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Belarus in Focus
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Belarus in Focus 2011

31 Oct

Ángela Espinosa Ruiz, (Spain)

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Spain-Belarus. Contrast of concerns.

I am sitting, like most people my age -17, if you sirs insist on knowing- at a table for two in a public high school. Outside, and atypically for the town between the mountains and the deep, blue sea, it’s raining. It rains strongly. With hardness. With cruelty? Well, that we should discuss. Half past eight in the morning, 7:30 in the Canary Islands; Philosophy class. Kant, I think. Or

Rousseau. Frankly speaking, I’m listening to less of half of it. But the blackboard reads "1789, French Revolution". Liberty, Equality... The same song as always. Fraternity. Fraternity! One of the students, in the last row, asks what  that word means, "fraternity". I don’t pay attention to the teacher’s answer. It doesn’t matter anymore.

What is he saying now? That our liberty is limited! Old news. The fact of being or not being allowed to smoke in the line of the theatre. Yes, sir, a crucial fight, a noble cause, something to sacrifise our lifes for... What on Earth!? Is this the Spanish battle for Liberty? For Truth? Ah, not only that, I forgot the Sinde Law(1). Yes, a very important privation, a shameful limit, a flaring destruction of "liberty". My foot(2).

There’s a dead short circuit, all the lights in the building go off. General and idiotic euphoria. Thunder echoes, furious, as though complaining. My deskmate is scared. Of darkness (oh, darkness! Oh, fear!(3)), of the storm. "Don’t panic", I say, "darkness here is not complete, you can see. And I am here", I take her hand, "this is not scary. I’m very brave", I lie, perhaps. I exaggerate, "and I am here with you. Other things are scary, but not this. Other things...". Other things. And the sky goes on crying, and I have the suffocating sensation of being the only one to know why, but, unfortunately, not how to appease its pain... Nor mine.

In our golden city of jasmin flower it showers, and the "valiant" christmassy shoppers in the Historical Centre, I imagine, run into any little shop, even if the earrings, the socks, the book they are looking for are not inside. What a problem, Lord, what an enormous problem! And at Christmas. On a different note, in a different town, in a different country (Minsk, Belarus), it snows over the shed blood on the Square. Lukashenko had, again -and already for the fourth time- won the Election. 80% of votes, the Government claimed. Where is that Rousseau guy? Obviously, dead and well buried in France. Especially for Belarussians.

Thousands of people went out to protest against the system. Many thousands. No. Many people, each with a life, family, friends, dreams. "Demonstrators were quickly dispersed by the police, some of them brutally beaten..." the radio recited religiously the following morning.

In the end, I could talk to them. My Belarussians. Very dear friends of mine. People I love, and for whom I cried and prayed that nightmarish night. My friend *** confirmed what I, deep inside, already knew. "I was there last night", *** sentenced. "Where?", I asked, and I had understood. "On the Square". I knew it before *** said. And because of that, the night of the 19th, the only night there were images on Spanish television, I wanted and didn’t want to look. From ***, I expected it. *** is very brave; a hero; in the best sense of the word, a Quixote. A bit like myself, but better. *** has faith in their country. And so do I.

By force! Dispersed by force! People arrested at night, in their homes... They had knocked the doors down. A legit 80%, said the tyrannic traitor! Where was Liberty hiding? Where did Truth run away to? What is the meaning of Fraternity? Only cruelty was present the night of the 19th in Minsk. Justice excused herself as being ill.

Even so, I believe in Belarus, in her people, and in the sad but solid chords of the melody that gives strength to go on to this scandalously opressed people.

The light comes back. In the end, we won’t be allowed to smoke in the line for the theatre. "Shameful", my classmates cry. "It is a violation of our most basic freedoms!" And I look at the rain falling through the window and remain in silence.


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