Je Suis Cuba

Monday, November 16, 2015
By Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of murdered democracy leader Oswaldo Paya, in Translating Cuba:

Je Suis Cuba

Two years ago in Paris, at exactly this time, I had the satisfaction of meeting in person a renowned Cuban writer who lives there. I was there only a few days and traveled little around the city. They were days of work, meetings and interviews before flying to Strasbourg, to attend the Sakharov Prize ceremony for the child activist Malala Yousafzai, who had suffered an assassination attempt at the hands of the Pakistani Taliban in an attack that shocked the world.

I remember that at the foot of the most famous tower in the world all the languages I could hear echoing. I imagine that this is the sound of freedom of movement. Something thousands of Cubans have not had, Cubans who escape the island on rafts, ready to die and in many cases dying in the sea. The same freedom of movement that made possible the terror in the City of Light this Friday, when eight boys started shooting dozens of other boys.

I know what this is, I have lived it. The families of the more than 120 fatally wounded victims will never recover. This November it will not be easy for the French people to overcome this. Like the Christian refugees, who have been lucky enough to escape the ethnic cleansing occurring in the Middle East with less media coverage, will not return to their countries.

And again it is repeated: attacks on human dignity are no longer circumscribed by geographical boundaries, call it jihadism or the Castros’ totalitarianism. Terror has shown the power to cross the Mediterranean, like authoritarianism is reproducing in Latin America.

I fear that the crime that took the life of the young activist Harold Cepero on a Cuban highway should have warned us of the deaths of teenagers on the streets of Caracas two years later.

Solidarity is no longer a question of altruism but of survival. We do not ask for whom the bell tolls. As in Paris and so in Havana, it tolls for all of us.