Notes from Captivity IX: Nostalgia After the Visit / Pablo Pacheco

Photo taken from the Internet

I returned to my cell after the visit with my soul afflicted. Ole, Jimmy and Ale had traveled almost 250 miles to see me, and we could only spent thirty minutes together. My family was angry because they weren’t allowed to bring me food to alleviate the hunger inside the prison and let me regain some weight. The police decided it would be a visit to only receive personal hygiene items.

Oleivys insisted that I try to eat everything or I could become seriously ill. They returned home with all the prepared food they’d brought. I tried to eat the prison food and couldn’t, a lump in my throat prevented me.

After arriving in my cell, I updated my three companions in “Poland.” I summarized for them the high points of the family meeting.

Of all the news we received, the most momentous for us was the international campaign for our release. We learned to share the information, analyze it and draw conclusions.

Two weeks had passed since the family visit and I still hadn’t written my first letter. The news I had to tell was irrelevant, at least so I thought. Eventually I understood my mistake, nothing is more important in captivity than communication with loved ones.

The police chose to deny us access to the press and this showed us their objective to isolate us to the maximum extent. This brought us together to work as a team as we proceeded to find ways to ruin their plans. One afternoon I received a note from Miguel Galban suggesting we ask for an interview with the director of the “Agüica” prison or with an official from State Security. The idea was to ask for the daily newspapers and a radio for the section. The years in dissent had taught us how to read between the lines and we should capitalize on that.

After repeated complaints to the prison director, the official of the Political Police for “Agüica” and all the guards who visited us, we managed to achieve our principal objective. One morning we noticed speakers installed throughout the section. Suddenly we feel the melody of a popular artist, which cheered our hearts. We had won the first victory in “Agüica” and the common prisoners congratulated us with euphoria.

For inmates, the news is of little importance, they live cut off from what happens outside the bars. The only logic to this phenomenon is that they’ve spent years in confinement without hearing even one continuous hour of music.

The police set up a schedule to listen to the radio; from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM and they chose the national baseball series and the news. Many of the common prisoners didn’t want to hear the news reports and there were some incidents, but fortunately nothing serious.

With my mind more clear and on the advice of my brothers in the cause, I decided to write to my wife for the first time in captivity. For several weeks we’d had no communications because the only available method was letters and we suspected this might be a double-edged sword.

We lacked confidence in the police who violated the mail and in the worst cases confiscated it, which affected our families and the psychological factor played a fundamental role. I took a chance and started to write a few lines.

NOTE: Pablo Pacheco was one of the prisoners of Cuba’s Black Spring, and the initiator of the blog “Behind the Bars.” He now blogs from exile in Spain and his blog – Cuban Voices from Exile – is available in English translation here. To make sure readers find their way to his new blog, we will continue to post some of his articles here, particularly those relating his years in prison in Cuba.