3/19/2016

Translating Cuba: The Black Spring & the Rolling Stones

I've been thinking about writing a welcome speech for president Obama on occasion of his visit to Cuba, where he's going to meet his friend, Raul Castro. However, I think this is much better than anything I could write. It was written by Iván García, 16 March 2016 — and published in Translating Cuba (this blog is linked on the right as one of my favorites).

A portion of Ivan's article follows:

Around 12 midnight on Tuesday, 18 March 2003, I was en route to my apartment in the La Víbora neighborhood when, from the balcony, some incomprehensible signs coming from my mother set off the alarms.
Those were hard years. My mother and I were contributing articles to  the independent press agency, Cuba Press, prohibited by the government, which was led by the poet and journalist Raúl Rivero. We were detained, intimidated or warned by cowboys from State Security with too much insistence.

Fidel Castro, meticulously, had prepared his “crime” scene. Since February 1996, when MiG aircraft shot down four civilian aircraft of the Brothers to the Rescue, and with the turn of the screw to the embargo on the part of Bill Clinton’s administration, the olive-green strongman unleashed his furies upon the peaceful opposition.



In 1999, the obedient and one-note national parliament had approved Law 88, a legal platform that allowed the government to impose prison terms of up to 30 years on dissidents, human rights activists, and independent journalists.
The acts of repudiation conducted on our domiciles were frequent. We lived in a climate of fear. But we continued reporting stories about the other Cuba, the one that was never reflected in the official press.
That night, my mother tells me that she had gone to turn in some articles to Raúl Rivero at his home in Centro Habana and, no sooner had she arrived but Raúl tells her that State Security had been searching the homes of Ricardo González Alfonso and Jorge Olivera, and that as soon as these searches were over, they would be taken into custody. “He said that I should return immediately and tell you,” she recounted, “because at any moment, they would come looking for the two of us.”
Two days later, on Thursday 20 March, Blanca–Raúl’s wife–tells us that at around 5 pm, he had been arrested. “The operation was tremendous,” she said. “Television cameras, several patrol cars and dozens of police officers, as if he were a terrorist. But when the neighbors found out, they went out into the street and several of them screamed.”
Throughout the following hours and days, we learned of other arrests of colleagues in the capital and the provinces. Their weapons: typewriters. Their crime: to dream of democracy in Cuba.......
.....The regime’s reasoning, taking advantage of the start of the war in Iraq, was that the raid would be unnoticed. It was not so. Presidents, intellectuals and international media focused on the wave of repression. In its prosecutions, the government was requesting the death penalty for seven opposition members.

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