14ymedio, Havana, 13 April 2022 — Former Cuban political prisoner Basilio Guzmán Marrero, who spent 22 years confined to the Island regime’s prisons, died on Wednesday, in Virginia, United States, the country where he has lived for many years, as dissident Frank Calzón confirmed to 14ymedio.
Guzmán was originally from Campo Florido, Havana, and “joined the struggle against Fulgencio Batista’s regime, suffering persecution,” recounted the International Committee of Former Cuban Political Prisoners while lamenting the opponent’s death.
“Years later, following the rise to power of the ill-named Castrista Revolution he returned to the struggle in search of the freedom that was being snatched from the Cuban people,” added the Committee, which also highlighted that Guzmán was tried in the 1960s [and sentenced] to 30 years in prison, “of which he served 22, the majority of that time wearing only underwear.”
The former prisoner became known not only for his confinement in prison, but also for the positions he took while behind bars. According to Calzón, Guzmán was a man who, from the beginning, very clearly drew a kind of red line as a Cuban political prisoner.
He was known for his intransigence for not wearing the uniform of a [common] prisoner, one of the characteristics of those known as plantados* in Cuba, and Guzmán was especially known as a “key and very heroic figure for his confrontations against Castroism within the prison system,” added Calzón.
In the United States, he maintained his profile as an opponent of the Island’s regime. “Basilio was Alpha 66’s representative in Washington, D.C., where he lived. We offer his family our most heartfelt condolences,” concluded the Committee’s statement.
Basilio Guzmán Marrero was one of the signatories of a letter sent, in April, to US President Joe Biden and signed by more than two hundred intellectuals, artists, writers and Cuban-American leaders asking the president to condition his policies toward Cuba on a “general amnesty for all political prisoners” on the Island.
“A good man has died, a great patriot,” who “knew Castro-Communism’s hate very well,” wrote Julio M. Shiling, director of The Cuban American Voice, on his social networks. “Nothing, however, separated him from his own balance, peace, and light.”
“Thank you, friend, for your example and dignity! From another dimension, Cuba will continue to count on you. Our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the entire Cuban political prisoner community,” added the writer and political scientist on his post.
When the International Committee of Former Cuban Political Prisoners announced Guzmán’s death on their social media, they also lamented the passing on Wednesday of dissident Evelio Díaz López in Los Angeles, California.
The Committee said Díaz was a member of a farming family from Matanzas where he “became known for the support he provided to the guerillas of Benito Campos and Agapito Rivera” and his “participation in the struggle against Castroism.”
*Translator’s note: “Plantado’ — literally ’planted’ — is a term with a long history in Cuba and is used to describe a political prisoner who refuses to cooperate in any way with their incarceration.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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