Terror: The Last Recourse of the Dictatorship

This guest column was written by Miriam Celaya, whose blog, Without Evasion, recently won the prize for Best Journalism Blog in the Virtual Island contest for Cuban blogs. Miriam writes from her home in Havana, Cuba. Miriam's blog is available in English translation here.

Terror is the supreme recourse of dictatorships. Curiously, it is also the most pronounced manifestation of their own terror: they fear the words, freedom, lucidity, transparency and dignity of those who dare to challenge them. The Cuban dictatorship wasn't going to be the exception; now it decided to stop the sham of discretion behind which it hid its fierce side, and to show its dirty fingernails.

The assault and battery inflicted Friday, November 6th on Yoani Sanchez, who was lifted by force and in broad daylight into a car with private plates by several unidentified burly individuals in plain clothes, demonstrates not only the degree of helplessness of people under dictatorial regimes, but also the rampant immunity of the gorillas and of the regime that allows such outrage against citizens who cause them discomfort. Uniformed police, meanwhile, enthusiastically supported this pack of hounds' outrage and for their part drove the blogger Claudia Cadelo and Orlando Luis's girlfriend away in a patrol car and left them on a corner of the Nuevo Vedado neighborhood as well.

Yoani, along with writer Orlando Luis Pardo, was literally kidnapped from the very central Avenue G, in Vedado, beaten and pinned down before the astonished and terrified gaze of dozens of people who had the dubious and involuntary privilege of attending a scene that accurately reproduced those starring Batista's henchmen, Pinochet's soldiers, or any of the other dictators that History has known, not to mention its similarity to Mafia methods or those of the Colombian narco-guerrillas. Fist blows against Yoani's slight body, inflicted by men who kept her, half suffocated, head against the floor, in the back seat of a car, while they justified the grotesque abuse by screaming that it was about counterrevolutionaries; such nonsense in a country where there isn't even a hint of revolution any more!

They want to curb the Island's growing citizen rebirth with terror. And the truth is that, somehow, they manage to sow fear. In my case, for instance, I feel a deep terror on thinking that when this happened I was not there to support Yoani and our other friends. I dread imagining that they might lash out with their fury against any free Cuban and I might not be close-by to scream with all my might against such repression and call for an end to tyranny. The fate is finally sealed: terror is the cowardice of those who apply it, not of the recipient; it is the beginning of the end of dictators.

With this public act of bestiality against a helpless woman, the Cuban dictatorship has just abandoned any pretense and has entered the era of impudence: a clear message of what can happen to those who might feel emboldened to exercise freedom. We certainly can expect more repression and more violence because this government is truly predicated on hate. Let's see now how the eternally near-sighted--those who try to place a pious veil about the Cuban reality--justify this, while they continue to conciliatorily shake the dirty hands of the Castro regime.