Assault at the Hospital (First part) / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antunez

Less than three years away the official Idel Gonzales Morfi, alias “railroad spike,” passed behind us, and had he just looked to the right he would have surprised us and ended the trip to Santa Clara with his truncheon. He went slowly and thoughtfully on his Suzuki motorcycle, and when he was barely out of sight we abandoned the place and changed our route.

This time we were in Julio Columbié Batista and me, who, taking advantage of a skillful strategy, left my house by breaking the fence that we tended. On this occasion we only had to walk about six to ten miles to be safe. Then in some places during the long journey we determine the methods. The goal was set: Santa Clara. For several days I do not know how long, the assassins of the national political police were watching the corner at my house, but know one knows an old devil like the devil himself.

At four o’clock we crossed the threshold of the house of Alcides Idania and where a frightened and always very brave and hospitable Aramilda greeted us. It was dawn when Coco Fariñas and Idania Yanes arrived, to take us to specific destination: the hospital where Alcides Rivera and Rolando Ferrer lay dying on hunger strike. Once there, I felt victorious and minutes later I was in the hospital room, bed # 11 with Alcides, visiting also, in the maxillofacial ward, Rolando Ferrer.

Among many brothers, from Havana were two married couples, brave opponents and supporters: Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Leon and Odalys Sanabria and Yarisban.

I was very impressed from the start with so much human solidarity, not just from opponents, but from family, friends and supporters who filled the hospital. Everyone wanted to look in the sick room, everyone wanted to help and support in some way. Whenever Yris and I had to go down that four story labyrinth of rooms and corridors everyone was concerned that they could arrest us. We knew that first escape of Yris a day earlier, and then mine with Columbié really annoyed them; and then it started to become saturated with political and national police.

The lobby and entrance of the hospital had become a true bastion of resistance and solidarity which spread to all those seemingly unrelated to our cry, who there were or passed through as well.

The executioners of the political police decided right there to end that.

When the military presence was growing Idania suggested to Yris and me that we move immediately to the room to accompany Alcides, for if they arrested us it would be very difficult to return to Santa Clara. Naively we thought all that if there were a mass arrest, those who were accompanying us wouldn’t be detained.

It was now close to four in the afternoon of Monday, the contact with the Miami Democratic Directorate was constant, they called us every few minutes from Radio Republic to know the health status of the hunger strikers and to learn about the military operation that surrounded us.

Jorge Jauregui and Radio Marti as always were aware of everything and gave us the widest possible coverage

When I returned to bring Alcides in a wheelchair to an urgent chest X-ray on the first floor of the hospital, my wife Yris tells me that it was extremely tense down there and that Idania had told her by telephone that it appeared that the arrest was imminent. Then the phone rings again the room, Idania was still asking how Alcides was doing and confirming that more special troops were coming and suddenly I said “Hey they are coming to arrest us.” I only heard the cries of “Long live human rights!” and the call was interrupted …

Immediately on my cell phone from the Directorio, “Call urgent they are arresting all the activists down there.” I had just hung up the phone when it rang again, but it wasn’t the Directorio it was Cubaencuentro who ask me about the strikers and I immediately inform them that repressive forces of tyranny were arresting at that moment the activists and that the arrest of Yris and me who were in the room with Alcides seemed imminent.

By the reaction of the young woman on the line from Cubaencuentro, I realize she doesn’t understand the risk we are taking, because she continues to insist on hearing about the strike and the demands that are being demanded.

Desperate, I explain to the girl they are coming to arrest us, that the troops of the political police and the Special Branch are already there above us but however much I insist she doesn’t understand.

I much regretted at the time that the telephone communication was not with the Directorio or Radio Martí, both so familiar with situations like these. From Cubaencuentro the girl insists on the details of strikes while I say goodbye in face of the futile attempt to explain to her what was happening there. the call is interrupted without knowing what is happening.

But fortunately Julio Columbié Batista who at that moment is with Rolando Ferrer, on coming to find out what was happening, already reported what was happening live to the brothers of the Directorio, as well as to Yris and me and the bulk of the brothers on the ground floor until, of course, they arrested him too.

Although I know firsthand what these totalitarian executioners are capable of it is hard for me to believe they would search out the room of seriously ill patients to arrest two peaceful human rights defenders who accompanied a patient in serious condition and who, after our arrest, was left by himself.

Wait dear readers for the second part of the hospital assault.

November 7 2011