Saturday, May 22, 2010

No Right To Show Her Face

It has become customary on our National Television News to see groups of people protesting in various parts of the world. It is ironic for us, Cubans, to see spontaneously mobilized sectors of a society on the news of the only information system we have a right to. It is both gratifying – we feel there are people out there who confront the powers-that-be with civil action; and saddening – we are suddenly made aware of our terrible loneliness, tiny beings compared to the omnipresent state.

The other day images flashed by of a protest by immigrants in the United States and some of the demonstrators were speaking to the cameras. One woman of about forty complained that she had spent several years in the country and was still undocumented, and if the immigration authorities found her she would be deported to her country. I looked at the television and thought, at times this island of mine grows in my mind and I forget what a small space we occupy in the world. How can a person say this in front of the camera? Now the agents will know her face and go looking for her wherever she hides!

I forgot that immigration officials, intelligence and counterintelligence, law, government, media and trade unions don’t all answer to the same entity, much less the same party, and that the political police – bless freedom – don’t exist. In my country, for example, the Cuban consulate has foot soldiers in Spain who send photos to the Cuban secret service and the Ministry of the Interior so they will know “who behaves well out there and who does not.” The guardians receive orders directly from State Security so that some “complicated” citizens cannot access public institutions, official journalists are fired from their jobs for publishing in sites critical of the official ideology, those who dare to report the news without asking permission can wake up one day sentenced to twenty years in prison, while political opponents bring the anger and reprisals of the whole Party Central Committee down on their heads.

I watch the illegals in the United States with their banners and defiant eyes and feel a twinge of envy, I know my neighbor would never dare to say in front of the lens what that woman just shouted to the whole world. My neighbor does not fear being deported, she has an identity card, a legal address and a face that, nevertheless, would show no disagreement under any circumstance.

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