These mothers keep quiet and put up with it only for fear of leaving their offspring unprotected. Beware of that anger that grows inward.
It did not happen after the July 11 protests, when the police locked up in prison so many minors, as well as hundreds of fathers and mothers who were the breadwinners of their homes and saw their families sink into absolute helplessness. Nor did it happen during the legal proceedings against the protesters, although there was no shortage of brave men who tried to unite those affected in a common cause for freedom and justice. It didn’t happen then because State Security persecution was atrocious, and many mothers remained silent for fear of worsening, with their claims, the situation of their imprisoned children.
Almost a year later, the people’s outrage is strongly manifesting again through desperate mothers, who stand up to the regime for the terrible conditions in which they live with their children. After a Facebook live by Amelia Calzadilla, a Cuban woman who snapped after surpassing the limit of what is humanly bearable, several mothers have dared to denounce the routine of deprivation and abuse they endure due to absurd government policies.
The uproar does not yet spread into the streets: it simmers amid days of solitary confinement for thousands of Cubans. Since the Summit of the Americas began, access to the Internet for Cuba’s independent civil society has been restricted to secure the regime’s one-sided take on what goes on at the continental event. The effects upon the population have been however so prolonged and wide-reaching that a bad feeling keeps growing.
Repression and massive emigration have not sufficed to placate the disgruntlement of the Cuban people. July 11 is approaching and the dictatorship fears a massive commemoration, this time led by mothers who would rather go to prison than continue to quietly endure the scarcity that keeps their children malnourished, shoeless, without medicine, living in many cases in overcrowded, unhealthy dwellings where their lives are at risk.
Cubans have not only reached a level of extreme poverty and exhaustion greater than that of the 90’s crisis. They have also been victims of a political caste that is incapable of alleviating ─not to mention resolving─ the disastrous impact of six decades of Stalinism, which is now compounded by the sequels of the pandemic, the worldwide economic crisis and the war in Ukraine.
The desperation of these mothers who today speak live on Facebook to say “enough is enough” lies far away from the mouthpieces who, at the People’s Summit in Los Angeles, defend the memory of a Revolution that is no more, on behalf of which they have bled out the Cuban nation.
Those born on this land no longer want to hear about the hurdles set up by the embargo. All they know is that their fellow citizens are emigrating by the tens of thousands, the United States is relaxing its sanctions, the National Assembly keeps passing resolutions and more than sixty measures are implemented to boost agriculture. Still, the availability of food keeps dwindling day after day.
Mothers like Amelia Calzadilla are fed up with promises and justifications that only aggravate the misery of their lives, while the top brass of the dictatorship brazenly show their disgusting obesity and the military-owned business group GAESA does not put on hold its expensive hotel construction plan even as connoisseurs alert that the country’s economy is in free fall.
Apologists of the regime don’t care about such contradictions. They are not interested. For them, mothers like Amelia are expendable soldiers who, if anything, may have their online catharsis. Those who defend the system that has destroyed Cuba at the Summit of the Americas do not want to hear about mothers’ complaints, nor do they understand why are they complaining. Those “friends of Cuba” decided long ago that it is the duty of Cubans to resist and die heroically, so that they can continue to lobby for the left that will save the world through modern slavery and covert extermination.
Cuba’s poverty is already identical to that shown with concern in the United Nations, but pinned on Congo, Guatemala or Malaysia. Cuba’s is never mentioned, because it is a necessary evil to feed the ego of the world’s fidelistas, who would not last a month in this Cuba that Fidel destroyed.
“Sell the Island!” Amelia shouts, and she is right. She is not talking about annexation to the US or support for an eventual invasion. Neither it is a mocking hashtag asking Elon Musk to buy Cuba. It is instead a practical solution for those who suffer here; especially for those mothers who do not want to be revered, or to be heroines in other people’s speeches, or for leftists from anywhere in the world to come and tell them how much they admire the resilience of the Cuban people.
Cuban mothers do not want admiration. They want decent housing, raising their children without the burden of queues and blackouts, access to a well-stocked health system, paying for their family’s well-being with their salary, without having to depend on a foreign currency. They want, in fact, to exchange places with the admirers of thisAntillean people’s resilience, giving them a chance to experience what real socialism tastes like, and ask them if this ruin is what they want for their countries instead of perhaps imperfect, but functional democracies.
It has already been said before in these pages: beware of the pain of the Cuban mothers. Beware of the frustration caused by seeing a child covered with pimples and drowning in tears without a cream to relieve the itching. Beware of the impotence of seeing a child point out the candy that you cannot buy him, because if you do, neither you nor he will eat for a week. These mothers keep quiet and put up with it only for fear of leaving their offspring unprotected. But beware of that anger growing inward, because one of these days, in this fight for their children, it is going to explode.
By Ana León
Published en Cubanet