Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

Havana, August 3, 1998, Cuba Free Press.

GOVERNMENT SETS UP NEW ANNIVERSARIES TO BURY OLD ONES. By Ariel Tapia, Cuba Free Press.

The government, no longer wanting so-called "election rallies" typical of democratic republics, organizes rallies for such things as celebrating certain agriculture achievements or even the conservation of certain raw materials.

For the internal peaceful dissidents in the "opposition movement," when some personal or cultural-heritage anniversary occurs it usually is limited to congratulations exchanged over the phone. Birthday parties or other such get-togethers are prohibited at dissidents' homes. Perhaps this in part occurs because the authorities fear that, as the peaceful "civil society" movement grows, censorship might break down and citizens manage to learn of news that is denied them in the official media. But why so much official interest in a dissident's birthday or other anniversary?

In 1994, police pressures against the Concilio Cubano (the Cuban Council) reached their peak on February 24, which also was the date of the downing of the two small airplanes of the Brothers to the Rescue from Miami. So the date of February 24 marks a double anniversary, for it also marked the consolidation of the Cuban Council's civic project. But that anniversary is not recognized officially.

Sometimes a celebration is held on a certain date to overcome some event that occurred on that date and which the government wishes to bury. For example, August 5 marks a bitter date for Castro's regime. On that date in 1994, possibly as many as 30,000 people gathered on the Malecon (seaside plaza along the sea-wall in Havana) to shout discontent and hunger for freedom. A major repressive action had to be taken to keep it in hand. Other similar dates have been cause for alarm in the halls of the Interior Ministry.

Barely two months after that August 5 event, a mass rally was led, again alongside Havana's sea-wall, by Fidel Castro himself. He baptized the date as "A Day of Victory for the Cuban People Against the Counter-revolution!" There were even orchestras playing for friendly foreigners who gave "plenty of proofs of their solidarity," as it was noted. Some 10 months later, officials organized a meeting of Cuban and American youth who traveled throughout the island and celebrated on August 5 with a big political-cultural rally at the Punta Esplanade. That was one of the sites where the 1994 disturbance was heaviest.

So, now August 5 has come to pass into the patrimony of important dates for the Regime. Consequently, it will be celebrated each year.

One of the darkest dates for the Cuban people is, to be sure, July 13, the anniversary of the 1994 sinking of the "March 13" tugboat with some 41 children, women and men aboard.

On that date in 1995, many organizations challenged Cubans to face their fears and go to the Havana sea-wall to offer flowers to the victims of the tugboat massacre. Detentions, threats, searches, and a complicated political dragnet in Havana followed. Although expected, it nonetheless was a travesty.

Regarding the anniversaries of the founding of pro-human rights groups or movements and other organizations that brandish freedom of expression and association as their banner, certain government agents are doing all they can to cause hardship. Their methods are shameless: They make phone calls full of threats and insults, take dissidents' identification papers, or they suddenly shut off their telephone service, and so on.

For most members of the Cuban dissidence, the arbitrariness of the regime to ban the celebration of dates which are unpleasant to the leaders is the product of the omnipotence afforded the authorities during decades of absolute power.

Keeping the rhythm of their lives, Cubans await for an unknown date, one during which they will be able to celebrate what perhaps will be the most important date in the history of the republic. Enjoy.

By Ariel Tapia, Cuba Free Press.


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