Cuba, Crying Out Against the Fear / Angel Santiesteban

Wilfredo Vallín Almeida, president of the Cuban Law Association (AJC)

Recently various events have stolen our time of creation. On the fifth anniversary of the blog Generation Y, a pioneer space that shouts to the world about the rights of Cubans, the gift from the government has been the imprisonment of the attorney Wilfredo Vallín Almeida, president of the Cuban Law Association (AJC).

It was Yoani Sanchez herself who alerted me to the tragedy. I was overcome by rage. It was an attempt to cut off the independent process of those who are trying to represent the law beyond the fees, limits and censorship of the administrators of the Law in Cuba and who, according to the attorney Vallín himself, are the first to violate the provisions of the laws they themselves have passed.

In more than 50 years of totalitarianism, never has anyone said to the government officials, Legal Code in hand, that they are all infringing on the rights of Cuban citizens.

Tranquility and light for the unprotected

I told Yoani we couldn’t sit on our hands. She told me we would meet at his house to make a decision. I assured her I would be there in half an hour. It was inconceivable to me to imagine Attorney Wilfredo Vallín detained, being interrogated by the peons without decency, thugs who follow orders without the intervention of their conscience. My anger was building, becoming more explosive every second.

Personally, I am very grateful to the Association over which he presides. The offices are in his own house; they opened to the doors to me there when I felt myself without legal rights, they would protect me. When I confirmed that the State was on my back and its henchmen beat me in the street. Without protection I went to his house charged with a series of crimes that would total 54 years in prison. Then they brought me shade, peace, and a light at the end of the tunnel that opened like heaven itself. They scared away the darkness. And began to prepare me to break all the lies that they were plotting against me.

When I knocked on the door of the lawyer Vallín, to the delight of all, it was he who opened the door. He told us what happened and how outrageous it was that he was arrested and handcuffed in front of his wife and neighbors. Then at the police station, a young and incompetent officer assured him tat he was there because of his relationships with counterrevolutionary people, and he mentioned Yoani Sanchez and Dagoberto Valdes.

Vallín responded that his home was open to everyone who needed legal advice, and among those were the wives of officers “like you,” he said, arbitrarily imprisoned, “and the law is for everyone,” Vallín assured him. An example of the constant violations was what they had committed against he himself, because he was arrested without a warrant to justify such an actions.

An absurd arrest

The truth was, happily, Vallín was released, and what could have been the first public protest to demand the release of this Cuban was avoided, or they might have preyed on us all and we would have joined Vallín. When we left there were still State Security agents around his home. I tried to photograph them and two hid, another appeared in the photo trying to hide himself.

At night we met at Yoani’s house to celebrate the anniversary of her blog. We also spoke about the contribution, days earlier, of Vallín at the Estado de SATS project, where he explained the flagrant violations committed during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, and gave examples, reading from the Legal Code. For example, the State had imposed a state of emergency on the country without informing its citizens. We are sure that his participation in that event was the trigger for the absurd attempt to frighten him with an arrest.

However, the deep fear instilled in us since birth, living through all the injustices that the governments of the Castro brothers have sowed in us, are being overcome with the cry for freedom and justice.

Angel Santiesteban Prats

May 10 2012