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Jimmy Roque Martinez: I was born in Havana in 1979, and it seems that work has been my sign. Custodian, fish farmer, lens carver, welder, glass maker, optometrist, have been some of my trades. But none consumes as much of my time as caring for my family. For many years I’ve faced the least pretty face of this society, and I try to be happy while I transform it. I am too shy. I like silence, sleep, theater and movies. I hate injustice and arrogance, and I can hardly contain my anger when it happens in front of me.

Repression in Cuba during Times of Peace and Transition

April 7, 2014 | Print Print |

Jimmy Roque Martinez

An act of reprisal. Photo: www.eltonodelavoz.com

HAVANA TIMES – I first saw footage of an official act of reprisal (mitín de repudio) in Cuba in the Cuban film Memories of development. The footage showed a group of people beating up a person. The images were from the eighties, during the Mariel exodus.

Seeing those images was painful. I felt a mixture of pain, shame, anger and even loneliness. I find it curious that I’ve never met anyone who has admitted (with shame or pride) having participated in such actions. I don’t believe all who did have left the country.

I recently got my hands on acts of reprisal carried out very recently – the documentary Gusano (“Scum”), by the Estado de SATS group. The film documents some violent acts against the opposition that are evidently organized by the Cuban government.

In Cuba, people don’t even organize themselves independently to march in front of the US Interests Section and demand the lifting of the blockade, something which, in theory, should not be a source of conflict between the Cuban government and such demonstrators – but any kind of autonomy is inadmissible here on the island.

It is inconceivable that a government should pit its own citizens against one another. Cuban military officers send civilians to verbally and physically attack other (peaceful) civilians, many a time without even telling them why or telling them anything about the people they are supposed to attack.

Many of these aggressors are opportunists who are looking after their privileged positions or illegal businesses, and participating in these reprisals is a kind of endorsement that guarantees personal protection.

There are also cases in which people feel some antipathy towards the person targeted for a reprisal and are given an opportunity, by the government, to attack their personal enemy.

The people’s resources are used to attack the people, to pit neighbor against neighbor.

There are two aspects of these actions that I consider particularly dangerous. One is the participation of military officers dressed as civilians, who drive vehicles with regular license plates. This ought to be illegal, as military officers trained in personal defense and paid to attack others conceal their true identity, playing the part of ordinary people.

The other point is the subordination of the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of the Interior, caught sight of in the fact students who are not of age are involved in violent acts, probably without the consent of their parents.

They are made to skip classes, taught that violence is a means of defending one’s criteria, and exposed to the risk of getting hurt when the violence is unleashed.

The Ministry of Education should have to respond publicly and before the law for this. Is part of its aim as a social institution to teach violence, to teach the young that imposing one’s viewpoints, not debating, is a valid form of communication? Is public education subordinate to a military institution in Cuba?


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    I witnessed a repudiation rally during my time in Cuba. It was a turning point in solidifying my commitment to speaking out against Castro tyranny. It was organized and protected by the regime. The Cubans who participated were promised everything from cold beers to government help with getting jobs. It is one of the many disgusting practices by the regime to maintain its control over the Cuban people.

  • John Goodrich

    You might be unaware that the United States of America has been waging an over 100 year war against socialism and that Cuba is just the latest target.
    People in Cuba are being paid by USAID, the CIA and other U.S. agencies to foment dissent in Cuba with the ultimate aim of overturning the revolution.
    Yes, there is genuine dissent in Cuba because of conditions but the bulk of Cuba’s economic problems and the reason for counter measures to U.S. strategies against Cuban society stem from U.S. imperialism.
    Violence ? You’re worried about the Ministry of Education teaching violence when the U.S. regularly slaughters hundreds of thousands because the U.S. does not like the governments or economies of those people ?
    The U.S. was not preaching non-violence at the Bay of Pigs , nor when it enabled terrorists raids to be launched against Cuba from south Florida .
    That you somehow totally omitted the fact that Cuban society is being deliberately twisted by the United States is to ignore the most significant factor in Cuba’s problems.
    You do live in Cuba do you not ?

  • Griffin

    “Is public education subordinate to a military institution in Cuba?”

    Everything in Cuba is subordinate to the military. The government, the economy, even the Party, all take their orders from the olive green elite.