Chronicle of a Kidnapping in Havana / Miguel Iturria Savón

The Cuban Model isn't working any more. / Unfortunately your LOCK is working.

On Friday, April 22, on the corner of H and Calzada, Vedado, Havana, I was intercepted at 3:45 p.m. by a Lada car without police plates, from which four plainclothes agents of State Security emerged. Taken by surprise, I tried to ask them for their arrest warrant; meanwhile the leader ordered, “Get in Iturria, your time has come,” and one of the cops punched me and pushed me in with the help of another.

In the vehicle they took my belongings (cell phone, camera, a book, papers and identity card). Already underway, they went down G to 23rd and from there to 41st and 31st. At the Marianao Military Hospital they doubled back toward Siboney and got out at the San Agustin police station in the city of La Lisa.

During part of the ride they kept me with my hands handcuffed behind me and my head down. The driver responded to cell phone calls with phrases like “I’m carrying the cargo, call later,”pick up ten teams and wait for me at Section 30.” By his side an officer in his fifties, tall, black, thick lips and a face of disgust; he was the only one wearing military boots.

At the station they searched me minutely. I was in the lobby under the watch of the guy who punched me–swarthy balding thirty-something with a face of hatred–and the young mulatto from the back seat, until a sub-officer took me to an average shabby office, where one of the military guys came in who had been at my house on March 8 when I refused the summons for an interview with the “Official Octavio,” who shows up looking for two chairs; but then comes Captain Tamayo and they take me to a place with air conditioning, starting the repetitive “verbal exchange” with Tamayo, escorted by subordinates who were at home, both fierce and silent.

Tamayo is white, of medium size and light eyes. He suffers from oral incontinence and likes to dazzle with statistics that show State Security’s control over the on the peaceful opposition, exile organizations, independent journalists and alternative bloggers, whom he denigrates and minimizes incessantly, which contradicts the low importance he gives to them.

He mentions contemptuously Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights; Wilfredo Vallín Almeida, leader of the Cuban Association of Jurists; communicators Juan González Febles, director of Digital Weekly Spring; Julio Aleaga Pesant, Jose Alvarez and others like me “who exceed the limits of tolerance that we have set” and “dare to refuse the subpoenas from State Security, without knowing that we do not need to comply with the articles of the Criminal Procedure Act, it enough for us to issue a verbal subpoena; be warned so you won’t be detained again in the street.”

In his monologue, Tamayo combines the information and statistics with praise for the Commander-in-Chief, “the man of the century”, and General Raul Castro, “modest and humane like the Commander.” He ponders the “historic generation that leads the revolution,” the health system, education, sporting achievement and participation in elections and political events.

To compensate, he unleashes his grievances against the hardships of the past in Cuba (although he was born in 1970), attacks the aggression of the United States toward the island (quoting the words of President Obama in Chile), global capitalism and poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. To make matters worse, he blames the economic embargo as the cause of our problems and thinks “if the Yankees allowed tourism and allowed us to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, it would save socialism and we would live better.”

He spoke about his farming origins and the poverty of his family, as he was born in a village in the Sierra Maestra in the Contramaestre municipality in Santiago de Cuba Province. He reiterated that he spent 23 yeas in the Ministry of the Interior, where he barely earned enough to eat despite having a house in Havana and being a communist. He lamented not being able to drink a bottle of rum every week and bring gift boxes to his relatives in the mountains.

More than interrogate me, Tamayo combined the discourse of power with threats against those who think differently. He warned that his department had a file on each one of the 109 independent communicators in the country, “Lists to present to the prosecutor as we did in 2003.” He added that “State Security decides who gets permission to leave and who would rot on the island.”

Before such a codified mentality I limited myself to asking a few ironic questions and rectifying certain of his opinions with conflicting data. I told him that he served a totalitarian tyranny and not a socialist revolution, that what remains of the slogans, rituals and masks of the terrified majority who depend on the State, seems increasingly like an Arab sultanate; that the economic embargo and the supposed external aggression are not the cause of the national disaster, nor the inefficiency, the corruption and the lack of freedoms and opportunities to liberate the productive force and initiatives of citizens.

At eight in the evening the official returned my belongings as “a goodwill gesture,” in the expectation that I would “not make a circus out of what happened.” I assured his that I would continue to write without censorship and would denounce the kidnapping arranged by him.

April 27 2011