first everyone thought the police operation was
being carried out by sea, but they immediately recognized the two young
men and let them in. The host loaned them some of his clothes so they
could dry off, change and join the meeting.
With this and recent events very much on everyone's mind, we were afraid
we would be confronting a similar situation on Friday, September 7. We
were to meet at the house of Yoani Sánchez for the release of the
sixteenth issue of the digital magazine Voces, which is dedicated
exclusively to the memory of Payá,who, along with Cepero, lost his life
in a very controversial automobile accident.**
Many of us were mentally prepared for a "political stalking." But when
we arrived, everything nearby seemed normal. Even those "shady types,"
the sight of whom has become routine for us, did not seem to be around.
I am sure they were there, but were keeping a low profile.
When my husband and I arrived, there was already a group of people in
the apartment. The living/dining room had been converted into a
makeshift cinema. They were about to show a short film of the eulogy and
internment of Payá, as well as images of masses said in his memory at
the church in his neighborhood, where he was much loved and admired.
Before the film began, Reinaldo Escobar read a brief but emotional
message from the wife of the deceased, apologizing for not being able to
Later, the journalist and blogger Orlando Luís Pardo Lardo, as is
customary, presented the latest issue of Voces. Finally, some sample
copies, courtesy of a collaboration among friends, were handed out to
those in attendance.The children who were present provided a happy note
that helped dispel the sense of nostalgia that was the prevailing mood
of this gathering. Everything was very pleasant, but in an instant this
cozy atmosphere was interrupted by an unexpected and unpleasant visit.
* Translator's notes:
According to its website, State of SATS "hopes to create a plural space
for participation and debate, where open and frank debate is exchanged.
The project sponsors panel discussions, forums and other events that are
filmed and broadcasted on the Internet."
**On July 22, prominent Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya and
activist Harold Cepero were killed in a car accident while on a trip to
the east of Cuba. Many Cuban dissidents suspect foul play may have been
involved. Paya's daughter has declared in an audio clip that a second
car provoked the crash.
Site manager's note: Somehow this post never appeared, despite having
been translated in September. Apologies for the delay.
September 8 2012