The exile to Spain of fifty Cuban former political prisoners and their families has been a well organized maneuver, calculated and premeditated by the dictatorship in Havana. It is difficult to know when they started making plans for this operation, but I imagine it had its roots in the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who staged a long hunger strike after receiving a severe beating from the soldiers at a prison in eastern Cuba.
Added to that disgrace was the courageous stand of Ladies in White, who face the most abhorrent acts of repudiation, pressures from the political police and, to top it off, Guillermo Fariñas’ fast to demand that the regime release the sickest among the political prisoners of conscience.
Moreover, the Castro government has lost credibility with the international community. Many voices on the left have awakened from a slumber which, for years, had mesmerized them into believing that a just government existed on the island. Fortunately, many have now realized that in Cuba there is a dictatorship that curtails the fundamental rights of all Cubans, and these international voices have also helped to secure our liberation, a liberation which unfortunately turned into exile.
After the natural euphoria of breathing free after so many years of imprisonment, and the suffering on the part of our families, we began to face the second part of the punishment, which was their taking advantage of our vulnerability to send us with nothing to a country plunged into a deep economic crisis. Aside from the painful uprooting from everything that was our past, we are having to learn to live in an environment that is entirely new for all of us, face the humiliation of seeing ourselves forced to live on temporary aid–from the NGOs that support us–in order to survive, with the growing anxiety that our path is double the difficult in the midst of so much unemployment, because we have no papers to establish who we are.
Having spent more than seven years locked in our ideas, we are not trying to live without working, on the contrary, we would prefer not be given anything because we wish to live as human beings and with dignity. We are grateful to the Spanish people–I will never tire of saying it–and unfortunately we know that the Spanish do not have enough, these days, even for themselves. The government of President Zapatero should ask Havana for all the necessary papers so that we can at least fight for our reintegration into society. Or maybe Raul Castro will punish those who are now exiles in this country the same way he punishes professionals who wish to leave Cuba, refusing for five, six or seven years, to issue them travel documents? The difference is that we are already hundreds kilometers from our homeland, away from our families and friends. There is no explanation for this other than a premeditated revenge.
December 17, 2010
Note: Pablo Pacheco formerly blogged in “Voices Behind the Bars” when he was a political prisoner in Cuba. He has now been released and forcibly exiled to Spain, and has a new blog, “Cuban Voices from Exile.” We will continue to post him here, for a time, until his faithful readers have found their way to his new home.