14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 12 May 2018 — Returning home after a one-year confinement at the psychiatric hospital in Havana, Daniel Llorente wants to continue his fight for freedom. In conversation with this newspaper, “the man with the flag“ says he wants to recover the American flag that was confiscated when he raised it in last year’s May Day parade.
Llorente says that during the last days of his stay in the psychiatric hospital, security was redoubled around the ward where he was hospitalized. “There were police patrol cars and two guards when there was usually only one.” He suspects that the authorities were watching him so he would not try to escape and repeat his action on May Day, “The Day of the Workers.”
“The flag that was taken from me I intend to recover because it was not confiscated legally,” says this self-employed taxi driver who has become the most visible face on the island in support of the diplomatic thaw between Washington and Havana.
“I am going to write to the Council of State, to Granma newspaper and to the foreign press agencies so that they know that I want to recover my flag,” he says.
The waving of the American flag in front of the platform where Raul Castro awaited the start of the parade became the event of the day for the most important international media, which had convened to cover an event that the ruling party traditionally uses to show popular support for its management.
“They did not give me any document that says I’m free and there was no trial nor I was convicted, everything was very arbitrary,” the dissident explains.
“The doctor who treated me in Mazorra always recognized that I did not have any type of psychiatric problems and even the director of the hospital told me that he couldn’t do anything because it was State Security that determined everything about my case.”
Llorente says that the year he spent in detention was in fact a kidnapping “by orders of Raúl Castro and State Security, in coordination with the State Council and with the complicity of Public Health and the Ministry of Justice… I had not committed any crime nor did I have psychiatric problems. What was I doing there?”
Llorente wants to remain an independent activist and insists on distrusting opposition groups “because without a doubt State Security has infiltrated many of them.”
“I want to deal with things in such a way that it’s always respectful of the law, without provocations, because against them you have to use their own laws,” he recommends.
“The State Security officials I talked to told me that when I had a problem I could call them and to do nothing without calling.”
From that 1 May 2017, he remembers all the obstacles he faced getting to the Plaza of the Revolution, the warnings he received from the police and the emotional moment when he slipped under the banner that was at the front of the parade. “When I saw myself running with the flag I could not believe it, it was very exciting.”
He was immediately approached by several men who took him down to the ground him and beat him. “I did not have time to see their faces and I was shouting: ‘I accuse Raúl Castro of mistreating the people of Cuba and the workers’.” He could barely breathe and one of his captors told him angrily: “You have to die.”
“They threw me to the pavement and tied my hands with the belt they took off me, I asked a doctor who was nearby to help me but she left,” says Llorente. Then he was taken to a vehicle and moved out of the Plaza. His ordeal was just beginning.
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.