Saturday, November 21, 2009

Forgiving and Documenting

On Thursday November 19, 2009 Yoani Sanchez received answers to the seven questions she had posed to Barack Obama, and apparently on the following day in the late Friday afternoon in Havana, Raul Castro's mob gave its response to the 7 questions she had sent him. A week after Yoani Sanchez was abducted and beaten by Cuban government agents; her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, returned to the site of last weeks nonviolent march having challenged one of the assailants to a "verbal duel" was shoved and knocked around by pro-government thugs. On the afternoon of November 20, 2009, two days after Human Rights Watch released its report blasting Raul Castro's government, the regime organized an act of repudiation against Reinaldo. In the photo above he is standing stoically surrounded by members of a rapid response brigade. Reinaldo has already posted a blog entry about yesterday's attack observing that:
Agent Rodney, or whatever the name is of the person I challenged to a verbal duel, lost by not showing up, but that is past history. The Nation lost by being discredited in the eyes of the world and, what is worse, the people lost, my poor people, whom they want to burden with the full weight of fanaticism that they themselves feed on.
He survived the ordeal thanks in large part to the presence of friends who also took the beating and insults in solidarity with him of which he names a few who took more than their share of blows to protect him: the blogger Eugenio Leal, the opposition figure Silvio Benítez, Pastor Manuel Morejon and the Lady in White [Damas de Blanco] Mercedes Fresneda Castillo.

According to Human Rights Watch the Cuban government "employs so-called repudiation meetings (mitines de repudio), or acts of repudiation, to humiliate and intimidate dissidents publicly, sometimes violently."
The sad part is that some of the participants in these fascist attacks are probably taking part in this violent propaganda exercise in the Cuban dictatorship's version of Orwell's 2 minutes hate to avoid being on the receiving end of such an action themselves.

Yoani Sanchez in her latest blog entry says that Friday's act of repudiation reminded her of the ghost of 1980 and the appearance of fascist mobs on the streets of Cuba against Cubans who simply wanted to leave the country and were brutally attacked on their way to the port of Mariel. Nevertheless, Friday's events have more to do with the specter of 1989 that still haunts the regime. Non-violent change were the few lose their privileges, impunity and normality returns. It was out of fear for this possibility that in 1991 the Ministry of the Interior first organized the rapid response brigades to organize acts of repudiation with the aim of crushing any popular demonstrations with violence. Yoani twitted that "this is the para-militarization of Cuban society: arrests and beatings carried out by countrymen dressed as civilians that refuse to identify themselves. In another tweet she added that the government "wants to make people believe that it was the people enraged as if they had not nourished the hate and division among us." This is precisely what the Cuban government set out to do in 1980 during the Mariel boat lift and again i
n a systematic fashion in 1991: divide and conquer using terror and hatred.

Reinaldo's essay is titled: "To begin to forgive" and the last lines of the entry describe his return home:

When I got back to my house, I found it full of friends, among them Father José Conrado who gave me a hug, and counsel I will never forget: “Forgive them.”
Based on Reinaldo's actions thus far he is following Mahatma Gandhi's dictum: "To forgive is not to forget. The merit lies in loving in spite of the vivid knowledge that the one that must be loved is not a friend." Video of the entire affair is already beginning to be uploaded to youtube. The victims and witnesses to the events are describing what they saw. Below is the first video just prior to the beginning of the attack. As new ones are added they'll be added to this blog entry.

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