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Tiananmen Square, Shared Silence

Tiananmen Square, Shared Silence / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 4 June 2016 – Havana’s Plaza of the
Revolution shows its loyalty to its friends in many ways. One of them is
complicit silence. When the Tlateloico Massacre happened in 1968, Fidel
Castro did not condemn it because his ally, the Institutional
Revolutionary Party, ruled Mexico at the time. Something similar
happened with the events in Tiananmen Square in , still absent to
this day in Cuba’s official press and discourse.

It has been 27 years since thousands of students demonstrating
peacefully in Beijing to demand democratic reforms were forcibly evicted
from the square. The turning point of these protests was on June 4, when
the cracked down violently to those gathered at the square, leaving
hundreds dead and thousands injured. This coming October, the last known
of those who were during those riots, Miao Deshun, is
expected to be released.

Along with the more than one thousand detainees who were sentenced to
harsh penalties for showing their desire for change, China sent many
other protesters to forced labor camps to be re-educated. Since then,
significant resources and millions of hours of propaganda have been
dumped on society, to suppress the idea of rebellion and stifle memories.

Recently, several activists who were trying to evoke the date have been
detained by the government or prevented from leaving their homes to pay
tribute to the victims. The gag-rule extends to virtual space, where
China’s have skillfully managed to erase many of the
references to the events of Tiananmen Square.

However, despite the fact that in June 1989 the foreign press had been
expelled from the area and the government restricted coverage of events,
an iconic image was imprinted on the retina of humanity. A defenseless
man with a bag, standing in front of a military tank, showed the
absolute fragility of citizens under a totalitarian power.

That picture has never been reproduced in any Cuban media managed by the
Communist Party. Thus the island’s authorities have joined in the
attempt to erase history, vigorously led by their Chinese comrades. They
are complicit in the attempt to create a hole in the past.

Today, along with China’s booming and environmental problems,
there is a country where it is not permitted to speak publicly about its
history. A nation that has been offered an unequal economic well-being
in exchange for its conscience, but where, also, many have not accepted
the deal. They are the ones who remeber that young man who was going to
the market when his luck changed forever.

In the case of Cuba, the effort to force amnesia does not begin and end
with the tragedy that took place in that vast and distant square. Cuba’s
official media once hid from us the fall of the Berlin Wall, denied the
Chernobyl for weeks, and “made itself scarce” in the face of
Nicolae Ceausescu’s crimes.

The loyalty of the Plaza of the Revolution toward its ideological
comrades includes the ignoble task of accompanying them in altering the
figures, hiding the news, and burying the dead in silence.

Source: Tiananmen Square, Shared Silence / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez –
Translating Cuba –

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