Meñique Went out to Travel / Luis Felipe Rojas

This blog has been a window for denouncements of the horrors of Cuban prisons. In this photo: a former prisoner illustrates how guards apply the “Shakira” lock to punish inmates.

“Meñique Went out to Travel” — that’s the name of a famous children’s song. Those same travels were awarded to me by the combined forces of State Security (G-2) and the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) on April 28th. At 7:39 AM, Lieutenant Yasmani Suarez Ramirez showed up at my house along with FOUR other police agents to detain me. I was taken to the local police unit and, half an hour later, G2 Major Alberto Aberetis and Lieutenant Ignacio Wilson Mulet transferred me to the city of Holguin where I was interrogated in the G2 Operations Unit. The questions and offenses were the task of Major Jesus Jimenez Ballagas, who has been in charge of such an undesirable job for 6 years now. It was yet another interrogation, and yet another threat.

They once again mentioned Law 88 (“The Gag Law”), they mentioned the 25 year sentence they once gave to Prospero Gainza Aguero during the Black Spring of 2003 and what it means at this moment. Although we know very well what they are capable of, it’s always good to hear from the mouths of those who sustain the Castro machinery that they do not only lash out against the 75 of the Black Spring, as they did on that occasion, but against any others who need to be attacked. They’ll put them all in prison.

Considering that they are phrases which the Granma newspaper does not publish, then it’s not bad that we make them public. That’s the will power for change which the ingenious say that the government of General-President RC practices. Amid those threats against human rights defenders is that they outline the excellent relationship between the current government, the Catholic hierarchy, and other elites which prowl about the corpse. There is no doubt that we are the non-conformists, those who, every day, disrupt that happy union which has been established for 52 years.

The Official Letter of Warning handed to me was based on accusations against me for distributing false news about national and local events, for sending out information about prisons in Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Holguin, for participating in interviews made to me via phone from the other shores, for writing about the subject of the “re-structuring of the labor force” (a term which the government uses to describe layoffs).

I made my arguments clear to Major Ballagas, which were pretty much the following: Every citizen has the right to give their opinion about any subject which they desire, it is the leftist dictatorship of the Castro brothers which has amputated all information channels upon establishing a single press with sealed lips. Not even if they liberate all Cuban political prisoners will I stop informing about the Cuban prisons. In fact, more than 90% of my journalistic reports have to do with prisons and are stories of beatings, inhumane treatment, poor management of prisoner-functionary relations, and other violations committed by the Interior Order Functionaries, along with the re-educators and the Head of the Penitentiary Establishment Department who also go against the common prisoners. My denouncements are based on lack of medical attention in the prisons, the lack of drinkable water, the approval of the functionaries to allow prisons to become real concentration camps, and so on, highlighting many cases of self-harm by prisoners.

This time, I did sign the Letter of Warning because, in it, it says what I expressed: that I will not stop informing about the Cuba I am interested in. I signed the letter because it says that, although I do not receive money for what I write, there are organizations and Cubans in “the exiles” that collaborate with me, making it possible for me to upload my articles on, and even when I give my reports to Radio Marti and/or Radio Republica, I do not receive pay for it. And the moral obligation to prepare myself each day to at least be minimally at the level of the studious commentators and renowned academics who honor me, and offer me a space which my own country refuses me as a simple citizen.

The reports which I provide every semester to the Partial Report of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Eastern Democratic Alliance are directly proven and confirmed by me, and I am responsible for them, both for the form in which I obtain the information and by the primary sources in which I base myself on to make them public. Although it may sound like a declaration of principles, it is more about being the voice for my brothers out on the street and in the prisons who risk themselves on a daily basis so that the world and Cuba know just how much individual and basic rights are being violated, and with how much impunity.

The same Letter of Warning constitutes a flagrant violation of citizen rights, so much so that no one is obliged to support it with their mouth closed, their hands tied back, and the fear eating them up inside.

On Tuesday, April 24th, I provided a lengthy interview to Amnesty International, in which I describe the vicissitudes of being an independent communicator, the violation of the phone lines which make ETECSA and the G2 the owners of our phones, along with the record of my latest detentions and the attacks which I have suffered at the hands of the political police during the past few months. And perhaps that was the real motivation behind this latest arrest, I dare to say. Even so, on Wednesday May 2nd, the interview with Amnesty will go public. There, you’ll be able to read more of what I said in the Pedernales Unit.

Translated by Raul G.

30 April 2012