The Cuban state has launched on noncompliant creators a ferocious campaign, rife with repression, threats, and character assassination. They are dubbing as terrorists both the San Isidro Movement and the artists who participated in the sit-in in front of the Ministry of Culture, now turned into the 27N Movement. The witch hunt has just begun.
If we believe the repressors, these subversives use Lorca’s poetry to terrorize; and possibly the dangerous leader of 27N is the one whose name “Fuenteovejuna” they believe they obtained under duress from Tania Bruguera. They have been plunged by this into anguished perplexity: until today they have not found his file in the MININT archives.
Those who several times machine-gunned, rammed against and sank boats with undocumented migrants, murdering women and children; who in the mountains of Escambray carried out massive extrajudicial executions of farmers; the advisers on torture and murder of opponents in Venezuela; those who used incendiary bombs against villages in Angola; the same people who have masterminded murder against opponents in several countries, including the US, now accuse as terrorists unarmed youths who read poetry and demand freedom of expression and the release of a comrade of theirs.
On the members of the San Isidro Movement, in addition, the State Security forces have turned with fury, treachery, mediocrity and pettiness all the scoundrels, cowards and opportunists they have been able to recruit for such a disgusting task.
Now they are in full inquisitorial work: arrests, interrogations, arbitrary detentions at their homes, threats –some of them with death– paramilitary mobs that have been given the green light to beat these uncomfortable creators and those who defend them. Added to this is a brutal, incessant and massive bombardment of disinformation aimed at assassinating the credibility of the accused and inciting hatred against them.
The Other Execution Wall: Character Assassination
Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process aimed at destroying the credibility of a person, institution or social group. But it is also one of the indicators that international observers monitor to prevent massacres, crimes against humanity (including the use of torture) and genocide.
Totalitarian states employ their monopoly on mass media and their cultural and educational apparatuses in murdering their adversaries’ reputations and they do so, too often, as “artillery softening” prior to physical aggression, which can range from depriving them of liberty to genocide.
Hitler called Jews “worms”. What initially appeared to many to be a demagogic campaign of hatred, led six million of them to the crematoriums in the death camps. In 1994, in Rwanda, the announcers of a pro-government radio station exhorted to squash as “cockroaches” the Tutsi, the other ethnic group that bothered the rulers. What appeared to be just another opportunistic campaign by mediocre journalists facilitated a genocide in which more than 800,000 women, children and men were murdered by machete in just three months.
Take note, you violent repressors of MININT and white-collar lieutenants of cultural institutions and mass media: Hitler ended his life as a rat in a bunker and Rwandan announcers are in prison for life for inciting the hatred that legitimized the slaughter.
In Cuba since January 1959 a powerful machinery was put in place to assassinate the reputation of opponents and dissidents. The epithets are renewed or reiterated from time to time and some are copied from other criminal regimes. Among them have been those of “mercenary”, “worm”, “scum”, “traitor to the country” and others that do not leave with their victims any trace of humanity. In the line of turning enemies into non-persons, Fidel Castro (on the advice of “Angelito”, his Spanish-Russian military adviser in the 1960s) called the rebels in Escambray “bandits”.
In Cuba, the “others”, “the enemies of the Revolution” – it does not matter if they were outstanding artists, scientists or academics – have always been inferior beings, “worms” who must be squashed without hesitation. By portraying them as non-persons, “revolutionary morality” sends the signal to mobs and their own troops that there are no restrictions: the door is wide open for those to be beaten or massacred.
Not only has the totalitarian machinery of the mass media used those disqualifications ad nauseam. For years, the cultural apparatus has engaged in the production of cinema, music, plays, literature that reinforce those labels. When some poet, writer or filmmaker dared to slightly cross the line of cultural propaganda to “humanize” the enemy, or lower the “revolutionaries” from their official pedestal, they ended up expelled from the mass organizations of the totalitarian state and having to earn a living in more pedestrian pursuits.
Repression Adds Fuel to the Flames
Those who today believe they can control the situation by escalating violence must bear in mind that they live in another world, under the digital civilization of information. They are facing generations that come back from the promised future, and youths who are not willing to have a failed system and ideology take away their life as they did to their parents and grandparents.
In this world there is a transnational system of justice with its own courts, to judge crimes that do not expire, and for which claiming that the orders came from above is not an admissible excuse.
The totalitarian barbarity against these noncompliant youths recalls a scene from a Polish film, Ashes and Diamonds, in which a political policeman is interrogating a young man for alleged counterrevolutionary activity. When asked his age, the accused responds: “100 years old.” The interrogator crosses his face with a slap and repeats the question: “How old are you?” The young man holds his gaze and replies: “101.”
Repression in Cuba, like the one used against the Polish protagonist, no longer works: it only multiplies insubordination. Cubans have lost their fear and that has no going back.