“Year of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Mr. Freddy Perez Cabrera
Editor and Administrator
General Suarez and Territorial
Plaza of the Revolution, Havana
Greetings to you.
Moved by the painful events which led to death of my fellow citizen, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, during the early morning hours of Sunday May 8th and by its publication in Granma — the Official Organ of the Communist Party and its Central Committee — on Thursday May 12th on page 3 under the title “Cuba Despises Lies”, I am responding spontaneously and on my own behalf with my personal testimony.
It is just as the former Minister of Exterior Relations, Felipe Perez Roque, once did on March 22, 2005 at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva when he used that same exact phrase which he is now repeating in the form of a question in the last paragraph of his report.
I quote: “Is it not enough, perhaps, that the experience of the Revolution throughout more than five decades is without one single torture, disappearance, or assassination?”
Perez Roque never responded to me. The one who responded in his name was Ambassador Giraldo Mazola on August 22nd with No.699 in the exit registry of that minister.
Freddy, I am asking you:
– Are there not any memories in Granma of the thousands of executions carried out by the revolutionary government in the 60’s?
– Are there no memories in Granma of all those years in which thousands of Cubans were jailed and forced to work in the agricultural fields of the UMAP concentration camps?
– Does that newspaper not recall the deaths which took place in the sinking of the March 13th Tugboat massacre which took place in the Bay of Havana?
– Are there no memories of the execution, under the orders of Commander Fidel Castro and after an unfair trial, of three young men on April of 2003 just because they wished to leave Cuba?”
I tell you that on August 1, 1994 my family and I suffered the unfortunate loss of my uncle Osvaldo Medina Dulzaide, an industrial engineer who was 33 years of age. He was a very tall man who was full of life and was kept from enjoying the company of his two daughters — the eldest who was 6 years of age and the youngest who was 5 — because he had been a victim of a beating given to him in the Santa Clara Provincial Instruction Department of the Ministry of the Interior.
They declared that the cause of the death was “mechanical asphyxiation”. The body, which had obvious marks of physical blows (bruises) on his thoracic cavities and on his right kneecap, was brought to me.
Because I denounced this they expelled me from the infirmary services of the Commander Manuel Fajardo Military Hospital of that city, despite the opinion of the infirmary doctors and directors who defended my professionalism.
In my attempt to exercise my profession, I reincorporated myself as a nurse in the Dialysis and Hemodialysis Unit of the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital. There I was also expelled and they voided my title as Nurse under orders and pressures from State Security, alleging that I was “not trustworthy enough to exercise my profession due to my direct links with certain people who depended on my reactions”.
Just like that, my grandmother, Maria Julia Dulzaide Infantes — a joyful woman who was the mother of Osvaldo Medina — was threatened by State Security in her own house. They reached the point where they terrorized her so that she would not denounce anything that would make reference to her son’s death. This caused her a syndrome of paranoia.
To bring all these truths to light before the world, I took it upon myself to scream them out loud. I persisted on my desire for justice for those who assassinated my uncle. And for that, I suffered 15 months and 3 days in prison (from July 22, 2005 to October 25, 2006).
At the moment when I was detained I was also beaten, along with my wife Katia Sonia Martin Veliz who at that very moment was carrying our twin daughters in her arms (who were only 2 years old at that moment). Due to the impact of the blows both our daughters fell down the stairs without our being able to stop it.
I was detained for 5 months in a police station. This constitutes a violation of my freedoms in itself. Afterwards, I was moved to cell No. 21 on the 3rd floor of the Investigations Department located at 100 and Aldabo. On January 17th I was then moved to the Provincial Prison of Pinar del Rio (Kilo 5 1/2).
While there I continued to state that IN CUBA THEY DO TORTURE, THEY DO MISTREAT, HARASS, AND ASSASSINATE.
On February 24, 2006 I witnessed the beating of the prisoner Ariel Hernandez Paula carried out by more than 20 armed soldiers who used rubber batons. Ariel was then tossed down the stairs. This caused him the detachment of his kidneys.
Later on, Ariel was checked into the Provincial Abel Santamaria Hospital of Pinar del Rio, where they had to insert a probe directly into his urethra in order to pull out urine.
Throughout his whole stay at the hospital center the authorities did not allow any priests from the Catholic Church Diocese to attend the Penitentiary Pastoral services of the province.
In May of 2006 I was moved to the Taco-Taco prison located in the municipality of San Cristobal, Pinar del Rio. There, I met with my personal friend and brother in struggle, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who was yet another victim of the government which you have chosen to defend and which DOES manipulate information.
In that place I was a witness to two of the beatings carried out on Zapata Tamayo, ordered and done by Major Juan Ramon Castillo (Chief of the Prison) and by the Chief of Jails and Prisons of the province who has the last name of Santovenia.
On February 24, 2010, while I was in the process of signing the book of condolences after the avoidable death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a group of friends and I were detained by State Security at the intersection of Hospital and Neptuno streets.
Afterwards, they moved us to the 4th Police Unit of the PNR, located in Infanta and Amenidad in the municipality of Cerro. There, while they snatched all my belongings, I was able to witness how they beat Yoani Sanchez Cordero, author of the blog Generation Y, on the floor. This is a woman who is barely 110 pounds. Seeing this was very painful for me.
My questions continue.
If Soto was not beaten, then why does Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez Jorge certify in the autopsy specific sources of hemorrhagic activity to the level of pancreatis?
Freddy, with my own experiences and testimonies — which I have actually lived through and not just simply heard about — which I have arbitrarily exposed about State Security, I responsibly disagree with the testimonies made by Rosa, the sister of Soto Garcia. Her words, just like the words of his niece and her husband, Yasmil Perez, who both also denied signs of beatings on Wiflredo Soto, remind me of the case of my grandma Julia.
However, in a contradicting fashion Rosa states that Soto had a stone in his kidney and that a bici-taxi driver offered him menthol to put it on his inflamed area. You must understand that when there are stones, there are no reasons to have inflammation.
In addition, I don’t think it to be true that Guillermo Farinas Hernandez (Sajarov Award 2010) ignored the pain of the relatives of the deceased at the moment of saying his final goodbye. Or that he did so without their consent for that matter.
But besides, to finish refuting you, on Twitter there appeared the messages sent by the Baptist Pastor Mario Lleonar who notified that Soto had told him: “they killed me”. These same messages even show the time they were written, which is the same time they were uploaded on the web. No one manipulated that information.
On the internet we can also listen to the declaration — in the voice of Wilfredo Soto Garcia himself — where he says that he feared for his life and that he was blaming the Cuban government and State Security for whatever could happen to him.
You know well that your reports for Granma need to be revised and approved by an Editing Council which only publishes articles which pass through its filters. To the point that — and with all respect Mr. Freddy Perez Cabrera — I have to tell you that in Cuba THEY DO manipulate information.
Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria
Former Political Prisoner
Secretariat of Attention for Political Prisoners
Independent and Democratic Cuban Party
St. Tomas #359, between Arbol Seco and Retiro.
Municipality of Central Havana
Translated by Raul G.
May 17 2011