by Pablo Pacheco Avila
After meeting with the Amnesty International UK group in London, I went with Sue Bingham and Yaniset Zapata Grenot to Sonning Common, Reading, where both these women reside. Yaniset served as an interpreter and added the Cuban “touch” with her sense of humor.
In the evening I met Graham, Sue’s husband. I was impressed by his knowledge of sports. He confessed to me that he was a fan of Teofilo Stevenson and Alberto Juan Torena due to their athletic feats. I told him that I also greatly admired Jonathan Edwards, an international triple jump record holder and an Olympic champion from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, in addition to Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton, and other English soccer players.
On Saturday morning I accompanied the family to one of the most welcoming places I have ever seen: a castle-garden which historically belonged to a British aristocratic family. It was very interesting to see so many years of history up close, and before I knew it I was traveling back in time and imagining foreign and local soldiers in the fields I was now walking on.
The climax of the day was emotional and gratifying. Sue took me to the Global Cafe in Reading. At the cafe there were various voluntary activists from Amnesty International which traveled from other towns nearby Reading to meet the person for which they had worked to free for countless hours.
In the meeting I let them know the importance of the letters they sent to political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. I explained to them that the postcards they sent me served as a protective shield against our oppressors because it proved that we were not alone. Sometimes the letters would be given to us, and other times they would not. Regardless, these letters had an enormous effect, for they showed our jailers that all their strength was futile against human solidarity.
These people I met in Reading worried about the situation my family and I currently faced. They do not understand why the government will not give political asylum to some of my brothers in cause. Despite the fact that many of them solicited these permits more than 8 months ago, many of them continue in a legal limbo in Spain. It was also difficult for them to believe that the Cuban government has taken so long in sending documents to the deported prisoners and their families that would allow them to validate their titles and re-commence their professional lives in the Iberian country. The minimal demand on behalf of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero towards the Cuban regime also seemed unbelievable to them.
After a pleasant and constructive chat, in which Cuba’s current reality was the main subject, we took some photos together and they gave me various souvenirs and a CD of Cuban music.
That night, we all went to bed late at Sue’s house because we were able to successfully connect through Skype with Miguel Galban Gutierrez, Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, Jesus Mustafa, Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, Regis Iglesias, Arturo Suarez, Alexis Rodríguez and his wife, Juan Carlos Herrera, Mijaíl Barzaga, Luis Enrique Ferrer, and Yamilka Morejon, the spouse of Jose Ubaldo Izquierdo who lives in Chile. One could tell by Sue’s face that she was very happy and she actually cried with more than one of them. Before we all headed off to bed she told me, “At least today I have felt more important, for my work at Amnesty can be seen on your faces. I feel very happy, Pablo, and as a consequence my compromise to the cause of defending human rights has been multiplied,” she finished saying with tears in her eyes.
On the following Sunday afternoon we went out to visit the city of London. But I’ll tell you all more about that in the next chronicle.
Translated by Raul G.
27 May 2011