‘Life in Cuba is Almost a Heroic Act’

Adrián Martínez Cádiz has had to “chat” several times with the political police. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Xavier Carbonell, Salamanca, 25 October 2022 — Silent, emphatic, direct in what he thinks and says, the young Havanan Adrián Martínez Cádiz has had to “chat” several times with State Security. The agents are difficult interlocutors and gesticulate too much. The last appointment, on October 21, lasted an hour, with an effusive and rough lieutenant colonel who calls himself “Kenya,” a well-known stalker of numerous activists.

Martínez, who works as a journalist in several initiatives of the Catholic Church in Cuba and for the EWTN network, tells 14ymedio what it’s like to “dialogue” — so to speak — with the G2 officers, at the police station in Plaza de la Revolución.

“The gestures, the looks, the tones and the manner were threatening all the time,” says the young man, who spent an hour in interrogation with Officer Kenya and another soldier who identified himself as José Antonio.

“They wanted to officially warn me that I’m engaging in pre-criminal behavior by posting on my networks, ’inciting a crime’ and publishing texts that disparage Díaz-Canel, which they consider contempt,” says Martínez, who was threatened with criminal proceedings if he continued to be critical of the Government on his social networks.

The agents showed him photos of himself with activists and opposition figures such as Anamely Ramos, Omara Ruiz Urquiola, Rosa María Payá and rapper El Funky. “They won’t do anything for you,” they told him. “What they want is to send you to do things from the United States and ’perform theater’.” He replied that Ruiz Urquiola and Ramos, for example, had been prevented from entering the country.

Lieutenant Colonel Kenya then raised his voice and said that “it was a lie,” and that the Government didn’t prevent anyone from entering the Island. “Almost at the end he asks me what I was committed to, to write it in the warning act,” Martínez says. “Nothing at all,” he said, refusing to sign the document.

“Better for me,” the officer spat and left the room. After the interrogation, the police let in two officials of the Ministry of Communications. Martínez left the station with a fine of 3,000 pesos, although — by order of the officers — they didn’t confiscate his phone.

That day, activist Adrián Cruz, known as “Tata Poet,” a friend of Martínez, was also questioned. A group that included several Catholic priests was waiting for both young people outside the station.

“They’ve never clearly told me to ’get out of Cuba’,” he says, but indirect campaigns have become increasingly aggressive.  Ciberclarias [online “catfish”], he continues, are increasingly active in the groups that buy and sell, on common access sites or popular pages. “And, unfortunately, there are people who still believe them. I have friends in Camagüey who went to a family member’s house where I was the subject of conversation, saying  that I’m paid from the United States to publish and tell the truth,” he says.

Another notable difficulty arises when it comes to temporarily leaving the country. “It’s an odyssey,” complains Martínez. “They always review me exhaustively and ask me questions. Upon my arrival from a trip I was interrogated for 45 minutes in a room at the airport, and I was threatened with jail if I kept publishing.”

On that occasion they examined his luggage piece by piece, and kept “under investigation” two laptops, hard drives, USB sticks, cameras and other items related to communication. “When the objects were returned to me, the laptops had been forced and didn’t close well.”

For Adrián Martínez, life in Cuba is almost a “heroic act.” To the daily difficulties, blackouts and shortages, the surveillance of the political police is added. Religious spaces, such as Catholic university groups and “problematic” parishes, are continuously infiltrated by young agents.

“We Cubans have an ’extra sense’ to recognise them,” says Martínez, although he can’t specify what it is that immediately betrays the spies. “However, you have to be sure before accusing someone,” he says, “because there is also a tendency to think that we are always monitored. In addition, those of us who are disturbed, attacked and harassed can fall into the excess of thinking that everything bad that happens to us is caused by them.”

“There are infiltrators and collaborators at all levels,” he adds, “but you have to live without fear. We do nothing but tell the truth and try to do good.”

The persecution and surveillance of State Security on activists, religious leaders, artists and intellectuals has caused people of different ideologies to be united against the Government’s oppression. This has also contributed to many priests and nuns of the Island, such as Lester Zayas, José Luis Pérez Soto, Jorge Luis Gil and Nadieska Almeida, taking a more radical position against the regime in the capital.

’Each one of us has gone through these interrogations, through the threats, and we know what they represent,” says Martínez. “I understand that people are afraid, I am too, but there are things bigger than fear: that is what unites us in front of a police station to accompany, to embrace those who are being repressed not only for defending their rights, but also the rights of others. It’s not fair to abandon someone who is defending my right.”

The young man believes that State Security has managed to expel many “inconvenient” Cubans from the country. Those who remain on the Island — “those who are remaining” — will have to face the viciousness of the Government. “As for those who have left, I respect and hug them. I fight every day, like so many others, against the temptation to leave and forget everything.”

Regarding the passivity before the regime of which the Cuban bishops, who met last Friday with Pope Francis, are accused, Martínez points out that “many times I don’t agree with ways of proceeding, with particular opinions or other things. When I have the opportunity, I let them know and set out my opinions. I have always been listened to with respect.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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