Marti for Everyone? / Luis Felipe Rojas

This past 28th of January, the Cuban government presented us a renovated Jose Marti amid the shouts of the little red pioneers, portraits of Fidel Castro, and songs of Silvio Rodriguez. The celebration was also marked by beatings, arrests, and restrictions on movement of various pro-democracy activists throughout the entire island who were trying to pay tribute to the Apostle of Freedom.

For years now, the regime has always acted in this way on this holiday, and it no longer surprises me to see so many arrests, but what I didn’t know was that the masonry lodges and other fraternities have to obtain a permit from the local government and from the Department of Religious Issues of the Community Party of Cuba in order to deposit flowers in any statue of Marti on that day.

In San German, political police officials Captain Abel Ramirez and Lieutenant Saul Vega, accompanied by uniformed agents, punctually showed up to my house this Saturday to arrest Eliecer Palma, releasing him hours later. Meanwhile, in Banes, Rafael Meneses Pupo, Ariel Cruz Meneses, and Derbis Martinez were arrested for more than 8 hours in order to impede them from honoring the Apostle.

And as if the 28th was not enough with arrests to impede independent tributes to Jose Marti, on Sunday morning olive-green uniformed officials driving a Mosckovich car detained Jose A Triguero Mulet near the Peralta neighborhood of that city. Mulet, a 68 year old dissident, explained to me that they left him abandoned in a remote zone nearly 30 km away from Holguin. He added that the soldiers did not explain anything to him, as far as motives for the kidnapping.

In that same city, Caridad Caballero, Suleidis Perez Velasquez, Isabel Pena, Ana Maria Aguilera, Berta Guerrero and Adis Nidia Cruz were also kept from going to church, as they were kept in different dungeons within police units throughout the municipalities located far from their homes (Gibara, Santa Lucia, Cacocum, and the G2 Operations Barrack known as Pedernales). Meanwhile, the men who were arrested- Esteban Sandez, Luis Jaime Merino, and Felix Tomas Farat- were victims of violence at the hands of their oppressors. Even while they were kept inside cells, the agents trained to beat those who think differently continued to attack the men.

All of this to impede both men and women from going to church for Sunday mass.

My house remained surrounded by uniformed agents, political police officials, and henchmen of the paramilitary Rapid Response Brigades, among them Maikel Rodriguez Alfajarrin, aka ‘The Spark’ (Chief of Home Inspections), and Gustavo Utria Garzon, who has been identified by neighbors as the culprit of the terrorist paint attack in my house this past 25th of January. I don’t usually make comments like this, but both Utria and Alfajarrin enjoy the benefits of favors granted to them by emigrated neighbors from San German who live in Miami and who visit the town every year. Perhaps they do not know about the crimes their friends are committing.

Oppressors watching. Photo by Luis Felipe Rojas

This Monday, I sent a notification to Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ). As the pressure and actions against me escalate, the script of the repressive acts should continue and I don’t doubt that “unknown people” will beat me in the middle of the night, after two or three mob repudiation attacks outside my house. And, finally, if they have no other method to try and make me obedient, they will sentence me for social dangerousness and hold me accountable for having stared a sunset. Although this alert will not save me from the abuses of power, I want my friends in and out of Cuba to remain attentive and ready to disprove any absurd story about my family.

In fact, I began this post talking about Jose Marti, the most universal of Cubans, a man who dreamed of a nation for all, and I ended up detailing the government repression against non-conformed civilians, a key element for understanding the day to day Cuba.

Translated by Raul G.

1 February 2012