From an MP4 to Silence

Today could be a special day, and in fact, it is. In addition to the marital pavilion meeting, my unrivaled wife handed me an emotional letter from Sebastian Lebriel, a Dutch television host. I will respond to this letter soon through my blog, Voices Behind the Bars.

Too good to be true, I thought. Thirty minutes after I returned from the pavilion, the functionary from the Order of the Interior of Detachment 3 informed me that I had to accompany him to the room at the entrance of the prison. Something must be wrong, I thought. I completely forgot about the dialogues between the Cuban Catholic church and the government in favor of the Cuban political prisoners. Perhaps these 7 years of captivity and of suffering from the darkest part of humanity activated my intuition. The sense of smell that I have been using these days for the World Cup did not fail me. I was lead to the room of lawyers and was being questioned by none other than the State Security Chief- Agustin- who is in charge of the prisons of Ciego de Avila province. Also present was the infamous Lieutenant Jose Marino, chief of Political Police Operations and main culprit for the pompous searches of my home and the home of Pedro Arguelles Moran on the 18th and 19th of March 2003.

If I say that I was not afraid, I’d be a flat out liar. Just like if I say that I did not foresee something negative coming, I’d be lying to myself. The State Security officials told me that thanks to a diverse range of sources, they knew that I had a digital memory device and that these technologies were strictly prohibited in Cuban jails. They told me that I had to turn it in and that they would be responsible to hand it back to Oleidis. I acceded without a fight, though I must say that such ridiculousness gave rise to an uncontrollable and ironic laughter in me. This apparently surprised the main henchmen.

It is an incredible fact that the international community must know that in the jails of this island video and photo cameras, radios, DVDs, recorders, fans, cell phones, and phones in service for prisoners are all either restricted or constantly monitored. Flash drives, Ipods, MP3s, and MP4s are all prohibited as well.

What is interesting about this story is that I simply use my 4 GB MP4 to listen to music, to play mind challenge games, and to stare at pictures of my beloved family. From today on I will have to do without staring at the one thing that I long for the most from within this wretched place. Such an insignificant thing is capable of worrying the informants of the Investigative Technical Department, Interior Order, Internal Control, and State Security of this detachment B of the provincial prison of Canaletas in Ciego de Avila, especially in galley 43.

It’s quite possible that the culprit of so much denunciations has been observing me for days on end, to inform his employers as they violate basic rights. Perhaps while I record this story the architect of passing on so much valuable information will hear this and applaud it. Their lack of human value leaves a lot of things unanswered. Even so, I’d still help him with whatever I can, but please, I won’t accept that someone will manipulate my intelligence. I am solidary by nature and if I have learned something during these 87 months of captivity it has been to forgive my fellow human beings. Even if so much human misery makes it seem absurd. We must keep in mind that such kinds of men are only pawns of the government and their political game. This is very common in Cuban prisons.

Sebastian Lebriel is right when he says in his letter that it is very terrible that one must live through such an injust struggle in this lifetime. But, my friend, if it is not me, it will be someone else. As long as evil exists in this world there will be men and women determined to fight against it. I do not doubt that one bit.

In addition to being prohibited from freedom, I am also prohibited from entertainment, from listening to music, and from seeing the pictures of my Odeilis and my only son, Jimmy. But it doesn’t matter, this means that I will only have more time now to continue what I dedicate myself to in prison: writing down what my conscience dictates and denouncing the constant violations of human rights in Cuba.

Pablo Pacheco, Prisionero de conciencia