Wednesday, May 30, 2007

safe space :: madison, wisconsin // not a safe space :: guantanamo

I remember a couple of years ago I was invited, along with ten or so other queer activists, to a media training workshop given by a media education group in Madison (pictured). Madison is a super safe space and probably #1 city for lesbian couples. I was able to walk around freely, buy books from one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country, enjoy a cup of coffee at one of numerous available cafes. It hardly seemed like real life.

We learned how to work with the media, be responsive to queer issues discussed in the media (mainly print), and respond timely with concise information, quotes, stats, etc.

We did a couple of samples together, disciminating a couple of topic points and focused on Guantanamo.

I never spoke up but should have. While the others talked about human rights, Geneva pacts, etc., I thought about how I, as a Cuban American, saw those who were kept at Guantanamo as Cubans. Despite their being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan, I saw them as now under the military thumb of Americans on land that was seized by Americans but that belonged to Cubans and Cuba. How must the Cubans view not just Guantanamo but Guantanamo's new role, new duties?

It hurt me that there were no screaming Cubans outside Guantanamo. It hurt me that I couldn't say anything. I had more than one relative or family friend stay in the prisons of Cuba after the revolution. The desperation they must feel - their lives squandered, military personnel and government officials surrounding them like parasites. My Tio Cheo made it out of the prisons and was one of the Marielitos but he was never the same. He drank himself to near death, smiled a faraway smile sometimes and, in looking at you in the face, would look like he was going to cry. He died of cancer. There's no story in the world out there for him. My grandfather's cousin, Pedro Luis Boitel, was more well known but died during a hunger strike on May 25, 1972. I was not even one year old.

Well, today, another Guantanamo detainee died - killing himself rather than staying there. My god, what possible information could they still be trying to collect after being subjected to mistreatment, forced detainment, and inconsistent protections and legal aid for 5 years! When are they gonna shut this crap down? And I don't just mean the camp but the whole damned base!? The House of Reps is trying to shut the camp now.

I'm really hurting today. I read the news item while at my desk at work earlier today and felt so ridiculous, trying to balance numbers while one man was dying. I keep crying.

No comments: