Period of National Mourning, or Curfew? / Rebeca Monzo
Rebeca Monzo, 27 November 2016 — On Saturday 26 November of this year,
my telephone rang at almost 2 in the morning. I picked it up with
trepidation because normally at that hour one expects to hear bad news.
The reality, however, was different: a friend was calling to inform me
of Fidel's death. I was relieved because, what with my family being out
of Cuba, I had expected the worst.
The news did not stir any kind of feelings in me, neither pity nor joy.
It was something that had been expected and that many of us wished would
just be over.
What did surprise me was that Raúl so quickly made the event public
knowledge. We had always thought that this would be something that would
be kept hidden from us for a while and that we would find it out from
relatives and friends outside the country. But the social networks and
the immediate impact they cause made the current president react this way.
They have decreed a national mourning period of nine days, which in my
opinion is rather exaggerated. They say it is so that everyone can say
goodbye and pay their respects before his ashes. I am convinced that the
majority of those who will go to do so will not go spontaneously, but
rather will be transported by the Young Communists Union, the
University, the Cuban Workers Center, the Federation of Cuban Women, the
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and all the rest of the
governmental mass organizations of which the country boasts (and which
are under the direction of the government, even though it publicly
declares that they are not, which is totally false).
The state-run television has all the channels lined up with programs
broadcasting only images of the deceased, extolling the personality of a
leader who died in full decline. Only his "successful" episodes are
shown. There is not a single children's program on the air, being that
children, too, are obliged to observe an enforced mourning period.
They have prohibited all public and cultural spectacles. The greatly
advertised and one-time-only concert by the Spanish tenor Plácido
Domingo, who traveled to our country with 500 guests, has been
suspended–which for him must have been "disconcerting." Also, the sale
of alcoholic beverages has been prohibited in state-run and private
restaurants, as well as in all the stores throughout the country.
I have learned that they are visiting establishments that rent out
private rooms, to investigate whether any journalists are among the guests.
The city is practically deserted at night. Is this, really, a period of
mourning, or a curfew? You decide.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
Source: Period of National Mourning, or Curfew? / Rebeca Monzo –
Translating Cuba -