The street taken over by hundreds, not what I expected at all. I knew that at any moment they would cease to be individuals and turn into a machine of repression. Silvia and I filmed from inside a car, at some point I leave her with the camera away from the eye of the hurricane and return to 23rd and G. I am very scared. Claudio, camera in hand, is mixing with the international press. I see almost all my colleagues from the academy—students and professors. I give Reinaldo a kiss, he makes a joke about the television cameras, he and I, but I can’t laugh. I want to say, “We have to run!” But I keep quiet, I’m in the irrational world, what little sanity I have left controls my impulses.
To my right is a human wall and a woman gesticulating, the horizon doesn’t exist. I know, in an instant they will fall on us from above, there are four hundred and I’m terrified. I move to the back, I can’t help it. The press is concentrated around Reinaldo, the air is unbreathable. One of my classmates tells me, “Go over there, there are the cameras,” I tell her, “Don’t go, they will run over us.” I think, for a second, to run over to the Riviera, my head’s going a mile a minute… I fled, what horror. I get back on my feet, I can’t find my phone, the avalanche passes by me screaming, “Fidel! Fidel!” dragging everyone along. Suddenly there are a few guys behind me, screaming lasciviously, “This is a good day!”
On one corner, Lía, Vallín and Iván have survived The Wave. She grabs her laptop while the others are both reflecting some kind of calmness, “They’re not afraid!” I think. Later they told me that they were afraid, I hope some day to manage to control myself like they do.
Unfortunately, right now I can’t find myself in that place, I’m trembling, I grab onto Lía. Stop a taxi and get in, sending some Tweets, I tell the driver I am going to Nuevo Vedado. He crosses G and I ask him to return. We double back to F and drive onto the Avenue going to 21st, a Human Torrent is moving from left to right, I have never seen anything more extraordinary: there are screams, punches, groups, police, hysterical people, students and some cordons of State Security running from one side to the other. The traffic is diverted by plainclothes types, a bicyclist in front of us is pushed up the street by a security officer shouting, “Out of the way! Out of the way! Clear off!”
I call Yoani, this is out of control, I’m coming over there, I’m convinced they are all unconscious already and we will spend the night calling the stations and going around to the hospitals. I imagine Reinaldo thrown out on the street and those savages coming down on him. The taxi driver is shocked and pulls out his cell phone and takes a few pictures.
When I get there Reinaldo had already called, I can’t believe it but I keep quiet. I go in the door and find out, they are telling the truth: they’re living a miracle. Today the government has intentionally put the lives of people in danger. From this moment I charge the organs of State Security and Raúl Castro with responsibility for anything that happens to those who, today, after having been dragged by a mob, beaten, interrogated and detained, have finally returned to their homes.*
- Marleny Gonzalez - Yoan Hernandez - Yadaimí Dominguez - Frank Paz - Wilfredo Vallin - Eugenio Leal - Pastor Manuel - Ivan Garcia - Silvio Benítez - Jose Alberto Alvarez Bravo - Lilia Hernandez Castañer - Lianelis Villares
Today I was a coward and I will always reproach myself, today I discovered TERROR.
* I am missing some names of people who either I do not know or could not see, I promise to update the list as soon as possible.
Note: We have a fairly complete video of what happened, is very large and I have not been able to load it. Tomorrow I will try again.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.