Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > Taking Cover

Taking Cover

Many peasants smiled last Sunday when General Raul Castro, like a character in an operetta before a staged trench, told the delegates to the Congress of Communist Youth, in his hoarse voice, that “Cuba does not bow before the hunger strikes of its opponents,” which his Excellency considers, “Blackmail organized by the United States and Europe.”

The figure of speech is not original, but perhaps the old Mandarin, accustomed to tough speech in the name of the nation, doesn’t know the number of strikers who are demanding the release of political prisoners. Maybe they told him it was 33 instead of 3, one in Cacocún, another in Santa Clara and a third in Valle Grande prison, two of whom abandoned their strikes though last week Yamil Domínguez in Combinado del Este prison was added to the number.

Still, it is worth asking the tyrant, why is he afraid of some unarmed men in a state of starvation? He should also tell how it is possible that the 27 European Union countries and the United States, with such problems and crises on their hands, choose to blackmail a far-off regime through an independent journalist, an imprisoned doctor, and a barber who can’t even stand up.

Because the General spoke of a smear campaign against Cuba, of the right to defend himself, and said, “If they think they can corner us, let them know we will take cover in the truth and principles.”

Behind so much showmanship aimed at the critics of the regime, lies a message of fear of what lies within and impotence in the face of worldwide condemnation. Perhaps his words are secret passwords against his own generals, embroiled these days in influence pedaling and money scandals.

It is curious that General Castro, even knowing himself to be immune, tries to take cover in legalities and invoke the justice and principles he violates, while speaking like a kidnapper with a hostage-filled plane about to explode.

Another question demands a response: Who is trying to corner the island government? The three hunger strikers demanding the release of political prisoners? The Ladies in White who march through the streets of Havana with gladioli in their hands, under siege by the police and thugs? The European nations seeking respect for human rights in Cuba? Or the United States, whose president insists on opening up relations with the military dictatorship?

If the bellicose general would find answers to such questions, another would remain. Behind whose barricades are you taking cover? Those of your pals in Russia, Spain and China who are thousands of miles away? Or those of your Venezuelan friend Hugo Chavez? Or perhaps those of Evo Morales in Bolivia or the successor to Lula in Brazil if the thugs don’t declare themselves on hunger strike?

The kind declaration of general Castro, who wore civilian clothes but showed his anger before the obedient delegates of the Communist Youth, perhaps because of his custom of closing his ears to all criticism. It would be good to remind him that the door is the surest means to resolve these conflicts.

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