Meeting at the Fenceline

So, just how good do we have it? Stories like this at Bloodletting always get to me…

But the worst thing I ever saw was in Cuba.

There was, at the time of this, the policy of the Clinton administration to deny access to the US Naval base by refugees. One day, while I was serving as part of a reactionary force, a group of refugees were spotted heading towards the base. As the reactionary force, it was our duty to react to whatever came up. We did so in this case as well.

We deployed in the vicinity of the fenceline. We met the refugees as they approached, and with weapns in hand, denied them entry to the base. They had managed to traverse a kilometer deep minefield covered by towers with machine guns to get to this point. They had left everything they had ever known in order to get out of there. And we stopped them. We had orders. We had our orders, so we followed them. After enough shouting and threatening, the refugees eventualy gave up and headed back. Back into Cuba. While I was sweating my balls off under the hot sun, these refugees made a mistake. They had gotten through the minefield the first time, but they had not followed in their own footsteps going back. While I was thinking to myself how I wish these people would hurry up and go back so that I could head back to someplace with air-conditioning, one of them stepped on a landmine.

That explosion touched my world.

Then, I witnessed the worst thing I ever saw in my life.

As the dust cloud wafted away from those refugees, nobody ran. Nobody screamed. Nobody said anything.

They just laid down to die in the middle of a minefield that was the sun’s anvil.

Think of how badly you would not want to die like that. Think about that real hard. Think about slowly dying of exposure in a minefield. Think about what would make you risk such an outcome. Think about it real hard, and then remember that as bad as that was, it was better than going back.

Despair was once described to me by a college english professor as “the death throes of hope.” That day in the minefield was despair incarnate, and it was the worst thing I have ever seen with mine own eyes.

(There is a disclaimer on this site about an apparent change in US policy)

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