This week I will dedicate my post to what is called the Youth Labor Army (EJT), on the 40th anniversary of its creation, which is Saturday, August 3, and nineteen years since my release from its “ranks,” which occurred on July 28.
This so-called Army, created in 1973, it’s said, from a merger of the Centennial Youth Column (CJC) and the Permanent Infantry Divisions (DIP), had its true antecedent in the dark Military Units in Aid of Production (UMAP), which were dissolved in 1968 in the face of global condemnation given its undeniable and unmasked reality of being concentration camps in which the Cuban regime committed crimes for which they still haven’t answered, but for which they will undoubtedly have to pay one day, no matter how much they try to erase the traces of that terribly black period.
Five years after dismantling these UMAP camps, they were reorganized with the new euphemism of EJT. Of course, it wasn’t simply a change of initials, five years between death and resurrections were sufficient to draw the experiences and to try to do the same thing but with different appearances.
I experienced it first hand in the EJT, for almost eight months, exploitations and humiliations greater than any I’ve been subjected to in my life. Between 230 November 1993 and 28 July 1994, I felt like a real slave. When people ask me if I was ever a soldier I respond categorically no, but yes, I was a prisoner under the false facade of completing Active Military Service (SMA) in EJT Boom 400, a concentration camp located one mile from the 119 Kilometer mark on the national highway. The nearest community is called Soccoro, which belongs to the Pedro Betancourt municipality in the province of Matanzas.
Despite being there barely eight months I knew two other concentration camps to which we were sent to serve our “mission” on the part of Boom 400, one very close to Torrientes, and the other at San Jose de Marcos, two villages of the municipality Jagüey Grande.
In these three military units in support of citrus production we were cheap and safe manual labor for the regime which at that time had strong business in this area with Israeli companies.
One of the biggest contradictions I experienced, by the way, in those dark days was to constantly wonder why there was this Zionist capitalist complicity with the totally anti-Zionist regime that didn’t even allow an embassy from the State of Israel. For me, educated from my early childhood in a Baptist community that instilled in me a love for the Jews and taught me to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, this was one of the greatest tortures that accompanied every drop of sweat and cursing.
Reading the autobiography “After Captivity, Freedom,” by my friend Luis Bernal Lumpuy, which includes the traumatic experiences of the author in the UMAP camps forced me to remember, by association, my sad experiences in the EJT and therefore I dedicate to him my brief written this week, with the certainty that both of us will finally see a Cuba free of these gross violations of fundamental human rights. And also of tyrants bred to create concentration camps such as UMAP or EJT, taking advantages of the students of Stalin, who highlighted similar experiences in Siberia, and the partners of the current regime, experts in this type of prison where they perform cruel experiments on humans, such as North Korea, our currently favored ally, as confirmed by the warmongering world adventure laid bare in Panama.
5 August 2013