Miércoles, 19 de Junio de 2019
Última actualización: 00:13 CEST

Hunger strikes against State terrorism

Dissident Guillermo Farinas, during one of his hunger strikes.

It is disturbing that 20 Cubans on hunger strikes do not even constitute an event capable of affecting the course of daily life on the island. And it is outrageous that it does not produce headlines in the national press. But more than outrageous and disturbing, it is pathetic that the country's intelligentsia does not register even the most tepid request mercy with the culprit, the Castro dictatorship, or make an appeal for sanity in the name of decency, much less a protest or complaint.

As children we were indoctrinated at school with the example of Julio Antonio Mella, the founder of the first Communist Party of Cuba, particularly regarding the attitude he exhibited during this 18-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, which he considered unfair, under Machado's tyranny. But we were not told many things, which we had to learn on our own as grown-ups. For example, that for that strike Mella had to face contentious proceedings, in which the Communist Party demonstrated little solidarity, and that it would separate him from its ranks for two years; or that the violations that landed him in prison (wrongly, according to him) included the use of explosives.

But what goes to the point now is that Mella's strike in 1925 has been upheld by several generations of Cubans as an example of heroism set by a revolutionary who was powerless against the impunity of an oppressive dictatorship, and found no other way to stand up to it but by willingly exposing his body to the ravages of hunger.

Obviously the indoctrinators failed to foresee the hunger strike that, not for 18 days, but 86, would be carried out by Orlando Zapata Tamayo, without the current tyranny showing any compassion, even in response to the tragedy of his last breath. Much less were they able to foresee the fate of the 17 peaceful and innocent Cubans who have died for this cause under Fidel's regime. Not to mention the more than 20 hunger strikes carried out by Guillermo Fariñas, a hero with whom Mella pales in comparison.

We know that Mella was able to happily end his strike, alive and healthy, and with his demands met, thanks to the great stir caused by his case in the national and international press; but, above all, to the public resonance of the open letter that leading Cuban intellectuals sent to Gerardo Machado. The tyrant's own parents ended up backing the popular demand for the striker's release.

From more than a few Latin American countries came an outcry by public figures, governmental and others, and in many there were protests in front of the diplomatic offices of the tyrant Machado. In the end, he had no choice but to yield to the pressure. Many people's sense of shame, scruples and compassion managed for Julio Antonio Mella to win that defiance of an abusive and ruthless tyranny. And that is something that will always be commendable, above and beyond ideologies and political passions. It seems, moreover, that such demonstrations of solidarity and decency against outrageous abuses by the powerful were commonplace in those days, both in Cuba and elsewhere in the region.

What calamitous decline in shame and spirituality could have taken place in the Americas, in the course of just a few decades, so as to allow Cuba's regime to practice State terrorism without provoking protests, and few demonstrations of concern?

And yet, unnecessary comparisons should not be drawn between strikers past and present. The only thing that we humans truly possess, that no one has the right to take away, is life. So, wherever there is a person who risks his,  alone and defenseless, against an all-powerful and brutal force, the indifference of others will be nothing but an expression of uncivilized, cruel and even complicit behavior.