The teachers asked his students: What is the future tense of the verb “to protest”?

Quick as a bunny, Pepito raised his hand and blurted, “‘Prison’! Professor.”

So it is, here in my planet, for the last fifty-two years some of the verbs in our rich Spanish grammar, have just one conjugation.

Just a few days ago the people of Havana learned of the events that star a pastor of a Pentecostal church and a group of his followers.

As the internal information is practically nil, we learned about the events long after it began, thanks to news from abroad spread verbally or by telephone by those few who have access to the Internet or satellite TV antennas.

Then the government was forced to inform us through a brief note that said very little in the press and on TV, which left people more confused.

The truth is that for the last week they’ve staged siege at the church located at Infanta and Santa Maria in the Cerro neighborhood, with police, ambulances, rooftop snipers, state security agents and firefighters are staging a kind of Cirque de Soleil, thanks to the worries expressed to the authorities by the families of the people voluntarily barricaded there.

Although we don’t know exactly who they are or what their true motives are for the sit-it, what we we do know is that thirty people are barricaded there, among them children and some pregnant women, showing support for their Pastor.

Yesterday it seemed the whole police force was withdrawn. I imagine there are only state security left and the ever alert informants from the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. They reopened the shops, the farmer’s market and normal traffic circulation.

The Pastor and those supporting him remain there. They say the leit motif of this protest is the demand for housing, in exchange for that which a year ago the guide of this congregation built for himself and his family on the roof of the temple.

It only remains to wait and ask God for an appropriate, sensitive and peaceful solution for those barricaded there.

This unusual event sowed confusion among the authorities of my planet where, for more than half a century, public protest has been prohibited and the future tense of the verb “to protest” is conjugated with the word “prison.”

September 15 2011

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