Perhaps, dear reader, this name may remind you of little or nothing, but for me, and for all of us who have the privilege of knowing him, it means a lot. I met him a few months after being released from prison in 2007. I had gone to Colon with my wife to visit her brother who, at the time, was in Aguica prison. The home of the Merejo and Cari family was, and is, the point of reunion and hospice for every brother that arrives in that city. It is where bags are put together and distributed that will go to the political prisoners. Pancho and Regla, another family, also join them on this humanitarian mission. Each of them are love and solidarity personified. Yet there are always dispositions, temperaments, and attitudes that stand out from all the others and this is true of Ernesto, who, as we Cubans say, is the center where it all comes from.
Ever since I met him, I knew I was in the presence of someone loyal, inseparable, simple, and brave. Then came the protests around the Civic Plaza of the Revolution, the protests in front of the Holguin prison, the arrests in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, the sit-ins, and the hunger strikes. In sum, the struggle, sacrifice, and loyalty all describe the life of this passionate patriot from Matanzas who currently finds himself between life and death since June 7th due to a hunger strike together with the political prisoner Mario Alberto Perez Aguilera, who has inspired Ernesto to carry out numerous civil acts of protest.
Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena cannot die, he is demanding his freedom. Mederos Arrozarena should not be in prison because his only crime has been to attempt to travel to Santa Clara last August 4th to take part in a peaceful homage to the day of the “Maleconazo”*, the day of resistance. Mederos Arrozarena has to return safe and sound to the warmth of his old mother, Celia, who is more than 90 years old and finds herself in a delicate state of health. Her friends and family, in order to prevent a fatal outcome, tell her that Ernesto is actually on vacation.
*Note: The Malaconazo was an uprising that broke out in Havana on August 5, 1994, along the Malecon (the waterfront seawall and arterial street),when thousands of Cubans took to the streets shouting “Libertad” or “Freedom.”
Translated by Raul G.