Sunday, March 21, 2010

This Street Belongs to the Ladies In White

It was the last day of the Blogger Academy, but the fifth day of the marches by the Ladies in White.  At the end of the class, Juan Juan Almeida, Laritza Diversent, Joysi Garcia, Silvio Benitez, Ciro Diaz and I decided to march with them.

We arrived at the church an hour ahead of time.  From the corner we could recognize the faces of those who have watched and attacked us; Yoani saw one of the women who hit her the day after Orlando Zapata Tamayo died.  Setting foot in the house of God was a relief, we know that the military has very few limits in this country, but one of them is the sacred soil of the church. 

Within, it was very peaceful, but from the street the noise of those born without pity slipped in, called through the unions at their jobs to "work" at repressing. The Ladies arrived preceded by the screams of "Viva Fidel!" and we grouped ourselves at the door, curious, reliable, faithful, journalists and supporters.

When they took their first steps inside with their gladioli, their injuries -- some with casts on their arms -- and their infinitive endurance, the people in the street faded away and all around me the people started to whisper, "Welcome to the house of God." I am not devout, but I swear that it was the first sacred moment of the evening, and it was not the last.

The faceless ones sneaked in, for them the murmurs of the spirit seem not to exist. In addition they show lack of discipline on the sides, even after the warning from the priest at the beginning of the mass.

To try to describe the following minutes is impossible for me; I finished drying my eyes while I embraced the women behind and in front of me, I kissed my friends at my side and I forget that within meters there was so much hatred waiting to attack the procession.

I do not know if it was the effect of having been in the church, or whether it was simply that the orders given were different, but the repudiation rally we expected did not compare to others I have lived through: tempered shouts, eyes glued to the ground, racists slogans that I could not believe could come from the throats of those who claim to represent the Communist Party... because if so then the Party is very -- extremely -- racist.

To walk the streets of Central Havana holding hands with the Ladies in White has been an indescribable honor. As we were dressed in various colors several times they tried to separate us from the group but the Ladies told each other: hold onto the the bloggers, we have to protect them.

Nobody let go of my hand, nobody dared to touch them, and the people, the real people from their balconies and the sidewalks looked with pride at those women who carry on their shoulders the moral conviction of all the Cubans.

Note: Today I went to the home of Laura Pollán to see them, they walked 11 kilometers on their sixth day of continuous protest.

Translated by: Hank and Mari Mesa Contreras

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have never been political, but I pray for my Cuba (my birth place) and the Cuban people (my brothers and sisters)that they may soon have the freedoms I have been blessed with since my parents brought me to the US in 1970.