Notes From Captivity / Pablo Pacheco

During the “Black Spring of 2003”, 75 of us peaceful dissidents were arrested and sanctioned to long and unjust prison sentences. As an additional punishment to our families, they dispersed us throughout the entire Cuban geography, hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away from our homes.

A week after arriving to the “Aguica” prison in Matanzas province, I decided to write a journal. It was the only way I could remember all the details from living in solitary confinement. Nearly eight years have passed and now I have learned that it is impossible to wipe out all that I have lived from my memory. The psychological damage caused by such isolation persists.

The first words which I wrote on my journal, where I also kept some inspirational phrases to help me through my imprisonment, were “Thank you God for keeping me alive; I only ask that you help me one day to let the world know of the cruel realities of the Cuban prisons, especially for political prisoners.” In another section of the notes I jotted, “Inevitably, the majority of those who have defended a cause which they believe is just have ended up in prison. But all this time which we live behind bars serves as a process which strengthens our spirits.”

I am of the thought that no sacrifice for the country is in vain. If we don’t get to benefit from the changes, then our descendants will. I also do not consider myself to be a hero. I think we all harbor some heroic elements within ourselves, including us Cubans. In fact, we Cubans have proved this for more than half a century of dictatorship.

There is nothing more unfortunate for a human being to go through life without realizing that you have gone through it. I must honestly admit that the forced separation from one’s family is extremely difficult- it hurts a lot. The older ones from the family understand the situation and eventually accept the reality. But the little ones, in all their innocence, are unaware of the reality and question when you will return home. That’s when you feel a knot in your throat and you feel like you could barely breathe. At that moment, you are forced to lie, because you do not want to contaminate them with so much pain. Those of us who had small children during the Black Spring know very well that this is not a lie, for all the experiences were very similar.

Now, in exile, I could publish memories from my days of imprisonment. From today on, I will start to write for this new blog. I will detail my experiences. I hope to find the same support I had during “Voices Behind the Bars”.

Cubans, undeniably, have to find a path. Ideologies have only served to divide humanity. The important thing for everyone is not a government of the left or of the right, but instead to live like human beings. And we deserve it. One day, Cuba will find the path based on justice, not stained with vengeance. We must keep one thing very present: only love can save us from human misery.

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.