For those who do not have the slightest idea what prison is like in Cuba, a punishment cell and how prisoners are treated, they would have been shaken by the fanfare regarding the supposed mistreatment of Gerardo Hernandez, confined in an American prison for committing serious and proven crimes against the national security and stability of that nation.
The fanfare could have even confused those who know that the Castro-Communist penal system is a veritable hellhole of torture and death where human life has no value.
As it turns out, Gerardo Hernandez is prohibited from having in his punishment cell a radio, books, a fan, and other conveniences. Imagine the indignation the ringleader of the infamous Wasp Network must have felt when he was deprived these luxuries.
It seems that in addition to being an accomplice and a liar, Ricardo Alarcon is exceedingly cynical and shameless to the point that he and his thugs cannot ignore that in Cuba no prisoner is permitted to have a radio, telephone, or even a fan. Access to telephone calls is limited and under strict control and has only been allowed since 2002 or 2003. This is thanks to the famously stupid mistake committed by the spies’ wives and mothers who complained on the Mesa Redonda TV show that none of them – Gerardito , Renecito, nor the others – were not allowed to call them in who knows how many days.
In my case, I had to wait fourteen years and six months to make my first telephone call. Cuban prison cells lack water and the majority of the time there is no light. When one is there as a prisoner, you can only bring with you your woeful personal toiletries such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant – items that many times are useless due to the lack of water.
The Cuban regime’s punishment cells, in contrast to where Gerardo is serving, are veritible coffins where there is not even sufficient space to walk. A hole, referred to as a turco, serves as the toilet and is near the bed.
I am certain that Gerardo can sleep at any hour of the day; that he is not given his mattress, pajamas, and spread to cover himself at 10:00pm, only to have them taken away at 5:00am; or that, as an additional punishment, he sleeps on the floor like a dog. I am certain that if he violates some that he is not brutally beaten.
I don’t pretend to compare either the two prisons nor the penal systems, much less the food and visitation policies – that would be like comparing night and day – only the situation in the punishment cells.
Still, it would be a good thing if these spies could spend a few hours in one of those Cuban prisons. Even if they lack the courage to face it, they would think to themselves, “Cuban prisoners truly live in veritable holes.”
When I heard about Gerardo’s radio, I remembered that when I was found with one in Camaguey’s Kilo 8 prison, I was beaten so badly that my teeth came loose. When I heard about his books, I recalled how in 1996 I went on a hunger strike for more than 20 days until they returned the Bible they had taken from me. And while in prison in Guantanamo in 1998, they confiscated my copy of La Prision Fecunda(The Fertile Prison), edited by Cuban officialdom, which details Fidel’s Castro’s conveniences while in serving time in the Isle of Pines prison.
The comfortable conditions enjoyed by the spies are proven by how the Castro brothers obfuscate and deny them outright. In their methods and human insensitivity, you can draw parallels between Nazism-Fascism and Communism. Unlike Hitler and Mussolini who publicly proclaimed their crimes – the theory of Lebensraum (living space or territorial annexation) and racial superiority – the Communists hide and deny their crimes.
Please, Ricardo Alarcon, have some self-respect. You should defend the common sense of almost 100,000 men and women who are permanently confined to their holes. Respect and consider their families and quit sounding so ridiculous about your five spies. For the true heroes are those suffering torture and mistreatment, of which I am convinced that neither you nor your five spies could ever withstand.
Translated by Louis A. Mayor
August 5, 2010