HAVANA, Cuba , September 2013, www.cubanet.org.- Lech Walesa Institute in Warsaw hosted a workshop on nonviolent struggle (from September 4-14), participating in it were a group of human rights activists, political opponents and independent journalists living on the Island.
Leannes Imbert, who leads the Observatory of the Rights of the LGBT Community in Cuba, and is also Cubanet correspondent, was invited.
She says that one day before her departure, on September 3, she left early to complete the last steps in preparation for her journey.
On G Street at the corner of 21st in El Vedado, a green Lada car was waiting with two agents of State Security, who did not allow her the option of refusing to get in.
These arbitrary arrests and kidnapping have an extralegal character:
“They were not wearing uniforms with badges, they did not show an arrest order, they did not allow me to call my family. They took me not to a police station, but to a house on the outskirts of the city,” says Imbert.
“Later they took Avenue Boyeros, at the intersection of 100th Street they turned the corner and drove on a street that a sign showed to be El Cotorro. But they continued toward a rural area.
“We came to a very well-built house that could easily be confused with a family home, with a fence and very well painted facade.”
Once inside, they invited her to take a seat, insisting on a specific place:
“I assumed the place they pointed to was in the view of the camera so they could film it.”
In the house the only people visible were in domestic service. However, the victim’s mobile phone remained outside the room, indicating that there had to be Ministry of Interior workers in other rooms, in charge of what they call the “technical operation.”
Imbert referred to the words they used to express their main concern; they were:
“Be careful with what you say out there. Many people have left and have been saying things they shouldn’t say, things about the Cuban Government. The result is they’re not going to be leaving any more.”
According to Imbert, they showed her photos of her activities and reiterated the threat to condemn her to 20 years in prison for the things she’s writing and the people she meets with. But they said automatically that they were very worried and wanted to look after her. They mentioned her family, saying “you know your mother is sick and it won’t go well for her if you go to prison.”
At 4 pm that day she was released and allowed to leave for Poland.
During the ten days the workshop lasted, in addition to talks, the Cubans visited the Institute of National Remembrance, dedicated to documenting the unfortunate events that occurred during the period of Soviet occupation and the government of the Polish Communist Party.
In this Institute are the files of people who belonged to or who collaborated with State Security in charge of implementing the Communist terror in all countries where such a party governs.
“Physical evidence is still appearing of what the brutal repression meant for these people, in certain periods in history.
“For example, someone knows that in an area there was some killing of people who were against Communism; then forensics goes in. In the 21st century human remains were found,” says Imbert.
They were also invited invited to participate in street protest, led by veterans of the Solidarity Union (which today is a Movement). One week a year they recall the protests that ended the Communist dictatorship, and take advantage of it to address the current government on today’s issues.
This time it was about a demand to increase pensions.
“There is a culture of protest in Poland. It paralyzes traffic. There we saw the police working to create security around the protestors. One of them took a picture of the current Polish Minister of Finances and hit her in the head. No one did anything to him.”
They were able to see first hand that the majority of time the government responded, giving legal status to the citizen demands, and the society has been transformed in a non-violent way.
Back in Cuba
Imbert arrived at Jose Marti International Airport on September 14.
On the third day of her return, the same agents in the same green Lada were waiting for her outside her house. The scene was repeated:
“They approached and warned me to get in the car. They took another road and I had the impression that the house where they took me was farther away.”
This time they were interested in the photos that Imbert saved on her phone, photos of Poland.
“They were trying to get information about the participants and the organizers, using the method of appearing to have a conversation with no pressure, commenting on the photos and asking questions, which I didn’t answer.”
Among their sarcasms, they let her know that they were at the airport the day she returned because, according to what they said, they noted the amount of luggage she had.
This time the detention lasted from the early hours of the morning until 6:00 in the evening.
Communist dictatorships produce a complex social situation. Besides engendering fear among residents about loss of employment, freedom, even your life, they maintain a discourse that they are acting in the name of peace and for the freedom of the people from capitalist oppression. This combination of factors is extremely disturbing.
But in Europe, even the ones that appeared to be the most impregnable, these dictatorships were overthrown when the citizenry realized they wanted a future of freedom and agreed to participate in the change, which they achieved through non-violent struggle.
Poland overcame the dictatorship in 1989. The Solidarity Union managed to mobilize the population, which was determined to challenge the Communist Party government, and through labor strikes, mass protests and civil disobedience, the public will rescued, one by one, the kidnapped freedoms.
Note : Any similarity to the Cuban dictatorship is not pure coincidence.
By Lilianne Ruiz
22 September 2013