Facing the Wall (1)

 
Image: Inner Storm by Olga de Lucia

I have read Faust several times, each line and each word of it and I cannot grasp it. I am going to take refuge among the tears that El Quixote causes me, maybe because I am just an Alonso Quijano playing another’s role. I press my temples trying not to listen, but the screams from the repudiation act go beyond my reach. The banging in the door caused by rocks, rotten eggs, excrement, all this brings two more tears to my eyes. Signs on the sidewalk carry me to the past, a past where they shouted over and over, “To the wall! To the wall! To the wall!”  [Translator’s note:  In the public trials, after the triumph of the Revolution, spectators would shout, “Paredón!” meaning “to the wall”, that is the wall where the firing squad would be ready.]

Today, like yesterday, it is the same people with the difference that now there’s fewer who can think and lead, and more who just follow. Who will be able to erase from our history those young men and women that from the very beginning of the Revolution were aware, like prophets, of where we were heading to: Manolito, Luis, José, Germán… Germán… damn it, Germán.   

We should never forget that evening when in the middle of the batey they gathered the whole community. “We have caught these rebels giving out proclamations and pamphlets”. “Get them out of here, get them out of here…!”, said the crowd. “Get them out of here!”, and they ran toward their places looking for dining tables to improvise a small platform. Elvira was also there, gesticulating as if she was the orchestra’s conductor. “Wall, wall, give him wall!”, “Get him out, get him out!”, the crowd keeps shouting. “Kill him! Wall, wall…!”, they kept shouting…  

Then, a low ranking officer arrived, someone who was seen as a god during the beginning of the Revolution in the early ’60s, just a lieutenant, and tried to calm down the crowd: “You have asked for it”. German got out of the Jeep but did not go up to the platform. The crowd was not looking at the officer nor the detainee anymore. They were all scared helping Elvira, who fainted. “Water, water; air, air…!”, you could hear. “She’s recovering, she’s recovering” they said. She squeezed her own hands in a cross shape against her chest. 

 

Féliz Navarro, prisoner of conscience. Text dictated on the phone from the county jail of Ciego de Ávila, Cuba

Translated by: Josema

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