For one who left who is still the best of my friends.

When I said in my blog that some of my friends living in Cuba had formed a human shield to protect me from the blows, I began to receive email messages, telephone calls, and SMS texts from virtually all the cardinal directions from my absent friends, regretting not having been able to be there with me.

The first was José Antonio Évora, the only journalist of Juventud Rebelde who, more than twenty years ago now, publicly opposed my dismissal. I received his call minutes after having been abandoned on a corner in the Marianao neighborhood, “I needed to be there.” I clarified that he had been, that I had seen him in the crowd next to the poet Julio San Francisco holding back the mob. I remember that a few steps from them were Raúl Rivero and his wife Blanquita trying to explain to some young people that I wasn’t a traitor. The photographer, Iván Cañas, snorted like a bull without deciding to use the camera to take a photo or for something else. Antonio Conte and Lichi Diego courageously faced off with some would-be partiers who wanted to hit me with their farolas, their carnival props, while Daina Chaviano pointed to the sky prophesying that the fairies would come to rescue me.

Let no one doubt it, all my friends were there. Lisset Rodes was praying with a conviction that was shaking the walls of the Avenue of the Presidents, her namesake Lisset Bustamente was haranguing the independent journalists brought by Tania Quinero; Minerva Salada broke her silence in Mexico and suddenly appeared having taken a yacht from Tuxpan; nor was Manual Pereiria off the island holding literature conferences at a university, as had been thought, but rather hugging me and getting knocked upside the head. Far from him, very far, but in the center of the tumult was Zoe Valdés, berating all those shouting at me with her inexhaustible collection of insults, and coming hand in hand with the photographer Sonia Pérez, my daughter’s mother, who wept inconsolably and kicked mercilessly. Galina, a Cuban-Soviet costume designer, believed to be in Italy, insisted on improvising a disguise so I could escape.

I swear, not one of my supporters was missing: not Kihustin Tornés, who designed the banners, nor the writer Michael Ángel Sanchez, who wrote the texts, nor the humorist Marcos García who showed up other signs, even funnier, nor the singer Rubén Aguiar, furiously brandishing his guitar. At one point I thought I saw Raulito, a neighborhood boy, thought to be dancing in a tourist nightclub in Ho Chi Ming City.

They were all there, the famous and the unknown. You don’t know how much I thank you.