I Have Not “Stayed” in the USA… / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Having spent eight months traveling in the US, I’m starting to make Cuban State Security nervous, just as I’m making the island’s dissidents nervous, since the two entities are sometimes so similar that you can barely tell them apart.

Several state police agents went to intimidate my neighbors on the corner of Fonts and Beales in Havana’s Lawton neighborhood, and threatened the friend who took me to José Martí International Airport on March 5. They accused him of illegally loaning me his vehicle, which is untrue. They spread the rumor that I had applied for political asylum in the US and was conspiring against the Cuban government as part of an organization, which is also untrue. They made sure that my 78-year-old mother was shaken up when she realized what was going on, although they didn’t interrogate her this time.

They have also pressured friends of mine on the island who are not linked to pro-democratic social activism, getting them to communicate with me by email and “extract” information on my activities in the US. They forced one of my friends to visit my mother and place a hidden microphone in my house, even though I wasn’t there at the time. They interrogated another friend about my sexual orientation, and practically forced him to testify that I was having clandestine homosexual relationships (under Castroism homophobia is criminal).

I have also received messages from supposed activist colleagues in Cuba, urging me to come back immediately. Apparently there’s no one on the island who can take over my work. One of them even called me from Havana, despite the fact that I’ve never given my cell number to anyone in Cuba. To top it all off, the independent journalist Julio Aleaga went so far as to spread lies about me on a Cuban protest site, suggesting that I was an “economic migrant”: A term with which the Castroist government makes a mockery of the always political nature of Cuban exile.

If my foreign residence permit is valid for two years, why is there such anxiety over my presence here from everyone in Cuba? Forget about OLPL for a little while, I beg you. Then—and only then—will I give you a surprise that the people will never forget. Thank you.

From Sampsonia Way

26 November 2013