Carlos Varela: “Cutting the Wings of Freedom of Expression Cannot Continue”

For Varela it is time to sit down and talk, because “the people of San Isidro are also part of this country.” (Facebook / Olivia Prendes D Espaux)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 26 November 2020 — One week after the start of the hunger strike at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement to demand freedom for Denis Solís, sentenced to eight months in a summary trial for an alleged crime of contempt, signs of solidarity continue to arrive via the activists of many influential voices in the art world.

One of the most recent voices to join has been that of singer-songwriter Carlos Varela, who in a post published on his Facebook wall expressed his concern about the hunger strikes that several of the activists are continuing: “If I don’t write these words, I would be denying myself and my story. ”

“I don’t know any of the San Isidro kids personally, but that’s not what matters today. Any human being who is willing to die for a cause, whatever it may be, deserves to be listened to with respect. I am human, so don’t ask me to look the other way. I will not be complicit in the silence of the choir,” he wrote.

He said that several decades ago, “when those kids from San Isidro were only children or had not been born,” he went through something similar. “They wanted to turn me off too, erase me, marginalize me, censor me and, like a large part of my generation who could not bear the pressure, invite me to leave Cuba.”

For the musician, a member of the so-called Cuban Nueva Trova it is time to sit down and talk, because “people from San Isidro are also part of this country,” while denouncing the acts of repudiation as “infamous gestures” that are “a national shame.”

“When will William Tell’s grandchildren be heard? ” he wondered, paraphrasing his most popular song.

“A good part of my songs were born, surrounded by threats and conjectures, in the warmth of censorship and the silence of others. When will William Tell’s grandchildren be heard?” he asked himself, paraphrasing his most popular song, written at the end of the eighties and dedicated to the generation that fled the island en masse during that decade.

Another of the voices that publicly joined in to support the San Isidro Movement was that of singer Leoni Torres, who published on his social networks the need to express his feelings “about what is happening with the MSI youth group.”

“It pains me to think that after so many years we are still unable to dialogue and that hatred continues to prevail. Cuba belongs to everyone. Ideas do not have to be identical; we do not have to think the same. It is everyone’s right to be able to express themselves freely without being punished,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the group, located on Damas Street in Old Havana, there is no news at this time on the health of the strikers.

Carlos Manuel Álvarez, director of the magazine El Estornudo, (The Sneeze) who, after returning to Cuba from New York this Wednesday joined the 13 activists who have remained inside the building since last November 16th, denounced Thursday a possible Government maneuver to get him out of San Isidro.

Carlos Manuel Álvarez, director of the magazine El Estornudo denounced Thursday a possible Government maneuver to get him out of San Isidro.

According to a live broadcast, on Wednesday night, Health authorities called his friend Mónica Baró, whose address he had given to authorities at José Martí Airport upon arrival in Cuba, to tell her that the PCR COVID-19 rapid test they performed when he entered the country, compulsory for all international travelers, “had showed altered results.”

Perhaps they could not communicate directly with him, he recalled, because his telephone number, which he provided to officials on the immigration health form, was being blocked.

Baró was warned that Álvarez should go to a health center in Miramar before midnight this Wednesday to repeat the exam because, otherwise, they would go look for him at San Isidro. “I did not do what was requested, so it is likely that this second option will happen at some point,” said the journalist.

“It seems to me that behind a medical excuse there is political manipulation to get me out of here,” he argued, in addition to insisting that before traveling to Cuba his PCR test was negative, so “there is less risk of me spreading the virus than the tourists who traveled on the flight.”

“I’m not going to get out of here or give in to such crudely orchestrated pressures,” he said. “I am willing to do a PCR again but under certain conditions because the bond of trust with the Cuban state has been completely broken.” And he explained that he cannot trust a political power whose propaganda apparatus tells “lies and defamations,” such as he has had “contact with international terrorists from Miami,” that “he is a “CIA agent” or that he is “violating the isolation that is imposed on residents or tourists who arrive in Cuba from abroad.”

Thus, the conditions that Álvarez is demanding to take another PCR test is that health personnel go directly to Damas Street #955, specifically accompanied “by my mother or my father because they are both doctors and they know exactly what the procedure is.”

Translated by Norma Whiting


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