14ymedio, Havana, July 24, 2021 — Luis Robles, known as the young man with the sign, has been in prison for eight months and, as his brother Landy told 14ymedio, they have again denied the defense request for a change in the precautionary measure of provisional confinement. His trial was scheduled for July 16, but was finally suspended as a result of the massive protests that occurred in the country a few days earlier.
Robles was arrested on December 4 for protesting on Boulevard San Rafael, in Havana. He demonstrated peacefully, by displaying with his arms raised a placard on which he asked for freedom, an end to the repression, and the release of the contrarian rapper Denis Solís.
This Friday, a Facebook page created with the activist’s name to demand his freedom, published a video in which Robles talks about his thoughts, wishes, and also the reasons that led him to be a protestor. The material was recorded on December 1, “a day before his birthday,” it reads. Three days later he was arrested and the regime accuses him of “enemy propaganda” and “resistance”.
We transcribe the full text of this declaration that, more than seven months in advance, reflects the terrible frustrations of the young people who took to the streets across the country on July 11.
“Good evening my Facebook people. First of all I’m going to introduce myself. My name is Luis Robles Elizastigui, I’m 27 years old and I’m concerned about everything that is currently happening on social media. I tried to post directly but I don’t know why it wasn’t possible. Many young people like me don’t agree with what’s happening here in Cuba.
“We wholeheartedly desire a change, a change in the system, a change in the country, because really communism has turned this country into a true hell, a hell where it is practically impossible to breathe, not only to breathe air, but also to breathe peace, to breathe tranquility. Like me, many times I say, this is a demolition of people, of souls.
“This dictatorship has converted us . . . we are no longer human beings because we have no rights; we don’t have the right to express ourselves freely, we don’t have the right to be heard. When we say what we think anywhere, the police beat us down. This is for the people of the world to see: this is the reality that ordinary Cubans live in, those of us who have nothing, not even dreams, because here in this country you can’t even have dreams because they have clipped our wings. One thing they will never be able to cut off is dreaming of freedom, because a human being without freedom is nothing.
“Freedom is the greatest thing that one can have in life, and since these shameless communists arrived they have cut us off from all kinds of freedoms — freedoms to a free religion, freedoms to a free ideology, freedoms to elect who you want to win, not the one they impose on you. They have taken away even our freedom to think, they want to dictate even what we think about.
“I’m going to tell you a brief anecdote. I demonstrated in the Plaza de la Revolucion for an injustice that had been committed against someone I loved very much. I thought it was unfair and I went to Citizen Services; I went to court; i went to I don’t know how many places; and no one, no one took me seriously. So the last thing I did, when I saw myself with no way out, was to go to the Plaza de la Revolucion and there I made my film. I took off my sweater and I screamed. I shouted that in this country rights are not respected. I only told the truth.The police didn’t touch me, they looked to pass me off to State Security. They handcuffed me, put me in a patrol car and took me to a unit near the Plaza de la Revolucion. They put me in a cell with a pile of people, and took away my belongings.
“Then they told me that a State Security agent was going to see me. When the guy arrived, he was a young captain and they put me in a room alone with him. The guy asked me why I did it; I told him my reasons. He pretended to listen to me and said: ’Kid, how old are you?’ I told him my age and he said this: ’You’re a young kid, you have no priors. Because you’re a young person we don’t want to encumber your life. We’re going to let you go, but don’t let this happen again. They gave me a warning letter. I currently have a warning letter on my criminal record.
“That day I understood one thing, that if you demonstrate here, even if you’re right, they encumber your life if they want to, they encumber your life and you’re no longer a person. That’s the mechanism at work here on this island, and it’s what I want many people in the world and here in Cuba to open their eyes to. It is time to end this dictatorship.
This generation is not willing to continue holding out. No. This is our time and we have to take advantage of it. That is why I ask everyone who listens to me to join the fight. I have joined. Yes, I recognize that I may be afraid. I’m afraid that they will “disappear” me, that my life will be destroyed. But what I’m more afraid of, and what scares me the most, is to continue being afraid. No, I cannot continue to allow myself to feel afraid in my own country, where I have to feel free. I have to feel fulfilled and not destroyed as a person.
“I have a son here and I desire with all my heart for him to grow up in a free country, to grow up in a country where he can have dreams, expectations of progressing. And we don’t have that in this country today, where three old men decide what you can and cannot do. No, that is not the country I want for my children. I don’t know if many will have this feeling, but if I would give my life for my son, maybe others would give their lives for their own. Then, if I join the fight I’m not doing it just for myself, I’m doing it for my children and I’m doing it for all of ours.
“Many people who live in Cuba today are going through the same thing that I’ve gone through, having to do twenty thousand miracles to be able to support my son. I’ve even had to do things that nobody could imagine. The salary here is a joke. The only thing this system has is slaves. You kill yourself working for a month and they pay you a pittance of a salary, which they even deduct from. I worked for the State and they even deducted for numerous things. So brother, this isn’t the country that i want for my son, no.
“I have also thought about opting for the alternative that many have taken, and that is to flee. Yes, fleeing is an option. But people have a feeling for their land, and always want to return to their land. And, my brother, if there is a possibility, only one, to see my land free, I’ll take it. That is why I ask that if you want to join as well, if we unite and we are one, Cuba can be free. If you think about it, Cuba can be free.
“So brother, the struggle begins. The San Isidro Movement has lit a flame of freedom in the hearts of many Cubans. That is why I hereby ask that this flame not go out, that this flame continue to burn and grow even more and become a devastating fire and put an end to the scum that has destroyed our country, that has destroyed dreams, that has turned us into machines, merely surviving.
Translated by Tomás A.
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