Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

March 5, 1999

THE ANTEDILUVIAL DAYS OF MARCH by Raśl Rivero, Cuba Free Press

La Habana, Cuba Free Press--As always, March arrived in Cuba announcing the end of a mild winter. But it left, in many of us who observe and live the reality of this nation, a strong feeling, that the government jerked the calendar and returned us to 1997.

The singular trial of the four members of Work Group of the Internal Dissidence and the arrest of a hundred pacific dissidents and independent journalists changed the rules of the game.

It was a move that you could start anticipating a few months before the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba, in what from these dark days is perceived as the antediluvial year of 1999.

During and after the Pope's visit people both inside and outside Cuba thought that more tolerance and flexibilty would come about to the tense Cuban society. And, as I see it, this all began to be planned a long time ago.

However, the recent episodes and the (unanimous, of course) approval by the Popular Power Assembly of a law that paralyzes dissidency and drowns alternative journalism, clash against the polite image of Cuban authorities welcoming world leaders and businessmen. It also clouds the diplomatic offensive that was launched right after the Pope's plane took off. It places the island in the same sequestered position as North Korea, but offering tobacco, rum and music for foreigners.

I have something to do with all of this. Monday, the police locked me up in a cell because I intended to cover the trial. I was one of those who spoke from Cuba and was enthused with the idea of a gradual democracy for that site that more than eleven million persons in Havana, Madrid, in Venezuela and the United States, in Stockholm and Caracusey, in Santo Domingo and Chivirico call, in a special way, their homeland.

We are living in uncertainty. Maybe authorities are just threatening, just showing the shine of the blade; but the weapon is still up in the air. A group of optimists are playing the role of flight attendant in an emergency saying, "Don't worry, nothing has happened. Everything will be fine."

True. Everything will be fine. But almost no one knows what fine is.

I think that since the first day of March we have been going backwards. It is a defiance to the Gregorian calendar and we keep moving further way from the twenty first century, that era of communication, virtual contact, respect for everyone's opinion and freedom to express it.

Raśl Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

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